Southern Patagonia is home to the legendary Torres del Paine National Park. The best way to observe the park’s wildlife, which includes guanacos, deer, and pumas, is to join Tierra Patagonia hotel’s new six-day wildlife photo safari, led by Chilean photographer Pía Vergara. Or explore aboard Nomads of the Seas, a 15-person yacht equipped with helipads, and zodiacs for whale watching.
To book a trip, contact Shelby Donley of Camelback Odyssey Travel, (602) 266-4000. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
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Looking for lunch
On our way to Torres del Paine - well, to be honest, it was four hours into an eight hour trek - we can across this little fella. So engrossed was the woodpecker in staring at his future lunch wriggling in front of him, he didn't seem to mind a bunch of gringos getting as close as we did. The wildlife in Patagonia - guanacos, condors, owls, foxes - are worth the visit alone.
A strange name for a trek, but the W gets its name from its shape. If you trace the complete trail on a map, you will end up with the letter "W."
The W trek is a 4 to 5 day trek in Torres Del Paine park covering approximately 50 miles. It’s the most popular route in the park, so expect to see a lot of fellow hikers. It can be started either at the Refugio Las Torres or Refugio Chileno end, or the Refugio Grey end, or even at Refugio Paine Grande, which is almost central in the route.
Or if you'd rather rough it you can camp—if you like a bit of an extra challenge. The trek is a serious trek, you scramble around rocks, climb for hours, you carry your packs. It's a great workout!
But the real treat is the views. The majestic mountains and glaciers surround you as you trek this remote land. As you hike the W it's hard to not fall in love with Patagonia.
The Cebador hands me the cuia, I pause for a moment and think about everything I have learned. I slowly extend my right hand, looking him in the eyes and giving him a slight nod. I take the first drink from the bombilla, careful not to move it around but instead let it sit stiffly in the packed herbal mixture. I drink it all in a short amount of time, trying to suck and slurp the last bit of liquid from the herbs. Once I’ve finished, I hand it back to the cebador with the bombilla pointing towards him and don’t say a word.
Now I’m one step closer to fitting into Patagonia culture—I can officially call myself a mate drinker.
Mate is basically a traditional herbal mixture served with hot water. I always found it slightly bitter tasting, butI did learn that in some areas it’s served sweet. What makes mate so unique is that it’s complicated—and yes, complicated things are cool in my opinion. There are a number of rules and traditions associated with drinking mate—which makes it slightly intimidating at first. My best advice is to find a local to teach you how to fit into the mate drinking culture.
A lifelong dream and "Bucket List," destination, the southern tip of South America was an exhilarating experience for my husband and me during our adventure trip there. Gazing out from our hotel in Punta Arenas across the Straits of Magellan seeing Tierra del Fuego in the distance is an indelible memory.
I packed my bags and spent an incredible 3 weeks in Chile and Argentina in Patagonia. The W hike through Torres del Paine was mind-blowing. The colors were amazing as seen on this lake, Lake Pehoe, with the rainbow and mountains.
I stayed pre-hike and post-hike at Ecocamp.travel. It was great service, food, and accommodations that made me feel that I was helping keep Torres del Paine enjoyable for generations to come.
You can view more on my blog about my Walkabout through Chile and Argentina: www.mstravelingpants.travel
A few years a go a devastating fire ripped through this beautiful national park in southern Chile. It left behind an unquestionable amount of damage to the park, but also created some eerily beautiful sights. I came across these burnt trees during a hike in the park. I spent 4 days in the park hiking up the mountains that make the park famous, but this is still one of my favourite sights.
Torres del Paine is one of 11 national parks in Chile. It is located in Patagonia and has as its centerpiece the incredibly photogenic cuernos. I went on 4 long day hikes into the cordillera, discovering the gray glacier which sits on one side of the cordillera and climbing into the bowl surrounded by the eerily shaped cuernos. The peaks that make up the Torres go as high as 3,500 meters. You can hike the entire perimeter of the cordillera or spend a few days at one of the hotels in the park and hiking in and out every day. The world famous Explora hotel is in the park.