The bus route
Ushuaia 0800 departure > Rio Grande > San Sebastian Border crossing > ferry crossing to Punta Delgado > Punta Arenas (one hour stop ... a lovely cup of tea!) > Puerto Natales midnight arrival ~ sleep! A total distance just under 900 kms (approx 550 miles) ... might not seem much to some, but on a bus!
Puerto Natales, Chile
A quick half day acclimatisating to seeing stunning greenery, rather than the stunning snow-covered landscape of Antartcia; also tea and cakes ...
torres del paine national park, chile
For years, before and whilst we've been together, doing the 'W' trek or longer has always been on the bucket list ~ fortunately we were talked into doing the longer 'O' trek ~ which is basically the Paine Massif Circuit, which takes in what we now know to be the very busy 'W' trek (marked in red on the map below)!
The 'O' trek (red plus orange on map) is approximately 110kms (about 68 miles) long, and can be done between 7-10 days ~ we did it in seven and a half days ~ plus a day to get to the start and back. We spent a few days self-guided, and then did the back country (thankfully, the path less trodden!) with our guide, Carlos and two porters, Simon and Nico ~ absolutely fantastic guys ~ a wealth of knowledge on flora and fauna. We also saw Grey Glacier and Dickson Glacier ... both absolutely stunning, but getting smaller all the time.
We were very blessed with the weather ~ only one day overcast, unusually very little wind but glorious blue skies ~ all of which made doing the John Gardner Pass much easier than anticipated! Also, taking on two very long swing bridges in the wind would not have been fun ~ Em chatted her way across them, whilst Jill decided stopping in a gust wasn't the best option!
A brilliant, brilliant day! It was just the two of us ~ met at our hotel by one of the sons from the Estancia; crossed the channel by boat, and then driven 40minutes to the Estancia for a family breakfast; a one to two hour horse-ride ~ and then back to the Estancia for lunch!
Lunch started with a morning catch of fresh salmon ceviche; and numerous glasses of white wine ... followed by estancia grown steak and vegetables ~ absolutely delicious ~ fool he who put his wine glass down partly empty! Hernan, the dad, was extremely deft and overly generous with the vino the whole time we were there ~ as well as a cows horn filled with straight pisco!
Needless to say, we arrived back at our hotel that evening, a little the worse for wear and definitely not in need of any further food or alcohol ~ definitely a day that will stay with is for the rest our lives ~ Salut!
los glaciares national park, argentina
Cerro Fitz Roy and El Chalten
Just three more days walking ... and unfortunately, but amazingly, the only time all trip Em wasn't well and couldn't make it to the FitzRoy mirador, which was actually covered in cloud when Jill and Matthius ~ our guide ~ summited. Once back down to camp though ~ the cloud had pretty much cleared ~ perfect!
Matthius ~ our guide ~ was brilliant ... surprising us by producing a lovely bottle of red wine with dinner ~ he had carried it all day!
El Chalten, argentina
Small, but perfectly formed we thought! With a tip from Jill's sister and brother-in-law ~ who had visited 15 years before ~ we had a yummy and much appreciated chocolate fondue! Closely followed by dinner at the local MicroBrewery ... recommended by Matthius ~ it didn't disappoint ~ they had Bombay Sapphire!