Traditionally, if you wanted to get up-close and personal with Chile’s diverse and captivating great outdoors, you had two options: camping or staying at one of the country’s famed remote luxury lodges like Tierra or Awasi. If you chose to camp, you’d spend every minute outdoors in the fresh air, falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the sunrise. But you’d also have to lug pounds of gear miles into the wilderness. At luxury lodges, you wouldn’t have to schlep anything, and guided day trips such as hiking or photography safaris allowed for leisurely exploration of the surrounding natural environment. But you’d be somewhat sheltered apart from the landscapes you came to experience.
But now there’s a new option that combines the immersive experience of camping with the perks of lodge life: Outpost’s glamping expeditions.
Launched in 2018, Outpost is a series of curated “deluxe adventure camps” from boutique Chilean tour operator Upscape. It’s Chile’s version of the popular U.S. glamping company Under Canvas. Travelers are increasingly craving off-the-grid experiences that include modern amenities, and Outpost fulfills that demand.
“More and more people are wanting to connect with nature and are open to camping,” says Upscape founder Brian Pearson. “[Outpost] is about being in the moment and enjoying the place you’re in.”
Inspired by the eponymous settlements on the fringes of civilization, Outpost creates a movable city of spacious modern tents that easily “pops up” and then “pops down” throughout Chile’s rugged backcountry, whether in the lunar-esque valleys and crackling salt flats of the Atacama desert or among Patagonia’s monumental mountains, crawling glaciers, and ancient forests.
Outpost highlights places in Chile that visitors may not have heard of or be wholly familiar with. For example, you’ll find no Outposts in Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most overtouristed places in Chilean Patagonia. The first Outpost camp took place on the isolated banks of the Rio Jeinimeni in the oft-overlooked Aysen region between the Lakes District and the Magallanes province (home to Torres del Paine), where misty mountains, temperate rain forests, and turquoise lakes abound, and where, on the trails of the nearby Parque Patagonia, you’re more likely to share the paths with llama-like guanacos than other hikers.
Luxury camping requires luxury tents, and with Outpost, guests are set up in sumptuous tents from Crua Outdoors, purveyor of specialty, high-end camping accommodations. Each 400-square-foot, juniper-green Lodge model features a private bathroom, bedroom with black-out curtains, a separate living area, a front porch, and insulation. The easily movable, zero-excavation tents have almost no impact on the delicate, remote destinations.
During the day, guests embark on guided excursions tailored to the destination, such as trekking or horseback riding in national parks or fly-fishing in glacier-fed lakes and rivers. At night, they dine in a heated geodesic dome on hearty meals that showcase Chile’s natural flavors and ingredients, all paired with Chilean wine, and then fall asleep to the sounds of nature. Experienced guides and staff are always on-hand for whatever guests may need, but the camps are completely disconnected: There’s no Wi-Fi and zero signs of human civilization in the surroundings.
“It’s an unfiltered experience,” says Emily Nathan, a professional photographer whose travel brand Tiny Atlas Quarterly has partnered with Outpost for photography and adventure trips. “It’s more experiential, getting you away from your phone to experience this incredible, rugged landscape. . . . You can notice the variations of the rocks in the river while you’re fishing, notice the different birds. . . . You are really in it.”
Since launching in 2018, Outpost has set up camp all over Chile: Patagonia’s Aysen region, the central Maule wine district, and the northern Elqui Valley for the July 2019 total solar eclipse. There are only a handful of departures throughout the year, with a maximum of 18 people on each. In 2020, they’re changing things up, offering flexible private departures in Patagonia for March. More Outposts in Aysen, the Atacama, and central Chilean wine country are also in the works.
The December Outpost is not to be missed, though; based in Colico in the idyllic Lakes District, the Outpost will coincide with a total solar eclipse on December 14th that will be passing over the region. The exact location of the camp is being kept a closely guarded secret, and the views of the eclipse and the surrounding landscape are sure to be phenomenal.
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