Where Luxury Meets Adventure: Which Torres del Paine Lodge is Right For You?
With some of the most beautiful landscapes in South America, Torres del Paine is a haven for adventure, but who says that you have to give up the ‘finer things’ in life to experience the natural beauty of the park? Sure, you can backpack the W trail and sleep in tents. There is definitely something to be said for roughing it in one of the most wild, and rugged landscapes in the world! There is also something to be said for spending your days hiking the highlights of the park and then having a comfortable bed, white glove service, and a gourmet meal after a hard day of trekking! Torres del Paine is the ultimate destination for intertwining adventure and luxury. The adventure comes from the striking environment, of granite peaks, glacier blue lakes, and the trails that are strewn throughout the park. The luxury is derived from a few lodges that have made it their mission to provide 5 star comfort and service in the most remote of regions. The following lodges have accomplished this goal in one way or another. After reading this, you should have a better idea of which luxurious Patagonian lodge is right for you.
If you have traveled to South America, you have probably heard of the Explora brand. They have some of the most incredible properties in Chile, and just recently, they expanded into Peru opening a hotel in the Sacred Valley. It is their lodge in Torres del Paine, however, that has earned them their reputation of being top of the game when it comes to mixing luxury and adventure. The lodge is located in one of the most picturesque spots in the park, propped on the shore of the turquoise Lake Pehoe, overlooking Los Cuernos. With its unique wind-shaped peaks, Los Cuernos (translated to “The Horns”) are one of the most distinguishable mountain sets in the park, and at Explora you can see them up close from your bedroom window. In fact, all 51 rooms face Los Cuernos, so no matter where you stay you are getting one of the best perspectives in the park.
With a view like this, Explora believes that you must have incredible service and food to match. They have hired some of the best guides to lead 50 excursions that explore the park; hiking, horseback riding, and boating through some of the most insanely gorgeous views that you will ever see. People rarely leave Explora without raving about the food as well. It is a well thought out menu with a lot of variety, and if you are there on the right day, you will even get to experience a traditional Gaucho lamb barbecue, or as it is called locally, a Quincho.
Who should go? While Explora is an incredible experience for anyone who makes it there, it is especially friendly to adventurous honeymooners who want some of the most romantic views in the park. Due to its location in the park (which still does require a drive to most of the treks!), it is really ideal for those drawn to hiking and trekking.
Awasi has quickly emerged as one of the top lodge experiences in Patagonia. Situated just outside of the park on a private reserve, Awasi is about as remote as you can possibly get. This can provide wildlife viewing you would not get elsewhere with possibilities to see guanacos, Rhea Nandu, South Andean Deer, or if you are extremely lucky, a puma! While it may not have the lake front positioning of Explora, the view is certainly nothing to scoff at.
What makes Awasi a truly exceptional experience is the exclusiveness of the service. As a guest, you and your family are given a private villa. The villas are very spaced out, making it feel like you are the only guest at the hotel. You are provided with your own private guide and vehicle who are on call throughout the day for any excursion or other request that you may have. This allows you to plan your trip exactly how you want without the confines that come along when traveling with other groups. This exclusive service translates to the food as well. Using fresh, local ingredients, the menu is completely tailored to every guest’s taste or dietary restrictions and you can request meals whenever you want. It is this type of personalized service that makes Awasi one of the top choices in southern Patagonia for the truly discerning.
Who should go? The spacious villas and personalized service make this a great choice for families who want to have an exclusive experience while spending time together and bonding in the most gorgeous of surroundings.
This Singular Patagonia, is a stunning property situated a few hours outside of the park and 5 minutes away from the town of Puerto Natales. Some travelers are turned off by the fact that it is so far outside of the park, but the myth that this somehow detracts from your Patagonian experience needs to be dispelled! It is true that you will have to wake up early and drive a few hours if you want to do one of the hikes in the park, but you will likely have to do this in the park too! The Singular takes full advantage of the many activities outside the park and in the friendly town of Puerto Natalas. In addition to hiking they offer sea kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and sailing. With strict rules in Torres del Paine, which preserve and protect the park, these types of activities can only be offered by lodges such as The Singular.
The Singular also prides itself on offering a more cultural and historical experience. The lodge itself is a former cold storage plant supplying food to solders during WWI and WWII. The lodge has retained its antique feel, in addition to modern touches, such as, floor to ceiling windows which overlook fjord. With Puerto Natales so close, you can see more of the Chilean way of life than you will in the park, which is mostly inhabited by other travelers. With its incredible gastronomy, spacious rooms, and incredible views of the surroundings, The Singular provides a 5 star experience, while offering a variety of activities that you may not have access to in the park.
Who should go? The multisport and cultural options at the Singular make it a great destination for travelers who want to see the incredible scenery but are also interested in more than just hiking.
With its environmentally friendly living and sleeping domes, the Eco Camp is definitely more rustic than its counterparts, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its luxurious qualities. The incredible service and gastronomy of the Eco Camp has carved itself a spot on the list. The property sits at the base of the famous towers, and with its sustainable practices, you will never feel more in touch with the park and the environment. While it is impossible to leave no trace when running a frequently visited hotel, EcoCamp Patagonia comes pretty close by composting, greenhouse farming and by harvesting all of their energy through hydro and solar power. The EcoCamp has somehow found a way to offer a luxurious experience while staying extremely green. Your own dome becomes a warm haven after a strenuous hike and the larger communal domes are a place to meet people, have a drink and eat gourmet meals. There is even a yoga dome that offers several sessions a day to keep your mind and body right for your long hikes!
The guides are what really elevate this experience though! At EcoCamp Patagonia, you will be treated like a friend from the minute you arrive. Their open friendliness creates a communal atmosphere among guests so you feel like you are at a summer camp! A summer camp with much better food though, including local favorites like barbecued lamb and king crab.
Who should go? Because of the communal atmosphere, solo travelers would have a great time here with ample opportunities to meet new friends and share stories of your day’s adventures.
You really can’t go wrong when picking from these properties, plus there are many more to consider such as Los Torres and Tierra Patagonia. All of them offer a unique method to explore one of the most striking landscapes in the world and the service and luxury will have you thanking yourself for opting out of the tent! Torres del Paine is a unique destination where going more luxurious does not necessarily mean losing out on adventure.
Ventus Australis - the inaugural voyage
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Trek Union - Los Dos Cayos – Belize
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Kuelap – an alternative to Machu Picchu (without the crowds)
Tuesday, July 25, 2017