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Trip Report Trip Report Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Torres Del Paine

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I flew LAN from Santiago to Punta Arenas using their S.America Airpass. LAN is an airline that still provides snacks, free headsets, pillows. The weather was fantastic and we could see some of the volcanoes and glaciers from the air. My B&B host was waiting for me at the airport. I highly recommend La Casa Escondida, a new, hand built complex operated by two English teachers. It is closer to the airport than town. I contacted them by email and they prearranged at penguin tour to Seno Otway as well as lunch at the B&B (a delicious parillada with lamb that was not overcooked, & typical salad). The room was comfortable, and Pamela even was able to reserve me the last seat on the 9am bus to Natales the next day. However, you physically have to go into the station to have your ticket completed, even with a reservation! The hosts will drop you off in town and pick you up when ready. I ate at La Luna, and had congrio. Excellent casual place.

The next day I took the regular bus Fernandez to Natales, where I stayed at Lady Florence Dixie, a cute and friendly hotel although you do need to speak some Spanish to manage successfully. I made the reservation by phone, in Spanish. They do seem very popular, especially weekends, the phone seems to ring off the hook continuously. Midrange and perfectly adequate with cable TV. The front desk helped arrange my tour transfer with a local minivan service (18,000 CLP) and next day trip to Balmaceda and Serrano glacier. The tour company was Pepe Coro, but again some Spanish is helpful. We stopped at the Milodon Cave, and entered via Rio Serrano and stopped at several overlooks such as the Lago Grey where you can see blue icebergs and the Lake Pehoe lookout. The route is gravel, however I do recommend coming this way since you see the full display of the Glacier Grey, Cuernos, and peek of the Towers. We also saw some guanacos along the road, and a few of us saw them on the trail to one of the lookouts. The van dropped me at Amarga, and the Hotel Las Torres has a transfer van. I have two nights there, which I booked by using their online chat function. I did not book the expensive all inclusive program. I´m not sure why they changed their mind and allowed me to book B&B only. It is a fine place, pleasant, not stuffy and most of all convenient to the Las Torres hike. They have a nice display of local flora in fauna in their conference room that is open to anyone. Today I hiked to the Towers after breakfast and returned in time for dinner. It was in perfect hiking weather, and it takes every bit of 10 hours. If you take the all inclusive you can bypass the first two hours by going on horseback. I think you might also be able book the excursion independently. So I have the trophy photo at the top, but we will see if I can walk tomorrow.
One does not really need a guide, just follow everyone else and the orange trail markings. The moraine is not impossible if you have some experience with boulder hopping, even 50 to 60 year olds with decent knees or braces can do it.

Tomorrow I leave for Lodge Paine Grande.

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