From Santiago, we flew south over the Andes and towards Tierra del Fuego, “known as the end of the world”. When we arrived into Punta Arenas, our cheeks turned rosy pink and our hair went in the direction of the cold Patagonian winds.
From there, we drove 7 hours on a bumpy dirt road to reach our hotel surrounded by the Torres del Paines National Park. Hotel Explora was our “base camp” from where we would venture out each day to hike up to 30 miles, or go horseback riding at an estancia.
There are a few ways to hike the circuit at Torres del Paine National Park which is located between Cordillera de Los Andes and Patagonian Steppe. One way is to camp, and the other way is to glamp. We choose to go glamping. Glamping is a glamorized way to hike. You hike all day on the most difficult segments of the hiking circuit, and then head back to Hotel Explora in the evening for the jacuzzi tub, champagne, caviar and the 5-star gourmet meals pared with the finest of Chilean and Argentinian wines.
The hikes at Torres del Paine include the Towers of Paine, the Paine Circuit (El Circuito) and the “W” are “classic” Patagonian treks offering 360 panoramic views of mountains with towering granite peak, glacial fields melting into emerald green lakes, and fields of wild flowers. We choose the popular “W” hike which takes at least 3-4 days.
Whenever we headed back to Base Camp (aka Hotel Explora), we had to make sure there wasn’t a drop down screen behind the window since the view from it was so unbelievable! Before leaving, we told Hotel Explora we’d be back to complete the circuit to truly take in all of its splendor.