A two-week exploration of Patagonia may well take in both the Argentinean and Chilean sides of the region, but if there is less time, we advise our clients to choose one or the other to cut down on lengthy journeys and limit whistle-stop tours. After all, the most powerful aspect of Patagonia is the freedom its wilderness evokes, a feeling that is lessened for those who are not burdened with an overfilled itinerary.
Chile showcases the greener side of Patagonia, with its centrepiece being the Torres del Paine National Park. This large protected area has some of the best hiking in the world, with many of our clients making the pilgrimage each year to walk its trails and see the soaring Paine Horns, a rock formation and valley that looks as though it could have been hand-carved.
If you are looking for all-out luxury amongst breath-taking scenery, Chile is the best choice, with multiple outstanding hotels and lodges set within the Torres del Paine National Park. One of our top choices for clients is Awasi Patagonia, a world-class hotel that has impeccable service and feels totally private.
All of the 12 beautifully furnished villas have wooden hot tubs outside and floor to ceiling windows with views over the vast Sarmiento Lake, but most importantly each room comes with its own private guide to help guests navigate the rugged surrounding countryside. The food is also impeccable, with king crab and other boat-fresh Chilean seafood; a welcome indulgence after a day’s exploring.
For fans of cutting-edge design, Tierra Patagonia is another fantastic place to stay. In a big-sky landscape of sweeping valleys and broad bowls, this low-slung lodge made largely of the native lenga wood, blends into the landscape and remains almost entirely hidden from view. It may have been this clever camouflage that enabled one of our clients to spot the very rare sight of a puma preying on a guanaco just outside their window.
There are so many experiences we can arrange here and a good spa that will soothe tired bodies after a day of activity. It is also worth taking a dip in the indoor pool for the view alone.
While conventional wisdom suggests that the hotels close to the park are the only choice, for something a little different we recommend The Singular Patagonia, which lies an hour’s drive outside of the park, near Puerto Natales. This quirky hotel is an old converted factory and is reached via a renovated funicular lift that stops just outside the reception. As a contrast to Chile’s modern design hotels, we like the way that The Singular connects you to its history.
Last time we visited we were led on a guided tour of the hotel which explained the industrial building’s former life and how it fits in the context of Patagonia’s past. Inside, the hotel has been brought right up to date, with cosy rooms and one of the best spas in the region. We particularly enjoyed the ‘Sweet Patagonia Treatment’, a relaxing immersion bath using honey, milk and rice-extract. Days at The Singular can be spent either biking or hiking through the rugged nearby trails or aboard the hotel’s 16-passenger motorboat exploring nearby glaciers.