Since I have moved to Boston, the trek home to see my parents in Cordova, Alaska (where I grew up) takes three planes and 18 hours, and a whopping 24 hours to return back to Boston. Therefore, my family and I try to meet up for quality time in various other locales. My father, a retired salmon fisherman and founder of the Prince William Sound Science Center (a center he opened right after the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill) has always dreamt of hiking in Patagonia, Chile, and last month he finally realized this dream. I accompanied him on this trip for some father-daughter bonding and an experience I will never forget.
|The natural beauty of Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Chile is astounding|
Cascada Expediciones helped us put together the Patagonia part of our trip (making everything SO much easier, especially since neither one of us speaks Spanish) and arranged a car to take us the five hour drive from Punta Arenas up to the Torres del Paine National Park (they arranged for all of our transportation with lunch stops included at great restaurants). We booked Cascada's 5 Day Torres del Paine W Trek, which includes treks that reach amazing glaciers, lakes, forests and the Paine Towers. We flew into Punta Arenas and spent a worthless two days there (we thought it was going to be a more vibrant city since it is the "gateway" to Chile's Patagonia), as it is an industrial town that has not yet figured out tourism. We had a lunch stop over in Punta Natales, which is a much more active city with adventure tours on every corner, and we wished we had spent our two days here instead.
Onto our actual EcoCamp Patagonia portion. EcoCamp Patagonia is 100% green and comprises standard and suite dome-shaped tents surrounded by the natural beauty of Torres del Paine National Park. This is a much more comfortable accomodation than traditional camping. We stayed in one of the smaller standard domes, which had no electricity, but flashlights, and comfy beds (lots of blankets for the cold nights). The standard domes surround a larger shared bathroom (entirely green, and VERY nice, I was extremely suprised), while the suite domes have their own private bathroom. Suite domes also feature small sitting areas, solar powered electricity and a modern, low-emmission wood burning stove for heating purposes. In addition, there were two much larger adjoined core domes where meals were served each day and they also housed a bar, a communal living room with books and magazines, comfy couches and chairs, a fire place, and huge windows looking out onto the mountains. The trip was all-inclusive except for the bar, but wine was included with dinner.
|Walking into our Ecocamp sleeping quarters|
|Much more plush than traditional camping!|
|Toasting in the communal dinner/bar/lounge area|
During our five days of hiking we did the famous Patagonia "W" hike, hiking a W pattern between four points in the Torres del Paine National Park. The trekking was not particularly technical, but it did consist of long, full days of uphill hiking. The views made all of the huffing and puffing worth it, even when caught in the rain (Patagonia has very unpredictable weather), and we were frequently soaked through with both rain and sweat.
|Taking a very picturesque rest|