Feeling like a baller and very much missing my car back in the States, I stuck the key in the ignition. We were as free as a bird on a paved route towards Torres del Paine but ready to off road at any second, because where we were going, we didn’t need pavement.
The pleasure of being behind the wheel in Patagonia was made possible by the brilliant people at Quasar Expeditions who created various packages on wheels via Jeep Wrangler Rubicons, all outfitted with navigation devices and geo-targeted guides that allow you to plan points of interests as you go. The company recently raised the bar with its flights of fancy and a new ‘glamping’ idea. With three expedition options of 1) having a personalized Jeep experience all alone 2) having one in the company of a guide that puts you in the driver’s seat or 3) having one in the company of a guide who can double as a chauffeur, I ultimately chose the last option as I wanted to focus on taking a bazillion photos of the landscape, wildlife, and maybe even a wilderness selfie or two. I wanted to sit back and bask in the warm (okay, cold) welcome to this landscape. A welcome not to a country or a city, but to the landscape and wilderness of Patagonia. We set out from our starting point at The Singular, a 1900s cold storage plant turned luxury hotel and made our way towards Torres del Paine National Park.
With so much to do and see in Patagonia, the idea that you can see it all (or a lot of it), both the Argentine and Chilean side, in a little over one week at your own speed should be enough to get you down there faster than the Patagonia weather can change course, which is at RAPID PACE. The basic framework of the trip has been set and the luxury hotels have been handpicked, but tailor-made is tailor-made. If you want to pull over and hang out with the baby sheep during springtime, hike Perito Moreno, picnic glacier-side or have an idea of your very own, no problem. Quasar is extremely flexible with the various programs and the requests of their guests. In our case, my boyfriend and I did some drone flying, because that’s what you do when you’re own your own time and do exactly as you please.
These cows were beyond intrigued with the drone…as you can tell! And then, they weren’t. The closer we flew it, the further they backed up and the faster they ran away.
The comfortable and stylish road trip via Jeep takes each guest on a luxurious adventure through Patagonia. With Quasar, they’re able to experience multiple sights, countries, hotels, locals and cuisines. Highlights on the Chilean side include an uphill hike for views of the vivid blue Grey Glacier, which floats in a chalky colored lake, followed by jaw-dropping views and local wines around the fireplace at Tierra Patagonia, a sister hotel to Tierra Atacama, where I stayed months before in the desert. A day and night at the secluded lakeside Patagonia Camp, a collection of tented yurts, gives the opportunity to take a few breaths and admire the surroundings. After a drive across the border (with passports stamped in two sleepy immigration shacks), the town of El Calafate, Argentina, and the Relais & Châteaux Eolo hotel provide luxuries of homemade pastas, thick steaks and bottles of malbec for exploring the Perito Moreno glacier whose dramatic peaks and valleys are a favorite with ice trekkers, such as myself…
Having been to Torres del Paine National Park once before, I knew I had to return to complete a hike that grants huge bragging rights: the hike to the base of the towers. Everyone deserves a second chance, and this was mine. We set out with our knowledgeable and passionate guide, Alvaro, who told us about everything from the formation of the Torres to when we should take off a specific layer during the hike. How on earth did this guy know my body temperature so well?! After asking him how many times he’d done this particular hike, he responded with a humble, “I lost count, around 300?” Oh, that’s how.
He knew my body better than I did, and that’s when I put all my trust in him. It came in handy a few hours later once we reached the point where we climbed straight up, the last portion of the hike causing sweat and pain, making the previous hours look like we’d walked a bunny slope. As we neared this section, my dreams were shattered. Due to the amount of snow and possible ice, the summit was closed. How could this be? I had traveled grueling hours to get to this point right in front of me! But this was when I got to know the real Patagonia. The vast wilderness that can draw you in with its fairytale-like setting can just as quickly spit you out with its extreme elements. I trusted Alvaro and the thick clouds that were rapidly forming. We made the hike down and hopped in our get-a-way Jeep where my hands could regain feeling. I suppose this wasn’t such a bad ending. I knew my heart would regain that same feeling some day in the future as well. Torres del Paine, I’ll be back, and Quasar, I’ll be coming for you again.
Quasar Expeditions‘ Overland Safaris Include:
- The choice to drive with a private guide in the car, let the guide take the wheel or self-drive without accompaniment
- A 9-day/8-night itinerary, going from Puerto Natales, Chile, to Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, then back to Torres del Paine National Park OR
- A 6-day/5-night itinerary, going from Puerto Natales, Chile, to Torres del Paine National Park
- Excursions including kayaking, fly fishing, hikes, horseback riding, ice trekking or catamaran lake navigation
- Lodging at luxury hotels such as The Singular, Tierra Patagonia, Eolo and more
- Jeep accessories with navigation systems, GPS multimedia devices, maps, snacks and walkie-talkies
- Meals, ground & airport transportation, park entrance fees, vehicle insurance
Prices based on two person-bookings: $6,450 p/p, $7,550 p/p for guide in Jeep, and $8,050 for guide in accompanying Jeep.
Quasar is also known for their luxury cruises in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. See my trip with them here: