Leaving Northern Chile, we flew to Punta Arenas, where we dined in town and stayed the night, before driving three hours to Patagonia National Park. Along the way, we stopped for dinner and I had a local meal of guanaco, a cousin of the llama. We were also served cocktails with calafate berries, which are tart and really flavorful.
As we got closer to the hotel, all that could be seen was this gorgeous mountain range, with the Towers on top of the mountains. Slowly, the Tierra Patagonia Hotel, an earth-toned mound, gently peeked out from the ground ahead of us. This hotel is built into the earth, so that the landscape itself remains the focus, not the hotel.
In the hotel’s entrance corridor, we were greeted by warm and welcoming glow. The main lobby opened up to a spectacular view, as the glass walls look out over the lake and the mountains. Suspended lights gently illuminated the wood décor, and accented the natural beauty of the landscape.
We first went on the Hunter’s Trail Hike, where we came across some 8,000-year-old cave paintings that were hand prints, cougars, and other forms on the rock. We also spotted a condor nesting area, which was amazing. These are impressive animals. Later, when we went on another hike to look for more condor nesting sites. There, on the top of a rocky outcrop, while we were gazing at the Torres del Paine in the distance, a condor took flight just ten feet above my head. It soared through the air, buoyed by a warm current. It was an awe inspiring and spectacular sight.
During our trip to Patagonia, we also hiked 18km up to the top of the Towers, the famous “Torres del Paine.” The weather, when we first started out, was cloudy and foggy, and we came across beautiful lakes, rivers, and rapids; the mineral deposits in the crater give the water a soft, cloudy glow. As we neared the summit, on this hike, we could see the lake filled with the same soft, milky water, “leche glacial.”
We were thrilled to have made it to the summit, but we were disappointed, because due to the fog and low cloud cover, we couldn’t see the Towers themselves. We began our descent, until suddenly the wind shifted. Hopeful that we might catch a glimpse of the famous view, we hiked back up the rocky trail and were rewarded as the clouds parted almost like curtains, revealing the Towers. The view was absolutely breathtaking.
At the hotel, we relaxed our sore muscles in the beautiful Uma Spa facility, overlooking the mountains. Needless, to say, between the hikes and the spa, we slept very well during this trip!
En route home, we flew to Santiago, our last stop in Chile. There, we spent some time exploring the young, vibrant, cultural neighborhood of Lastarria. El Barrio de Lastarria is a charming area, filled with shops, wine bars, live music, and lots of open, shared café seating.
Of course, these are only highlights of our trip, as we were kept quite busy by the amazing things to see and do in Patagonia.
To experience some of the beauty of Patagonia yourself, contact The Accomplished Traveler at 212.586.2020.
Photos: TierraPatagonia Hotel
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