Nowhere is a Place: Travels in Chilean Patagonia
April 8 – 17, 2020
Double Occupancy per person:
Standard Yurt (10 available) $6950
(ensuite bathroom, private balcony, breakfast, lunch, dinner, adult beverages)
Deluxe Yurt with Jacuzzi (4 available) $7950
(ensuite bathroom, private balcony, outdoor Jacuzzi, breakfast lunch, dinner, adult beverages)
Suite Yurt with Jacuzzi (3 available) $8950
(lounge room, ensuite bathroom, private balcony, outdoor Jacuzzi, breakfast, lunch, dinner, adult beverages)
Single Occupancy available upon request
20 passengers minimum / 34 maximum
All flights, most meals, hotel, transfers and ground transportation in Chile, and once based at Patagonia Camp…all alcohol (not premium). Some entertainment is included as well. I am arranging to have locals visit to teach us things. I have budgeted $1800 for the flights. If the flight is less, the savings go back to you. If you drag your feet and the flight ends up costing more than $1800…you have to suck it up! Book early and let’s get this party started!
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED:
Kayak rental, horse rental, glacial boat tour, bail. Tips for guides and staff at the end of your journey and $131 reciprocity fee upon entering the country which is valid for 10 years. DO NOT LOSE THE PAPER THEY GIVE YOU! Tuck it into your passport. They will ask to see it when you leave the country.
April 8 Flight To Santiago de Chile
Various gateways are available. Most appropriate is from JFK / New York ~ a direct flight. It takes approximately nine hours to reach Santiago on this non-stop flight. Dinner will be served. Great in-flight entertainment. Relax. You’ll be landing before you know it! PLUS: Jon Baldur Hlidberg is on the plane! He is our Icelandic Ambassador and will be give a talk or two and share observations during the trip. Believe it or not, the similarities between Iceland and Patagonia are remarkable!
April 9 Chile – Introduction
The dramatic Chilean landscape is literally alive. Geysers burst from the earth in the north. The country’s 2000 volcanoes are still erupting, and as the sun goes down over the Salt Mountain range, you can hear the white-crusted rock formations cracking as they contract. This is a wild country of never-ending horizons, the world’s driest desert, snow-capped mountains, and folk tradition.
Despite dark periods of military dictatorship under Pinochet, Chileans are warm, friendly and open to visitors; descended from the Spanish, they are also known for their looks. Traditions include playing panpipes and bamboo flutes known as quenas, and, aside from football, the national sport is the controversial Chilean Rodeo.
Being the longest country in the world vertically, Chile varies hugely in landscape and culture along its 2700 miles, making it a vastly diverse and fascinating destination. The mighty snow- capped Andes run like a spine down the length of the country, passing alongside the world’s driest desert. The spectacular Torres del Paine National Park punctuates the south all the way to the southernmost point of civilization, Tierra Del Fuego.
The scorched Atacama is filled with surprising rock formations, and if you look a little closer you may find faces carved into Incan forts and flamingos gathered around its bordering oases. Walking, riding and 4×4 tours are the best way to see these up close. Whether you’re looking for a photographer’s dream trip, wild desert adventure, complete escapism or an unusual cultural experience, Chile has it all. Did I mention that the food, wine, and people are incomparable?
On arrival in Santiago de Chile we’ll find our way to our next gate for the five hour flight south to Punta Arenas. Don’t let me hear you whining about the long flight. We may be in Chile but the “No crybabies, cranks, and pantywaists” policy applies here too. Make me proud.
Chile’s southernmost city, Punta Arenas is a port set upon the rolling hills above the barren, windswept steppe on the Straits of Magellan. This is a strange part of the world, the open spaces are immense and even the sky looks much bigger. Punta Arenas is known for its monuments to the settlers and ranchers who pioneered the region and the story goes that if you rub or kiss (depending who one talks to) the foot of one of the Indians in the Plaza de Armas, you will someday return to the city. We won’t give you an opportunity to humiliate yourself doing this. I know you’ll be back. Upon arrival at the airport we will be greeted by the poor, unsuspecting staff of Patagonia Camp. The camp is several hours away! No whining! Along the way look out for Rheas, Guanacos, Crested Caracaras, and other wildlife.Plenty to keep you occupied. Maybe they’ll stop in Puerto Natales and let you stretch your legs or use a cuarto de bano. Check in to the hotel. You’ll be meeting with your guides each night to choose what exploration you desire for the next day. All sorts of difficulty levels are available so nobody is ever left out. You are going to love this place!
Torres Del Paine – Introduction
Deemed a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the park embraces an area of extreme beauty that renders most visitors speechless. Thick magellanic forests, barren pampa, turquoise lakes with huge glaciers and beautifully sculpted icebergs surround you; and soaring out of the
Earth, stand the majestic, granite Torres del Paine. Unforgettable hikes can be made around the park, each offering fabulous views of this remote land, which is home to guanacos, foxes, woodpeckers, austral parakeets and condors, pumas, amongst many other species of wildlife.
April 9 – 16 Patagonia Camp Yurt Camp
Located on the shore of Lake Toro just outside Torres del Paine National Park, in a region of extraordinary beauty, Patagonia Camp is the first luxury camp in Chile. Surrounded by spectacular landscapes, ancient forests, lakes and turquoise-colored rivers, Patagonia Camp is the ideal place to experience the rugged and wild Patagonia region, for combining nature and adventure with comfort and luxury.
The complex is made up of 18 yurts, comfortable independent tent domes surrounded by trees, all of which have a view of Lake Toro and the Paine Massif. Each yurt has a private bathroom, private terrace and heating. Some have outdoor Jacuzzis. There is one building that serves as a restaurant, bar and lounge. All are connected by elevated walkways.
On the final morning you will be transferred overland to Punta Arenas Airport. Your time at Patagonia Camp includes daily guided excursions, meals and beverages.
Daily excursions can be chosen from the following menu:
TORRES BASE TREK
A famous, highly demanding excursion. After crossing the Asencio River you will walk uphill around 2.5 km to the “El Paso de los Vientos” pass about 480 meters above sea level. There you have a beautiful panoramic view of the Pampa lakes to the south and of the Asencio Valley running in a northeastern direction at the bottom of the ravine. From there you will descend to the Refufio Chileno shelter following another crossing of the Asencio River. Up to that point vegetation is that of the pre-Andean scrubland bioclimatic; from there vegetation changes completely to Lenga tree forest. You will climb gently trough this forest for about 3.5 km to the Torres del Paine moraine. A final push of around 45 minutes of continuous climbing will get you to the Torres Base. During the last stage the hike is along the boundary between Magellanic forest and Andean desert bioclimatic regions. The main fauna you will observe are birds belonging to the bioclimatic habitats mentioned above, as well as condors, mora eagles, caranchoos and others birds of prey.
Route distance: 18 km Approximate duration: 8 hours Difficulty: High
FULL-DAY LAGUNA AZUL
A route running around the southern side of the Paine Massif takes you to Laguna Azul, a lagoon located in the Park ́s northeastern area. The route allows you to enjoy several perspectives of the Massif from the many viewing spots where we will stop along the way. Once you have arrived at Laguna Azul you will take a simple and relatively flat hike along a trail bordering the northern shore and leading to Paine Lake. A nearly 4 km hike on this trail affords full views at all times of the Paine Massif with the famous three Torres del Paine peaks.
Route distance: 8 km Approximate duration: 8 hours Difficulty: Low
PORTERIA SARMIENTO – PORTERIA LAGUNA AMARGA
A medium-difficulty excursion, very interesting both from botanical point of view – the route runs across one the Park’s most extended bioclimatic provinces, the pre-Andean xerophile scrubland, here practically untouched – as well as for its fauna, as guanacos, ñandus, grey foxes and other animals live in this area, all hunted by their predator the puma. You will able to get close to many of these species and find the hunting tracks left by the puma and other predator animals. You will also have the opportunity of visiting an area with prehistoric cave paintings of the Pre-Tehuelche period, dated around 6,000-6,500 years old.
Route distance: 8.5 km Approximate duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Moderate
MIRADOR CUERNOS AND SALTO GRANDE
Low difficulty excursion, which allows you to watch the boats crossing the crystalline and majestic Lake Pehoé, while appreciating beautiful changing colors as daylight moves on. From here you can watch the impressive power of Salto Grande, a 15-meter-high waterfall that drains Lake Nordenskjold and Paine River into Lake Pehoé. The combination of an overwhelming scenery, the pristine colors, and the roaring of the waterfall will surely force you to take a sharp intake of breath, while feeling all the natural energy displayed, and enjoying the Paine massif in the background.
Route distance: 2 kms Approximate duration: 11⁄2 to 2 hours Difficulty: Low
Following a path that starts on Lake Pehoé shore you will hike up to Sierra del Toro, from where you can enjoy one of the best views around the park. The trail allows visitors to appreciate the local vegetation (Nothofagus trees, but also low-lying steppe), some micro-wildlife, as well as the beauty of nearby condors soaring over you. You will have a privileged view of Lake Nordenskjold, the Torres Del Paine, the French Valley, and the Patagonian Andes. Do consider always that wind will be a steady companion in any Patagonian adventure.
Route distance: 4 km Approximate duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Moderate
This excursion leads to a privileged viewpoint located on the northeast face of the Ferrier Mountain, which affords an excellent panoramic view of the Paine Massif, many lakes and the Grey and Pingo Glaciers. A steady climb of about 2 hours will take you to 550 meters above sea level. In addition to the spectacular view you can enjoy the beautiful Lenga forest, sighting of various birds and animals and if lucky, the huemul (southern Andes deer). You descend along the same trail to reach Grey Entry, the starting and final excursion point, in about one hour.
Route distance: 7 km Approximate duration: 3 hours Difficulty: High
An easy excursion that lets you visit in a short period of time three completely different environments: a mature Lenga tree forest (belonging to the Magellanic deciduous forest bioclimatic province); the beach at the far end of Lake Grey and next to the Grey River ́s origin and to the Pingo River’s estuary and a small peninsula with abundant vegetation, belonging to the pre-Andean mesophilic scrubland bioclimatic. The Grey Entry is the starting point. During the excursion route you will first observe forest birds such as Magellanic woodpeckers and cachañas; you will see icebergs from the Grey Glacier adrift on Lake Grey beach. From a high point on the peninsula at the end of the beach you have a spectacular view of Grey Glacier and its surroundings. Route distance: 5.5 km Approximate duration: 2 to 21⁄2 hours Difficulty: Low
MIRADOR LAGO DEL TORO
A simple excursion takes you to privileged viewpoints. From the first one you will observe the southern horizon with Lake Toro, Paine River estuary and Serrano River origin dominating the picture. From the second viewpoint you see the northern horizon and the Paine Massif in all its splendor. Vegetation seen on this excursion belongs to the pre-Andean bioclimatic, principally mesophilic, although some of it is also xerophilic. Throughout the excursion there will be viewings of birds belonging to these bioclimatic.
Route distance: 2 km Approximate duration: 1 to 11⁄2 hours Difficulty: Low
MIRADOR GREY – VALLE DEL RIO SERRANO
This exclusive Patagonia Camp trail begins at Mirador de Grey, and continues through hills of the northern end of Cordillera Arturo Prat. The hike leads you from Toro Lake to the beautiful Serrano River Valley. The trek passes through pristine, almost undisturbed, environments that are part of private land only accessible to Patagonia Camp guests. You will be able to appreciate the superb landscapes of the Torres del Paine National Park (Toro Lake, Paine massif, Serrano River Valley, and surrounding mountains) from a different perspective than the usual, along with small hidden lakes as well as ancient Lenga woods. Route distance: 10 km Approximate duration: 4 to 5 hours Difficulty: Moderate/High
PENINSULA LAGO DEL TORO
This route is practically exclusive to Patagonia Camp, and as it is situated outside the park there is almost no one on the route. However, the excursion is highly recommended as it offers views both of the Paine Massif and Lakes Maravilla, Porteño and Toro throughout the entire route. You will come across different types of vegetation, from pre-Andean scrubland (mainly mesophilic) to subtropical forest of coigue, fuinque and coicopihue trees, passing through remains of lenga tree forest. There are also very big willow trees, brought to the area by the first colonist. Birds and animals are equally interesting. Route distance: 13 km Approximate duration: 5 hours Difficulty: Moderate
LAGO DEL TORO WATERFALL
Enjoy a beautiful and lonely spot, just a few meters away, and within our facilities. The trail starts 500 meters from the entrance of our accommodations, bordering Lake Toro in all its splendor: deep reflections and glare, and striking blue colors changing every minute. After an approximate 40-minute hike you will arrive to the base of the Toro Waterfall, which is surrounded by native woods, and lush vegetation, and accompanied by a variety of birds perched to watch the passing of walkers. From this isolated place you can take beautiful pictures from yet another perspective of the Paine Massif, Cuernos , Sierra and Lake Toro, as well as from our luxury yurts. This hike gives you the opportunity to experience a unique location, or to share one of Patagonia Camp suggested romantic getaways.
Route distance: 2 km Approximate duration: 2 hours Difficulty: Low
You’re invited to enjoy a real Patagonian experience, a special and unforgettable journey in the company of gauchos, people who live and breathe this area, one of the world’s most stunning places. The horse ride will take you along the slopes of Cerro Tenerife, where you can enjoy the beautiful view of Torres del Paine Massif,. The tour combines bonding with powerful animals, amidst stunning flora and fauna and in a windy setting, but knowing you’re accompanied by experienced guides and gauchos. On windy days the horse ride will pass through the shores of lakes Porteño and Maravilla Lake, from where you can appreciate an immense and colorful scenery that highlights the solitude of Patagonia and its people. This tour explores paths rarely visited and offers a true adventure.
* This excursion is not included in the all inclusive programs and has an additional cost. Approximate duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Low
LAGO GREY SCENIC BOAT CRUISE
Navigation to the Grey Glacier is indeed one of the most captivating excursions of the National Park Torres del Paine. This 3-hour cruise on board the boat Grey II allows everyone to appreciate a unique combination of landscape, lush vegetation and dramatic mountains. You will depart towards Portería Grey, point from where you will start a 20-minute walk through a Lenga wood to the Grey II. The ship has an indoor main cabin accommodating 50 passengers, as well as an outdoor deck.
* This excursion is not included in the all inclusive programs and has an additional cost
Approximate duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Low
SERRANO & BALMACEDA GLACIER WITH SERRANO RIVER NAVIGATION
The trip starts with a drive from Patagonia Camp to Puerto Natales where you will board a catamaran cruising the Señoret Canal towards Mount Balmaceda. Well into the Señoret canal you will come up to Guanaco island where frequent sightings of small, pretty, Magellanic dolphins can be expected. From there bird watching continues, this time it is about cormorants on a renowned cliff, where you can find them stretching their wings and exposing them to the wind. You will also be able to watch sea lions, gaze at waterfalls, and catch sight of condors. Your trip will continue towards Mount Balmaceda where you will come across the glacier of the same name, landing afterwards at Puerto Toro. From there you will take a stroll towards the Serrano glacier. The round trip should take about 1 hour. You will also walk along the shore of Laguna Témpanos (Iceberg Pond) in the company of our bilingual guide. You will pass through a native tree forest, whose main species are the Coigüe (or Magellanic Beech), Ñirre (Antartic Beech) and Ciruelillo (Embothrium Coccineum). Passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy an impressive vegetation in contrast with a clear sky, impressive icebergs, all this against the spectacular backdrop of the Serrano glacier. Once getting to the Serrano river, you will board a zodiac boat, giving you more outstanding views of the Paine massif and surrounding woods. Upon arrival at Puerto Chaitén, a Patagonia Camp van will be waiting to take you back to the Camp.
This excursion is not included in the all-inclusive programs and bears an additional cost.
April 16 Flight: Punta Arenas to Santiago de Chile
Depart Punta Arenas Airport on flight to Santiago de Chile and you overnight flight to USA.