Monday, November 26, 2007

Torres del Paine


Having spent the weekend in Torres del Paine, it was again striking how crowded the accommodations are during what, only a few years ago, was low season. The crunch will ease a bit next week when the refugios at Lago Grey, Lago Dickson, and Los Perros open, as their closure has put greater pressure on the "W" hiking route between Lago Pehoé and Hostería Las Torres, and some people had to start at park headquarters because the Paine Grande Mountain Lodge at Pehoé was so crowded.

Yesterday, driving back from the park, I took the recently opened road from park headquarters back to Puerto Natales. For people who are driving back from the park, this can save time because you don't have to double back to Villa Cerro Castillo, and most day tours of the park are now using it. It's also very scenic, with outstanding views of the Cuernos del Paine.

Regular buses, though, continue to double back because they need to pick up hikers and many people are crossing the border toward El Calafate (Argentina) at Villa Cerro Castillo. While topping off my gas tank there on the way north into the park, an Irish visitor told me that their have been fuel shortages on the Argentine side, though I can't say whether this is a temporary bottleneck or part of a larger problem (as it has been elsewhere in Argentina).

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