Torres del Paine
I was particularly excited for this day as we were going to take a boat across to Grey Glacier, part of the Southern Ice Fields of Patagonia and the largest glacier in the park.
Along the way, we stopped at the incredible Paine Falls where the winds whip so quickly through the canyon that they literally blew one of our fellow travelers off his feet. He laughed it off, but I was very thankful for the sturdy railings in front of the falls as these were the strongest winds I had ever experienced. It was great fun running back down the trail with the winds at our backs. From there we visited the Visitor Center where they had a 3D model of Torres del Paine National Park that gave us a great sense of perspective. We had a picnic lunch by the lake outside the visitor center and a couple of swans stopped by to visit.
Driving around the park, our guides were always quick to stop for a nice view or a wildlife sighting and today was no exception. We stopped to see flamingos in a briny lagoon and to watch the Southern Crested Katakatas perched near the road. We also took advantage of the cloudless skies to take countless photos of the mountains all around us. It seemed like there was no end to breath-taking viewpoints!
Once we arrived at Hosteria Grey, we checked in for our boat trip and walked along a sandy beach to the dock where we would board zodiacs to the boat. The dock was thankfully quite wide as it pitched in the wind and the waves on the lake resembled tides coming in. Once on the zodiac, we bounced happily along in the waves, cheering as we were sprayed. I joked that we got a chance to whitewater raft on the lake and it was nearly true- I´ve been on rafting trips with less exciting waves!
Once onboard, our larger boat was also challenged by the intense winds and current pushing in the opposite direction. We were not permitted to go outside on the way to the glacier and that was a good thing as the waves splashed nearly to the top deck, completely covering the front windows with each wave. It was amazing! Along the way, we saw exquisitely blue icebergs that had calved off the glacier and were floating back toward the shore. It takes 3 days to 2 weeks for each iceberg to make the trip from one end of the lake to the other.
Once we arrived near to the glacier, the waters became very calm and we were able to go outside for incredible views. The glacier was massive- taller than a 6 story building and nearly a mile long. I took endless pictures of its deep blue lines and imagined running across the stiff peaks that looked like freshly whipped cream. Our fellow travelers who had recently visited Perito Moreno Glacier found Grey Glacier to be even more impressive. Though it is smaller, you can get much closer. The weather certainly helped as well since the bright sunshine made the blue ice seem all the more dramatic.
Of all the excursions in Torres del Paine, this is one that you shouldn´t miss! We celebrated with Pisco Sours complete with 10,000 year old glacial ice before taking the easy trip back to the lakeshore. With the winds at our backs, the journey was calm and we could enjoy the scenery out on deck.