Chile: Traveling Through the Chilean Patagonia
Southernmost Chile is home to powerful waterfalls, immense mountains and glaciers, deep blue lakes and fjords, and unique wildlife.
This morning after breakfast at your hotel you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s southernmost region along the Strait of Magellan.
Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred by private car to Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia (3.5 hours). En route the road passes through southern beech forests and peaceful cattle and sheep pastures. Keep an eye out for rheas, large flightless birds similar to an ostrich and guanacos, a cinnamon-colored relative of camels and llamas.
Puerto Natales is the departure point for trips to the magnificent O’Higgins and Torres del Paine National Parks. The city is built along the eastern shores of the Seno de Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound) with striking views of the Cerro Dorotea Ridge to the north. It is the capital of Última Esperanza province, the largest and least populated region in all of Chile. This is a land of contrasts and wild natural phenomena.
You will check into the Weskar Patagonian Lodge on the waterfront of Puerto Natales City. This young city is made up of sailors from Chiloé, descendents of the first Europeans who colonized the region 100 years ago, and new “immigrants” both foreign and Chilean, making it one of the most diverse, authentic, and picturesque cities in Chile.
Weskar is located on 6,000 square meters of Patagonian pastureland, which you can survey from the wooden staircase that connects the main house with the sauna and hot tubs. From the lodge, including the terrace, and the back patio, which is protected from the wind, one finds impressive views of the fjord. The atmosphere inside the lodge is one of relaxation. The common space features a grand, rustic fireplace, a reading room, a bar with a view to the fjord, a lounge, and a small handicraft store.
We recommend dinner at your hotel this evening. The restaurant offers the best view of the Seno de Última Esperanza and the city as well as a relaxed atmosphere, friendly service, fresh baked bread, sublime king crab, Patagonian lamb, and fish caught in the fjords, all prepared with local flavor.
Your guide will meet you after breakfast at your hotel this morning for a privately guided full-day visit to beautiful Torres del Paine National Park. Depart together at 8:00 am.
Begin your day at the Milodon Cave, where the remains of a prehistoric mammal were found in 1895. The site is now home to a replica of the animal and detailed information about the glaciological process that formed the cave.
Continue on to Cerro Castillo Village for a short break and an optional snack in the small café.
Arriving at Torres del Paine your first stop is the Blue Lagoon, a 40-minute drive from the park entrance with plenty to see along the way. Watch for guanacos, rheas and condors as well as foxes, hares and pumas among the varied flora. Arriving at the Blue Lagoon, you’ll take in the vibrant colors of the lagoon itself as well as the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains: Torres del Paine, Paine Horns and Mount Almirante Nieto. Your visit continues with a short hike to the turquoise lakes of Pehoé and Nordenskjold, and the powerful Salto Grande waterfall.
Lunch in a local restaurant is included today followed by a walk along the Grey Lake, set against a backdrop of icebergs and the vast Grey Glacier.
Return to your hotel this evening. You may choose to dine on the premises or select from a list of recommended restaurants in Puerto Natales.
Spend today exploring part of the Southern Patagonian Glacier Field in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. You will be met by your guide after an early breakfast at your hotel. Set out together at 7:30 am, traveling 31 miles by road with a colony of cormorants and another of sea lions en route.
Tourism is relatively rare here and the park is accessible exclusively by boat. Board a catamaran and ride through the Última Esperanza Sound, named “Last Hope” for a 16th-century expedition in search of the Strait of Magellan. The flora here is dominated by different species of beech trees, including Calafate, Chilco and Canelo. This stunning landscape is home to Mount Balmaceda, standing regally at the head of the sound close to the mouth of the Serrano River. Surrounded by the Balmeceda Hanging Glacier and the Serrano Glacier, Mount Balmaceda stands at over 2,000 meters and is part of the Andean mountain range. You will see the Balmaceda Glacier from the boat, landing and hiking 20 minutes along a path bordering a calving lake originated by glacier melt for a closer look at the Serrano Glacier. On the way back a delicious lunch is provided in a typical Patagonian estancia.
Return to the lodge in the late afternoon.
Today is your day to do whatever you would like on your own. You can organize trekking, fishing, or simply take the last day to relax.
Enjoy your final leisurely breakfast before meeting your driver for the return trip to Punta Arenas.
This is just the beginning.
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