Week 21 – We spent the week in the city of Puerto Natales and in THE FABULOUS Torres del Paine park
On the Chilean side of Patagonia, the Parque Paine is really the highlight that all travelers should come to explore! Over the past 4 months we have met a lot of people telling us that it was not necessary to go that far south as the Fitz Roy on the Argentinian side was as nice as the Torres and was free when the Paine is really expensive. I could not disagree more! This small mountain range is absolutely stunning! I will give you more details in my Incredible Hikes posts soon to come. So stay tuned!
Before entering the park, we stayed few days in Puerto Natales in order to prepare our trek and enjoy the atmosphere of Patagonia. The city is situated along the shore of Ultima Esperanza Sound and is the capital of the province of the same name, itself part of the region Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. These names would make anyone dream!
The name of Ultima Esperanza was defined by the Spanish sailor Juan Ladrilleros who was seeking the Strait of Magellan in the year 1557. It was his “Last Hope” to find it after exploring the maze of channels between the waters of the Pacific and the mainland. Obviously, he failed. Founded only in 1911 as port for the sheep industry, it has declined ever since and has nowadays a population of roughly 20 000 people.
This part of Chile is really surprising as it can only be accessed by sea from Chile. It can be reached by road but only from Argentina. The region is physically separated from the rest of the country, and even if it is the largest of Chile, it is the second least populated. Most of it is closed off for sheep farming and unsuitable for settlement. The region owns a lot of our European myths: the Torres del Paine, the Cape Horn, the Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan are all part of it!
I’m afraid I will repeat myself, but… I love it!