No trip to the Patagonia region of South America is complete without a trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The park is regarded by many as the “trekking capital of the world.” After visiting for myself, it was easy to see why.
While many travelers choose to spend three or four days hiking the “W” circuit, this is not feasible for everyone. Some people may not have the time, while others might not feel up to the intensity of the hike or the planning. Furthermore, Torres del Paine tends to be extremely windy, and if you add rain to the equation, long-term hiking can be unpleasant.
For me, the problem was a mixture of all these things. I knew if I tried to do a day hike I wouldn’t see a lot. Additionally, the forecasted rain did not make me excited to be outside. On the other hand, I wanted to experience the park and hike at least a bit of it. The solution? A 4×4 tour with Patagonia Extrema Viajes. I was able to book the tour at Chaltén Travel in El Calafate, Argentina. The experience allowed for three hours in the park driving to different sites, some of which included Salto Grande Waterfall, Bitter Lake, the Rio Paine, Paine Grande and, of course, the Horns of Paine. There was also a one-hour hike to help visitors get even closer to nature.
Don’t let bad weather stop you from exploring Torres del Paine. Even when raining, its beauty and unique features are inspiring. To get a visual of my experience on the 4×4 tour on a rainy day, check out the gallery below.
With twenty-three categories and every continent up for consideration, the competition is fierce, but today Outside magazine released its picks for its new Outside Travel Awards. The winners include everything from travel companies and locales to cameras, suitcases, hotels, and apps, road-tested by those in the know (you know, those people).
Amongst the chosen is Seattle-based Mountain Madness, a mountain adventure guide service and mountaineering school, for its new Tsum Valley trek in Nepal, named “Best Trip in the Himalayas.” Known in sacred Buddhist texts as the “Hidden Valley of Happiness,” the Tsum Valley lies on the edge of the more visited Manaslu Conservation Area, which opened just three years ago to tourism.
Best travel company Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) has “consistently taken travelers to the most remote regions of the world, from Everest’s north side to Patagonia’s glaciers to the far reaches of Papua New Guinea. This year its trailblazing new terrain with a 27-day trek to the north face of K2 ($11,450).” Bonus: “the price of every GeoEx trip includes medical assistance and evacuation coverage from Global Rescue and medical-expense insurance through Travel Guard.” Not too shabby.
Also making the list: Myanmar is the “Best New Frontier;” Canon Powershot G-12 makes the “Best Camera;” the “Best New Adventure Lodge” is the Singular, outside of Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile; and the “Best Eco-Lodge” is the architectural marvel, The Mashpi in Ecuador.
[Photo credit: Flickr user tarotastic]