we woke up around 9am on the side of the highway pretty much frozen and had not gotten a lot of sleep that night. my toes were so cold (even with socks on!) and jared was chilled too. we both realized that this was probably one of the worst sleeps we had had in some time. the night before we had planned on cooking up a great breakfast, but because we were so cold we opted to skip breakfast and continue on our journey to puerto natales.
we drove into town about 12:30pm and looked around for the information center where we could ask questions about torres del paine and other attractions around in the area. the information was super helpful and led us to decide to camp out at a lake just beyond puerto natales called laguna sofia. it would be on our way to the torres so we figured that would be a phenomenal plan.
we bummed around puerto natales a bit; went to the grocery store, enjoyed a nice lunch by the coastline, made friends with a few cute stray dogs (who i tried to take with us!) and then we stopped off at a quaint cafe that had an amazing view of the mountains which we were about to embark on the following day.
the cafe was warm and cozy and we enjoyed a nice mochachino and then afterwards got a bit aggressive and went straight for their ‘happy hour special’: a sour pepino (cucumber pisco sour), which was not a bad decision. on our way out of the café we saw a rad old 80’s volkswagen westfalia camper van (photgraphed below) that we checked out and reminded us of our little prized VW possession we have back home!
as we were about to hop in the van, a guy came up and was asking us a few questions about our camper van. he was wanting to start his own local van rental company here in chile. he introduced himself as rodolfo and said he owned a hostel in púcon (i.e. The city that the volcano erupted in a few months ago) and that we should stop in when we arrive, say hi and have a nice, hot shower, which of course made me very happy! we chatted for a bit with rodolfo, handed him a vagabond diaries tote and then headed out to laguna sofia before it got dark.
the drive into the lake area was absolutely stunning and we certainly caught the sunlight just right as it was beginning to set just over the mountains. we pulled into a flat area (behind a big rock to avoid any crazy wind like we had experienced back in punta arenas) and set up camp for the night. we went on a short hike to mainly gather some firewood for the night and discovered another car load of people hanging out at the lake.
when we got back to our campsite, we knew we had a long day ahead of us the next day so we decided to lay out all of our gear and pack our day hike backpacks. that way we could just pick up and go once we landed at the torres del paine national park. second in our list was cooking dinner, which ended up being pretty tasty despite the challenging conditions. we decided that we probably would’ve made the same exact meal and it would’ve tasted about the same at home. we were starting to feel pretty confident with our camp cooking skills! we also made a true campfire and cooked the tail end of our food on it because it got so windy that the camping stove was not working very well. the warmth from the campfire (and probably the bottle of wine we drank!) got us nice and toasty for bed this time so we didn’t get too chilly that evening like the night before!
after a much better nights sleep, we were ready to go explore this amazing site: on to torres del paine!!