Dec 3, 2011

Torres del Paine to Calafate, What Not to Do and Plan X

If you happen to stay in Torres del Paine and want to continue forward to El Calafate, be sure that you have the AlwaysGlacier vouchers, pre-booked and pre-printed. Work with a tour operator beforehand to help with this. Yes, it is true that you can take the bus on its way back from a Full Day tour to Torres del Paine from Calafate at around 5 p.m, but it is almost always full during the season.  My father got a taste of what improv travelling is all about, when we found ourselves in a park ranger station without a ride. Everything happens for a reason though...

After a lazy day in the Las Torres hotel, we made our way to Laguna Amarga ranger station at around 4 p.m. There were about ten people waiting to board the bus, and there was only one spot left and still four of us. My Spanish and chit chat guaranteed us with the driver the one seat available, and also the tour guide's seat who was getting off shortly after. However, the other two guys had vouchers for the next day. Sadly, the next-day vouchers won, when the tour guide called their office, and we found ourselves stuck there.

Plan X, because there really was no other plan kicked in. Francisco the oldest serving ranger in Torres del Paine was kind enough to let me make a satellite phone call to the Amerindia Patagonia Hostal where we had spend one night in Puerto Natales. Paula from the hotel answered the phone, recognized my voice and said hello to me by name, and within 3 minutes, we had a room for the night, and a ride arranged to El Calafate the next day. How can you not love a Hostal with a host like this.

Now we only had to find our way to Puerto Natales.  After asking a couple of cars stopping by, we and a korean couple got a ride in a private van about 20 minutes later, who had just left some passengers in the park, for the same fare as the bus. ($7,500 Chilean Pesos, each I think.) So, we saved ourselves a couple of hours of waiting for the last bus to Puerto Natales at 7 p.m. We got to chat with Francisco while we waited about some interesting park stories, and then with Roberto our driver about the sheep shearing and wool selection process in Patagonia. That was his other seasonal job.

Finally back in Puerto Natales, we had time to delight ourselves with a nice walk around town,

 and feasted on a slowly smoked Patagonian Lamb on a stick (Cordero al Palo) and a flavorful Newen - Fin del Mundo Pinot Noir.

Everything happens for a reason !