Nowhere is a Place: Travels in Patagonia November 3 – 18, 2017
The cost is almost totally all Inclusive. All flights, most meals, all hotels, transfers and ground transportation in Chile, and when we are based at Patagonia Camp…all alcohol. We have budgeted $2000 for the flights and feel you may be paying less. Airlines will not post cost of flights more than a year in advance. You will pay tips for your guides at the end of the trip and $131 entrance fee into the country which is good for 10 years (see below).
Day 1: Flight To Santiago de Chile.
Day 2: Saturday 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 and humid monkey puzzle rainforest, 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, after which, a spot of level III white water rafting will be the refreshing antidote you need.
Whether you’re looking for a photographer’s dream trip, wild desert adventure, complete escapism or an unusual cultural experience, Chile has it all.
Important – For American travelers to Chile
U.S. and Canadian citizens are required to pay a Reciprocity entrance tax upon arrival at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago. U.S. citizens – US$131 (valid for multiple entries for 10 years from initial entry. This tax is levied at the international airport only, no tax is currently levied at other points of entry into Chile (subject to change).
Santiago de Chile – Introduction
The conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago de Chile in 1541. Leaving Cuzco he traveled down the continent and once he gazed upon the valley at the point where the Mapocho and Maipo Rivers descend from the Andes on their journey to the Pacific Ocean, Valdivia marked the center of colonial Santiago with the Plaza de Armas and his house was located where the central Post Office now stands. Today, this clean, tree-lined square is a haven for men, young and old, playing chess together, shoe shiners, artists and lovers.
On arrival in Santiago de Chile, after clearing Customs and Immigration, you will be met by your local guide and taken to the Galerias Hotel for an overnight stay. (Private Driver/Guide)
Galerias Hotel 3 Star One Night
Located in the commercial and cultural heart of Santiago, the Hotel Gallerias is a traditional hotel with all modern features you would expect. The hotel has 162 rooms, all decorated with an ethnic flair, and all including free internet access. The hotel also has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar and gym. Daily breakfast included.
Excursion – Half Day Tour Of Santiago
You will be picked up at Galerias Hotel and set off on a private half-day city tour of Santiago, beginning in the historic old quarter of the capital. Continuing to the city center, observe the La Moneda Presidential palace, the former Congress building, the Supreme Court, the Cathedral, and the recently restored Plaza de Armas square. You will visit the Archeological museum of Santiago (M.A.S.), located in the cultural and historical Lastarria neighborhood near to the Visual Arts Museum. The M.A.S. shows an exhibition of Ancestral Chile with a tour through the Pre-Columbian Art from North to South, with ceremonial and daily use objects. Textile, ceramic and jewelry pieces are a reflection of women and men who lived during the period prior to the Spanish conquest of America.
Proceeding along the Alameda, Santiago’s main artery, you can see the Union Club, the Universidad de Chile, the San Francisco Church, erected between 1586 and 1628, and Santa Lucia Hill, site of Santiago’s foundation in 1541.
You will drive up to San Cristobal Hill for a spectacular panoramic view of Santiago and the impressive Andes mountain range. Crowning the hill is the imposing statue of Virgin Mary. To end the tour, drive through the upper residential districts of the city and Providencia, an area renowned for its shopping and nightlife. On the outskirts of the city you will pass Parque Forestal and the beautiful Mapocho Station.
November 9, Sunday Transfer To Santiago De Chile Airport
You will be collected from the Galerias Hotel and transferred to Santiago De Chile Airport for your Flight to Punta Arenas. (Private Driver /Guide)
Punta Arenas – Introduction
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 on who one talks to) the foot of one of the Indians in the Plaza de Armas, you shall someday return to the city.
Transfer To Hotel
On arrival in Punta Arenas, you will be met by your local guide and taken to the Hotel Cabo De Hornos for an overnight stay.
Located in the center of Punta Arenas, Hotel Cabo de Hornos is an imposing building that stands out for it classic design and whose interior is innovative and warmly decorated. The interior of the hotel is modern, and many of the hotel rooms overlook the Straits of Magellan. Daily breakfast is included.
Excursion – Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony Tour
Private Driven Car
Depart from the Punta Arenas dock for the ferry to Magdalena Island. The group will be accompanied by a bilingual guide. Located 25 miles north of Punta Arenas, in the middle of the Strait of Magellan, Magdalena Island is a natural reserve of Magellan penguins, cormorants, and other birds which peacefully coexist with sea-lions. Here you will discover a “rookery” of more than 60 thousand penguin couples that return year after year to nest in the same burrows. Between October and March they occupy almost the entire island.
You can walk through the island along a marked path leading to a lighthouse where there is an exhibition of photographs and information on the marine life in the Strait of Magellan.
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 guancos, foxes, woodpeckers, austral parakeets and condors, among many other species of wildlife.
Patagonia Camp Yurt Camp
Pick up and depart on your transfer to Torres del Paine (from Punta Arenas the drive takes about 2 1/2 hours to Puerto Natales, and another 1 hour from Puerto Natales to Patagonia 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. 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 through 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 a 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 to visit 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, 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 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, the 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 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 hidden 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 passing 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 in a windy setting, 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 impressive vegetation in contrast with clear sky, and astounding icebergs, all against the spectacular backdrop of the Serrano glacier. Upon arrival at 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.
Flight: Punta Arenas to Santiago de Chile
11 Depart Punta Arenas Airport on flight to Santiago de Chile.
Flight To USA.