Patagonia might not have been inhabited by giants, as Spanish explorers initially thought, but the landscape which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina sure could give giants a good home with wide valleys and lakes carved out by glaciers spread out below the mountains.
Torres del Paine National Park on the Chilean side and El Chaltén on the Argentinian side are gateways to trekking, horseback riding, and some of the most majestic views you could ever hope to see. The air is fresh, the water is pristine and the landscape seems to stretch out forever. The glaciers cling on, explorable from the water, by ski, and by ice hiking. Lovers of nature simply will not run out of reasons to love Patagonia.
Santiago, the Chilean capital, is a showcase of several different architectural styles, ringed by vineyards and the Andes and about an hour from the Pacific. Seventy-five miles away on the coast is the historic seaport of Valparaiso, whose historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
More than 2,000 miles out into the Pacific lies Easter Island/Rapa Nui, site of the famed moai, giant monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people, who arrived on one of the world’s most remote islands and the southeastern edge of the Polynesian Triangle sometime between 800 and 1200.
Dominating the rest of the southern half of South America, Argentina stretches from Tierra del Fuego on the Drake Passage to Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian border. In between, you’ll find the wide pampas that were traditionally the domain of the gauchos, Argentinian and Uruguayan cowboys who still ply their trade today and love to show visitors the ropes.
After a hard day on the range, you can retire to the high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza, which produce rich, dark, full-bodied Malbecs. If you want, you can even bathe in the stuff, as the polyphenols are good for the skin. However, you use them, the rich reds pair well with a nice steak, which the gauchos make sure there is plenty of.
You can’t go to Argentina without a stop in Buenos Aires, the capital and largest city and home of the tango. Explore the tony Recoleta neighborhood, full of cultural spaces and historic monuments, including the Recoleta Cemetery, the resting place of Argentina’s elites. Recoleta is where the tango took hold and transformed Argentinian high society, and many of the most famous tango songs reference the neighborhood.
Where to stay
Tierra Patagonia sits on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), the ultimate setting for exploring Chilean Patagonia. Nestled into the landscape, the hotel has views of Lake Sarmiento and the Paine Massif. Handcrafted textiles and furnishings give the hotel a true Patagonian feeling in 40 luxurious rooms. Adventure is at your feet as soon as you wake up. Personalized, expert-led excursions allow you to explore Torres del Paine by foot, horseback, or van ride. Tierra Patagonia complements all of this with a spa and indoor pool with stunning views. Dine on authentic, locally sourced fare.
explora Rapa Nui
Remote and intriguing Easter Island is home to explora Rapa Nui, an unobtrusive residence built almost entirely from the island’s wood and volcanic rock. Your guest room is home base in this mystical land, and a massage salon and open-air Jacuzzis are readily available. Each day brings excursions, from easy to difficult, along with picnics on the shore or rocky outcroppings. These expert-led, small-group activities include exploring on foot, bicycle, or by boat. Explora programs take care of your experience from beginning to end. Included are all explorations, lodging, meals, drinks, and airport transportation on fixed schedules.
The Vines Resort & Spa
Deeply rooted in the joy of making, drinking, and sharing wine, The Vines Resort & Spa immerses guests in Argentine culture, rustic natural beauty, and warmhearted hospitality. Feast on inspired regional cuisine created by famed chef Francis Mallmann and his signature open-flame restaurant, Siete Fuegos. Soak up the sweeping views of the Andes Mountains from your well-appointed villa. Relax poolside in your private cabana, or learn the art of harvesting, blending, and bottling alongside expert winemakers. Get to know The Vines’ knowledgeable gauchos, your go-to tour guides, concierges, and sommeliers during your stay.
Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is a meticulously crafted hotel that originated as a 1934 palace and has been carefully restored to maintain its historic elegance alongside the best of contemporary design. The hotel seamlessly integrates Buenos Aires’ legendary glamour with innovative 21st-century amenities and state-of-the-art technology. The property is surrounded by neoclassical architecture and exclusive designer boutiques. Providing authentic and gracious hospitality, the hotel is widely recognized as one of the best hotels in Central America and South America.
Have I tempted you enough to see this magnificent land for yourself? Contact me today so we can start planning your Patagonian adventure!