explora Torres del Paine
More than a National Park. A paradise to go.
He began his 10-day journey to the mythical Torres del Paine with his father and older brothers, all of them sportsmen and extremely inspired. Excited about this trip to Patagonia, they had planned every detail for months. They were moved by the wonders shared by former visitors about the impressive landscapes of Chile’s extreme south. But Benjamin is not quite sure. He is the youngest. Aged 13, he is still shorter than other boys his age. He sees so much excitement around him that he hesitates to show his insecurity: he doesn’t know if he will be able to make it.
It was a bad start. His backpack, proportional to his weight, got filled with imaginary rocks a few miles after the start. A little bit ashamed, he had to accept sharing the load with others and felt quietly relieved. The wind blew strong but he felt he had too much clothes on. What about these socks? Weren’t they supposed to be softer? And shoes? Weren’t they light and firm?
The Famous “O” in Torres del Paine
There are many ways to approach the National Torres del Paine Park. The horns can be seen from infinite points and visitors can decide among different options, depending on their physical condition and the time available. Are you content just by looking at them from far? It is possible. Or do you want to border one of the sides of the so called “W”. Why not? And what about circling around? That too!
Only the brave can take the “O” tour. Those for whom just being there isn’t enough. It is for those who want to conquer Torres del Paine; to get a hold of them. Those go for the grand prize who care and feel proud about arriving at places that only a few can reach.
The route that covers about 62 miles takes approximately seven days to complete. There is a camp at the end of each span where a tent is placed, come rain or shine. Shower? Sometimes it’s better to forget about smells. Comfort? Very little. But those who come here fall in love with everything else: views, vastness and beauty; it’s what limpid, pristine, extreme. Effort and achievement is what mesmerizes in Torres del Paine.
Walkers at Torres del Paine
Step by step, Benjamin went on. Rocky trails took him to camps in Serón, Dickson, Los Perros. One after the other, the days added up in Torres del Paine and his legs became stronger.
The north route is much less populated. Only travellers that take the “O” in Torres del Paine have the privilege of watching the Southern Ice Field from an altitude of 1,350 meters at the John Garner Pass. And finally, they reach every visitor´s destination: the Grey Glacier. Such an intense, pure and unreal blue.
The number of walkers increases at Paine Grande. They are the ones covering the “W” route and therefore look fresher and cleaner. At the Cuernos refuge he was visited by condors that claimed their property. He will never forget the sound of ice breaking in the French Glacier.
Benjamin and his group continued excited to the grand finale: climbing the base of Torres del Paine. They had watched them from so many points that they felt overwhelmed by being at the foot. Experience is what actually matters and it becomes the narrator of a journey which is finally a personal journey –regardless of whether you are part of a group.
The Torres del Paine “Legend” is Born
When they reached the last camp, the small expedition is approached by one of the Torres del Paine park rangers whom they met at different spans of the road. “I was waiting for you”, he said. “My partners have been reporting your progress. Benjamin, you are the youngest person who has ever completed the walk through Torres del Paine National Park. It’s a true honor to meet you; you are a legend”.
And this is because Torres del Paine helps everyone to become his/her own personal legend. It is for the expert trekker keen on flora and fauna. It is for city dwellers who want to run away from the overexposure to steel and cement. It is for the penniless backpacker and for the well-off who can afford amenities. The route allows everyone to learn about themselves and to know what they are capable of.
Torres del Paine is many things at the same time: lenga forests; muddy tracks or loose stones; mighty views to lagoons and glaciers. At some points, descending is harder than climbing. There is the dramatic destruction of fire and the hope of young trees growing. But above all, Torres del Paine makes the same pledge to all: living the experience.
The Grand Finale at Torres del Paine
His father said there would be a surprise waiting for them. But they never thought the word luxury would be included. That night, after taking a long bath in the pool of the explora hotel, Benjamin understood the meaning of that word. Clean clothing; fresh and delicious food; soft sheets with a rest-like scent.
And the best of all is that the explora hotel was still within the borders of the Torres del Paine National Park. From every window the horns kept luring them suggestively. It was like extending the dream at an even higher experience level.
That night small groups were gathering at the hotel’s lobby. They were preparing for some of the 50 walking or horseback riding expeditions offered by explora Patagonia. Some would go out for a half a day, others for a full day; some routes would be easy, others physically demanding. But at the end of the day, everyone in Torres del Paine climbs into a confortable bed. “I am not going to miss the tent”, though Benjamin. In spite of his youth, he already felt heavily the many uncomfortable and cold nights. But before closing his eyes, he knew that the best was still to come. explora offered them to get to an even less explored place in Torres del Paine. A place reserved only for a few selected ones…those who want to become legends.