Torres del Paine National Park and Cave of the Milodon National Monument – Pictorial Trip Report

Spring 2016 – 2017 in Patagonia on the border between Chile and Argentina.

It is about a four-hour drive from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park on a mostly deserted two-lane road.

Driving Through Patagonia

After three hours on the road we reached Puerto Natales, the only city in this part of Chile.  Puerto Natales is located on a finger fjord of the Pacific Ocean, Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound).

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Last Hope Sound, Puerto Natales

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After a brief rest stop in Puerto Natales, we continued the journey.2016-11-08-07-45-572016-11-08-07-40-10

Guanacos, sheep and cattle roam the countryside.img_2165img_2129

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A solitary guanaco pondering its next move.
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A friendly shepherd patrols the range.  Before it became a park, most of the area was part of an enormous privately owned sheep station.

A guanaco carcass testified to the fact that this is puma (mountain lion) country.  The puma has the greatest range of any large land mammal in the western hemisphere – other than man.  Puma habitat extends from the Strait of Magellan to the Canadian Yukon.

Cueva del Milodon Monumento Natural

Cave of the Mylodon Natural Monument is a 30-minute drive from Puerto Natales.2016-11-08-07-54-51

The Mylodon was a large ground sloth that roamed much of the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina before becoming extinct around 8,000 BC.

On his voyage aboard HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin first identified the species from bones found at a site near present day Buenos Aires.

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The Milodon was almost 10 feet tall and weighed over a ton.

Milodon bones were discovered in this cave in 1896.2016-11-08-08-04-432016-11-08-08-10-192016-11-08-08-10-28

The Milodon was smart.  It is much warmer inside the cave, and there is no wind.  img_2149

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Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine)

From the Cueva del Milodon it is another 50 miles or so to Torres del Paine National Park.

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As the sign notes, the park entrance is just south of 50 degrees southern latitude.

The park is quite large consisting of numerous mountains, lakes, glaciers and rivers.

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Inside the park we first visited a stream (Rio Paine?) and waterfall. img_2210

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The park has beautiful lakes with mountain vistas.

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Lago Pehoe
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Lago Sarmiento

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Lago del Toro

Prominent blue hued rock spires give the park its name.

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Torres del Paine
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Cuernos (horns) del Paine, a volcanic formation apparently.

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Grey Lake and Grey Glacier

Getting to Grey lake requires a short hike.

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Crossing Rio Pingo on the Grey lake Trail
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Grey Lake

Grey Glacier, part of the Southern Patagonia Icefield, feeds the lake.

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Grey Glacier feeds the lake and calves small icebergs into it.

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The wind here was the strongest I’ve ever experienced.  Standing upright was difficult at times.  Walking against the wind was exhausting.  As an experiment, I tried jumping in the air several times.  Considering that my standing vertical jump is no more than a foot, I was amazed that the wind was strong enough to move my body at least three to six inches each time!

Even without the wind, it was much colder here than in other areas of the park.20161108_160236-2_resized-1

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A gust ripples the bridge over Rio Pingo

Short Final

Going to Patagonia, the Strait of Magellan, and Punta Arenas was something I’d had in the back of my mind for a few years.  Actually visiting exceeded all expectations.  I plan to return.  The goal of the next trip will be a flight to Antarctica.

Other posts about this trip to Peru and Chile:

LATAM Airlines 767-300 Business Class, Miami, FL (MIA) to Lima, Peru (LIM)

Palacio del Inka, Cusco, Peru – A Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel

Machu Picchu – Trip Report

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) of the Inka- Trip Report

City Tour in 14 Pictures – Cusco, Peru

Hotel Review – La Yegua Loca, Punta Arenas, Chile

Trip Report in 15 Pictures – The Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Chile and Fort Bulnes

Nao Victoria Museo, Estrecho de Magallanes, Chile – Pictorial Trip Report – And New Thoughts on Who Was the First Person to Sail Around the World

LATAM Airlines 787-8 Business Class Lima, Peru (LIM) to Santiago, Chile (SCL)

American Airlines 777-200 First Class – Santiago, Chile (SCL) to Miami, FL (MIA)

First Look – American Airlines Renovated D-15 Admirals Club, Miami International (MIA)

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4 thoughts on “Torres del Paine National Park and Cave of the Milodon National Monument – Pictorial Trip Report

  1. Great stuff here! I am planning a similar trip like yours. I got a question: How was your transfer in SCL? I have a 1.5 hr connection in SCL from LIM-SCL(1.5 hr transfer)-PUQ. Was it easy to transfer + immigration in SCL? I am a bit concerned because it will be high season and the flight is only at that time of the day to PUQ. I was hoping business class would help. What are your thoughts? much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. @wchiang, Flying into SCL from LIM, I was overnighting in SCL so no international to domestic connection. Customs though seemed to be efficient. From PUQ to SCL, I was connecting economy (domestic) on LATAM to first class (international) on American. I did not need to go through customs or pick up bags. As long as your luggage is transferred for you, 1.5hr should be enough time for your connection. Have a great trip!

    Like

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