Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Saturday, April 14, 2012

I woke up early this morning thinking I could get a nice sunrise picture somewhere along the way to Torres del Paine National Park.
No one else in the hostel was awake and it was pitch dark outside. Sunrise was at about 8.30, which is when the Park opens, so I drove most of the way in the dark.
And, unfortunately, in the rain.
I managed to make it to a perfect position overlooking the length of a lake with the sun rising above some mountains just behind it.
Sounds beautiful right?
Well it didn't work.
I didn't want to get my camera soaking wet so I was shooting from inside the car with wind buffeting through the window and soaking me anyway. And with the clouds darkening the rest of the landscape I had basically no light to work with.
So I won't bother to post those photos, but I will post some of the better ones I took today.
It was raining the entire day with just a few badly timed sunny moments. 

There are 3 entrances to the Park and I somehow ended up at the furthest north and last one I thought I would. But there is really only 1 road through the Park so it didn't make a difference, I would have ended up there anyway.
My original plan was to do an hour's walk to a waterfall but with strong winds and pelting rain I decided to skip it.

There is far more water here than I thought there would be. There's barely space for the road with the lakes and rivers winding between the mountains.
And the colour of the water is amazing. Intense, aqua blue. The colour that looks cold.

At noon I arrived at the place I had been looking forward to the most. And should have looked forward to the least.
Lago Grey, where Glacier Grey flows into it like a frozen waterfall at the northern end.

While I appreciate how cool it is to see a glacier at eye level, it was not a pleasant experience to get this photo. I followed signs to "Lago Grey" where I had been told you could get a good view of the glacier.
It was still raining a bit and a little windy but the weather wouldn't stop me from seeing this thing.
The short walk through the trees was fine. But when I emerged I could still see only the lake and no hint of a glacier. Although I did see an iceberg.
I saw a large boat had just dropped off about 40 people and they were all facing towards the far end of the lake. 
They could clearly see something I couldn't.
They were about 2 km away from me on a dike. So off I went, happy that the rain had yet to return in full force.
The second I stepped out of the shelter of the mountain I didn't really realise I was behind though... The wind became a literal gust, almost pushing me off my feet and the rain became hail which the wind promptly threw into my face.
I kept peeking glances to my left hoping to see a little ice.
But I didn't until I reached almost the end of the dike. And I was a little disappointed. 
Here is this giant glacier I had seen so many photos of. Photos that people had obviously trekked several days to get. 
The small amount of ice I could actually see was about 15 km away and I couldn't really turn around long enough to get a good look at it.
So to get the photo I put my back to the lake and wind while perfecting the settings before quickly spinning around and blindly shooting the photo.

I got back to the shelter of the trees as quickly as possible after that.

The animals I saw today include, rather awesomely, two Andean Condors, a Culpeo Fox, more guanacos, and many new species of birds that I won't list.

If it's bright and sunny tomorrow (which I have low hopes for) then I will return to the Park and try to get on the boat that goes close to the glacier.
Regardless of the weather tomorrow I will also go to Milodon Cave which is a massive cave where they found remains of a giant ground sloth that changed the estimate of their extinction period. 
The symbol of Puerto Natales is what I had assumed was a bear. It's on all the signs and there's a statue in the square. I had wondered about it because there are no, and have never been, any bears in this area.
But then I read a description on this sloth and apparently it's very large and "resembles a bear."


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