Chile 2003

We made it!

Our Vacation in Chile (and Argentina)

It all started in the summer of 2000, when we saw an article in the Travel section of our local newspaper about Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chile. When we saw the pictures we said to each other “We have to go there.”

Due to various misadventures, physical and financial, we didn’t make the trip for a couple of years. By the time we had planned it all out, though, it had expanded to include a week-long cruise around Tierra del Fuego that included a visit to Cape Horn. Not only that, our travel agent said to us “You have to go to the Lake District while you’re in Chile” so we tossed that in too.

Fortunately we were able to schedule nearly four weeks in Chile, and as you can see from the picture we did get to the Torres del Paine. This site is the journal of our vacation in words and pictures.

We have divided the vacation into three parts: “The Trip”, where we travelled around to various locations in backpacker style; “The Cruise”, where we cruised in luxury through the fjords; and “The Trek”, where we hiked the circuit around Torres del Paine.

The Trip

We started on January 11, 2003, by flying to Santiago de Chile. We spent two days there; the first day we did a walking tour around the city and the second day we went to the Cajón del Maipo in the Andes and did a short hike there, in Monumento Natural El Morado. After that we flew south to the Lake District. We stayed in Puerto Varas for two full days; it rained both days but we did manage to do some hiking at Petrohué in Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Pictures from Santiago

Pictures from Monumento Natural El Morado

Pictures from Puerto Varas

Pictures from Puerto Montt

After that we flew south again, to Punta Arenas, where the cruise began. We had nearly a full day there before boarding the ship.

Pictures from Punta Arenas

The Cruise

We cruised south from Punta Arenas, through the Strait of Magellan. We visited glaciers and bird nesting colonies in Seno del Almirantazgo (Admiralty Sound), then cruised the Beagle Channel visiting more glaciers and other places along the channel, including a stop at Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world. We spent a full day in Ushuaia, Argentina, where we visited the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Then we cruised south and landed at Cape Horn, after which we returned to Punta Arenas via the large Magellanic Penguin colony at Isla Magdalena.

Pictures from the cruise

Pictures of wildlife seen on the cruise

Pictures from Puerto Williams

Pictures from Ushuaia

Pictures from Cape Horn

Pictures from Isla Magdalena

The Trek

After leaving the cruise ship, we took a bus north to Puerto Natales, the small town that serves as the starting point for visits for Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. The next morning we took a bus to the park and started our trek. We spent eight days trekking in the park, and during that time we covered the entire circuit around the park as well as walks up the two most scenic valleys. The weather was cloudy most of those eight days, but we had more sunny hours than we did rainy hours.

Pictures from the trek

The Trip, Again

We returned from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales and spent a rest day there. The following day, we started out on the trip back to Vancouver. It took 33 hours from start to finish, including one bus ride, four airline flights, and about seven hours of sitting about in airports.

Pictures from Puerto Natales


Copyright ©2003 by Rosemary and Paul Clapham

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