A Travellerspoint blog

Chile

Santiago

Such a lovely city

sunny 24 °C

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After the W we were pretty happy to be back in a city, with WiFi and laundry and regular hot meals. While we only spent a few days there we both really liked Santiago, the city had a great feel to it and the people were all very friendly. We ate a fish at mercado central, bought a stack of fruit and veg (something we couldn't find anywhere in Argentina) at the La Vega for a pittance, wandered around the city to take in the sights, and up San Cristobel to see the views over the city. All in all a lovely three days before heading to Bolivia.

Posted by Addy21 13:41 Archived in Chile Tagged santiago Comments (0)

The W... Dern, dern, deerrrn!

Ouch

overcast 8 °C

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Ok, first things first, the W trail is not easy! They lie, they all lie! Ok I may be exagerrating a little, but from what we'd read online and in travel books, it sounded like a pretty easy little trek with some camping as long as you were reasonably fit. We have come to realise, when they say easy, they mean for experienced hikers. Which I have no problem saying in saying we are not.

We decided to do it cheap which meant, hiring a tent and some matts, carrying all our food for 5 days and hiking in from Administration (5 hours) rather than taking the catamaran to our first night's campground. Our 5 hour hike would have been quite pleasant except for an incredibly strong headwind the entire way, I'm not joking when I say that the gusts would stop you in your tracks and you had to lean in and really push to take your next step. We had one very scary moment, when Matt (gallantly carrying our big bag and most of the heavy stuff) almost got pushed off a steep section as a gust came around from the side and caught the bag like a sail. I swear my heart stopped for a moment. Thankfully we arrived safely at the rather exposed camp around 7pm and were both about ready to just catch that stupidly expensive catarmaran back and drink tea with the lovely ladies at our hostel in Puerto Natales.

After a very rough sleep (two man tents are not made for 6¨5' men, and our hired mattresses did nothing to keep the cold out) we were putting on brave faces for our second day's hike, where we could thankfully leave everything behind to hike up to Glacier Grey and return (another 9 hour beauty). It was pretty steep going and a bit hard on the old legs after the previous day and night. The Glacier was well worth it, so beautiful, with large chunks that had drifted close to the shore. One of the best sights so far. It was another long a pretty tough day, and this is when Matt's shoes decided to start falling to pieces. We used a few rubber bands to keep them together until we got back to the campsite and then begged some tape from the staff in the hopes it would get us to our next campsite. We very wisely made the decision that night not to attempt the Valley Francais, which adds about 4 hours to the 3rd day's trek and to instead push on to a campsite a little further along, in the hopes of a big 4th day and some well timed trekking on the fifth would get us back to our cozy hostel in time to make some hot food. Oh hot food, how underappreciated you are.
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I put on everything I owned that night in an attempt to keep warm and we rearranged the tent for some diagonal sleeping... which unfortunately only meant a marginally better night's sleep. We woke up pretty cheery though and ready to tackle our third day with a bit of an early camp and rest as our reward. Our enthusiasm was dampened somewhat about 30 minutes in when the tape on Matt's shoes fell off. We got our MacGyver on and used some knee high stockings to tie the ends of Matt's shoes back together and his shoelaces to hold the middle together. We were pretty awesome if I do say so myself and I highly recommend the packing of stockings to any wouldbe travellers, very handy. Here are Matt's shoes at the end of the trek.
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Yes, we will need to get them fixed before the Inca Trail.

Things started looking up at this point, and we had quite a pleasant day hiking, with some gorgeous views, and got to our campsite around 3pm to have a nice relaxing afternoon. We got some rope from a friendly ranger along the way for when the stockings gave out (very late on day four, I was impressed.

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Day four was a big one, even bigger than planned. We hiked one of the hardest sections, going up and down fairly steep hills most of the day. It was really very beautiful and I think our bodies were finally hardening up to this hiking thing, as we both made it through to the campsite in record time (for us), and then decided to do the final (toughest) stretch (only an hour but, incredibly steep) to see Los Torres del Paine. The feeling that ¨we´d done it¨ was incredible when we got to Los Torres and though not perfectly clear we got a pretty good view and it was a pretty amazing sight.

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The 5th day was just hiking out. Unfortunately about halfway down my trusty hiking stick broke (there may have been tears... I'd come to love that stick), but that was the worst of our misfortune so can't really complain.

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Again our frugal ideas got the better of us and we opted for the additional 7km hike to the bus along the road rather than grabbing the hotel´s minibus, which I think we both regretted about 3.5kms into that leg. In the end we made it, and felt pretty pleased with ourselves, and very much deserving of the stew we made when we got back. Oh god was that good stew. Dreaming of, and planning for, that stew was a pretty good motivator for those last three days. We may have been more excited about the stew than the sights at some points, don't judge us, you weren't there. I'm a little sad I don't have a photo of it. : )

Posted by Addy21 13:23 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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