Since we were now staying on the edge of the park we were able to get up at a leisurely time, enjoy breakfast, and still make it into the park before 10am. We were running low on short hike options, so we decided on Mirador Condor and Glacier Grey for our last full day in the park.
It was pretty brisk at the start of the Mirador Condor hike so each of us put on all our layers. The wind subsided a bit for the switchback portion then roared to life again at the small pass near the top of the hill. It was a steep climb up, but there were beautiful views the whole way, culminating in a great panorama from very top. Lots of picturesque burnt trees enroute too.
The wind through this pass felt like a hurricane!
The views from the top are absolutely worth the climb. You can see a similar view of the mountains from the road, but you need the elevation to appreciate the glacial lakes.
When we returned to the car, Eric surprised me with an ‘E + L’ on the beach!
I had tried to book the Gray Glacier cruise the day before but the payment wouldn’t go through online and I didn’t pursue it. When I tried again in the morning, the time we wanted was sold out. If I had really wanted to make it work, I could have asked the front desk at our hotel as they would have been able to reserve it for us with no extra fees. Lesson learned!
Instead, we did the Isla de Los Hielos hike – a short walk through a nice forest, then onto a massive stony beach. Once we left the protection of the tress it was brutally windy with gusts that would take your breath away. We were happy for all the layers we had on (including my wool sweater)!
Near the beach were a few icebergs, remnants of Gray Glacier about 10 miles north. These massive blocks of ice were stunningly blue and made for some beautiful photos with the Cerro Paine Grande looming above the lake (even if it was topped with clouds).
We continued the hike onto the small island to the glacier viewpoint. Thank goodness for zoom lenses because it was difficult to get a good shot with our phones due to the distance and mist.
The island hike is a loop but everyone just went out the same way they came in so the second half of the hike we were on our own to enjoy views like the one below.
We very much enjoyed the scenery in Torres del Paine but overall were a bit disappointed in availability of medium / half-day hikes – for example, the park had closed access to a hike we’d wanted to try on our first day, and several other hikes could only be accessed via a pricey 30 minute RT catamaran ride (30K CLP, $40USD) that ran every two hours. As mentioned in our intro post, we always felt like Torres del Paine was set up to maximize money… and not something we felt in other Chilean parks.