Horsing Around

It’s been difficult for us to decide whether the sunsets or the sunrises are prettier here in Patagonia.

After checking into the hotel Sunday night (and being decadent and having a massage – those tired legs), we had dinner and went to bed early, leaving the drapes open.

This morning, we watched the sunrise through our bedroom window without stirring from bed (this photo has not been enhanced or modified in any way!):

Hotel Las Torres Patagonia is what we would probably call in the USA a dude ranch, but it’s also a landmark on the trekking circuit in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.

Since we are on the all-inclusive program, we are planning to do as many excursions as we can, primarily those on horseback. Today, we did the most difficult on offer, the Panther’s Trail, which goes halfway up the nearby mountain on horseback before dismounting and hiking the rest of the way.

On our way to breakfast, we passed through the lobby/lounge and looked up at our day’s destination, Cerro Paine (though it’s in the middle, it’s the highest peak in the photo, below):

Down at the corral, we mounted up. The excursion was planned for four of us, but one of the women that was supposed to go had vertigo, so that couple had to drop out, leaving just the two of us and our guide (plus a gaucho) for the journey up.

Off we go!

Up over the first hill; there’s Hota, our gaucho, behind Dale. Gauchos are Patagonian cowboys. Here at the estancia, they take care of the horses, but don’t go on the excursions.

Up ahead of me is Jorge, our guide. He’ll be with us the whole way to the top of the mountain.

Our trip started at an elevation of 500 feet and we went uphill on horseback another 1,600 feet, partly through forest and partly through prairie.

Here we are at the edge of the property owned by the hotel where we have to leave the horses.

That’s Hota on the left and Jorge on the right. Hota will be leaving us here and heading back down hill. We’ll leave the horses here where we’ll start our hike.

We’ll be hiking up another 1,600 feet to a final elevation of 3,700 feet so that we can get a good view of the Three Towers; that’s them in the distance in this photograph…

…but we’ll have a better view at the top!

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