This Private Journey features Chile’s volcano-dotted Lake District and the sublime world of Patagonia’s Paine National Park, one of the scenic masterpieces of the planet. In the Lake District, enjoy day hikes on immense Volcán Osorno, the snow-crested icon of the Lake District, and in the mist-shrouded mountains of Alerce Andino National Park. In Paine National Park, hike fantastic trails amid Paine’s famed peaks, known as The Towers for their vertical spires. Paine Grande, the highest tower, tops 10,000 feet, its dazzling rock pinnacles rising from snow and ice. Accommodations in Paine National Park are lodges in majestic settings with hiking trails right at the door step. Extend your journey to the world-famous wine country of Chile’s Colchagua Valley, or to mysterious Easter Island, an open-air archaeological museum of a fascinating but vanished Polynesian culture.
It was great!
— Eugene S., Washington, DC
Land of Fire and Ice
The volcano-dotted Lake District is a dramatic world, with its Fuji-like peaks, lava fields, emerald lakes, and enchanted forests filled with rare native flora, including the exotic araucaria, a species unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Head out for a hike on immense Volcan Osorno, the snow-crested icon of the Lake District, or enjoy a walk through the extraordinary forests of Alerce Andino National Park, the largest surviving Valdivian rainforest in the world. The cathedral-like forests of this park have magnificent stands of the giant alerce, the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent of the redwood, which can live up to 4,000 years. Your lodge is set on the edge of Lago Llanquihue in charming Puerto Varas in the heart of the Lake District.
The Soaring Towers of Paine
Hike in the sublime world of Paine National Park, one of the scenic masterpieces of the planet, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The park’s centerpiece is the Cordillera Paine Massif, a wonderland of eye-popping scenery that emerges in a breathtakingly sheer rise from the plains of the Patagonian steppes. Paine’s famed peaks are known as The Towers for their vertical spires. Paine Grande, the highest tower, tops 10,000 feet, its dazzling rock pinnacles rising from snow and ice. The east face of the Central Tower ends in a sheer 4,000-foot-high rock wall that challenges the world’s mountaineers. There is an abundance of wonderful wildlife in Paine National Park, from soaring Andean condors to ostrich-like rheas, Patagonian foxes, and guanacos (a cousin of the alpaca). The park’s vegetation varies widely, from deep Magellanic beech forests to tundra, open pampas grasslands, and the thorny scrub called the calafate, with its yellow flowers and purple fruits. Incredible day hikes with your guide bring you through beautiful old-growth beech forests to the ultimate views of the Paine Towers. Accommodation is at Hosteria Las Torres, situated on a private 4,000-acre ranch just below the towers.
Cuernos, Condors, and Shimmering Lakes
At the southern end of the Paine Massif rise the famous cuernos (horns)—incredible twisting monoliths of granite with knife-edged ridges, wildly photogenic when they are mirrored in the intensely turquoise waters of Lake Nordenskjold. Crushed rock and glacial sediment are among the reasons that Paine’s lakes and lagoons display such brilliant colors, from vivid cobalt to emerald green. Explore by boat on turquoise lakes, hike up the slopes of Mt. Ferrier for panoramic views of the cuernos, or walk through lush forests to the stunning waterfall of Cascado Rio Pingo. Your accommodation, Hosteria Lago Grey, has a superb setting on iceberg-filled Lago Grey.
Transfer to the airport for homeward-bound flights.