Photographer's Note

We wanted to see both Argentinean and Chilean part of Patagonia. We were staying couple of days in El Calafate, Argentina. To get to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park (Chile) one can take an organized tour. However we wanted to have some freedom and adventure so we decided to rent a car and cross the border independently. There are several rental car companies in El Calafate. BTW none has cars with automatic transmission. We have chosen Servi Car and we were very satisfied with their service. We don’t speak Spanish but it was not a problem. Servi Car driver picked us up from the airport and took us to the office to sign necessary documents. We said in advance that we are going to cross the border so they have prepared all necessary documents plus they have given us a good car with high clearance. The registration plate read in Polish meant “penis” and it made us laugh every time we saw the car. The people were very helpful and the prices were reasonable. It was worth it, we could stop any time to enjoy views for as long as we wanted.

While driving from El Calafate to the border with Chile you follow highway number 40. You can either use a shortcut called El Cerrito but then the road becomes rough (“ripio”) or you can drive around to Esperanza following a good quality road. Esperanza has the last fuel station before the border so it is a good choice anyway. Argentina and Chile are not the best friends. Driving west from Esperanza there is no sign at all that the border is coming. The border station on the Argentinean side is called Cancha Carrera and on the Chilean side the name is Cerro Castillo. If you type Cancha Carrera in google maps you will find it. Few kilometres before the border the road becomes ripio anyway and it stays very bad all the time also in the national park. You can spot easily other cars approaching from a distance as every car leaves behind a huge trail of dust in the air.
Argentinean officers did not speak English and we did not speak Spanish. They were long looking for something in the documents but in the end they let us go. Chilean officers seemed better organized yet they have taken all our fresh food: bananas and tomatoes and they have thrown it into a bin. We were pretty angry as we would love to eat it all but they did not warned us about what they are going to do with it.

Why am I telling you the whole story about the border? Because the view in this photo is a short drive after the border on the Chilean side and this is the first view of the Torres del Paine National Park while approaching from Argentina.
On the way there we did not see much as it was raining but on the way back the views were spectacular, especially the color of the Lago Sarmiento was just surreal. I could not decide how to photograph it. I wanted to show as much of the lake as possible but it was huge and mountains would become very tiny in the photo. Closing up on the characteristic peaks of Torres was another option but then I would loose the foreground completely. In the end I present here a compromise photo. I did not have much flexibility as there was a fence which I did not want to cross, it limited foreground composition options very much.

The mountains on the horizon are already in the Torres del Paine National Park. Do you see the high mountain in the very center covered with snow? Right from it you can spot mountain range Torres del Paine and to the left from it Cuernos del Paine (having black rocks on the upper part of their peaks).
The closest visible lake is Lago Sarmiento. It is named after Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa who was a Spanish explorer.

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Additional Photos by Mariusz Kamionka (mkamionka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3995 W: 91 N: 10380] (42805)
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