A clear day dawned, with stunning light on the Torres del Paine in the early morning, with mist slowly rising from the Rio Serrano.
After breakfast we set off into the National Park, with views over the many lakes between us and the Cuernos del Paine (literally, the Horns of Paine), the front elevation of this massif, formed by a plutonic eruption of magma through sedimentary rock about 12 million years ago. Hard core climbing country, the Torres de Paine massif rests on dark sedimentary rock, through which granite walls project, topped off by metamorphosed sedimentary rock and basalt. This rock is often in poor condition, so some of the summits have never been climbed.
We saw many guanaco (llama) grazing this area and on one of our longer walks in the morning, we were fortunate enough to see condor, upland geese, carancho, and a pair of grey fox and two rhea. The vegetation on this side of Patagonia is richer, with great banks of neneo interspersed with red sorrel.
After taking views over Lago Pehoe and Lago Nordenskjold we walked over to Lago Sarmiento, a lake with coral growing along the shoreline at one end of the lake, visiting a cave with some early rock paintings en route.
The views of the whole massif were impressive, made all the more so when our local Chilean guide Alexendra commented that the westerly side of the massif, Paine Grande (rising to 3050m) is rarely out of cloud.
We took a further walk in the early afternoon to view the waterfall Salto Grande between Lago Nordensskjold and Lago Pehoe, and then a closer view of the Cuernos del Paine and the Valle del Frances, the mid section of the famous ‘W’ trek along the southern side of the massif. Torrent ducks were seen at the Salto Grande.
Then a long drive west took us to the start point of the walk to view the Grey Glacier, albeit some way off in the distance, and the icebergs which had recently calved floating down the Lago Grey towards us.
Back to the hotel, quite a few kilometres today travelled on rougher gravel roads, many with corrugations, but with great vistas in all directions. A lovely part of the world when the wind isn’t blowing!
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