My Adventures in Torres del Paine
Patagonia. Before coming to study in Chile, I was aware of this region. After all, even the name of this southern portion of South America (in Chile and Argentina) is related to Magellan’s expeditions and encounters with the native people of this land. But despite this historical significance, Patagonia was still not on my list of places to see during my semester abroad. To be honest, I was probably more familiar with Patagonia Outdoor Clothing company, rather than the actual region.
Nevertheless, when my friends began planning a trip to Torres del Paine National Park, I decided to go along with them just for fun. This Chilean national park is in the northern park of Patagonia, containing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. To get there, we flew from Santiago to Punta Arenas. We then had to take one bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, as well as another bus from Puerto Natales to the park. It essentially took an entire day to travel to our destination and the trip was definitely not cheap, but I must say, it was worth it.
Where do I even begin describing this experience? Hmm…. well, two days before the trip, my 7 friends studying in Chile and I decided to get together to figure out the details of our trip. At that point, all we had done was book our flights. Just before I met up with them, I went to my friend’s house to borrow some of her hiking equipment and camping gear (oh yeah, did I mention that we would be camping in this park?). She insisted that I use her sleeping bag, backpack, and hiking boots—especially after I told her that I was planning on hiking Torres del Paine in my rainboots. It’s not that I’m not an outdoors person, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do these types of activities so I was completely unprepared for what was in store for me. Anyways, we ended up not really planning any of the details of the trip. We figured we’d just show up in Patagonia and wing it. And surprisingly, that worked.
For example, when we got to Puerto Natales, there was only one bus left to go to the Torres del Paine National Park, and we made it just in time, or else we would have had to wait until the next day when we only were staying for 3 days total. And when we reached the park, we hiked up to the camping site, but by this time, it was almost dark. And there we were trying to set up two tents in the dark with two small flashlights when it was ridiculously windy outside. Needless to say, that did not go very well. Luckily, the park ranger let us use 5 tents for free that night. That incident summarized our entire trip.