Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. G Adventures compensated me for a portion of the Patagonia Multisport trip.
Ok so that was an absolutely epic trip of a lifetime. The people, the activities and the scenery were just amazing for so many different reasons. I loved getting to know some truly great people, the activities pushed me but made me feel capable and the scenery was just awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping on a daily basis.
There are so many photos, stories and experiences to share. I’ll try to do it in the most efficient way possible so you can look at mountain, lake and scenery porn while getting excited to add something like this to your travel bucket list.
Day 1: Santiago – Arrival + Meet the Group Day
I left Toronto on a Friday night around 10pm and arrived in Santiago around 12pm the next day. We were 2 hours ahead of EST time. I had arranged for an airport transfer so with a sign reading my full name (including both middle names) I found my transport and headed off to the hotel. I met up with some other G travellers hanging out in the foyer. I was given my own hotel room which was nice and quaint (one single bed) and then met up with two Torontonians to go find food. I found out they were on another G trip leaving the same day but we’d get to spend that day together and travel to Puerto Natales together. We wandered through Cerro Sta Lucia (a nearby park) to see Castillo Hidalgo.
We finished our sightseeing tour with Fuento Neptuno, grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the hotel for our briefings. The 2 groups met seperately to find out about our travel the next day and then headed out to a local restaurant for dinner.
We headed back to the hotel for a good night sleep. I was still jet lagged from the travel day (and inability to sleep on planes) so I slept soundly in my single bed until wake up the next morning.
Day 2: Santiago > Punta Arenas > Puerto Natales – Travel Day
Travel day consisted of a 3 hour flight to Punta Arenas followed by a 3 hour bus ride to Puerto Natales. One of my best memories from the entire trip is sitting with a girl (Hi Zhana!) from the other trip on the flight and talking for 3 hours straight. It was surprising how well we meshed and I was definitely sad to part ways. I would definitely describe this moment as frienship at first sight as we our buses stopped at a pit stop a few hours later and we rushed to reunite (cheesy I know!)
When we arrived in Puerto Natales, our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Federico (Fede, for short) took me off to a restaurant as I was looking a bit peckish and ordered me meat and lettuce. He had been made aware of my food sensitivities ahead of time. Since I was unable to eat the airplane food or really anything in the airport I started inhaling the slabs of meat on our walk back to the hotel. Great first impression Robyn 🙂
On the walk back, despite the crazy wind whipping through the town I quickly snapped a few shots of the port landscape (below Muelle Historico – Old Port) before our briefing meeting that evening.
The next day was all about mountain biking so we headed back to our rooms to pack day backs and then out for dinner at a Chilean restaurants that specialized in roasted lamb. It was amazing paired with a half bottle of Carmernere (my new favourite red wine that I’ve yet to see in Ontario).
Day 3: Mountain Biking
We got dressed for the elements (rain and wind) and hopped in our van to drive a few kms out of the city to the Mylodon Caves (prehistoric sloth family). The day consisted of a few short hikes and biking (Overall 17-18kms). The Caves are an active excavation site so we had to be careful where to walk.
Mountain biking on this portion of the trail was relatively easy for my inexperienced self. We then hit the road for a 7km portion and this got a lot harder. My fear of hills re-surfaced and I went really slow on the downhills and then powered up the uphills. By the time we reached a break point I was sweating pretty hard and having a few MS symptoms. My balance was really off and my right leg had gone a bit numb. I stayed back in the van while the rest of the group completed another 7km around Laguna Sofia.
We headed back to the hotel for another briefing and re-packed our day packs, dry bags and big packs (to leave at the hotel) for the next portion of the hiking trip. Stay tuned for another post on what I had wish I had known before heading down to Patagonia that will include more details on the logistics of the trip.
Day 4: Hiking Torres Del Paine National Park W Circuit (Hiking Day 1)
Our driver took us into the National Park for our first and hardset hike of the trip. The first part of the W hike was an 8.5 hour hike up to see the Towers. We experienced basically all 4 seasons from rain and mud to snow and sun.
There was lots of snack breaks, de-layer and layer breaks, bathroom breaks and lunch breaks but it was all worth it for the amazing site of the epic Towers. Earlier that day we had seen a puma while driving into the park. While most of the day was cloudly we somehow managed a window of time where the clouds peeled back and the third tower could be seen. Not everyone was so lucky that day so we definitely called the puma our good luck charm.
Our first campsite that night was actually so epic that we dreamed about how good it was at every other place. This is a private G Adventures campsite with an amazing location, warm all season tents, thick sleeping pads and a food spread that rivalled all other meals the entire trip.
And the below spread was only the first course! I got my own bowl of avocados because the guac was made with tomatoes (which I can’t eat). When I say they catered to my food sensitivities they went above and beyond. Fede and our other guide carried gluten free bread for me and another traveller and the other guide also had a stash of Honey Stinger waffles for us when we couldn’t eat any of the cereal bars being given out by the refugios. I thankfully also brought a big bag of trail mix and granola bars in my day pack as well.
Day 5 (Hiking Day 2): This hike was much easier. We hiked along the Nordenskjöld Lake which was an epic emerald colour. We arrived at our second campsite Los Cuernos mid afternoon. I partook in a glorious shower and then we stretched and rolled out sore muscles on the lodge platform. Every single place we camped had showers and indoor washroom facilities. Although there wasn’t always hot water and the conditions weren’t the greatest you always had a chance to freshen up. I only showered here the whole trip but it was so nice.
Day 6 (Hiking Day 3): We got up to head up the middle of the W circuit to see the French Valley. This was truly a 360 degree view of amazingness.
We had lunch on this rock outcropping and had the most amazing view of the hanging glacier, the lake and the mountain (The Horns) on all sides of us. Pictures galore were taken here.
That night we hiked to Paine Grande campsite. I grabbed a tent close to the hill to hopefully cut down on wind. In the morning, we could see red foxes playing in the hillside above.
After two bottles of wine that evening (shared with an American and Australian who could drink me under the table), a game of Jenga, lots of laughter and jokes the sun came out and a double rainbow appeared. Cue all the tourists running outside with cameras and phones to try and capture the beauty.
Day 7 (Hiking Day 4 & Kayaking): We donned all our gear (it was a windy one that day) and headed to Refugio Grey to set our eyes on the Grey Glacier for the first time. We had to make it to camp by mid afternoon as we had a 2pm Kayak outing booked. We prayed all morning that the wind would subside so that we could get out on the water.
Thankfully we made it just on time and the wind died down enough for us to head out.
I love the below shot cause you can genuinely see how happy Caroline and I are to see the glacier for the first time.
A fun group shot of the 16 + CEO, Fede who took amazing care of us in Patagonia. We were such different people who came together for a love of camping, hiking and adventure. We had great conversations, embraced the suck together and came out the other side a little sorer, a little more in awe of nature and ready for more adventure.
Day 8 (Hiking Day 5 Including Ice Trekking): We took a short hike to Mirador Grey to see the glacier from another vantage point in the morning. One of the travellers, aptly named Camp Dad executed the perfect tree pose with me in front of the glacier.
That afternoon we head back to the kayak base camp for their ice hike tour. We took a motorized boat over to a land outcropping. Unfortunately, they didn’t warn the group that the waves were bad and were going to wash up and over the boat or we would’ve donned waterproof clothing. The entire boat got soaked except for me who had somehow managed to sit in the middle at the back. I had my rain coat on and sat the entire ride huddled like a turtle to avoid the elements. With the sun and wind out we quickly dried during a 2 hour hike to the glacier but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant for most. The site of the glacier quickly took all the uncomfortable thoughts away as it was simply epic to see and I can’t quite describe it in words.
With harnesses, helmets and crampons on, ice axes and cameras in hand we headed out on the glacier to explore.
This was simply the epic (I’ve used this word a lot) highlight point of my trip. I am so thankful I was able to walk on the glacier and just stunned by how small I felt in the wide landscape that was Patagonia.
Day 9 (Hiking Day 6): We woke up early at 5am and booked it back to the Paine Grande campsite to catch the 11:30am ferry out of the park. A 4.5 hour hike the day before turned into a 2 hour hike as a few of us challenged ourselves to try and beat the porters. We had locals carry our sleeping bags, camping gear and 2.5kg worth of stuff. They were leaving 2 hours after us and are incredibly fast. We thankfully got our goal and grabbed coffee and snacks and sat in the sun to enjoy the last moments in the park.
Back in Puerto Natales we had the afternoon to ourselves. I grabbed a coffee and my phone and sat here for an hour soaking in the view and trying to memorize every aspect of the landscape.
Day 10: Departure Day
For me this meant a bus to Punta Arenas (3 Hours), fly to Santiago (4 Hours), fly to Toronto (10 Hours), fly to Ottawa (1 Hour), taxi to my boyfriend’s gym for a hug and kiss and then home to collapse in my own bed snuggling my dogs 🙂
I have no idea if I’ll ever go back to the bottom of the earth. There is always the Argentinian side to discover so who knows but I’m so happy I went now in my life and saw such an amazing beauty. You must go.
If you want adventure, are comfortable hiking for 6 days straight (or know you’re capable of it), love kayaking, want to try ice trekking and love the outdoors and camping this trip is for you.