The drive in from El Calafate was less than comfortable, but when you’re heading to the end of the world, you can’t expect sleeper buses and smooth asphalt. It should also be noted that if you’re traveling to Torres del Paine from El Calafate, Argentina, smuggling fruit into Chile is impossible. The frightening men dressed in all black with three different pistols attached to their belts search every car entering the country with dogs trained to sniff out even the faintest scent of apple. Long story short, I had to spend time declaring my apple to then throw said apple in the trash. Efficiency isn’t really Chile’s thing. But nobody cared. Cue my head ricocheting off the window of the Explora van, and all I was after was that unparalleled view. I quickly traded Grey’s Anatomy on my iPad for the multi-colored peaks of the Torres. The view in front of us silenced the car. I couldn’t form a sentence, in part by the beauty that stood before me, but also partly due to the fact that I thought I was going to have to climb that sucker. Hello, death. Nice to meet you. My barely broken-in hiking boots were ready for round two, but not that ready.
After entering the National Park and driving for half an hour among what I’m positive is the most serene scene on the planet, it almost came as a shock when we spotted our big, white eco-hotel in the distance. Explora Patagonia’s Salto Chico hotel was nothing short of fabulous. I loathe the words “all-inclusive hotel” because they remind me of an unescapable cruise ship or a freshman year spring break in Mexico, but for one large lump sum, you can eat as many fresh meals and drink as many pisco sours and trek as many mountains and ride however many horses as you damn well please. After somehow lucking out and checking into a corner suite for four glorious days and nights at the southernmost tip of the world, I decided that this was my place. After trekking for 5 full days straight (1 on Perito Moreno and 4 in Torres), calves so sore even a massage would be crippling, I knew I was going to return one day. Even after I almost started crying because my thighs weren’t up for the damn near 90 degree uninterrupted incline, Glacier Gray and Lake Pehoe were just so worth it.
Looking around and noticing my boyfriend and I were the youngest by 30 years didn’t matter. It gave me more hope that retirement looked real good. But until that happens, we’ll celebrate life, travel, and love with polar bear plunges into Lake Pehoe. Mark my words, though…sometime in the far off future, my days and nights will consist of guzzling Patagonia beers and hardly taking my eyes off of the Torres. By that age, my trekking boots will be long covered in dust, and that’s okay by me.
| Day & Night |
Daytime events in Patagonia:
- Half day or full day treks via Explora’s guides
- Horse rides from the best trained horses in the world, or so they claim
- Hot tub soaks on Lake Pehoe
- All day spa day at Explora
Nighttime events in Patagonia:
- Eating an extremely fresh, delectable dinner at Explora’s hotel Salto Chico
- Pisco Sours at the bar
| Cost Breakdown |
Let me preface this by saying Explora Patagonia is all-inclusive, without the slightest slack in quality. Seeking disconnection from everyday routine, they like to leave the bills behind. An upfront payment of $3,000 is required in order to explore the southernmost tip of the world for 4 glorious nights. This adventure includes:
- All meals and alcohol
- All exploration activities
- Pick up and drop off at the airport, which isn’t close
- Relaxing areas, wifi in public areas, and national park entrance fees
| Seasons |
The best time to experience this magical setting is from October to April, which is spring (~64 degrees) and summer (~68 degrees) in the southern hemisphere. Torres del Paine National Park is open all year round, however, so if you have the balls to try your hand at winter (~43 degrees) in the southernmost tip of the world, by all means…
Intense winds are common inside the park, creating gusts of up to 70mph at times. In only minutes, the winds can darken the sky or even disperse the storm clouds.
| In Hindsight |
If you know anything about hotels in or near the Torres del Paine National Park, you know that Explora’s Salto Chico is everything. I have zero regrets or critiques. They are a well oiled machine. Ehh, mmmaybe I would’ve rested between hikes as it was hard to move a single muscle after day 5, but even still… no regrets.