Fairy tale landscape

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CHILE

“MIRADOR CUERNOS”
HIKE

March 2014 • Canon 60D camera


Hike stats

6km (3m)

Distance (round trip)

Easy

Level of difficulty

2–3 hrs

Duration (round trip)

The Mirador Cuernos viewpoint is a popular hike that allows you to get up close to see the famous horns of Cuernos del Paine. As part of the Cordeilla Paine mountain range, it is one of the main mountains of the park with an unmistakable shape of two horns. Our mini van stopped at the parking lot at the entrance of this trial. As you start along the path to your right are hills which you can see the tops of the mountain range peaking out. You already get a sense that you are going to witness something spectacular.

The weather was very windy which made it feel cold, but it was bright and sunny with amazing blue skies. Perfect for photography. As you walk you can hear the sound of a big waterfall. To the left is the Salto Grande waterfall which flows from Lago Nordenskjöld to Lago Pehoé. The water was a cool turquoise colour.


After the waterfalls you continued along a flat path towards the viewpoint. Already you had nice views of the splendid mountains. I was amazed with how beautiful the snow capped mountain of Paine Grande stood next to the horns of Cuernos del Paine. The surrounding area was a burnt yellow colour with small shrubs and small leafless trees.

It looks like this because the area was destroyed by an illegal camp fire started by a traveler. It was a real shame as one wonders how spectacular the view would have been with living grass and trees. Nevertheless the views were amazing and I slowly took my time taking photos and admiring the view. I was in no rush as the rest of the gang went ahead without me.


Did you know...

According to the Tehuelche legend, an evil flying serpent called Cai Cai caused a massive flood killing the warrior tribe that lived in Torres del Paine. When the water receded, two of the largest warriors from the tribe were transformed into stone by the serpent, creating the twin horns of the Cuernos del Paine.





As the trail went further and further, the mountains became bigger and bigger. You could see the unmistakable formation of the jagged granite peaks of Cuernos del Paine. The top section of the horns had a white center sandwiched between the blacks of the rest of the mountain. It's amazing how nature has shaped and transformed this mountain into such a beautiful piece of art to marvel at.

The trail went past a small lake which again had such a vivid blue colour. From here the path went up a gentle gradient hill. The clouds were making wonderful formations in the sky, guided by the strong winds. It made the whole landscape epic and dramatic as I walked to the viewpoint. I could barely hold my excitement to see what was at the end of the trail....


The end of the trail did not disappoint. In full view you could see the Paine Grande and the Cuernos del Paine. In front you had Lago Nordenskjöld. The lake was named after the Swede Otto Nordenskiöld, who discovered the lake in the beginning of the 20th Century. The weather was perfect with sun and blue skies. The whole area was covered with reflected shades of blue from the lake, sky and snowcap mountains. The trail was not long at around 1.5 hours but you had to stay and admire the view.

When the winds were not blowing strong there was a nice, gentle quietness in the air. I could have stayed there for hours just relaxing. The way back was the same way as you came, so you had the moutains to the back of you with nothing in front. But I had to turn around every few steps to look back at the horns till I arrived by at the parking lot.


Campsite Pehoé

After the hike it was now time for lunch. We drove to the campsite at Lago Pehoé where there was a lively picnic spot and a supply shop with snacks. It was such a hot and sunny day. I could feel the sun burning my face. Had to slap on some sunscreen!

There was a look out point just up a hill nearby that had stunning views of the Paine Grande and Cuernos del Paine. With the lake in front it framed the mountains in an epic scene I would never forget.


Final thoughts

In my view, and I'm sure for a lot of other people that have done the hike, this is a must when you are at the Torres del Paine National Park. It is an easy hike, mostly flat which you can take your time. You don’t need a guide as there is only one path there and back.

Come prepared with layers that you can strip off and put back on again. It is out in the open so the strong winds were blowing really hard. Make sure you have your wind–proof jacket and fleece top on hand if the weather happens to be bad. And don't forget your sunscreen if the weather is bright and sunny. You will need it!


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