South Patagonia in Three Steps

Our sales executive, Claudia Rivera talks about the intense itinerary of our GoChile team, which in six days went through the most important attractions in South Patagonia: Punta Arenas and the penguin colonies in Octay Sound, Puerto Natales and the glaciers Balmaceda and Serrano, and Torres del Paine with Perito Moreno Glacier. An incredible pack.

By Claudia Rivera.

 

We took advantage of time before high season started to travel to Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, and Torres del Paine, so as to visit our suppliers and assess their services.

In Punta Arenas we stayed in Dreams del Estrecho Hotel, which is probably the best hotel in the city. Its restaurant offers great quality and inexpensive buffet lunches.  At nights, the bar located on the tenth floor is a great place to meet up with other tourists and enjoy the view of the sea. The bar and Punta Arenas Casino are excellent places to hang out and have some fun.

Departing from Punta Arenas we went to the penguin colonies in Octay Sound, a place where the sun this really strong and the luminosity is great. And also, the penguins look really cute digging their small underground caves.

 

From Puerto Natales to the Glaciers.

The next day we left for Puerto Natales and stayed at Índigo, a cozy boutique hotel, with comfortable spaces and minimalist decoration. In the different stories there are some hammocks for you to relax reading a good book or listening to music. The Spa on the last floor has a wonderful view of Última Esperanza Fjord.

There is also a warm lounge with a great view and excellent Piscos Sour. There are no telephones or TVs in the rooms, although there’s Wi-Fi in case you want to go online.

Another alternative we visited –more economic by the way- was Charles Darwin Hotel, a hotel for an average tourist, with an attentive staff.

Departing from Puerto Natales we sailed through Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers aboard the Catamaran Agunsa, which has very good tourist and VIP common areas, with comfortable seats and armchairs. If you want to, you can also go to the bridge and go to the bow of the ship.

The trip starts in the dock of Puerto Natales. As we went further into the sea we saw the hotels Weskar, Remota, Altiplánico, and the building of Bories cold storage plant (a national monument) on the shores. Bories is located by the Singular Hotel.

We sailed through Última Esperanda Fjord, seeing beautiful waterfalls and hanging glaciers. When we arrived at Mount Balmaceda we saw the glacier bearing the same name, that though impressive, made me a bit worried because of how much it has receded. It is sad to think that much of the ice in the area is in the same condition.

The trip to Serrano Glacier continued, going to Puerto Toro, where we disembarked in order to go on a 30 minute trek across a beautiful native forest. On the side of the road there was a lake, where the icebergs let us know that we were close to the glacier. The silence was impressive.

When we returned to Puerto Natales we took a bus to get to a traditional “estancia” where we enjoyed a traditional Patagonian barbecue, which made gave us back the strength the cold had taken away from us. After three hours we were back in the city docks.

 

From Torres del Paine to Perito Moreno

Along with our local operator, Comapa, we visited the Cueva del Milodón, a cave located 24 km north of Puerto Natales. Its name is due to the bone and skin remains found 1896. They belonged to a Milodón, a giant herbivore, similar to a sloth, extinct thousands of years ago.  This is the first stop in the regular day-tours to Torres del Paine.

After visiting some of the hotels in the park –which, by the way, are featured in our website (Patagonia Camp, Lago Grey, Hostería Pehoé, Hostería Las Torres, Hotel Explora), we had a lunch break at the restaurant in the camping Pehoé.

We stayed in Río Serrano Hotel. A huge building with spacious common spaces and comfortable rooms. The Superior rooms have an impressive view of Paine massif. Even though it is not located in the park itself but five kms away, it is one of the best hotels in regards to infrastructure and service.

The next day, we departed on a tour to Perito Moreno Glacier, in Argentina. We were picked up at around 7:00 am along with other tourists in nearby hostels.

The first stop is the border crossing, where you have to do all the paperwork to leave Chile. Depending on the amount of passengers, it should take you around 20 minutes.  Once in Argentinean territory, it’s three hours to get to Calafate, and another 40 minutes to get to Perito Moreno National Park, through an immense and windy Patagonian Steppe, seeing in the distance Lake Argentino and Santa Cruz River. Since the road to the park is very long, there are two stops to stretch your legs and go to the toilet if you need to.

From the entrance to the park you can see in the distance the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier. We climbed the mount through a thick Patagonian forest, descending the footbridges and getting close to the high ice towers. The day was spectacular, with a clear sky and the sun shining on the lake. The long trip was completely worth it.

After two hours enjoying the beautiful landscape we headed back to Chile, but stopped to go through the streets of Calafate for around 15-20 minutes. We arrived in Puerto Natales at 23:00, tired, but ready to go back to Santiago.