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Author Topic: Chile - Patagonia  (Read 2231 times)
Jon Meddings
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« on: April 07, 2014, 11:43:36 AM »
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Folks, we're joining the LuLa gang on the Antarctic trip next January and really looking forward to it.  It is a long way to go from Canada and was wondering about adding on a bit of time either at the beginning or end of this trip.  The tour is based out of Santiago and so it would be easiest, I guess, to do something from there.  Also there is a day around Punta Arenas and we are checking as to whether there is an option to extend for a few days in this area. Any suggestions for landscape type photography?  Anything around Santiago or suggestions about driving up to Torres del Paines from Punt Arenas?  I just don't know the area.
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andaremos
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2014, 09:17:51 AM »
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Torres del Paine is my favorite National Park. The logistics of reaching the Park and lodging are not that easy. Puerto Natales is the biggest town near the entrance to the Park but still far away. Punta Arenas further south is several hours away. I had limited time and was bringing my wife so staying at a hotel near the Park worked out best. Some people prefer to hike and stay in the refugios.
You may want to consider flying north of Santiago to visit el Valle de la Luna and San Pedro de Atacama. This area is one of the driest places on earth. The Lagunas Altiplanicas near here are worth exploring. We also visited the Tatio Geysers which are is of the highest Geyser fields in the world.
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stever
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2014, 11:25:20 PM »
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we spent almost 4 weeks in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia last Feb arranged by vayaadventures.com (we were very happy with their service).

We spent a day in Valparaiso and found it more interesting than Santiago.  From Punta Arenas you really need to allow 3 or 4 days min to see anything of Torres del Paine (it's about a 6 hour drive - we had a car and driver).  Punta Arenas has some interesting old buildings, cemetery, maritime museum, and museum of antique equipment and stuff - worth spending half a day (get an explanation at the hotel of how the cabs work - most are on numbered routes, you can't just hail one at random).  You should not wait to book hotels for Patagonia now as January is peak season (everyone from Santiago is there on vacation).
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Jon Meddings
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 08:04:46 AM »
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Thanks guys - very helpful advice. 
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davidgp
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 10:55:28 AM »
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Hi,

I spent two weeks in December in Torres del Paine natural park. You should really go to see it. It is wonderful.

Some tips (that can be criticized since I have been only there one time).

- You are going there in peak season (summer time down there), so it is going to be expensive.
- If you rent a car in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales to go to Torres del Paine, beware that the last Gas Station it is in Puerto Natales, from there there are no more Gas Stations (if memory does not fail me, from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine, it is like three to four hours driving). They say that you can buy gas from the Hotels in Torres del Paine, we did not do that, so I don't know how difficult it is, or how expensive it is.
- The most economic place where to sleep is camping, but of course, you have to take your camping gear. You can sleep for free one night in "Lago Azul", but the installations are quite limited (no restaurant...), as I was saying, free camping. Lake Pehoe has "Camping Pehoe", they have some kinds of bungalogs, I don't know if they are ok or not, we took our own camping gear. I don't know for sure, but they told me hotels in the area are expensive, starting around 250-300 dollars per person per night... up to 3.000-4.000 dollars per person per night if you go to Explora hotel or Tierra Patagonia. You can eat in camping Pehoe for around 20 dollars each meal, but they have strick timetables, so, depending on the dates, dinners or breakfasts are not photographer friendly.
- To get inside the park you will need a permit, you have to pay for it, it was not much, I don't remember right now, maybe around 10-20 dollars? It gives you access to the park for 3 or 4 days. Anyway, at the sunset - sunrise hours, we never saw anybody there checking the cars going in or out.
- Wind, strong wind, take with you somekind of windstopper/goretex jacket... sturdy tripod.

So, the most famous landscape locations are Torres del Paine and Cuernos del Paine, from Lago Azul you have a nice view of Torres del Paine, I will also explore the road that takes you there, they have a really nice view. Explore lake Pehoe and Salto Grande and Chico area, you will have wonderfuls views of Cuernos del Paine. If you like photographing animals, you will see lot of Guanacos, Ñandús, Vultures... and of course the king there is the Puma, but it is difficult to see, the park ranger tolds us some areas to go to see them in the early morning, when they are out of their caves hunting, but we did not have the lenses to go to photograph them.

I love the park, and I will probably return in the next years to there... If you have the opportunity, don't miss it.

Best regards,

David
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Philmar
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 03:34:06 PM »
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Just to throw a few other ideas out to you...if you ever wish to go to Easter Island you will have to fly to there from Santiago and you may consider this as an opportunity to do that (depending on how many days you intend to extend the trip by).
Another option is to fly from Santiago to Calama in the Atacama desert region and there are incredible landscapes there that can be seen. 3 day excursions to the world's largest salt flats Salar Uyuni and incredible Andean altiplano lagoons and volcanoes like Laguna Colorado. You'd need at least 6 extra days.
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2014, 11:56:42 AM »
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We did an Antarctica trip in January of this year, and, like you, wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were so far from home. We hired a car in Ushuaia and spent two weeks exploring Patagonia on our own. People had said that we were crazy to go at that time of year without reservations so we threw in a lightweight tent and a couple of the new lightweight Thermarest sleeping pads. A silk bag-style sheet and one down sleeping bag that opened up to use as a quilt did it for equipment. We had a fabulous time. If you do hire a car be sure to get one that has insurance that will cover you to travel between Chile and Argentina.

From Santiago we flew to Easter Island for five nights. Some said that would be too long but we could have easily stayed for another day.

I did an online journal of the trip and that may give you some more information about travelling by car in Patagonia but feel free to ask if you have any other questions. The journal is a record of the trip and the photos have had minimal or no post-processing so please don't judge them too harshly! Here's the link:
http://travel.topicwise.com/doc/antarctica2014
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 09:53:43 PM »
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Hi Jon,

I spent two weeks in Chilean Patagonia in Dec/Jan.  One week in the Torres Park, and one week in a hotel in Puerto Natales with a rental car.  I rented a cheap car with two spare tires, drove it everywhere, and had a really really fine time.  There is more than enough near Punta Arenas for two days of taking pictures, but I wouldn't make that a top selection.  The entire area from Punta Arenas to Torres Park is full of interesting landscapes, seascapes, glaciers, sky, and light (as is the area from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia, but is distinctly more remote).  In Puerto Natales, I found the people at "Kayak en Patagonia" (Cris and Leslie) to be the most informed, helpful, and sensitive to the desires of a photographer.

Without more information on your desires — and your ages, experience, desired level of comfort, and budget — it's hard to recommend much, but I would scratch the area around Santiago from your list.  If you want a picturesque Chilean city, go to Valparaiso (of course that's not "landscape type").  Take a look at Puerto Montt and the Chilean Lake District.  For Chilean Patagonia, ten days with a car based in Puerto Natales will give you Torres Park and much more.  Hiking in the park requires planning ahead.  Tierra del Fuego is, I was told by every guide I spoke with, worth the visit.

Believe what you read about the wind.  In Patagonia, it's like gravity.

—Kirby.
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