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[RC] Torres del Paine - made it! - Steph Teeter

I made it! what a journey. The flight from Santiago was around 3 1/2 hours - we flew along the west side of the Andes, mountains and mountains and mountains. About an hour from the aiport at Punta Arenas the Torres del Paine were suddenly visible from the plane. Only the very highest torres - towers - peaks were above the clouds. As the clouds shifted, some of the lesser snow-covered peaks popped in and out of the clouds. it was spectacular, and blinding from the sun reflecting off of the top of the clouds.

We landed in Punta Arenas, the southern most airport of the continent, after doing a complete circle around the airport so that the wind was at the tail. The wind... it made the plane dance and skitter on its way down. And from what I hear, it wasn't even really windy...

It's actually warmer than I expected, though I think it's supposed to change a little. We were gathered at the airport (me, Ketty and her husband, and Alicia) and taken to a van, where three others had already loaded. A quick briefing on what we'd be doing, what to expect - we'd drive 2 hours north, and stop at Estancia xxxx, for 'tea' and a tour of their sheep operation. A century old farm, which over time was able to purchase land from the government (sort of like homesteading in N. America) - it now runs 4000 head of sheep on 8000 acres of grassland, in addition to 2000 acres of forest and peat. They've converted the spacious house and worker cabins in to a hotel for tourists and guests. One of the grand daughters of the original 'homesteaders', Lilian, gave us a tour and joined us for tea.

Our tour of the barn was interesting. Shearing season had just ended, there were bales and bales and bales of freshly shorn wool, ready to be trucked to the port, and then shipped to destination - much of it bound for England. Lilian and the farm hand also explained the breeding program they had going - introducing breedings (shipped semen and embryo transfer) of merino sheep from Australia - the goal being to produce a sheep which produced both superior fleece for wool (the merino blood) and also superior cuts for consumption - for meat. This estancia (farm) and a few others in Chile and Argentina were taking part in the breeding program.

We loaded back up in the van and kept up our advance north to Torres del Paine National Park. 250 miles from Punta Arenas to the park, that's a lot of miles, and after our last stop at C...?, the final 80 miles was over gravel roads. which got worse and worse, and finally very very primitive once we entered the park and headed towards our destination - a 5* hotel! - info on the chains of hotels here -

my room is close to the reception, and close to the WiFi, and also close to the music! tonight there is a trio of musicians playing traditional chile - gaucho - music to great cheering and clapping. The music, and the wind (which has really kicked in!) will be my lullabye tonight :)




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