PATAGONIA  -  2011

Located on the Strait of Magellan, originally a military garrison and a penal colony, PUNTA ARENAS is the main city in this far removed part of the world, the capital of Patagonia. Inhabited for thousands of years by the native Aonikenk people the Europeans came to this land in 1520. Punta Arenas was founded in the mid 1800s. It has a population of 131,000.

PUERTO NATALES

Gateway to Patagonia adventures, situated on the Ultima Esperanza fjord, PUERTO NATALES serves as the gateway to Patagonian adventures especially in and around Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.  The population of this fishing village, tourist resort is around 18,000. Beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains, friendly people, and interesting sights made our two day stay here worthwhile.

EXPLORA PATAGONIA

We came from Explora Rapa Nui (which was fabulous itself) to Patagonia and landed in heaven. Simply one of the most gorgeous places on the planet.  How the owner of the Explora Hotel Patagonia, Pedro Ibanez, ever managed to secure the location for his hotel is a marvel. It is so dazzling that one could spend weeks just watching the clouds move across the Torres del Paine massif from the steps of the hotel and never explore the countless wonders available nearby.

MIRADOR de los CONDORS

My first introduction to the flora of the area and the winds, was on this two hour, 4 kms (2.5 miles) trek to the Condor Vista Point. We had sweeping views of the park, ascending 250m (820′). the dazzling Cuernos were in our face….

NORDENSKJOLD VISTA

My first introduction to the flora of the area and the winds, was on this two hour, 4 kms (2.5 miles) trek to the Condor Vista Point. We had sweeping views of the park, ascending 250m (820′). the dazzling Cuernos were in our face….

GREY GLACIER

A full day hike, 12 km (7.5miles), our trek to Grey Glacier was led by Raimundo Mujica. Beginning with a ride on the explora catamaran, it was a wonderful day with views of the lake, the glacier, a picnic on the rocky beach of the lake, wildflowers, a boat ride offering us a close look at the glacier, pisco sours made with 4,000 year old ice from the glacier and a crossing on the swinging bridge across the Pingo River.

FRENCH VALLEY

Ordinarily a 7-8 hour trek of 16 mms, ours was cut somewhat short by the drenching rain we encountered. We took the boat to the Pehoe Refugio, walking an undulating trail with spectacular views of the Lagos Pehoe and Skottsberg, the Grand Paine Mountain and the Paine Horns.

LAGO SARMIENTO

Another gentle, easy trek, lasting around 3 hours, 6.5 km (4 m), LAGO SARMIENTO is known for the calcium formations along its shore. They result in fanciful and beautiful reflections. We did not see any, but learned that the pumas like the caves found here. there were beautiful wild flowers and a place where one could swim. The day we were there, it was too cool.

HORSEBACK RIDING

Located 15 minutes away from the hotel, the Explora Stables are luxurious. What a nice life the horses have there! So many choices are offered in all levels of proficiency, that one needs days to take advantage of just this part of the Explora program. I wished I had been able to stay for weeks.  The ride I took with two others and our gaucho, Victor, was to Laguna Negra. The views of the mountains were incredible. It was an idyllic interlude.

DEPARTURE  

This place is dazzling. The people of the area don’t feel that it is the “end of the world” but rather the “beginning of the world.” I am in agreement. It is pure beauty. I can’t wait to return.The Paine Massif is 12 million years old.Its highest peaks tower up to 3,050 metres. These craggy ‘towers’ are where the Torres del Paine name comes from; the 3 columns of pink granite, the biggest of which is Paine Grande.

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© 2019 Anita Ruthling Klaussen