Patagonia – Day 14: Torres del Paine National Park

Date: 11/23/2014 Sunday
Starting Location: Torres del Paine, Chile
Intermediate Location: Porto Natales, Chile
Ending Location: Torres del Paine, Chile
Mileage Today:  0 Miles (All exploring done in pickup truck)
Mileage Total:  1845.3 miles

Our little road trip to Porto Natales

Desperate to get some adequate Internet access, I decided to accompany Alain to Porto Natales while he did his errands and took care of some logistics for the trip.  Not really knowing what to expect, I was very pleasantly surprised by what we found.  And than again, it was a bit of a challenge to find it.  You see, it’s Sunday again, and in Chile, Sunday means sleeping in.  I can’t be sure if everyone in Porto Natales was sleeping in, but I can swear that better than 90% of the residents do not rise before 10 AM.

That said, we arrived at 8:00, after traveling the 120Km over gravel and dirt.  This time however, I was in the truck.  Arriving in this town at 8AM, we found only one restaurant open.  In fact, it was not a restaurant at all.  The place was where one of the hostels feeds it guests.  We just happened on it, and through another example of the kindness of strangers, this place decided that they would feed us breakfast, even though they do not open to the public until 11:00 AM.  Of course, they charged us for breakfast, but we would have been lost if they had not helped.

We spent until about 9:00 AM or so working through coffee and breakfast, after which time we retired to the “residence” where we hunkered down, and began the fine art of ‘Blogging.  Perhaps I’m being too self-aggrandizing, but I consider this work to the work of angels, done by skilled professionals.

Hmmm, I just reread what I wrote and I can’t believe I had the guts to write something that so clearly so far off the mark.  So, I’ll just let you be the judge and I’ll move on.

The dogs of South America

The dogs of Patagonia.  Excellent sleepers.

The dogs of Patagonia. Excellent sleepers.

Throughout all of the places in Patagonia that we have stopped or stayed so far, there seem to be dogs everywhere.  These dogs are usually very content, and don’t seem to be aggressive, but they certainly do enjoy a good siesta.  As you walk through the streets, just about everywhere you look, you’ll see dogs.  When we arrived in the morning, as we walked the city looking for a restaurant, at every turn, and on every street there were dogs sleeping.  These dogs obviously know how to stay warm, because of all them were laying on the side of the road that had been exposed to the sun.  These dogs really know how to live.  With all of the wind, and the cold temperatures, I was almost tempted lay down on the side of the street and see if I could also discover such peace and tranquility.

The Hotel Remota

PortoNatales-RemotaHotel01PortoNatales-RemotaHotel02A hotel located, just outside of Porto Natales, on the North side of town.  We stopped there on the way back to Torres del Paine.  Dennis knows of this hotel from an Architectural magazine he has seen in the past, so we decided to have a look.  As we understand it, this place is an ultra-contemporary hotel, located smack dab in the middle of nowhere.  The hotel is also supposed to be very green, Eco-friendly.

Riding in the truck

Rest, and comfort on 4 wheels…

As we made our way into Porto Natales in the truck today, I was struck with how the truck was able to handle the roads with relative ease.  If we were on the bikes, we would have been carefully picking the perfect line through the gravel, rocks, sand, potholes, and oncoming traffic, but the truck just powered along, seemingly without a care in the world.  This thing is quite a piece of 4X4, and I can see why Compass chose it.

When riding along on the bike, and you see an oncoming car, you must react immediately, and move your bike to the right-hand side of the road, slow down, and make sure that you’ve left the truck or other vehicle enough room.  Now, I’m sure it’s obvious why you need to move to the right, but the reality is actually a bit more frightening.

You see, cars don’t know what is like to ride a bike in this soup that we call rippio.  Because the drivers of the cars can have very little skill, yet still drive on the gravel, they don’t have the slightest idea that the bike riders are riding on the edge of a knife just trying to keep the damn thing upright.  So, as you approach an oncoming car, you must also be conscious of the fact that they will leave you very little room for error.  You must always be ready to pitch the bike to the edge of the road, and deal with the consequences.

So is the life of a motorcyclist in Patagonia…

What comes tomorrow

Tomorrow, we expect to ride about 450Km, of which I assume that more than 120K will be dirt/gravel.  This should prove to be a long day, but we are helped out because we will remain in Chile, and will not have to cross a border again until Tuesday.

Most importantly, tomorrow we will travel to Punto Delgado, where we’ll board the ferry which will cross the straits of Magellan.  That should prove to be a fantastic adventure, from which I expect to capture a lot of video and pictures.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. That gravel road to Porto Natalas is where one of our group, Uncle ?, went out of control into the brush, hit a big rock and bent his rim – bad. Great memories Cliff, thanks for your excellent missives. Straight from the Angles

    1. John, it’s easy to see how someone could overcook it, and make a mistake that could cost them dearly. I’m glad that the crash victim did not suffer anything more significant than a bent rim.

  2. So far, so good, eh? No major foodborne illnesses or mechanical breakdowns, and you got breakfast when you were hungry for it instead of having to esperar hasta las once, señor.

    Good photos, too. Keep on bloggin’ bro.

    1. Well Fred, we’ve done it. We’ve ridden almost 2400 miles as a group, and we had no major accidents, broken bones, bent motorcycles, or any damage at all. One of the bikes did fail with a clutch issue yesterday, and so Stan had to ride in the truck for the last 140 miles, and he missed the ride to the end of the Earth today. But all in all, a very good, very safe trip.

  3. Loved this post Cliff. I remember the feeling of luxury, sitting in the the Compass truck on the same trip, relaxed and being able to “see” so much more of things than when on the bike. It’s amazing how much more easily the dust is managed with a windscreen.

    John, I was first on scene when Uncle Darren hit that rock. As bent a rim as I’ve seen. Truthfully, I think he fell off out of surprise when he saw me actually coming up in his mirrors.

    1. Hey Andy,
      I’m really sorry to hear about that guy, falling into a rut, running wide in the turn, and bending his rim. I had a bent rim on my 1200 GSA and sent the wheel out for repair. The bill was $1000 USD to have the rim replaced, and the wheel respoked. Ouch.

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