.All Trips / Chile / South America

First Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

00 Hike around Torres del Paine (1)

The Torres del Paine are three distinctive towering granite peaks of the Paines Massif (see above photo).  Extending up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level, these towers dominate much of the landscape of the park, as does the horned part of the mountain known as the Cuernos del Paine.  The Patagonian steppe abuts the mountains.

We arrived in Torres del Paine in the afternoon and had only a few hours to spare that day for a hike.  I had hoped to hike to the base of the towers, for there is a lovely glacier and lake there, but did not have the time.   Among the feasible options, we decided to hike along the hilly steppe and take in the views …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 15, 2017: Hotel Las Torres, Chile

00 Hotel Las Torres, Torres del Paine (3)

Much like the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar hotel or the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Hotel Las Torres is situated in the heart of a beautiful park ecosystem, in this case Torres del Paine National Park.  As such, it offers a unique opportunity to see the region while providing most expected creature comforts.

Founder Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic was the son of Croatian immigrants and became a successful cattle farmer.  In 1979 he bought the Cerro Paine ranch, located at the foot of “Torres del Paine” mountain range.  On this 8 thousand acre ranch, he began his cattle breeding business.  In the early 90´s Mr. Kusanovic built 9 rooms with a small restaurant to welcome the many tourists arriving from all …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 23, 2017: Mate — South America’s caffeinated drink

04 El Tigre, Argentina 2014 (96)

If coffee is the morning beverage of North America (and most of the world for that matter), my limited experience in South America was that many people preferred a type of locally grown herbal tea called Mate (pronounced mah-teh). Mate, also known as yerba mate, is rich in caffeine and is especially popular in in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Chile and Southern Brazil. A small amount is exported and sold in other countries, including in the Middle East, but mate has its home in southern South America.

The drink is prepared by steeping a handful of dried yerba mate leaves in hot water. As the beverage is consumed, more hot water is added to the same wet mate clump over …

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“Pic of the Week”, April 28, 2017: Arrival at Torres del Paine National Park

11 Arrival at Tores del Paine (9)

We approached Torres del Paine National Park from the east, entering Chile from Argentina.  Many people drive down the Chilean coast and enter the park from the west, so their perspective would be a little different than ours.

Our trip took us through large stretches of hilly and uninhabited grasslands (the pampas).  The first views of the National Park are among the most memorable of any mountain region I’ve ever visited (and I’ve seen many in my days).   Torres is a popular tourist destination, with good reason. Among its most iconic sites are the 3 granite towers from which Torres del Paine derives its name.

 

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.All Trips / Car Culture / Chile / South America

Great Cars along the Highway….Torres del Paine, Chile

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Came across this rather unusual van parked in the shadows of the granite spires of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile.   The park is an amazingly beautiful place and the van definitely seemed a little out of place.

Wicked is a company that rents uniquely decorated minivans to function as transportation and sleeping accommodations for tourists.  A little cramped for me but I can see it being popular with a lot of travelers.  Certainly it was memorable and therein lays an important lesson in advertising.

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

The Parana Delta and El Tigre, Argentina

03 El Tigre, Argentina 2014  (5)

El Tigre is situated an hour’s train ride from Buenos Aires, a trip that will cost you less than US$1 (departs from the Retiro station — linea Mitro).  You can also get there by taking a cab (more expensive but faster).  We enjoyed the slower train journey and were treated to an interesting assortment of vendors, panhandlers, and train performers all plying their business.  Trains sure are a great place to people watch.

We visited El Tigre as a day trip but I wished we’d stayed overnight so we could have explored the islands around it.  The region is green and lush and built astride a river which was flooded when we visited (the Parana River is prone to flooding).   El …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 11, 2017: Leaving Puenta Arenas, Chile

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Our terrestrial journey in Patagonia was near its end, but we were leaving for a memorable four day cruise through the labyrinth of fjords and waterways off the Chilean coast.  It was a journey we would never forget.

We departed the harbor at Puenta Arenas aboard the adventure ship, Stella Australis, and were accompanied by the Harbor Master.  The wonderful rainbow in the distance seemed a good omen of things to come.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, then right arrow to advance the slideshow)

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.All Trips / Argentina / Chile / South America

Patagonian Roadtrip: El Chalten to Torres Del Paine

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It’s hard for many people from the “Old World” to envision the vast people-less places of the Americas, especially the closer one travels to the poles.  It’s equally empty in northern North America (Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories) as it is in southern South America (Patagonia).

There are stretches of road in these remote areas regions where you might not encounter a petro station for hundreds of kilometers (don’t worry, signs will warn you in advance so you’d need to be a fool to run out of gas).  No towns, often not even a rancher, to be found as far as the eye can see.

When visiting Patagonia, we made a rather long drive from Argentinian Patagonia to Chilean Patagonia.  A …

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