This week’s guest post about solo travel in Patagonia is from solo traveler Janice Waugh.
Traveling solo is what I do but traveling alone is actually a rarity for me. I meet people along the way and, inevitably, end up traveling with them for part of my journey. Patagonia is a fantastic case in point.
The lure of Patagonia:
What is uncommon and beautiful is often valued in our culture. Patagonia is both. Located in the far south of South America, it offers piercing slate mountains, grand glaciers and deep rich valleys. Patagonia has attracted mountaineers for decades but it is only in the last decade or so that treks have opened up for the average person. In Torres del Paine, the national park in Patagonia, hikers can choose the W trek or the full circuit and see the most beautiful parts of the park.
The Navimag delivers hiking partners:
I headed down to Patagonia through the beautiful Chilean fjords via the Navimag Ferry. The four day sailing from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales (the access point to Torres del Paine) with 200 other passengers gives one time to get to know a few people. When we arrived at our destination, most solo travelers on board had found hiking partners.
Hiking in Patagonia with a partner:
The hiking partner I found was the amazing Noemie from France. She is a powerhouse of a young woman on a five month trip through South America and up the eastern coast of the United States.
Before leaving, I had booked a number of refugios for my stay in the park but when we arrived in Puerto Natales, I canceled them all. We traded warm beds for a rented tent and sleeping bags. We quickly reorganized our things leaving as much as we could in one large backpack in the hostel and set out with two smaller packs on the two hour trip to Torres del Paine.
We caught a ride into the park from Claude, another traveler from the Navimag. Thanks to that ride, Noemie and I had the trail, well, not exactly to ourselves, but much quieter than it was the next day when many from our ship arrived by bus.
On our first day, Noemie and I hiked 8 km and up about 700 meters to the campground located at the base of the final climb to the towers. The next morning, we rose early and headed for the top and, fortunately, the real prize was in sight. Often hidden behind clouds, we had a spectacular view of all three towers (the torres of Torres del Paine) and the glacier lake below.
Noemie and I hiked and camped for three days in Torres del Paine. We trekked both sides of the ‘W’ and visited the Grey Glacier as well. I hope to return one day to do the full nine day circuit.
Traveling solo is a wonderful experience, especially when you have someone to share it with.
Editor’s note: If you want to do some solo travel in Patagonia or anywhere else, Solo Traveler is a great resource.
Janice Waugh publishes Solo Traveler, the blog for those who travel alone. She has been quoted in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Toronto Star and many other media outlets. Her blog offers solo travel stories, tips, safety advice and destination ideas as well as a couple of free ebooks including Glad You’re Not Here: a solo traveler’s manifesto. Follow Janice on Twitter. If you are a solo traveler, check out her Travel Alone and Best of Solo Travel resource pages.