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Indagare Matchmaker: The Chilean and Argentine Patagonias

Travelers don’t end up in Patagonia by chance – it’s a bucket-list destination that requires careful planning and advance preparation to visit, especially considering its limited number of luxury hotels, each of which have only a handful of rooms. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, a trip to Patagonia must be done right, so deciding which property matches your style and needs is key, as staying in the right lodge will shape the way you experience this remote and breathtaking corner of the earth.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized trip to Patagonia, or learn more about Indagare’s packaged hiking itinerary to Patagonia in March 2020.

Private and Exclusive: Awasi Patagonia

Awasi was a game-changer for Patagonia with its focus on exclusivity when it opened in 2013. While other lodges celebrate a more communal, social experience, Awasi is best for travelers wanting privacy and personalization.

  • Best for: Couples, although the hotel does take children
  • Room to Book: There are only 12 villas, each designed with sumptuous interiors and set a good distance apart from each other. Currently, only one villa has two bedrooms. Ask for a villa close to the main lodge, otherwise you might have to walk several minutes uphill for WiFi and meals. Contact the Bookings Team for assistance selecting the right room.
  • Keep in Mind: Besides having the most luxurious accommodations, Awasi’s main draw is that every villa comes with a private vehicle, driver and guide. It’s the only lodge that offers private excursions, which is a worthwhile luxury for guests who are willing to pay extra for flexibility and exclusivity. It is almost impossible to avoid the crowds at Torres del Paine National Park, but at least Awasi guests can adhere to their own schedule instead of waiting on a group.
  • Favorite Activity: Awasi offers an exclusive activity at Baguales, a bucolic area 90 minutes northeast of Torres del Paine on the Argentina border. The private horseback-riding excursion is led by a young, charismatic gaucho whose family has owned land in the area for generations. (Indagare Tip: Ask him about his time in Arkansas as an exchange student for tales of his hunting expeditions).

Social and Family-Friendly: Tierra Patagonia

Tierra Patagonia’s architecture is the stuff of design lovers’ dreams. Built to mimic its environment, the lodge’s exterior blends into the undulating landscape yet feels expansive inside. Tierra sits at the edge of Lake Sarmiento and boasts unbeatable views of Torres del Paine’s three peaks.

  • Best for: Families, groups of friends and social couples
  • Room to Book: The hotel’s cool design and great location mean that there are no bad views. Each room has a picture window facing the lake and the peaks of Torres del Paine in the distance. The lodge has a few duplex suites that work best for families with young kids and travelers wanting more space.Contact the Bookings Team for assistance selecting the right room.
  • Keep in Mind: The lodge has 40 rooms, and all excursions are shared experiences. Every day there is a selection of activities to choose from, so when the hotel is fully booked, guests may be on an excursion with 20 people.
  • Favorite Activity: The Cornisas excursion takes Tierra guests to a mountain ridge to watch condors fly overhead. The five-mile hike is moderate in difficulty and offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.

Related: Chilean Patagonia Destination Report

For Avid Hikers and Active Types: Explora Patagonia

Explora Patagonia is set on a jaw-droppingly beautiful glacier lake, with Macizo del Paine (Paine Mountain) on the horizon. Like most Explora properties, the lodge is geared towards travelers looking for active adventures in a remote setting. WiFi is only available in some parts of the lodge, so travelers are able to unplug from the outside world and focus on their spectacular surroundings.

  • Best for: Active travelers, families and hard-core adventurers
  • Room to Book: There are no bad views, but the best option is a room overlooking Macizo del Paine.
  • Keep in Mind: WiFi is only available in the public spaces. If you need to connect, you will need to do so in the lobby or lounge, where there is little privacy for calls.
  • Favorite Activity: The famous “W hike” takes approximately five days to complete in full, but portions of the hike can be done in single days. Explora is also the only lodge in the park with access to a horse farm, so horseback riding is a must. Adventurous travelers can even jump into the glacier lake, as the lodge’s spa has a dock from which guests can leap into the freezing waters. (The spa attendant can guide you through the proper steps, moving from the lake to the warm indoor pool to the jacuzzi.)

The Necessary (but chic) Overnight: Singular Patagonia

Getting from the U.S. to Chilean Patagonia involves 15 hours of flying and up to five hours of driving. While it’s possible to overnight in Santiago to break up the trip, the better option is to go all the way to the outer reaches of Southern Patagonia and stay at this industrial-cool hotel.

  • Best for: All travelers on their way to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Room to Book: This former factory–turned–boutique hotel is an eclectic property that is also a designated historical monument. Set on a wharf outside of Puerto Natales town, the Singular has 54 rooms that all face a quiet bay. The three suites are worth splurging for because of the extra space (especially desirable after a long day of travel). Contact the Bookings Team for assistance selecting the right room.
  • Keep in Mind: The journey to Chilean Patagonia includes an overnight flight to Santiago, three-hour flight to Punta Arenas and a two-hour drive to Puerto Natales, where Singular Patagonia is located. It takes another two- to three-hours to get to Tierra and Awasi, so it’s recommended to break up the travel time with a stay here.
  • Favorite Activity: It’s worth staying at Singular for two nights to experience the property’s boat excursion to nearby fjords and glaciers, followed by an afternoon at Singular’s private estancia. (Note: This full-day activity isn’t offered daily, so guests need to book privately to guarantee it. Even then, strong winds can lead to a last-minute cancellation).

On the Argentine Side: Eolo

By all accounts, the Chilean side of Patagonia offers a better all-around experience for the luxury traveler than the Argentine side; it has more diverse and stunning landscapes, more upscale lodges and more varied experiences. However, this side is much more difficult to reach and requires about a week there to make the trip worthwhile. Travelers to South America who want to spend just a few days in Patagonia can get a taste of the wild destination on the Argentine side in a shorter timeframe. El Calafate, where Eolo is located, is just a three-hour flight from Buenos Aires.

  • Best for: Travelers who have limited time or interest. (Note that kids must be older than 14 years old).
  • Room to Book: Eolo is a two-story, square structure on a hill, with outward-facing rooms centered a garden courtyard. Each side faces a different part of the vast property and abundant horse pastures, so there are no bad views. The second-floor rooms on the opposite side of the dining area are the quietest. Contact the Bookings Team for assistance selecting the right room.
  • Keep in Mind: The only other property to consider in El Calafate is Nibepo Aike, a very rustic and authentic estancia. It’s the only option for families with children under 14 years old, as Eolo has a strict age minimum.
  • Favorite Activity: Argentine Patagonia works differently than the Chilean side, where most activities—onsite and off—are included in the room rate. At Eolo, guests have to arrange all offsite excursions separate from the hotel, and the touring companies have monopolies on specific experiences. To walk on the famous Perito Moreno glacier, for example, Indagare would have to book the experience directly with the one company that operates excursions there. Contact the Bookings Team for assistance arranging touring.

Related: Argentine Patagonia Destination Report

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized trip to Patagonia, or learn more about Indagare’s packaged hiking itinerary to Patagonia in March 2020.

– Janine Yu on October 25, 2019

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