February 21st, 2013
Las Montanas – and there is an en-yeah over the n btw
We woke up next to the tiny little ski area that we had camped at the night before. It turned out to be a very quiet and restful campsite as the border crossing closed early. We thought we had cut it tight with only 2 km left to the border; turns out we were about 300 meters from the border.
We did the usual lazy morning thing and got on the road about 9:40. Ok, even lazier than usual. We went through the Argentinian exit station after having: (a) gotten rid of every fresh thing we could think of and (b) dumped our extra can of gas into Casimiro (we had read that you can’t import fuel, sheesh, what a pain). We headed down into Chile thinking that the books and Cris were wrong, we weren’t going to be inspected. Wrong. Just turns out the Chileans are smart enough to not actually put the station right on the border at the top of a mountain.
We got to the control point and Susanne headed in to figure out what was what.
Travel tip #1: If I haven’t said it before, I will say it again, it is very useful to travel in South America with someone who is fluent in Spanish.
They always seem to have 4 windows at each of these border crossings and you have to go to each one and fill out some form and declare on a stack of mangos that you haven’t done anything wrong.
Travel tip #2: If you are under 40 please skip over this. Of all the things that you can think of to pack on a month vacation like this, you will almost always underestimate the value of a cheap pair of reading glasses from Walmart. Don’t. Those damn forms you have to fill out at the 46 different customs windows are hell on old dudes eyes. Pack extras. You’ll thank me later.
We headed into Puerto Natales to get supplies and do our usual lunch thing. It’s a really nice port town with some fantastic vistas. We found a place to park and headed to the bank to get some Chilean pesos. Thankfully you could actually withdraw a reasonable amount of cash.
We went to grocery store and got some food. It is striking the difference in quality and selection between Chile and Argentina. I will leave it up to the astute amongst you to figure out which is better.
We had lunch at a very nice café. I had a king crab dish that was outstanding and Susanne had some gnocchi that we quite good. We did the usually grab of any available power socket to charge up the various devices and posted more stunning blog posts.
I was at a conference on animal welfare and saw a talk about the roaming habits of unaltered dogs. They had done the study in Natales, and those dudes with nuts were pretty fascinating. During the day they just hung around sleeping and doing nothing; at night they went wild. One German Shepherd mix roamed over 30 miles a night looking for……chicks. Anyway, it was interesting to see how many free roaming dogs there are here. Amazingly, most of them looked surprisingly healthy, which was good, but I hate to think how many get hit by cars L As far as the boyz wandering at night, I will leave any conclusions up to the reader.
After resupplying, we headed north toward Torres Del Paine. The road was beautiful concrete and smooth. Susanne offered to take the helm and I said yes. 10 minutes after taking over, the road turned to dirt and then got really bad. This seems to be the pattern. I re-took the helm. We missed some turns and did some extra klicks. The washboards were stunning in their severity at times, but the views were amazing. As we go closer you could really see why Torres Del Paine is so famous. It is ridiculous.
After a bone jarring hour or two we got to where we will finish our hike, Hosteria Las Torres. There is a nice hotel and camping right at the base of the mountains. We had the challenge of trying to organize the transport to the start point tomorrow. Please see travel tip #1. After many preguntas to the dude at the hotel, we got it all worked out. Clearly, there are not that many people that do this that are not set up by a tour company. Simple questions like “do we have to have a reservation for the ferry”? were a bit befuddling to them. In the end, we paid the extra pesos to get a private shuttle to the ferry, which allows us to start the day earlier tomorrow.
The views are amazing and hard to describe.
As a treat, we decided to book a room at the hotel on the night after our four-day trek. Yeah! That should be sweet.
We are all packed up and ready for our trek tomorrow and now our just chilling in Casimiro.
I am sure you will all get a philosophical waxing about what the mountains mean to me, but that will have to wait until I am back from our trek.
Ciao for now.