Tuesday 19th Dec
This morning we got up relatively early and got ready to walk along lago grey to refugio grey. The weather treated us well and the walk was quite flat at the beginning. Before we hit lago grey, we stopped to view lago pato which means duck lake in Spanish. The walk today was 11km in total, and we were very keen to get to the campsite because later that day we wanted to walk slightly further on to a grey glacier viewpoint.
Once at the campsite we set up our tents in a mosquito ridden wooded area. After this, we then carried on to the glacier viewpoint which Nico had been raving about all day. It was spectacular, the view was indeed phenomenal! We could very clearly see the huge chunk of ice that had broken off the glacier just 2-3 weeks previously. The glacier itself and also the icebergs were insanely blue to our surprise, which contrasted with the grey lake. The best view was in the middle of a suspended bridge, which was 150 foot above the ground! It was here, by the glacier, that we officially finished the w trek.
Wednesday 20th December
Today we just walked back to Paine Grande campsite, next to lago Pehoe. When we arrived it was super windy and we rushed to erect our tents in the sporadic 5 minutes of sunshine. As a team, there was definitely a sadness in the air, as we knew we would soon be departing from our new friends, Nico and Pablo. We spent the afternoon playing pictionary and cards.
Our last dinner as a team of 10 was……. Controversial. New HSX rule: never mix cous cous, tomato sauce, tuna, salami and ham!
At around 10pm the participants decided to go and sit on a hill to watch the sunset. The only problem was, there were clouds in the way! Nevertheless, a good team experience.
Thursday 21st December
We woke up early this morning and packed our tents away before breakfast so that we wouldn’t miss our catamaran across lago Pehoe. Our guides had managed to use their charm to get us some extra breakfast food which was much appreciated! When queuing for the catamaran, we saw a family of geese entering the water which was just adorable. The water was incredibly clear and a turquoise blue colour. At the other end, we were picked up by Manu. The bus ride back to Punta Arenas via Puerto Natales was a sleepy one. In Puerto Natales we gauged ourselves in the famous Masay pizza shop. Most of us had the highly recommended sandwiches which were huge!
It was then time to say goodbye to our friends/guides. It was so sad as they had become a big part of our expedition family. We wished them well and a merry christmas before continuing our journey to our hostel in Punta Arenas.
For dinner, our scouting friend Montserrat joined us for steaks as big as our faces! We were so happy to be eating different food to cous cous!
Friday 22nd December
This morning we had breakfast at the hostel and then headed over to Nomad Desk. We went here in order to be picked up by our scouting families. We are in 3 groups, each with a member of the local Punta Arenas scouting unit. After settling in for a few hours, we all met back up again at the main square, along with some other local scouts, and Montserrat. Together we visited the regional museum which had lots of stuffed native animals and an abundance of information about the indigenous people of the South of Chile. We discovered that due to the introduction of Europeans, unfortunately none of the indigenous people survived because of disease and alcoholism. It is very much apparent that there is still a very strong respect for the indigenous people of South Chile.
We said goodbye to the local scouts after our museum trip and did a little bit of secret santa shopping before heading to a Christmas party for people who worked at the Nomad Desk. We all had a completo, which is a hot dog with traditional fillings, and also joined in some magic tricks!
Saturday 23rd December
This morning we had a relaxed morning at our houses and then met up in the late morning to do some charity present wrapping at a local supermarket. We were raising money for the local scout group so that they can buy tents and supplies for the unit. The supermarket was absolutely huge and had many smaller shops within it. Tilda was named the master gift wrapper!
In the afternoon we all headed out to another Christmas party! This time we were celebrating with the local scout unit, the same one that our hosts are a part of.
This was the most crazy event, ever. There was a lot of loud singing, stomping and dancing! There were scouts and guides of all ages and each troop had their own chant that was often shouted out. We took part in some of the games and songs, and were welcomed by the whole unit with drumming of hands on the floor. Ellis also stood in the middle of the room with a couple of other scouts whilst the entire room sang happy birthday!
The event finished with a nativity fancy dress, a leader dressed as santa who gave out presents, and some beef mince wraps. As well as this, every body was given a small circle of paper, and a crayon to write a new years resolution on it, and these were collected in a yellow paper bucket.
We then all headed back to our homes for the evening to socialise more with our Chilean families.