There really isn't a way to put Chile, and more importantly, Patagonia into words. The pictures don't do it justice and there's just no way to explain exactly how blue (and sometimes green) that water really is. It's Mother Nature exactly as she was meant to be. Not to get super crunchy, but it's impossible to leave this place without feeling changed by how powerful and amazing nature is. And you can't help but feeling a little badly about all those times you didn't recycle your hummus container. Coming here was a true privilege and as someone who lives in a city of millions, it was a strange and welcome feeling to sit and enjoy the silence and the solitude. I was reminded again and again just how big and beautiful this planet is.
WHERE TO STAY
Lodging options in Patagonia run the gamut from bare bones to ultra-luxe. If you're determined to rough it, a rifugio is the way to go. These are located within the national parks and are very basic. Think dorm room in the woods. If you're planning to make use of one, best to book ahead.
Otherwise, there are some truly special eco options that are well worth the price. We loved Patagonia Campwithin the Torres Del Paine national park area. Guests stay in individual yurts complete with modern bathrooms, private terraces overlooking Lake Toro and a skylight for stargazing. Meals were served in the main lodge and always delicious, featuring local ingredients like king crab and Patagonian lamb. Sister property Viña Matetic provides all wines, included with your stay.
The second part of our trip was spent in the Aysén region of Southern Chile. We stayed at Magic Waters Fishing Lodge for several days of fly fishing in some of the most beautiful streams and rivers I've ever seen. Eduardo, his wife and two adorable children own and operate the lodge providing all transportation, meals and endless fishing. Dinners were prepared each evening by Eduardo's mother and everyone would sit around telling fish tales. They were the perfect hosts and made us feel so welcome. The weather can be extreme and high winds make casting difficult; but all in it's such an authentic experience. For sure our favorite day was spent on horseback with a gaucho, fishing and enjoying a lamb asado on the banks of the river.
WHERE TO EAT
Meals are typically included with your lodging since there are not many options for off-property dining. If you plan to do lengthy hikes during the day, I'd suggest packing some energy bars or trail mix. Lunches are served, but you may get peckish in between, especially during some of the more grueling hikes.
GOOD TO KNOW
Pack light...you'll be in transit for the bulk of your trip and schlepping around a heavy bag sucks. To get to Patagonia, you'll likely fly into Santiago, Chile and then take a connecting flight to Punta Arenas (3.5 hours). From there, it's a 3 hour drive to Puerto Natales, and then another hour and half to Parque Torres Del Paine. There are also buses and ferry options, but we found this way to be the quickest. More info available here.
This trip was a beast to plan, partly because we were working within a somewhat tight timeline and wanted to see a lot. Traveling to the end of the world takes time. Don't feel bad if you can't cram it all in the first go round. We were there for 10 days and barely scratched the surface. Guess we'll have to go back!
Seasons are reversed here...our Winter is their Summer. In the lower half of the country, temperatures are always fairly mild, but you'll want to pack layers for hikes and fishing. It gets chilly in the evenings. Best part of all is the sun doesn't set until around 11pm! We had some incredible moonrises in this part of the country.