San Pedro de Atacama

After a week of exploring Salta and the Jujuy region it was time for us to move on to the desert. We took an early day bus from Purmamarca as we’d heard the scenery was particularly beautiful along the road to the Atacama. By chance we had front window seats giving us amazing cinemaesque view of the Andes as we cut through the towering mountains toward Chile, passing through salt flats, volcanoes and deserts. The boarder crossing was quick and painless, and after a basic lunch provided by the bus company we arrived in San Pedro, the gateway to the Atacama desert and the salt flats of Uyuni.

San Pedro is a small but touristy town due to it’s proximity to the Uyuni Salt Flats, making it a popular stop off for backpackers working their way up to Bolivia. There are also some highly recommended things to do around the town including star and planet gazing, the Luna Valley and trips to Volcanos and Geysers. Positioned in the heart of the Atacama desert, and surrounded by volcanoes and canyons, the town is comprised of single-level huts made from mud bricks, with a few bars, restaurants and numerous tour operators all selling pretty much the same tours.

We decided to stay in Hostel Rural, a hippy hostel that looked like something out of Burning Man festival. With hammocks, a bar and helpful staff giving advice on tours, it was a great place to stay while we prepared for our Salt flats trip. San Pedro is one of the best places in the world to see planets due to its high altitude and lack of ozone. Unfortunately, the day we arrived the moon was too bright, meaning the conditions weren’t suitable for star gazing that evening (which we were a bit gutted about). Instead, we booked the Luna Valley tour the following day, one of the main attractions in San Pedro. That evening we had a few beers with fellow travellers, and found a great sandwich shop offering lentil burgers and shredded beef sandwiches (we made more than one visit!).

The Luna Valley

Our tour to the Luna Valley started at 4pm in the afternoon, so we had time for a lazy lunch before setting off. We were picked up in a minivan with several others and driven about 30 minutes out of the town to the first stop on the tour. On arrival we had to pay a park entrance fee before were taken to Pedra do Coyote, an amazing mirador overlooking the Luna Valley. Our guide explained the geological history of the area, and how the valley had been created by rising tectonic plates and evaporating salt lakes.

We then jumped back on the minivan and were driven down into the huge expanse of orange and white mountains made out of rock salt. We could understand why the area had been named Luna Valley, as it definitely felt like another planet! We trekked along a steep, narrow path through the rock salt formations and into the Salt Cavern, where we needed torches to navigate the tight passageways and tunnels to get to the other side.

After the cave we got back in the minivan for a short drive to an interesting rock formation called The Three Marys, a group of rocks that looked like three women praying. One of the Marys had been knocked down by tourists over a decade ago, but the other remaining two still bared a resemblance at the right angle.

We then were taken to our final stop, the Great Dune, to watch the sun set over the central crater. We climbed our way up to a narrow ridge on top of the huge sand dune in order to get the best spot. There were already a number of people waiting at the top, but it didn’t detract from the incredible 360 view.

It was a fantastic sunset, with vibrant reds and oranges beaming through the clouds and turning the Andes behind us vivid pinks and purples. The panoramic views were spectacular and we spent half an hour watching the light fade away before we made our way back down the ridge to the minivan.

The Salt Lagoons

Much to our luck, the day we decided to go on the lagoons tour was overcast, and the temperature had dropped a lot. This meant that the pools were a bit on the chilly side, but that didn’t stop us from going along to experience swimming in the floating salt pools. We were picked up at 4pm, and with spirits still high made our way to the first lagoon.

On arrival we had to pay another park fee (which was pretty expensive!) before heading to the changing rooms not far from the lakes. The water was very cold - It reminded us of swimming on a ’summers day’ in England! It was, however, a lot of fun floating in the salt water, and was near impossible to swim due to our buoyancy! We stayed in until we started getting really cold, clambered out and made our way back to the bus feeling very salty!

After a 20 minute drive we reached the second pool, and by now most people were not feeling keen to jump in: the dramatic drop in temperature was not what they’d signed up for! Us being Brits, and having experienced colder water, couldn’t turn down the chance, so we led the way with big dives, much to public applause! It was pretty cold but as this pool was fresh water it got a lot of the salt of us.

We then made our way to the Salar de Atacama to watch the sun set. By now the weather had really started to kick off and a storm was taking place over the mountains with dramatic bolts of lighting every minute or so! We were given Pisco Sours and some snacks, and chatted with the other tour members whilst trying to get a photo of the lightening. 

Despite unusually cold weather during our stay (We’ll blame it on El Niño!), we found San Pedro to be a great place to relax, meet lots of new people and gather research and recommendations for our trip ahead. The Luna Valley tour was excellent, with stunning scenery and wild weather revealing the desert landscapes at their most colourful. San Pedro was, for us, a stop gap between the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, but we were really glad we stayed for an extra few nights to experience some of what the Atacama desert had to offer.

Santiago and Valparaíso

After a 14 hour night bus we had left behind the landscapes of Patagonia and arrived in central Chile to visit a couple of cities that were on our travel list. First up was the capital city of Santiago, followed by Valparaíso, a small but charming city on the west coast. We had only done a little research on both, and so we're keeping an open mind, keen to see what the cities had to offer in terms of sights, culture and cuisine.


We hadn’t been in a big city since Buenos Aires and so were excited to experience the buzz of the Chilean capital. As we only had 2 days, (and one of them was a Monday where a lot of things are closed in South America) we decided to visit the cities highly rated galleries while they were open. Our hostel Santiago Backpackers was centrally located, making it perfect to visit everything we wanted to in a short timeframe.

Galleries and Museums

Our first stop was Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a beautiful 19th century Beaux-arts style building home to Santiago's contemporary art scene. Luckily for us it was free entry to all exhibitions, and as we entered the main hall we were treated to a huge installation made out of suspended purple tissue paper. Making our way around the other exhibitions we came across a dark curtained room where Chilean artist Norton Maza’s dramatically lit installation depicting the rapture hung from the ceiling. We were very impressed with the variety and interest of each room in the Bellas Artes gallery, especially for a free exhibition.

The next cultural stop-off was the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Pre-columbian Art Museum). The museum had a fascinating collection of pre-columbian artefacts, categorised by the location of ancient civilisations of Central and South America including Mesoamerica, Isthmo-Colombian, Pan-Caribbean, Amazonia and the Andean regions. It was great to delve deeper into the ancient history of South America as we wandered around the beautifully presented exhibits.

From ceramics and masonry to beautifully intricate fabrics, it was really interesting to see such advanced techniques used so long ago. Also on display was an amazing configuration of threads called Quipu (or talking knots) that represented some kind of historical data using a series of knots and coloured strands, revealing the incredible sophistication of the ancient inca people.


We'd been advised by other travellers that the Tours 4 Tips walking tours were very worth while, so the following day we met our guide (dressed as Wheres Wally!) at 10am and made our way to the first of Santiago’s many famous food markets including Mercado Central and La Vega Central. We wandered round various fruit and vegetable stalls selling exotic fruits deemed too good to export.

Our guide explained the tight and often emotional relationships that occur between sellers and buyers, and how loyalty was an important part of market culture in Santiago. What we loved most was that people of all ages in Santiago met to haggle and bargain for the best fruit, veg and meat in the city, regardless of social class or privilege.

We decided to have lunch at the bustling Mercado Central with a few members of our tour group. It was packed with locals and heckling waitresses, and after choosing a place we were keen to try out the specialties including Machas a la Parmesana (Razor clams with cheese) and Pastel de Java (Chilean Crab Pie). Our waitress was a real character and recommended us local dishes and even smuggled us wine into Sprite bottles as she didn't strictly have a licence! There were big group hugs all round by the end of the meal and other than the razor clams - a required taste - we really enjoyed our traditional Chilean lunch experience.

Cementerio General de Santiago 

Our next stop in the Tours 4 Tips route was the main cemetery in Santiago, Cementerio General. We weren't sure if it was going to feel underwhelming after visiting La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, but in fact we found it even more interesting. Unlike Recoleta, Santiago’s main cemetery accommodates all social classes, using high-rise style buildings to house the less wealthy as well as grand and often over-the-top mausoleums to celebrate the rich and privileged. We were taken to the children's graves, including local child Saints, covered in flowers and toys. The final stop was the grave of the former president Salvador Allende where we were given a brief history lesson on Chile's turbulent and bloody politics in the 70's due to the rise in power of Augusto Pinochet.

We ended the tour in a bar where we were all offered a Terramoto, a Chilean cocktail consisting of sweet fermented wine and pineapple ice cream. It was definitely an interesting combination! Terramoto translates to earthquake in Spanish, and our guide explained that due to Santiago’s seismic location earthquakes were extremely common, and if we did experience one we were only to panic if the locals did!

Santa Lucía Hill

As the main viewpoint (Cerro San Cristobal) was closed due to maintenance we decided to walk to Santa Lucía Hill to take in the views of the city. On the way we picked up some amazing Gelato at Emporio La Rosa (obviously not as good as Nonnas) and made our way to the steps. Thinking it was just a view point, we were surprised to find a beautiful landscaped garden with crumbling buildings and walkways that snaked up the hill. From the top there was a decent view of the expansive city, and it was great to see the beautiful old Spanish colonial architecture dotted amongst the glassy skyscrapers.

Asian feasts in Santiago

We had experienced some amazing food in South America during our travels, but we had really started to crave Asian cuisine. As Santiago is a very multi-cultural city we thought we'd take advantage by visiting a couple of the Asian restaurants in the capital. Before our first meal we went for a quick drink at the W Hotel to get a view of the city by night. The Pisco Sours were massively over priced but the view was amazing, and it was great to see the scale of the city from such a height.

On our first night we decided to go to Rishtedar, a small but charming and well reviewed Indian restaurant located close to the El Golf Metro stop. We ordered up an Indian feast of popadoms, tikka masala, prawn curry and garlic naan; it was a real treat for the tastebuds after far too many empanadas and papas frittas!

On our second night we decided to visit another well reviewed restaurant called Vietnam Discovery for some more spicy flavours. The shabby entrance looked at home on the Kingsland Road in Hackney, but once in we were taken through a passage leading to an amazing Vietnamese themed oasis! The food and atmosphere was brilliant and even though not exactly a South American experience it was interesting to see that Asian food was just as popular in Santiago as it is in London.


Only 1 hour from the capital, Valparaíso is a popular city to visit due to its colourful buildings and vibrant bohemian culture. We had done a bit of research prior to arrival and had learnt that Conception was the best area to stay. Filled with amazing street art, steep steps and cosy cafes and bars, the area was a perfect base for our 2 day visit. 

Our hostel, Casa Volante, was located on the Fischer steps above a great bottle shop that sold regional craft beers. On our first night the hostel was hosting a small BBQ, so after a quick wander around the picturesque streets we took the chance to chill, drink local wine and beer and chat with other hostel guests about their travels.

The following day we were advised to take another Tours 4 Tips city tour. We had heard the afternoon session was more interesting, so after a leisurely lunch we met up with the tour guide in the central plaza at 2pm. We were taken to the docks where we were told about the historic importance of Valparaiso due to its ideal half-way location for cargo ship travelling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After the opening of the Panama canal in the early 20th century, the port became more or less redundant. However, the city had become an UNESCO heritage site in 2003, allowing Valparaíso to retain its historic interest and charm. The colourful buildings and graffiti-clad walls with sunny ocean views made the city perfect for strolling around.

What we found particularly interesting was the impact that the port had on the architecture of Valparaíso. As we continued the tour up to Conception hill we noticed the all buildings were covered in colourful corrugated iron. We were told that this was due to the fact that cargo ships carried iron to add extra weight to their ships when sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which was subsequently dumped in Valparaíso, making a perfect humidity-resistant material for covering their houses.

To prevent rust the iron sheets were painted with leftover boat paint, hence the bright colours. The tour was ended at a secret historic residence, where we were offered a Vino Pipeño (sweet wine) and were given the chance to ask additional questions about the city.

That evening we treated ourselves to a meal at La Conception, where we had pisco sours followed by amazing seafood dishes of crab ravioli and conger eel (a national delicacy) with a great view of the city. We then went to a small bar and drank Terremoto cocktails like locals! It was the perfect way to end our stay in Valparaiso, which although small had a lot of interest and culture; it had positioned itself as one of our favourite cities on our trip.

Santiago and Valparaiso were relatively short stop-offs on our travels up to the Atacama, but we loved the atmosphere and local culture of both cities. Santiago might not be as epic as Rio or charming as Buenos Aires, but it certainly made a lasting impression on us during our 2 days there. Valparaiso oozed charm and character, and was a great place to explore for a couple of days. From bustling food markets to amazing fresh fish, world-class galleries to colourful street art, our stay in both cities in central Chile had been short but very sweet.

Patagonia — Vistas and Volcanoes

After the W trek we needed a few days to recover, launder clothes and plan the next stage of our journey. We had a lot of distance to cover and a few strategic points to visit in a relatively small window of time if we were to keep the trip on track. We'd researched the areas between Southern and Northern Patagonia, and knew there were some exciting things to do and see. Our route took us up the Andes, weaving in and out of Argentina and Chile, stopping at key cities and sights along the way.

El Chalten

Our first destination was the small town of El Chalten, 420km north of Puerto Natales, and home to the famous Fitz Roy mountain. There were no direct buses from Puerto Natales so after crossing the border into Argentina we had to make an over night stop back in El Calafate and catch an early bus to El Chalten. El Chalten’s mountains are visible from the town and so you instantaneously feel the rewards. With vast valleys, rivers, lakes, circling condors, autumn trees and towering mountains: it's Patagonia at it’s best.

Seeing as it was a beautiful day we dropped our bags off in our hostel and got our (still recovering) knees back into action. We’d arrived late afternoon so decided to do a short hike to the Fitz Roy Mirador before dark. We stopped off at various look-out points along the way and had great views of the surrounding landscapes. As we reached the look out for Fitz Roy, even though it was a clear day, a cloud had perched itself on top of the iconic peaks! Despite the obscured mountains, the setting was beautiful, and being so close to the town felt like a complete luxury. 

The following day we set off for another hike to Laguna Torre in hopes of seeing the iconic Torre massif. The hike was around 3 hours each way but it was relatively flat, and without heavy bags it felt easy in comparison to Torres del Paine. Unfortunately the clouds descended again as we arrived at the lagoon and the epic mountain view wasn't visible. As it started to rain we powered back to our hostel to have a quick shower and dinner before boarding the night bus to our next destination: Bariloche, Northern Patagonia. 


After a pretty uncomfortable 30 hour coach ride from El Chalten (with bumpy roads and very few breaks) we were relieved when we started to pass the amazing lakes and lush mountains of Bariloche. Feeling a little sleepy from the journey we slowly made our way up to our hostel, Penthouse 1001. The hostel was located in a converted 10th floor apartment block, giving great views of Lago Nahuel Huapi, the largest lake in Bariloche. We cooked up some much-needed roast vegetables for dinner and watched the sun set, excited to explore the area the next day.

Unfortunately it was raining the following morning, so we took the opportunity to catch up on our admin from the last few weeks in the comfort of the lovely hostel. By the afternoon the weather perked up so we caught the local bus to the base of the chairlift to see the famous 7 lakes view. From the top it was easy to understand why Bariloche was so highly rated; the blue lakes surrounded by tree-covered hills and jagged mountains, the dramatic scenery reminded us a bit of Rio! After taking in the views we headed back to our hostel to try out the industrial-style kitchen and cook up our favourite recipe, chicken a l'orange! We had a lovely evening drinking with fellow travellers in a hostel that had definitely positioned itself as one of our favourites. 

The following day brought rain once again, so we begrudgingly canceled our kayaking plan and explored the town instead. Bariloche itself is a lovely Swiss-style town with wooden alpine architecture, great restaurants, Saint Bernard dogs(!) but also amazing artisan chocolate shops! We felt it would be culturally irresponsible to not try out the local specialities, and we were not disappointed. The chocolate was ridiculously cheap and very good, and after stocking up, we made our way back to hostel to pack and devour our treats. 

Puerto Varas

The following morning we took a 6 hour bus from Bariloche, which included a very lengthy border crossing back into Chile, and arrived in the picturesque town of Puerto Varas mid afternoon. After checking into Casa Azul hostel we did a short self-guided walking tour of the town, walking past the Iglesia Sagrado Corazón church and the many protected traditional German-style wooden houses.

We ended up at the lake front at sunset where we could see the snow-topped Osorno Volcano in the distance, as well as Calbuco Volcano, the third most active in Chile. Not wanting to miss the opportunity we decided to book a tour to the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park for the following day where we could visit Osorno up close.

The following day we got picked up by our tour guide for a full day of exploring the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Half an hour into the drive we took a quick stop to feed some llamas at a local farm which was (according to one of us) the ‘best dollar ever spent!’. Needless to say the food was gone in seconds.

We continued along the lakeside road until we arrived at the Vicente Pérez Rosales park entrance. We walked past a few small lakes (and even spotted a baby southern river otter!) and then took a short catamaran ride around the Todos los Santos lake, taking in the beautiful scenery. We even docked the boat up to next a small waterfall where we could fill up our bottle with fresh spring water.

We then moved on to Petrohué Waterfalls, an incredible mass of water that had found it’s way through cracks in the volcanic rock after many large earthquakes. You could really start to see the effects that the volcanoes and tectonic activity had on the surrounding ash-covered landscape. We spent half an hour looking out over the walkways at the various viewpoints of the prehistoric waterway.

After the waterfall it was time to make our way up the Volcano Osorno. The best way to see the volcano is getting two separate chairlifts (used for skiing in the winter months) and then walking as far as you can go from there. It was a surreal experience being on a chairlift without snow, and seeing the ash-covered landscape with patches of red rock and cold mist rising from the sides of volcano. 

At the summit we were treated to breathtaking views of the lake and of the Andes mountain range that shot up around us. Walking further up the steep path we could feel the awesome energy and power of the sleeping volcano beneath our feet, and as clouds floated around us we both felt incredibly glad we'd made the effort to visit.

The following day we wanted to rent a kayak, but as we’d just hit low season it was near impossible to find availability. Determined to find some kind of water-based activity, we asked the local tourist information office who explained that we could visit a thermal spa in a nearby forest. As our options were pretty low we decided to go along, and after being picked up from our hostel we arrived at the small retreat. The location was beautiful and we could hear the river nearby as we sank into the secluded thermal baths surrounded by forest. After 10 minutes in the tub we would race up the steps to the sauna, repeating the process for 2 hours. It was very relaxing, although it did feel a bit indulgent for a couple of travellers!

Even though we had been met with a few minor frustrations on this leg of our trip, it put into perspective about how lucky we'd been up to this point. This was our first time travelling really long distances, and with quite short stops in between we had little margin for error. It helped us remember that it's better to dedicate a bit more time to get the best out of each place we visit. We rounded up our trip in Patagonia with an amazing fish dinner at Casavaldes and looked forward to continuing our journey north to Chile's capital.

Patagonia — The W Trek

The W Trek is one of the most famous treks in Patagonia, and also one of the best ways to experience Torres del Paine National Park. With world-class landscapes, wild weather and breathtaking views, for many it's the experience of a lifetime. Having not had much trekking practice we were a little apprehensive about the 5-day 70km trek in the wilderness, but having spoken to other travellers about just how amazing it is we had to throw ourselves in headfirst and accept the challenge. After a 6 hour bus ride from El Calafate we arrived at Puerto Natales, Chile, the gateway to Torres del Paine.

We'd heard there was an informative talk at the hostel and hire shop Erratic Rock at 3pm every day. We decided to stay a couple of nights so we could hear the talk, hire the relevant equipment and prepare our food for the next 5 days. They offered detailed information on the route (west to east was recommended) as well as transportation to and from the park. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful, and we were grateful for the extra tips and expertise passed on by these passionate hikers. After the talk we hired our camping gear before visiting local stores to pick up food supplies, ensuring that the quantity and weight was suitable for our 5 days ahead. The following day we got up at 6am, had a final hot shower and set off for the bus to Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 1

Trail section: Paine Grande Campsite to Refugio Grey
Distance: 11 km
Duration: 3.5 hours

After a 7am bus to the national park, paying our entrance fees and listening to fire safety talks, we were dropped off by the ferry port and waited an hour or so for our catamaran. We were advised by Erratic rock to walk to a small but pretty waterfall not far from the docks. The wind was incredibly strong and at first we found it difficult to walk, even without our heavy packs! On return, we realised there was a big queue for the boat, and didn't end up getting the first one, so annoyingly had to wait for the second boat.

Once we landed, we set off to Refugio Grey, an 11km (mainly uphill) hike against the strongest winds we'd ever been in. It was quite a shock to the system, so were relieved when the winds finally died down halfway through and we were able to take in the views of Glacier Grey and Lago Grey. At 6pm we finally arrived and set up in the shelter of the campsite. We then walked to the lookout point of Glacier Grey, about 10 minutes from the camp, which was impressive even from a distance. We then walked back and prepared our first of many pasta meals in the communal kitchen in the company of fellow trekkers.

Day 2

Trail section: Refugio Grey to Campsite Italiano
Distance: 18.6 km
Duration: 6 hours

The following morning we made porridge and tea before packing up our tent and setting off on our next stint to Campsite Italiano. As we were walking back on ourselves the scenery was fairly uninteresting until we passed our starting point where the Catamaran dropped us. We wandered through scorched black and white trees where a fire had torn through the park a few years before (you can read up on it here). After a quick lunch of our own chorizo quesadillas (highly recommended) the clouds cleared in front of us to reveal Los Cuernos del Paine, an epic group of jagged pewter-coloured mountains.

The good weather held up all afternoon and we had fantastic views of the mountains ahead of us until we reached our second stop, Campsite Italiano, where we set up our tent in a small sheltered forest. The campsite had no running water so we had to climb down a river bank to a raging river to collect the ice cold fresh-off-the-glacier water! After cooking another much needed carb-heavy pasta dish and eating Nutella by the spoon-full (acceptable when trekking!) we got chatting to others we’d met along the way about their trips and experiences until it got dark and we headed back for an early nights sleep.

Day 3

Trail section: Campsite Italiano to Los Cuernos Campsite
Distance: 16.5 km
Duration: 7.5 hours

After a very wet and windy night we woke up to clear blue skies, much to our relief! We hung our wet tent up to dry during breakfast, left our packed bags at the campsite and ventured out with light daypacks to the Valle del Francés (or French Valley). Not having to carry such weight made a massive difference, and we felt a new wave of energy with our lighter packs and trekked through the stunning valleys in the beaming sunshine. Surrounded by towering snow-covered mountains, sprawling glaciers, waterfalls, raging rivers and turquoise lakes, for us it was the most amazing panoramic view we’d ever seen. After following the river through thick forest, the footpath ended at Mirador Britanico where we stopped for lunch completely surrounded by the breathtaking landscape.

Once we’d fuelled up on more quesadillas, snickers and trail mix we headed back down to Campsite Italiano to (begrudgingly) pick up our heavy packs again to head onwards to our next stop. The 3 hour hike was broken up nicely by Mirador Nordenskjöld, a beautiful panoramic lookout of Lake Nordenskjöld, before descending to a small pebbled beach. We took a short break, skimmed a few stones on the clear and completely still water before walking another 1km to our 3rd stop, Campsite Cuernos.

Day 4

Trail section: Los Cuernos Campsite to Torres Campsite
Distance: 20 km
Duration: 8.5 hours

We were pleased to wake up to clear skies once again, and after having our staple breakfast of porridge and tea we set off to the final stop: Campsite Torres. Our legs were starting to feel a little bit weary after 3 solid days of trekking, but the lighter packs and great weather kept spirits high as we walked up the steep cliff side in the warmth of the sun. As we’d made good time we stopped for a leisurely lunch at a small lake and took a 10 minute sunbathe and rested our feet.

The final stretch got really steep, and it took quite a lot of our energy to scramble up the boulder-filled path in the heat of the day. Once we finally arrived at the campsite, we decided to dump our packs, set up camp and make our way to Mirador Torres straight away. We were quite tired by this point, but the excitement of seeing Torres in clear weather was all the motivation we needed. Despite seeing other trekkers stop for the day we decided to quickly fill up our water bottles and venture up the final 1km steep incline to the final and much anticipated viewpoint. We were so glad we did, as once we arrived we were treated with an amazing clear view of Torres del Paine and the turquoise lake in front. 

Day 5

Trail section: Torres Campsite to Las Torres Hotel
Distance: 10 km
Duration: 5 hours

When doing the W trek west to east, on the final day its tradition to get up in the early hours and see Torres at sunrise. At 5am we begrudgingly woke up, packed a sleeping bag and warm clothes and set off in the dark to Mirador Torres once again, eager to witness the classic sunrise. Using head torches, we followed the small reflective arrows up the steep rocky path in the rain, not really sure why we were putting ourselves through it again! Towards the top it started to snow, but we powered on determined to make it before the sun came up. Sadly we arrived in thick fog, and could barely see the mountains at all. Although this was disappointing, it made us feel even more glad that we’d gone up the day before.

We waited as long as we could in case the fog cleared, but had to charge back down the mountain at around 9am to pack up our tent and complete the final stretch of the W. The last 8km was downhill, and although our packs were lighter without food, it was pretty tough on our knees. Hotel Torres finally came into view, and it was a huge relief to arrive at the finish line of this epic trek (there were even a few tears of joy from one of us!). We then heaved our tired bodies onto the busy shuttle bus that took us back to the park entrance, and we waited for the final coach to pick us up and take us back to Puerto Natales where well earned victory beers, dinner and hot showers awaited.

On reflection, we were so glad we’d made the effort to do the complete W trek experience. From carrying all our camping equipment through all types of weather to rationing our food and collecting our water from fresh streams, we felt a huge sense of achievement. Trekking through Torres del Paine National Park for 5 days was a real privilege, and definitely an experience of a lifetime. After a tasty grilled lamb dinner at Aldea Restaurant we headed to the Basecamp Bar for celebratory beers with our fellow trekkers, and reminisced about our incredible Patagonian experience.