No, not a painting or edited image.This is the actual view from my room at the picturesque Expora Patagonia!
April 14, 2017
Kipling & Clark
Global Private Travel Snapshot
Greetings friends, clients, and trusted global suppliers!
Though our past hikes on the Milford Track/New Zealand, Inca Trail/Machu Picchu,Glacier/US, and various areas ofSwitzerland/Austria were particularly memorable, I must confess that the hiking, horseback riding, and spectacular setting of relatively inaccessible Patagonia is unparalleled. The critical contrast is Patagonia’s pristine remoteness: no mass tourism or crowded hiking trails here!
When hiking a wide range of areas on the Patagonian Andes, it is easy to see how Torres del Paine still has hundreds of unnamed mountains, with many points inaccessible and unexplored. Located at the tip of the South American continent, the outstanding national parks and private reserves stretch 1242 miles across the Andean wilderness. Interestingly, during my last visit with a small party of 5 Explora hikers, we had several opportunities to observe giant condors flying overhead, while never seeing another human being outside of our own tiny group!
The features of Patagonia are remarkable: wild rivers, muddy rainforests, glaciated peaks, granted monoliths, and vast steppes. This is a place for reflection, deep solitude, and unforgettable outdoor activities. With the likes of high-touch Explora Patagonia, Eolo Patagonia, and Singular Patagonia, rest assured, no roughing it here! This last trip reinforced my view that Patagonia is among my top two or three high-touch adventure destinations in the world.
Many thanks & safe travels,
CEO Kipling & Clark and travNET
Condors flying overhead while hiking with Singular Patagonia.
The extraordinary 49-room Explora Patagonia is our favorite luxury lodge in the entire 1,242 ft. stretch of the Patagonia Andes, located in the unspoiled Torres del Paine National Park, the very heart of Patagonia. Despite its remote location, Explora Patagonia provides all essential luxuries with such subtlety so the guest can marvel in this pristine environment without distraction. Perhaps not as architecturally striking as the Singular, the Explora more than makes up for it with one of the most spectacularly picturesque settings of any lodge we have stayed at anywhere in the world (!). Explora’s luxurious amenities include open-air Jacuzzis, a heated pool, spa, sauna, Chilean bar, and its own horse stable. With the area’s highest quality guides, wonderful food selections, and many hiking/horseback riding options, this place is certainly worthy of a 4-night stay. Of special note, Explora is the only lodge in Patagonia with its own bred and trained stable of 26 horses (including Arabian!). All horses have been raised on the Ibanez Estate, not far from the Explora property.
Noteworthy Explora Guide School
Our engaging, colorful, (amusing!), Explora Patagonia high quality guides.
Unique to Explora Patagonia, the guide selection process is taken so seriously that they developed their very own guide school. Following rigorous recruitment, guides are then trained by the Explora School of Guides. Knowledgeable of the geology, botany, zoology, glaciology, history, local flora and fauna, and geography in the region, guides are trained to be experts in numerous fields. For your safety, all guides are Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certified; meaning they are highly skilled at providing assistance to hikers in remote areas. Named as South America’s Leading Expedition Company by the World Travel Awards, you don’t want to miss a guided hike from Explora.
Explora Hiking/Horseback riding Options
Depending on your physical fitness level and general hiking interests, Explora offers a wide variety of hiking options ranging from a 1-3 hours trek to a full day (8-10 hours). Of the more rigorous hikes, the Base Torres Hike passes through the lush Ascencio River Valley and Chilean Refugio Valley, leading to the base of the majestic Paine Towers. This is a full-day 8 hour excursion. For a shorter, more relaxing excursion, the Lago Grey Hike begins by crossing the hanging bridge over the torrential Pingo River, walking through a lenga forest until you reach the shores of Lake Grey, generally quite windy, where you will be able to see the enormous icebergs that break off the Grey Glacier. Similar to hiking, Explora offers various horseback riding options including a family beginner level (45 min. – 1 hr.), as well as more demanding, full-day rides for more experienced riders, with ascents of 486 to 762 ft.
In-house manager, Valentin Virasoro, and his staff create an intimate, family-style, atmosphere at Eolo that makes you feel most welcome. With only 17 suites, this simple, upscale lodge, located approx. 15 miles from El Calafate, is truly a heavenly ranch-style property. All rooms offer varying sweeping views of Lago Anita Valley, Ago Argentino, and Torres del Paine. Similar to other high-end lodges in Patagonia, Eolo offers extensive hiking, biking, and horseback riding activities in the surrounding picturesque areas. Please note: we arrange a separate private tour excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier from Eolo. The lodge includes a small indoor pool and a TV room for those who need a CNN fix. Noted chef, Juan Pablo Bonaver, makes dinner here a delicious, fine dining experience, though no fancy clothes required. No exaggeration in saying that the braised lamb I had here was perhaps the most tender and delicious I have had anywhere.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Among the planet’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, Glacier Perito Moreno is the remarkable centerpiece of the southern part of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Referred to locally as Glaciar Moreno, it measures 18 miles long, 3 miles wide, and nearly 200 feet high (approximately 20 stories!). Incredibly, the unique feature of Moreno is the ice is in continuous advance; up to 6-7 feet per day (!)causing huge icebergs to fall from its face every few minutes.
To fully observe and hear the sensation of the falling ice is a rare, singular experience! This glacier is one of the most awe-inspiring natural forces on earth. Experiencing the glacier via wooden walkways or trekking on the actual glacier with crampons, the Perito Moreno is not something you want to pass up while visiting the southern cone. To be in the presence of the glacier emits the feeling that you are in another world, its vastness envelopes you and you feel you cannot look away. It is truly a natural force that cannot be captured by film or photograph!
The luxury, 57-room Singular Patagonia Hotel is located in the Chilean Patagonia on the shore of the Senoret Channel, a 5-minute drive from the town of Puerto Natales. Strategically located at the end of the “Ultima Esperanza Sound,” we feel it is the ideal first gateway point to many areas in/around Torres del Paine. Set in a National Historic Landmark, the site of an early 20th century meatpacking plant, its conversion to a 5-star luxury adventure lodge is truly remarkable. In contrast to the preserved, historic meatpacking section of the Singular, the hotel’s public areas and rooms embody a striking, modern aesthetic; the antithesis of the property’s National Historic Landmark status. The quality and diversity of dining options here is outstanding – among the most delicious meals we have had anywhere in South America (think “Naha” in Chicago!). Also, the homemade ice cream here is the best I have had anywhere! Please note that due to high-demand, spa reservations must be made a month in advance.
Singular Patagonia Hiking Options
You may opt for a half-day hike for all levels of experience. Trekking to the Mylodon Caves, one of Singular’s beginner hikes, is one of the most important archeological and paleontological sites in S. Patagonia. These caves hold evidence of human presence dating back to 12,000 B.C.. Meandering through various caves in the area, the excursion leads to the Large Mylodon Cave; 200 meters deep & 80 meters wide. For those who want more of a challenge, Trekking Mirador Dorotea reveals the truly magnificent fauna offered in this national park such as the Antarctic beech and lenga forests. The hike’s peak height reaches 600 meters above sea level, allowing for a fabulous panoramic view. On my April 2017 visit, while hiking with Singular guide, Andrea, I was amazed by the spectacle of 4 condors flying over us for over 20 minutes! With the condor nest just below the Mirador Dorotea’s peak, this is an ideal trek for a chance to observe these giant birds.
Patagonia’s Fluid Weather Conditions
Though not generally well-known, we feel the sweet spot for Patagonia travel are the very early Patagonian autumn months of March through mid-April: more sunny days with more moderate temperatures.
The 100-cabin, 210-passenger Stella Australis offers comfort and adventure as you sail along Cape Horn at the bottom end of western hemisphere, making your way through the Beagle Channel running along the southern extreme of Tierra del Fuego, and across the fabled Strait of Magellan to the Chilean mainland.
The Stella Australis is on my radar for 2018!
What my dad thinks he looks like: What he actually looks like:
Greetings Fellow Global Teen Travelers!
Excited about applying to the city’s “OneSummer Chicago” student internship program. Keeping my fingers crossed I will get in, as there are so many great learning opportunities!
In addition to the Patagonia hiking/horseback riding activities, I am lobbying my Dad to add a 3-night expedition cruise along the tip of South America and the Strait of Magellan. With no rockey Drake Passage included. This will be my first authentic penguin experience!