by ashleigh ferran.
1st stop: Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine, Chile.
2nd stop: Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.
3rd stop: Lakes District, Lake Tagua-Tagua, Chile.
words that accurately describe patagonia: none. it is a place of breathtakingly giant (and windy) scale. i divided the trip into thirds, 3 weeks, 3 regions (some of which i did on horseback!). i'll let the photos speak for themselves, but read on for 7 of my luckiest stops along the way.
Hotel Remota. Enjoy the hotel, splurge for the excursions. This sustainably designed hotel, built into the hillside, is almost as breathtaking as the surrounding landscape. But you'll find the real draw in the different excursions you can take part in, led by local guides committed to conserving the Patagonian land.
Torres del Paine, Valle del Francés . If you only have one torres del paine full-day hike in you, make it this one. We made an early morning of it, stopping to see the sunrise with a view of the Towers. Bonus points? Both the start and end of the hike include a catamaran trip across a stunning lake.
Sierra Baguales: This lightly visited geo-paleontological park is like an escape to a faraway planet. Along the way you can hunt for fossils; we found numerous seashells and even a sea worm! Definitely make a point to pack a picnic and bottle of wine— it's worth it when you get to the top.
Sheepskins and Saddles. The gaucho culture is an integral part of Patagonian life, yet the strained struggle between livestock and nature is a complicated one, with many sides to a pressing situation. To really understand, try visiting an Estancia beyond its tourism trips. We rode for 4 days into the heart of estancia nibepo aike, living and working with Gauchos. Nature is beautiful, but so is hard work and real life. Still not sure where the balance lies, but I really valued this part of the trip.
Asado at Puesto La Laguna. This lakeside outpost has been "home" to Gauchos, mountaineers, and a few lucky travelers for more than a century. Not sure if it was the meat landscape or company, but this asado was top of the charts. if you're wondering what constitutes serious asado, start here.
Fishing for brown trout on the Rio Puelo. Shimmering turquoise and filled with trout, a day on this river is a dream for anglers and non-anglers alike. Basecamp here was Mitico Puelo Lodge, a totally off-the-grid lodge accessed only by boat. While fishing was the real draw, so was the food, which incorporated many locally grown or foraged items such as wild mushrooms, berries, local honey and fresh fish.
Borago. One "non-Patagonia" item, but this restaurant in Santiago makes the perfect entry or exit stop for any trip to Patagonia. Described as the Noma of Chile, be prepared to learn that donkey milk, ice plant, and bitter tree berries actually can taste good together.
photos by ashleigh ferran, all rights reserved.