Patagonia Trekking Adventure

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

Amelia Earhart

Patagonia is a huge area of land that comprises the southern tip of South America and is at the southern terminus of the Andes mountains. Located in both Chile and Argentina and consisting of mountains, glaciers, lakes, and plains, it has been an explorer’s dream for hundreds of years.  The park’s main feature and namesake are the three Torres (towers), huge granite monoliths jutting straight up into the sky. The entire region is remote, sparsely populated, and beautifully situated among snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, and windblown plateaus.

This is a unique trekking adventure for us, because instead of tents, we spend our nights in comfortable refugios: mountain huts that have showers, cooked meals, and bunk beds with real mattresses – all backcountry luxuries. We hike with just our daypacks, from one refugio to the next, with the privilege of taking in the incredible sights around us.

Patagonia is a world-class hiking destination and our multi-day trek is a fantastic way to see this wild land without forgoing some of the creature comforts you love. Our Patagonia tour takes place entirely in Chile, in the area in and around Torres del Paine National Park and features well-marked trails and picture-postcard views from almost every turn.

Details

  • Cost Per Person: $3,250
  • Optional Single Supplement: $0
  • Private Tour Minimum: 4
  • Activities: Trekking
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Guides: TBD

Other Info: Contact us for pricing information.

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Trip Highlights

  • Astounding scenery that ranges from alpine lakes, rushing rivers, dense forests, open grasslands, mammoth glaciers and stunning peaks of the Torres and the Cuernos
  • Hiking through the backcountry of a national park for days without having to carry anything more than your daypack
  • Mingling with the South America culture and its friendly open people in a remote corner of the world
  • One day each of Glacier hiking on ice that is thousands of years old and kayaking around beautiful floating icebergs in Lago Grey
Day 1

We meet this morning in the town of Punta Arenas, near the tip of the South American continent, and shuttle three hours north by private coach to the cute town of Puerto Natales for lunch. After lunch, we continue on to Torres del Paine National Park, a two-hour journey traveling through the Patagonian pampas and looking for wild guanacos (native species that are similar to llamas). The park encompasses mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers with the stunning Cordillera (mountain range) del Paine as the centerpiece of the park. Torres del Paine has some of the best trekking routes in the world, and your first sight of its lovely mountains may just take your breath away!

Day 2

By the end of the trip, we will have completed the “W” circuit of the park, named for the shape of the trail. Our maiden hike is on the easternmost portion of the W, walking along Las Torres Trail high above Río Ascencio, through a Lenga tree forest, over glacial moraine, and finally to the base of the jaw-dropping Torres, for which the park is named. While the first part of the hike has some steeper sections, the last hour includes a challenging one-hour boulder-scramble up to the beautiful glacial lake from which the Torres seem to rise out of. You will want your camera ready for this moment! These three striking granite massifs are the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice and reward our efforts and make our lakeside lunch taste delicious. This is our toughest hiking day, but the view of towers and the glacial lake below them is astounding – something you will remember your entire lifetime! We return down the valley along the same path. Distance: 8 hours / 20 kilometers. We gain 820 meters in altitude (and then lose it on the way back down). A shorter route is available: one can turn around at Alberge del Chilenos, an 8-kilometer round trip hike that gains – and then loses – 450 meters in altitude.

Day 3

We begin the central portion of our trek as we hike from our hotel along the Los Cuernos Trail, one of our easiest hikes of the week, with a net loss of altitude. The landscape opens up a bit here and winds can be fierce without the protection of the trees. Our guides share the wonders of the Park’s fauna and flora and we have magnificent views of the milky blue glacial lakes below us and the towering mountains above us in the central part of the park. We will have times to skip stones along the shores of Lake Nordenskjold (named for a Swedish geologist with major contributions to world glacial geology) and study the hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto before reaching the base of Los Cuernos (“the horns”), another unique geologic feature of the park. We’ll be able to see these stunning peaks up close and personal right from our dining room tonight. Distance: 5 hours / 11 kilometers.

Day 4

We start the day with a two-hour, 5.5-kilometer hike over mostly flat terrain to Campo Italiano on the wild Rio Frances. From there, you can choose to hike straight to Lake Pehoe on gently rolling terrain (another 7.6 kilometers and 2.5 hours). However, we highly recommend a side trip up the steep French Valley, arguably the most beautiful in the park and one of the most unique in the world. It is surrounded by hanging glaciers (where you can see the ice breaking off at various intervals across the valley, and then hear the sound seconds later). It is a natural amphitheater of granite walls and spires! There are amazing views and the further you trek into the valley the better they become! (This side trip is an extra 3.5 hours with significant altitude gain and loss). Whichever route you take, you will notice the extraordinary turquoise color of Lake Pehoe when you arrive at our refugio. We will celebrate our day together over a Pisco Sour in the lodge’s bar, with views of Paine Grande and the back side of Los Cuernos in the beautiful evening light. Distance: This is an easy short route hike (4.5 hours / 13.1 kilometers) and difficult long route (8 hours / 24 kilometers).

Day 5

We hike the westernmost part of the W along the shores of Lake Pehoe and Lake Grey, all the way to Glacier Grey, one of the most spectacular glaciers of the Patagonian Ice Field. This is perhaps the nicest hike of the trip, with excellent views and changing scenery. The glacier produces fierce winds, so hold onto your hats today! Our objective is to reach the glacier lookout point, where we have close-up views of Glacier Grey and its giant floating icebergs. You have the afternoon to yourself to enjoy a little down time, or do more exploring on your own. Distance: A mostly flat but net downhill hike (4 hours / 11 kilometers)

Day 6

After breakfast, we prepare for an ice hike on Glacier Grey, an incredible experience. With a safety talk and equipment introduction behind us, we will board Zodiac boats bound for the west side of the glacier, 15 minutes away. After an hour of hiking and a bit of boulder scrambling, we reach the ice, gear up, have another safety briefing and begin a few hours of guided exploration on the glacier. With crampons on our feet and ice axes in hand, we will be able to observe cracks, rivers, lagoons and tunnels with their dozens of variations of the color blue before returning to base camp and Grey Lodge by Zodiac boat. This unique experience is simply incredible!

Day 7

This morning, you can choose to sleep in and relax at the Lodge or hike further along the trail (including crossing a fun suspension bridge over a gorge) to an alternate lookout point above the glacier before returning to the lodge. At lunchtime, we will join others in a larger boat that allows us to navigate safely along the face of the towering glacier from the water below. You can’t even imagine the colors of the ice! From there, we transfer back to Puerto Natales for a wonderful farewell dinner and a luxurious night in a hotel!

Day 8

After a leisurely morning perhaps enjoying the spa services at our hotel or wandering about town, we will transfer you back to Punta Arenas for your return flight home.

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHTS 1 & 2 >> HOTEL LAS TORRES / TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

Located inside Torres del Paine National Park, our hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, a lovely view of the mountains and surrounding valley and, most importantly, is the perfect launching point for our initial hikes.

NIGHTS 3 - 6 >> CABINS OR REFUGIOS / TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

While trekking in the park, we stay in refugios, simple rustic lodges that provide us with meals, have communal baths with hot water (most of the time), and bedrooms sleeping from two to eight people in bunkbeds. These are basic but a step up from camping and can seem luxurious after a day of hiking in the backcountry! The scenery and having the privilege of being in the center of an astoundingly beautiful spot is well worth any perceived sacrifices in our normal Zephyr-style of lodging. We spend one night at Los Cuernos Refugio and Cabins, one night at Lodge Paine Grande and two nights at Refugio Grey.

NIGHT 7 >> HOTEL INDIGO / PUERTO NATALES

Indigo is a boutique hotel on the waterfront of the Última Esperanza Fjord with an outdoor Jacuzzi and beautiful views – the perfect place to pamper ourselves after our days of trekking!

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Arrival & Departure

We meet you in the town of Punta Arenas (airport code PUQ) after breakfast on the first morning of the trip. On the last day of the trip, you can depart Punta Arenas any time after 4 PM. It is possible to book your flight directly to Punta Arenas, but you might get a better price and schedule by booking airfare to/from Santiago, Chile and a separate round trip flight (three and a half hours, nonstop) between Santiago and Punta Arenas. This may also allow you to stay a night or two in the beautiful city of Santiago and environs before or after the trip. Upon booking, we will send you a Pre-Departure Packet with complete travel information.

What's Included?
  • Depending on group size, one Zephyr guide. A second Zephyr guide is added at ten people.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included for our three hotel nights. Our four nights inside the park will range from rooms with two bunks to eight bunks (we will get the very best available). If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. Sorry, no single supplement is available.
  • All of your meals are included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guide(s) on the first day.
  • All group activities, permits, and entrance fees are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED Alcoholic beverages, gratuities to your guides, sleeping bag (available for rent for $75), personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
No Single Supplements

We get to journey to the end of the earth! Limited space comes with the territory and therefore, no single supplements are available for the overall trip. The lodging will be dorm style for the majority of the tour, but you may be able to request a single supplement for our hotel nights. If this is something you’d like to consider, please let us know as costs vary.

Lodging and Meals

Seeing as we are basically leaving civilization behind in order to explore one of the remotest places in the world, meals and lodging isn’t of the five-star quality kind. For instance, it is difficult to find fruit, but we believe it’s all a part of the experience!

Shuttle Time

In order to get you from civilization to these remote locations, there will be some time spent driving in vans. This can’t be avoided, but we guarantee it’s worth the trip!

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience.

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