Tuesday, December 9, 2008

November 21, 2008: So many landscapes, so little time.

Suppose you had just one place to go and just 10 days to do it in all of South America: where would you go and what would you do?

We decided to make it packrafting in Patagonia, and picked the Torres del Piane Circuit as our destination.

Why? Well, the Amazon is too hot and reading “River of Doubt” about Teddy Roosevelt’s epic there has probably forever put me off to that region.

Peru? I don’t like the altitude and Chris Flowers said there’re too many cows, even if the Cordillera Blanca are beautiful.

Ecuador? The Galapagos are too expensive (and there’s no packrafting there) and my memories from the Raid Gauloise adventure race of 1998 left the foul taste of Giardia in my mouth.

Argentina? Been there, done that, at least up ‘round Bariloche, which felt too much like “Patagonia Lite” for a return trip. As for Fitzroy and Cerro Torre, awesome mountains that they are, it just doesn’t look that good for a multi-day hiking and rafting trip Brooks Range-style that we are looking for.

Chile? Now we’re talking! Torres del Paine (“Towers of Paine”) National Park has a compact range of beautiful and unique peaks. It has its namesake peaks, sculpted granite of the cleanest and sheerest variety. It has the unique Cuernos del Paine (“Horns of Paine”) -– those signature black-capped granite monoliths – as well, some more typically alpine looking glaciated summits like the Paine Grande.

And it has a world class circuit trek, which while very European with its trail of pesos, refugios, and Euro-trekkers all around also offers up a series of waters, perfect for an extended packrafting trip.

So given just 10 days in South America, a packraft, and a partner with a penchant for cool weather and mountains, we headed for Torres del Paine.

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