Cerro Castillo

March 28, 2017

It seems that Cerro Castillo, a national park just a few hours drive away from Coyhaique, is known as a quiet, unspoilt paradise unknown to most tourists visiting Patagonia. Whilst the mecca of hiking in the South of Chile, Torres del Paine, is closing campsites and limiting visitors, due to the ever growing swarms of tourists, Cerro Castillo remains a hidden and untouched haven of Patagonian wilderness. It was at the very top of my list of hikes to do in Chile, after seeing photos of the laguna and the incredible views at the summit. I tried to keep my expectations from soaring, thinking that it must be some tactical filtering that has made the laguna look so exquisitely blue but the view as I scrambled over the last few rocks to the top was breath-taking.
The few people we did meet on the way seemed to have opted for the 3 or 4 day hike up to the laguna, but seeing as we only had the weekend; we tackled the 1 day ascent to the summit. I say tackled because I am no climber  (the most exercise I do is running to catch the bus) and I'll admit, I struggled with the 5 hour uphill hike and the almost vertical ascent as we reached the summit! The path eventually scatters and turns into a pile of loose rocks which makes the descent a little precarious; I fell on my arse four times at the very least.

But the view as I scrambled over the rocks right at the top, the snow capped peaks of the mountains towering over us, was easily the most beautiful thing I've ever seen; the pictures don't quite show the magnitude of the mountains or the waterfalls running down from the glaciers. As the backdrop to the incredible turquoise blue of the lagoon, this was a truly majestic view and well worth the climb. Despite the beautiful weather which we thought would attract herds of fellow hikers, the only company we had at the very top was a collie panting in the heat, who then followed us down the whole way!

 I still can't quite believe that I've been lucky enough to see such a beautiful part of the world; my first hike in Patagonia without a doubt exceeded my expectations and has left my legs aching like never before.

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