…And we definitely found it. We had one thing on the wish list for Patagonia: a multiday hike with our own gear. Torres del Paine was the obvious choice but due to its populairity, we couldn’t book the campsites. As a suitable replacement,we went for something a little more off the beaten track. The Cerro Castillo hike came up and we decided to go for it.
Prepping like never before
Since we had some trouble finding the information we wanted, we pieced together our list of things to bring, buy and prepare from Chilean sites and other travelers’ blogs. To help others, we even wrote our own little guide.
We had brought all our camping gear from The Netherlands and sat down with Berend in Castro to make a grocery list. We shopped until we dropped (and even bought trekking poles) so we would not have a shortage of anything on our adventure.
The route was not completely clear and we already read that the markings were scarce, so we looked up coordinates, saved them in our Google Maps app and Berend took a Google Earth tour along all the paths we would follow. All in all, we were pretty satisfied with our preparations. And, of course, they were a big part of the fun.
Row, row, take the boat
We had another thing on the wish list: Taking a boat trough the Patagonian fjords. We were able to combine our wishes and left for a 30 hour boat trip from Quellon to Puerto Chacabuco. The views were amazing and having to sleep in one big space with loud children, TV’s and about 250 other passengers was well worth it.
From there we took a bus to Coyhaique. We wanted to leave the next day to start the trek but, as it turned out, all the buses were full. So we spend one night in an AirBnB and the next morning we walked to the only road in our direction and started to hitch hike. To our surprise, the 10th vehicle stopped and was willing to drop three people and their huge backpacks off at our exact destination. So far, so good.
Ready, steady, go
So three happy campers started the first day of hike. Big backpacks and even bigger smiles the whole day and walking with so many kilo’s turned out easier than we thought. Since we wouldn’t revisit any of our stops, we couldn’t leave any stuff behind. So yes, we walked up the mountain with a dress, running shoes, an E-reader and Tablet, a Lonely Planet and much moure things unnecessary for a hike.
We reached our first camping spot with ease and were happy to see that there were not much other people. This was the adventure we were looking for.
The next day Berend felt a little ill, so we left late and progressed slowly up the hill. By the time we were going down the mountain again, it turned out that we would be going even slower. Thomas is scared of heights and going down slippery snowy slopes was costing him more time and effort than we’d anticipated. This is also the exact spot to thank Dagmar’s dad for pushing us to buy trekking poles. Boy did we need them.
By the time we arrived at the camp for night two, it was getting dark. We had no time left to get to the next camp and get a head start for day three. We ate and immediately fell asleep. Dagmar knew the next day was the hardest and Thomas just hoped for the best.
Down, down down
Day three was upon us. Luckily, Berend felt better and Thomas was feeling more couragous, having made it down in one piece the day before. We started with a pretty steep incline and reached the beautiful lagoon. There we added a little extra to our route because we accidentally ended up on the day hike path. When we realized our mistake, we went up, and up, and up and just when we thought we reached the top, it turned out that there was more to come.
By then, we had run out of water but we only had to go down the mountain on the other side to reach the water again. We were so lucky to have warm weather and clear skies but at that time we hated the sun with a passion.
Going down took us very long and without water, this adventure took a turn for the worse. We needed to get Thomas down, fast before we got dehydrated and had to walk in the dark. To add to this misfortune, we took a wrong turn and missed our camp, as well as the water we so desperately needed.
Eventually we realized our mistake and had to turn around. We were all exhausted but we got eachother trough it. For the last meters we sat Thomas down and Berend and Dagmar had to go on to get water. After drinking we pushed on for the campsite and after 11 hours of walking, we ate and slept the moment we laid down.
Since we had our own mini adventure within the adventure, we were to tired to go to Camp Neozelandes the next day. Beforehand Dagmar would have called the adventure a failure if we wouldn’t make it up to that camp but after all the pretty sights (pictures), even she was okay with not walking the extra 2 hours. So down we went.
We made it down and treated ourselves to a good meal and set up our tent at a camping in the little town Villa Cerro Castillo. Hooray for adventure!
Fear of heights
Looking back Thomas’ fear of heights meant an additional couple of hours for the decline on the second and third day. He is mostly okay with going up but what goes up, must come down. And going down is the scary part. Loose rocks, slippery sand and steep snowy slopes were all part of the way down. Luckily, Dagmar and Berend found great ways of helping Thomas with the decline.
If he would’ve known this all beforehand, we definitely wouldn’t have gone to Cerro Castillo. However, we are so glad we didn’t miss out on this fantastic hike.
Puerto Rio Tranquilo
After all this we went on to the next village: Puerto Rio Tranquilo. Here we visited the Marble caves and also explored the Exploradores glacier. The caves were pretty and walking on an real glacier was just awesome. And there are pictures to prove it.
After the most amazing busride of our lives from Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Chile Chico, we crossed the border into Argentina on foot.
Since the Cerro Castillo hike helped Thomas a bit with overcoming his fears, we just prepared for a new multi day trek in El Chalten (Argentina) starting Friday the 2nd of February!
♥ Thomas & Dagmar