10/04/2015 Puerto Natales serves as an entry point to the famous peaks of Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia. I spent a few days in the charming little town to prepare my trip and enjoy the good weather while having a rather unusual Couchsurfing expierence…
Equipped with a new tent and poncho from ZonaAustral in Punta Arenas, I arrived in Puerto Natales with the bus and was much more pleased with the look & feel of the town. It looked really clean, was small enough to walk around and had a nice beach front with some interesting statues to take pictures. The weather was great and I was happy to see the promising forecast as well, offering mostly blue sky and sun for the 6 day hike at Torres del Paine. In terms of accommodation, I wanted to do some Couchsurfing again and was in touch with the mother of a complete CS-family, running a kind of hostel for Couchsurfers. It was not free, but still cheaper than the other hostels in town and I was very curious on how the communication would work out since they did not speak English.
Communication was actually a problem with my Couchsurfing family, nobody had replied to me prior to my arrival and I was not sure if they could still host me. Showing up at the door, all the worries were blown away though with the nice smile of the family’s mother opening up. She lived in her house together with her husband and three kids and had two other rooms fully equipped with beds. Some other Couchsurfers were just waiting for their overnight bus to leave town again and could provide me with some valuable information about the hike, the most important being that the complete O trek was not possible anymore because the Northern part of the trek was closed off. Instead, I planned to do an extended W trek, hoping to get up to Paso John Gardner at least.
7pm was dinner time in Casa Couchsurfing and one rule there was to have everyone staying in the house involved in some way. I was asked to buy certain ingredients from the shop and soon after found myself sitting with the five family members, two long term couchsurfers and two other short term guests at the big dinner table, sharing a nice meal that was kicked off with a prayer to god. It was a special atmosphere and some people would argue that it was not really Couchsurfing anymore (since you paid for it), but compared to a hostel I found the family-atmosphere rather pleasing and enjoyed my stay. It was also a good time to practice my Spanish with the members of the family 🙂
The bus to Torres del Paine left at 07:45 in the morning and I was ready to head out into the nature again after some relaxing days in Puerto Natales. Soon I would be able to answer the question if the hikes around El Chaltén or Torres del Paine are the highlight in Patagonia.
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