I left for Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the 9:30 bus. I had decided not to do the hike at Villa Cerro Castillo, partly to save time and also I was exhausted – this decision would pay off in the next few days. I did feel a pang of regret as we drove through the village as the views were beautiful. The whole journey was a feast for the eyes but sadly this time the busses windows were misted and I was stuck on the wrong side. I did manage to get some shots.
I arrived in a windswept Puerto Rio Tranquilo five hours later and headed to the hostel. The plan was to camp but after walking into the wood fired heated reception area and finding out I could have a private room to myself for 12000 a night I ditched the camping idea. It was the first time I’d had a room to myself in nearly two months. It’s not much but to me it was bliss.
I dumped my things and headed out to book my tours. I asked about a bus ticket at what counted for the bus station, then went to look for the tours. I had met a Chilean lady on a bus that said her daughter ran one of the tours, the office was closed and I couldn’t find the office for the company I had researched so I went with 99% Aventura. I tried to book a boat to the marble caves but as one was leaving at the time and I didn’t have my camera I was told to come back later. I went back to buy my bus ticket but the place was locked up at the crack of 4pm. I went for a walk around town and took some shots.
I was told to get to the office for 7am. I’m still learning that time works differently here and arrived at 6:40am to a dark and empty town. Maria and Jacob from Chicago arrived ten minutes later and at 7am everyone else magically appeared. We were handed some equipment and jumped on the bus to the glacier. We stopped at a waterfall to get some snaps.
We arrived at the National Park and changed into our hiking gear. The trek was 4.8k each way and would take around 6 hours. We started off through the forest and very quickly were jumping across boulders with mountains and rainbows as our backdrop.
When we reached the valley the landscape changed completely to just rocks, which had been pushed by the glacier. There was no vegetation as under the rocks was ice, which you can see in some of the closeup pics. I felt as if I was on Mars, it’s the weirdest landscape I’ve ever been on and one of the most beautiful. The glacier was in the distance, we could see multiple rainbows and there were lush green mountains with waterfalls in the background.
As we got closer to the glacier the ice was more on the surface so we stopped to put on crampons.
After wearing these I felt as if I could run up walls! I need to get myself some of these.
And then I got to walk on my first glacier, the second one is seen in my life about two days apart. I didn’t expect it to be so beautifully messy, but this is how nature is in general. There were cracks and holes and streams and rocks. When we got to the glacier the weather changed considerably, becoming much colder and raining.
On the way back we went to look at some of the caves in the glacier in more detail.
We returned the same way that we had arrived and I was tried after 6 hours of trekking but the sun was out and the day was beautiful.
Catedral de Mármol
The weather held up when I returned to Puerto Rio Tranquilo so knowing it was due to rain the next day I fought my exhaustion and booked myself on a marble cave tour. Initially it was just me but seven others soon arrived, some like me fresh from the glacier tour, and headed out to the boat.
It was beautiful on the lake and I had some great views of the mountains.
It took 30mins to get to the caves and we were able to get up close to them.
By the time we headed back the wind had started and the boat had to fight against the waves. I was freezing when I got home but was tempted out later for a beer even though I had gone to bed. The next day was a complete washout and I was glad I took advantage of the weather when I had the chance.