Category

South America

How to Hike Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park

Sunrise at Torres del Paine.While traveling through the Patagonian region of South America, I encountered many a befuddled traveler who was a bit miffed by the planning process required to enter Torres del Paine National Park. I will go ahead and include myself in this stack of confused, well-intentioned hikers.  For years I have fawned after photos of Torres del Paine, but it wasn’t until I actually started the process of researching how exactly to pull off a visit, did I meet the gut-sinking moment of “Oh, no. I’m too late.”

It’s really an awful feeling to have as a traveler. The stars have finally aligned in life, and you are on the cusp of departure, only to stumble across this one little detail that has the potential to derail everything. Reservations? You need reservations? I simply was unaware. Now, with that said, the 2016-2017 season is the first year to see the implementation of  required reservations prior to entering the park. I was not the only one caught in the crosshairs of a new system.

Torres del Paine National Park is one of the premiere hiking destinations in all of South America, and with the influx of new visitors, restrictions on how many people can enter the park are being put into effect. It is understandable, and long term, definitely a good thing to protect the fragility of the park. I am hopeful that as word spreads, more travelers who wish to enter the park will be aware of the requirements, and less headaches will abound for everyone.

With that said, I was able to finagle dates in the tail end of February to make my “O” trek a reality. Below I’ve put together a guide that will hopefully streamline the leg work required to visit such an incredible destination. Take a gander, and hopefully it will allow you to spend less time planning, and more time enjoying your visit!

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The Balance of Endeavors

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I always return home with a certain glint in my eye. Finally! A moment to decompress and pursue the thing I’ve been wanting to pursue for however long. There it is, all the time in the world (kind of). Now what do I do with it?

Perhaps it’s a complex I have. A good complex in that I have to get my work done before I can play. If people are counting on me, I feel bad working on my own projects. That’s the way it should be, right? There is incentive at the end of the tunnel. Get this stack of things done, and then you can go and play.

Any time I try to sit down and dig into these personal projects I am weighted with the knowledge that there is something else I should be working on. I’ve battled with this for a while. Being on 24/7 is the nature of my role while I’m on tour. I’ve been conditioned. I am a workaholic. Coming off the road I find that I have to set boundaries for myself, or things start to feel icky. Actively deciding not to work, is just as important as deciding to work.

An outgrowth of prioritizing my work load lends fatigue to my brain when it does comes time to work on personal projects. My brain cells are slouching, haphazardly sitting on the curb looking up at me like, “Seriously, dude? You want us to do what right now? We’ve been working all day!

I am so used to having my days filled with structure. At home I try to organize myself with activities and environments that are conducive to productivity. With this being said, I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy. I want to occupy my time with things that I enjoy and make me better in some capacity. Free time often feels insurmountable, but I’ve reached a point where I am better able to control that feeling.

I’ve been enjoying working on my blog as of late. I came into this undertaking with the misguided notion that this would somehow be my golden ticket to supplementing my income while I’m off the road. I’ve since tossed that notion and am focusing on the act of writing and taking photos for my personal enjoyment. If that does not exist first, I am doomed from the onset. Things are still relatively new and fresh around here, so I am glad I’ve caught myself before getting too far along on that misguided path.

I have two areas of focus that I’d like to better explore here in the coming weeks and months:

  • Planning, documenting, and sharing my journey to Colombia.
  • Putting together a free online curriculum for those interested about different aspects of the touring industry.

To think of looking back a year from now, at a site filled with information and resources is something that encourages me, and makes me want to keep at it. Thanks for reading along.

Let the good juju flow.

Colombia, I’ve purchased my ticket.

I’m not exactly sure where my love affair with Latin America began. In high school and college, I was a deplorable Spanish student, begrudgingly dragging myself to class, doing the absolute minimum to receive credit for the foreign language class I was forced to take. Oh, you idiot!

My mind instantly cuts to the real-life scene of being on a remote roadside, knowing exactly what I want to ask, and having no idea how to ask it. The benevolent floating head of my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Taliercio, somewhere on the horizon, sullenly shaking his head at me. Despite my lack of Spanish skills, my desire to return outweighs the anxiety of roadside abandonment.

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Lake Titicaca, Peru.

I visited South America for the first time in 2012. I spent three weeks in the Southeastern corner of Peru, stomping along the well traveled Gringo Trail. It was an experience that stuck with me, and only increased my curiosity for what the rest of the continent has to offer. I knew upon leaving, that I would one day return.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wall map of the United States. I would look at that map before I had ever traveled, and day dream about what visiting these different places might be like. 8 years of touring later, I can look at that same wall map and recall memories from these once unknown places. (49 states so far!)

The same mentality inspired me to purchased a wall map of South America. I can’t tell you the countless nights I’ve stayed up, simply looking at the map, running my finger over routes and mispronouncing town names. It’s an itch that has steadily grown with the inability to scratch. Finally, I scratch.

Earlier this week, I purchased my ticket to Bogotá, Colombia. It’s a first step towards refining some ideas that have been boiling their way to the top. I will be in the country August 15th – September 6th. Only a month away, it will be here before I know it.

Do you have friends or family in Colombia? Experience there? Resources worth reaching out to? I’m happy to follow up on any and all. I’m very much in the planning stages right now, and any lead is a good lead. I’m excited to share in this process. You can contact me at needforreed@gmail.com.