The trip began with a night in Santiago, taking in the main sights of the city, including a visit to Cerro Santa Lucia for panoramic views of the city. The first day was wound up with a sumptuous dinner at the glitzy W Hotel. Next morning involved an early flight over the Andes to Balmaceda where we collected our 4 x 4s and set off on a 3-day self-drive along the Carretera Austral, Aysen.
Without any prior knowledge of this region, I was completely bowled over by its beauty – whilst a lot of time was spent driving along large stretches of unpaved roads, we were rewarded with picture postcard views of turquoise lakes, snow capped mountains, rolling green hills, and wild waterfalls.
The drive can be made as leisurely as you wish, as there are a number of cozy lodges in pristine settings dotted along the route; a favorite of mine would be the Mirador de Guadal – a property comprised of separate Swiss style wooden lodges positioned next to a serene lake (see photo), with quite possibly the most breath-taking sunsets!
It was difficult to leave behind this relatively undiscovered part of Chile, and I am sure that once the word is out, more and more people will flock to this region to admire the beauty for themselves; it is therefore a good time to visit now!
After Aysen, I moved on to Torres del Paine, and as luck had it, I was greeted with clear blue skies and white crisp mountain peaks. Torres failed to disappoint; the scenery was breath taking from all angles, and I was amazed how easy it was to navigate your way around the park. Considering it’s iconic status, I didn’t encounter many other tourists; a perk of traveling during the low season. My highlights from this region would include the walk along the ice-berg laden beach at Lago Grey, a close encounter with a guanaco at Laguna Amarga and listening to the sound of the powerful rainbow-adorned waterfall at Salto Grande.
Last stop on my trip was Puerto Natales, where I had the delight of staying at The Singular, which has artistically kept the main parts of the station and transformed this into a museum hotel. Highlights of the stay here would have to be the incredible views of the fjords along with the exquisite food and fine wine.
A trip to Balmaceda glacier, followed by a soak in the spa, formed the perfect ending to a memorable trip.
Read more about our vacations to Chile