Puerto Natales, Chile: Milodón Cave and Torres del Paine Take 2 [Day 66]

Day 66 | Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today is our last day in Puerto Natales. Tonight we will take the bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, about 3 hours South, but first we are going to take a tour of the Milodón Cave and Torres del Paine National Park. After yesterday’s debacle I am hoping that today we will return having witnessed the wonders of the park: Lake Sarmiento, Amarga Lagoon, Lake Nordenskjöld, the Salto Grande waterfall, Lake Pehoé, the Paine River, Grey Lake, and Grey Glaciar.

The tour bus will be arriving any moment for another early morning departure, 7:30am. A very large tour bus just arrived and I am starting to have a sinking feeling about today already. 

We have been very lucky so far during our time in South America and of all the tours and excursions we have done we have been fortunate enough to be a part of some pretty small groups. Today is going to be a deviation from that. We are on a bus with 40 other people and several of our companions for today have already shown a disregard for the schedule and we aren’t even an hour into this adventure. I am starting to think we might not be meant to see Torres del Paine National Park.

1 | Milodón Cave [Cueva del Milodón]

A natural monument where the skin, bones, and other parts of a giant ground sloth (Mylodon darwini) were found in 1895. The mylodon is a bit of a town mascot in Puerta Natales. There are several caves and a rock formation called Silla del Diablo (Devil’s Chair) that make up the monument. We only got to tour the first main cave given the time constraints of our tour but we did get to see a beautiful full rainbow.

2 | Lake Sarmiento [Lago Sarmiento de Gambóa]

A vibrant, glittering turquoise lake with the snow capped Monte Almirante Nieto and the iconic granite Torres del Paine anchoring the backdrop.

3 | Amarga Lagoon [Laguna Amarga]

A cool icy blue grey body of salt water encompassed by soft white shores caused by evaporation leaving the salt behind. This sight greets you as you enter the park.

4 | Lake Nordenskjöld [Lago Nordenskjöld]

A lake named after Otto Nordenskiöld who discovered it in the beginning of the 20th century.

5 | Salto Grande Waterfall

The outfall of Lake Nordenskjöld to Lake Pehoé. This is the first real moment I am regretting not asking the maximum size of this tour as we are stopping along the road to view this waterfall across Lake Pehoé instead of pulling into the parking lot and getting to hike to the viewpoint to get to see it up close, to hear it thunder, feel the ground trembling, or the mist on our faces because we are behind schedule.

6 | Lake Pehoé [Lago Pehoé]

Yet another glittering lake within the park. This one boasting a hotel just off its shore.

7 | Grey Lake & Grey Glacier [Lago Grey & Glaciar Grey]

A cool grey colored lake capped on one end by a glacier that shares the name. Determined to not be robbed of seeing the glacier from the viewpoint we hustled from the parking lot, down a trail, across a suspension bridge, across a giant spit of sand and gravel to a small land mass which we travelled the length of to reach the viewpoint. It was worth it. Not only did we get a glimpse of the glacier, we also saw several icebergs that had previously been obstructed by the land mass we had just travelled the length of to reach the viewpoint.

With that our second take on Torres del Paine National Park concluded and we headed back towards Puerto Natales. Upon getting dropped off at our hotel we claimed our luggage from the front desk and had them hail us a taxi. A quick taxi ride to the bus terminal, the purchase of bus tickets from Buses Fernández to Punta Arenas, and we boarded the bus for a 3+ hour drive South to continue our exploration of the Chilean Patagonia region.

Helpful Links:

Milodón Cave

Company Booked Tour Through – Carfran Patagonia

Company That Conducted The Tour – Hotel Glaciares

Bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas – Buses Fernández

 

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