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Full Circle

Day 161: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile 
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Torres del Paine reflected in the lakes of one of the world's least visited National Parks.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe Torres del Paine mountains erupt from the wide rolling grassland like a geological Manhattan. The Torres themselves are stupendous - two soaring, pale yellow pinnacles, slender and graceful and shining in the sunlight. But they are only part of a rearing, twisting, galvanic upheaval of rock which has also created the Cuernos (The Horns) del Paine, two twirling, twisting peaks, and the king of the range, the Cerro Grande, over ten thousand feet high.

As we drive deeper into the park, the patterns of light and shade change constantly so that from every new angle the peaks seem to change their shape and size, one stepping grandly forward for a moment, another shrinking modestly into the background. Dazzling blue lakes add an exotic element to the compulsive beauty of it all.

It's four o'clock and the light is beginning to fade as we reach the small hosteria on the shore of Lago Grey where we shall spend the night. From the shore in front of our windows the lake stretches due north to the base of a glacier from which slabs of blue ice have calved, and drifted down the lake towards us. They lie beached on banks of gravel, eroded by the wind and rain like abandoned carnival floats.

Few souls have ventured far into the park at this time of year and we have the hosteria almost to ourselves. Sit by the wood-burning stove, playing dominoes and drinking seven-year-old scotch with seven thousand-year-old glacier ice. Sometimes work is almost bearable.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 161
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Torres del Paine
  • Book page no: 221

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