The Bucket-list trip to Patagonia

Where and when all non-mountain lovers become mountain lovers, as I would say now. Even though I thought I wouldn’t have time anymore to go, I felt like I couldn’t leave Chile without having visited Patagonia, and oh gosh, I am glad about that.

Where to begin…

Maybe with the reason why I, in the beginning thought I wouldn’t have time to go. When I decided that I wanted to go to Patagonia, I found out about the W-Trekking. A 4-day, 3-night trekking through Patagonia with the Torres at the end. Most of the tours are all very basic with sleeping in tents and preparing own food. I thought about doing it after my internship and preferred to have a normal bed. I had never done anything like that before and knew that it was going to be very exhausting, so I would rather sleep good and have my energy for the days. In the end, nothing really suited my preference or was far too expensive.

I just couldn’t leave Chile without it. So, I decided to go to Patagonia for a weekend; “celebrating mom’s birthday in Patagonia without mom” as I called it. It only took me much longer to arrive at my hotel than I expected. The flight was 2:45 minutes and then still around 3 hours with a bus. I thought: “Ohh 2 hours by flight and 1 hour by bus”. I had done my research very very well… NOT.

Horses don’t like me

Third time on a horse. Third time that the horse doesn’t listen to me. I am getting my doubts about my relationship with them, but okay.

On Friday I had a horseback riding tour from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. Yes, quite long and yes, I couldn’t sit normal on my ass that evening and day after.

I booked the tour with Pingo Salvaje which I am so happy with. Apparently and understandable, do not so many people book the full-day tour, so as you can probably guess, was it just me and the guide. She is from Switzerland, 47 years old and has lived in Chile for seven years now, with quite an interesting story. Because we had so much time together, we mainly told me how it is to life here.

At most of the farms in Patagonia they work with routes which means that the people work 11 days on and have then 4 or 5 days off. At Pingo Salvaje the people sleep and eat at the farm because it is too far from Puerto Natales (the city where my hotel was, by the way). She was happy with the farm where she now is, because they get treated as human beings and the amount of food they get is bearable, this hadn’t always been the case. They earn around 550 euro’s a month and she told me that most of the people go and live in a hostel, which is also still expensive, or at friends while they have their days off, because it is impossible to rent an apartment or room (most of them around 300 euro’s a month).

It is so interesting for me to talk with the people here and then also, especially with European people, how they experience it. Besides working for Pingo Salvaje, she has always loved to become a shepherd, that was also her reason for coming to Patagonia. However, because the difference between men and woman is still very big in Patagonia (and also Chile, in general), the men don’t allow woman to become a shepherd. She told me that they were always nice to her and let her do some work until she told them she wanted to do what they do and learn that, too. They didn’t tell her, but she knew it right away: “Woman shouldn’t do such heavy work”. Therefore, she went to Pingo Salvaje, but told me, that she maybe will go back after the season to Switzerland, because there is no future here.

About my horse now, yeah she didn’t listen either, but I was very proud of her. Because, the mountains we went up to were insane high, I actually sometimes felt sad for her because it was so heavy and steep. The views we got very amazing though, it made me so calm, and the weather conditions were perfect for a day like this.

The canceled tour

Those things happen, too. Tours that get canceled because of the weather conditions. It was on Saturday and I had to wake up at 5:15. Everything went according to plan; I had breakfast, I got pickup and we went to the boat. We would go to the Serrano Glaciers and Balmaceda.

After we were on the boat for 1,5 hour the caption told us that it was getting to dangerous and we had to go back. Tour canceled. I must say that I agreed with his decision. I also went outside once to make some pictures and get some fresh air (helloooo seasickness), because the view was amazing!

But while I was outside, I got soaked and that wasn’t because it was raining ha-ha. It felt like I spend my whole day at the beach house and had swam in the sea. Besides that, as you also can see in the picture below, which I couldn’t see, because there was too much water in my eyes, did I need to hold myself every single second. It would have been, swim swim then, and I wasn’t really in the mood for that.

Unfortunately thing is that while I was back in town around ten o’clock in the morning, all the other tour agencies had already left. In the beginning it felt as if I was waisting my day. I could have done a hike somewhere, but yeah, me alone, in the middle of nowhere, I already saw myself on the news: “Dutch woman lost in Patagonia mountain”. Ha-ha, so yeah that was a NO GO. I just slept first, very tired from very early clock, then I went for my run because I was so blessed with having the sea around me that I had to run near it, and after I just went for a walk through town. Oh, and ate at the same restaurant as on Friday. I don’t know why I always do that when I travel alone, maybe to get a connection with people or just because I like the food. You tell me? Ha-ha.

The wrong tour

I was doubting whether I should call this title as it is now or as “Totally Isabelle”, because Sunday ended up a lot different than I expected.

As always did I get picked up by the agency. By the way do I want to tell you that I really don’t like that. They tell you to pick you up, for example between 6:30 and 7:00. So, yeah, I am always ready at 6:30, waiting outside. But that, waiting always takes so long and makes me so nervous. Until now, I have always had something where I could think that they would forget me or thought that I would do the tour on a different day, because most of the time I got picked up “too late”. I never had any problems with the pick up though and it is nice that they do it, but I would prefer to go to the agency myself.

I was the last one and while we were heading to the pick up the last ones, I heard some Australians in the back of the bus. I had a good feeling about that day. Until…. grandma came in the bus with her husband, daughter and two little children. No offense to them, but I was wondering if they knew what we were doing today. The grandma couldn’t even walk properly and we were going to do a hike of 9 hours including climbing…

In the end, after I had spoken with one of the Australians who told me that they all had sore muscles because they had done the trekking the day before, I realized that I was the one who didn’t know what we were doing today. The tour of Sunday was indeed through the Nacional Torres del Paine Parque, but not the trekking, just in the bus from viewpoint to viewpoint. I was very disappointed and sad, because the reason why I came to Puerto Natales/Patagonia was for the trekking and now I had to leave without…

Nevertheless, was that day an amazing day and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. Here some incredible and magical pictures for you all. I just don’t think I should say more about it, only that nothing else in the world will ever give you the feeling or amazement that Patagonia will do. Because what a place, indescribable!

Another thing which I find funny, is that I think 75% of the people that I have seen that weekend were “older people”. It was like: “Okay, the children left the house, the children aren’t coming on holidays with us anymore, so we can finally do what we like, finally go to Patagonia.”

When I got home from that fantastic day, I knew I wanted to stay longer and had discussed some things and ideas with the Australians. They were very kind and helpful. They called me: “Organized, because I had my clothes and protein bar ready”. Whereon I answered: “Organized, but still booked the wrong tour…”. “Yeah, we already thought: So, that girl looks sportive for just sitting in the car”. Ha-ha.

In the end, I figured everything out and found a company to do the trekking with on Monday. I only had to look if I could still change my flight for an affordable price and stay in my hotel a night longer. If that wouldn’t be the case I also of course could have gone to a hostel, but that wasn’t needed. Everything worked out and although I had to pay a bit more for my rebooked ticket than I hoped I did it. Because I couldn’t leave without climbing that mountain.

The final big day

Pick up at seven, nervous again, because at seven fifteen they still weren’t there…

I was the last one, and ended up at the back of the bus with three men around me. We got in a chat, because it was a two hours drive to the park. However, I preferred to shut my mouth because the roads were so bumpy that I felt sick, again. Got it from daddy, my friends.

The night before I downloaded a lot of podcasts of Spotify because I knew I wouldn’t be able to listen to music, nature, and talk with the people for eight or nine hours. In the end, I didn’t even listen to all of them, because our group had a great atmosphere and was very open, although the group got split into two. Not that I want to give myself a high price, but I was in the fast group, which, in the end, only existed of my three male friends, the male guide, and me. I surprised myself so much with how much energy I have, how much my body was able to handle, and how much I liked it (even though it started to rain after 1,5 hour and didn’t stop until we got back + it was very windy and cold).

So, yeah, the hike itself was heavy and sweating, but it wasn’t so heavy that I wanted to stop. It is more that my body wasn’t used to walk for so long that it gets done. The last bit before we would end up at the Torres was by far the heaviest. It was around 1,5 hour of only climbing slippery and muddy rocks. The guys didn’t lose their tempo, so I couldn’t either. I thought to be empty when I finally finally arrived where we are did it for. Where I did change my flight, booked another night in my hotel, for. The three bucket list towers. I was soaked from the rain, cold, tired, hungry, and the towers were in the clouds, but I couldn’t care less actually. I made it and I was so proud of myself, same as for the four men whom I was with. So cute, they all hugged me and told me how proud they were of me.

After a quick lunch it was time to get back and I was glad, because my body was getting too cold. Going down was much harder than I expected. Even much harder than going up. It is less intensive, but the balance and coordination of your body/muscles was so important. Especially, when everything is slippery and muddy. I also fell one time, got pain in my finger, but one of the guys whom I was with, is a doctor, so yeah, lucky me. All good now, by the way.

The only less fun part about something big and long like this, is after you have seen your achievement you still need to get back. It took us 3,5 hours from the towers to the bus and the last 30 minutes I was so done. My knee started to hurt again, from an old injury, and I couldn’t wait for my big plate of pasta. I don’t know if it came to your mind, but I haven’t shown much pictures about this part. That is because:

  1. We walked a lot through a forest, not very special pictures.

  2. I was too much focused and tired to make pictures.

So sorryy!

CONCLUSION:

In the end, we walked 24.5 kilometers and 39.244 steps. A warm shower and my pasta were the only things I wanted, but I felt so complete, so blessed and happy. Everything had been so worth it!

I celebrate the day with eight others from the group at, again, the restaurant where I always ate, and finished the evening with the three men from the “fast” group in a bar. They had their beers, I had my Piña Colada.

A life time experience and the last thing I want to say is: “If you have the possibilities go to Patagonia, don’t doubt, go!”

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