We left Santiago at around 10 in the morning to fly to Punta Arenas in Patagonia. After three and a half hours of plane ride and another five-hour- drive from Punta Arenas airport, we finally arrived at Patagonia Camp. It was already 7:30pm. That’s practically one full day of excursion within Chile.
If you look at the map above, Punta Arenas is the southernmost tip of Chile (bottom of the map). We spent three nights in Patagonia Camp near the Torres del Paine National Park. I can now say, I have reached the ends of the world and the most southern tip of South America.
One night during happy hour and over a few glasses of margarita, my bestie and I were talking about taking a trip together. We thought of going to Peru, perhaps go hiking to Machu Picchu. Although practically everyone we know have been to Machu Picchu. So scratch that idea out. How about Nepal (where I’ve been dying to go)? Nope, that’s waaay too far for her. I suggested another place: Patagonia. “So you know anyone who’s been to Patagonia?” I asked her. “No one!” she said. And that’s when we decided Patagonia is going to be our destination!
Of course it took about two years before the trip materialized and a lot of planning on my side. I’m sort of a control freak when it comes to my vacations and fortunately my friend is the type who is hands-off and allowed me to do all the work. But since I’ve never been to this part of the world (my first time in South America), I contacted the company, Swoop Patagonia, to help me out with some of the planning. They booked all our flights and hotels within South America and they included private city tours in Santiago and Buenos Aires. I usually do all my travel arrangements but I’m glad I did it with Swoop because I was able to eliminate all the hassles of arranging everything in two countries (Chile and Argentina). I would’ve had a lot of headache dealing with the airline since they changed the flight times months after we have already booked our tickets and the new flight times were no longer convenient with our travel schedule. From Patagonia, we would’ve missed our flight to Buenos Aires, considering it takes a good 6-hour drive to get from Patagonia Camp to the airport in El Calafate, Argentina. Anyway, to make the long story short, everything worked out at the end in spite of all the changes and headache the airline had caused us.
Once we landed in Punta Arenas, a representative from Patagonia Camp was there to greet us and gave us all the information we needed. Our driver arrived soon after and brought us a light lunch to eat on our 5-hour drive to Patagonia Camp . There were only four of us in the van (a couple from London and my friend and I) which made the ride comfortable. I sat next to our driver whose English was pretty limited but we still were able to understand each other. He was playing a lot of English 80’s music so I asked him if he can play Spanish songs instead. He asked me if I want to hear Mexican music. I laughed and said no. I’m from Texas and I can listen to Mexican songs in the States. I told him I wanted to hear Chilean music. So he put on a song, one that’s from Patagonia. He also sang along with some of the songs and he actually sounded good 🙂
It rained on and off during our drive. They say weather in Patagonia is very unpredictable. You can experience all four seasons in one day so packing for the trip was a bit tricky. With that said, I made sure I brought both summer and winter clothes. March was the beginning of autumn in South America but it was still fairly warm in Santiago.
The drive was quite smooth for the first four hours. The last hour was very bumpy (the road was no longer paved). But once we reached Patagonia Camp, all I could feel was pure excitement. Staying at a yurt was a new experience for me and I was ready for this adventure!
Patagonia Camp is an all-inclusive luxury camp in Patagonia, near the Torres del Paine National Park. We stayed at a yurt with two twin beds and the 3 nights/4 days were surely hands down the highlight of my South American adventure! My main intention on this trip was the hiking but the unlimited wine and scrumptious picnic lunches and gourmet meals each night were definitely an added bonus.
On our first night we had a buffet with Cordero al Palo (spit roast lamb), Patagonia’s most famous dish. I wasn’t going to try it because I rarely eat meat other than chicken, but I figure I may never come back and curiosity always takes dominance! 😊
In terms of hiking, not everything listed was available. The type of hikes each day were always dependent on Patagonia’s unpredictable weather. Although I wasn’t able to do the hikes I planned to do such as the base of the Torres or the French Valley, the camp and the food made up for it!
Oh and did I already mention the unlimited wine (great ones too!) and the region’s specialty drink, Calafate Sour? 😋
….and of course nothing can beat these views!