Saturday, January 10, 2015

Back to Patagonia: The W Trek, Torres del Paine

When I went to Patagonia in January of 2014, I knew I'd be heading back the following year. This time, my mom and her husband met me in Punta Arenas and we took an "Active Adventures" tour with tons of hiking. Many of the places (Perito Moreno & El Chalten) I had been to, but several I hadn't (Torres del Paine). I don't normally see places by tour, but it was nice to step away from planning every bit of transportation, food, and lodging for awhile-especially after weeks on the road!! This first batch of pictures is from our four-day "W" trek in Torres del Paine, Chile.

And we're off! In our bus to Torres del Paine (blue towers) National Park

We saw guanacos and rhea on the way

Ready to start!

Up, up, up we go. Great views and decent weather for day 1

After we dropped our packs off and had lunch at the first refugio, we continued up, up, up.

We made it, and as we arrived, the clouds lifted! These are the towers the park is named after-and a highlight of the whole trip!

We saw a fox on the way back.

Hiking day 2: this was an easy and mostly downhill day. We stayed in Refugio Los Cuernos

Usually this is the only view we'd get of Mark as his long legs carried him far ahead of us!

Los Cuernos, or the horns

Panorama of Lago Nordenskold

Day 3: Paine Grande in the background. This was the longest day. We went up from Campamiento Italiano and lunched with this view. Then we hiked (and hiked and hiked and hiked!!) to get to our refugio for the night. It was sunny in this picture but got very windy on the way. 

While we were eating lunch we could see and hear small avalanches in the distance.

Hiking through the trees

Michelle, my sometimes-roommate, crossing a wobbly bridge! They'd only let us cross 1-2 at a time, so these bridges always had backlogs. 
Day 4 was much shorter, we hiked from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Gray. Some of the group went ice climbing but we opted out! It was incredibly windy and unpleasant on this day! We were supposed to kayak in the afternoon but it was postponed until the next morning due to the wind. Yay! Time to relax, read, and drink a beer!

The next morning the wind had died down and we were able to kayak and get close to the glacier and these little iceburgs.

That afternoon we took a boat back to the road and (after another bit of hiking) our bus. Pisco sours were served!

All our backpacks had to be pulled behind us

What a view.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Guatape, Colombia

My last stop in Colombia was definitely my favorite. I went to the lakeside town of Guatape for a night, and ended up staying for about a week, until I had to catch my next flight south. It was only a couple hours from Medellin, but a world of difference! I'd spent too much time in big cities, and it was nice to be out in the country a bit more, with outdoor activities!

On my first day I did what everyone does in Guatape: climb the 740 steps up the nearby La Piedra. The view was worth it!

The next day found me hiking to a nearby waterfall with some fellow hostellers.

I then spent a lazy day exploring the town. All of the buildings have cute fresco-like paintings on the sides. Some advertise what's sold inside, and others are just cute.
The next day a few of us at the hostel hired a driver, and went to the neighboring town of San Rafael. Here, we went on another hike to a waterfall/swimming hole, had lunch in the town and met some cute kids, and walked along a river looking for monkeys (no monkeys) and swam some more. 

Finally, my last full day in Guatape I spent learning to do something new: I took a standup paddleboard lesson! I've always wanted to try it, and water sports were big in the town. It was pretty fun!

You can see the piedra in the background here!
 My next two days involved 3 bus rides, a hostel, 3 flights, a 12-hour layover, an other un-blog-worthy activity-but I ended up in southern Chile, ready for the next leg of this adventure!!