Extraordinary adventure through Patagonia
When it comes to adventure travel, there are few places in this world that compare to Patagonia. From the moment you land in Chilean Patagonia you will see that this is not simply another adventure, rather, it is a right of passage into the land of discovery.
Ride horseback through the oldest standing cattle ranch in Chilean Patagonia, take the classic W-Trek through Torres del Paine National Park and kayak to the edge of the southern icefield. Our journey will be filled with towering granite walls, lush green mountain valley, giant glaciers and vibrant blue icebergs.
This trip will change the way you think of adventure, and provide you with memories for a lifetime.
- Transport between airport and hotel
- All park and camp fees
- Tents and sleeping pads
- All ground transportation, beginning and ending with airport arrival and departure
- Services of licensed, experienced, English-speaking trail and kayaking guides
- Three high-quality meals a day
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- International Airfare
- Travel Insurance
- Some meals before and after trek
- Tips for your guides
- Personal gear or clothing for the trek is not provided but is available to rent.
In Puerto Natales, we will stay at Hotel IF, a clean, comfortable and environmentally conscious lodge. While trekking, we will stay warm and dry at night with refugio (lodge) accommodations and camping on January 1 (tents provided - double-occupancy). The refugios have showers with bunks that accommodate 4-8 people per room.
ON THE TRAIL
In your packs, you will carry your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, lunch, water and sunscreen. The weather in Patagonia is extremely variable and impossible to predict, therefore, you should always be prepared for wet and windy days.
Three meals a day are provided, including delicious vegetarian options. We provide a plethora of foods to permit tasty and varied meals. Breakfasts include foods such as eggs, sausage, toast or pancakes, hot cereal, fruit and juice, tea and coffee. Lunch will include sandwiches, juice and various snacks to keep your energy up while on the trail. Dinners will include meat dishes of beef, chicken or fish, fresh vegetable dishes, pasta, rice, potatoes, homemade soups, fresh fruits, desserts, juice, tea, coffee.
Arrive in Punta Arenas with private transfer to Puerto Natales
Arrive today at Punta Arenas airport with private transfer to Puerto Natales. Our guide will meet you at the Punta Arenas airport to assist with your transfer to Puerto Natales, a three-hour drive through the Patagonian pampa (high-plateau). Once in Puerto Natales, we will check into Hotel IF, before our dinner and meeting to discuss the trip program. This is a great opportunity to meet our local guides and ask any questions about the upcoming journey.
Horseback riding along pristine lakes and high mountain passes
We will drive to Estancia Mercedes, located 22 miles from Puerto Natales in the peninsula Muñoz Gamero. This is a typical Patagonian ranch since 1916, today open for tourist activities. Here you will enjoy a horseback riding excursion to watch the condors at Cerro Mirador. Following an old track made by the grandparents, you will go through a lush native forest to arrive at the foot of Cerro Mirador. The mountain is a nesting site for the condor, the majestic national bird. If any of the birds are resting on the day of our visit we will be able to observe them up close. At lunch time, typical Patagonia barbecue will be served. Return to Puerto Natales. Lodging and dinner Hotel IF.
Enter Torres del Paine, trek Ascencio Valley, Cordillera del Paine (the towers)
This morning, we transfer by van to Torres del Paine, a two-hour journey crossing the Pampa Patagonica before arriving at the majestic gates of Patagonia’s renowned National Park.
Our trek begins with a hike deep into the Ascencio Valley, where you will see the river of the same name running wildly past the refugio Chileno. After a quick stop at the refugio, we will continue through a forest of the native Lenga (beech) trees before drastically changing landscapes at the glacial moraine. From here, we trek for just one hour more to the top of the moraine where the high granite towers appear from seemingly nowhere. This is the classic scene of granite towers and glacial lakes that makes the park famous; where so many photographers come for that perfect sunset. Dinner and night at Refugio Torres.
- Hiking Time: 7 hours
- Distance: 11 miles
Lake Nordenskjold, hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto to base of Los Cuernos
Today we will trek along Lake Nordenskjold, named after the Swedish geologist whose studies formed an important contribution to world glacial geology. The narrow Patagonian path clings to the edge of this unique body of water, while the hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto tower above. After traversing the lake shore and glacial formations, we will reach the base of Los Cuernos, our refugio, restaurant and home for the night where we will ring in the New Year! Night and dinner at French Domes.
- Hiking Time: 5 hours
- Distance: 7 miles
Trek to the French Valley
The famous French Valley is considered the most beautiful valley in the park and one of the most unique in the world. It’s surrounded by hanging glaciers, calving ice fall and an amphitheater of smooth granite walls and jagged spires. The further you hike into the valley, the better the views become. On the return journey, you will notice the extraordinary turquoise color of Lake Pehoe (“hidden lake” in the Tehuelche Indian language). Dinner is at Lodge Paine Grande, where you can enjoy a cocktail in the bar that overlooks Paine Grande and Los Cuernos in the beautiful evening light. Lodging at Camp Pehoe.
- Hiking Time: 8 hours
- Distance: 14 miles
Trek along Lake Grey to the Magnificent Grey Glacier
Trek along enchanting Lake Grey (3 - 4 hours, 7 miles) with magnificent views of Glacier Grey and floating icebergs. Visit to the glacier lookout point and to the lakeshore for up-close views of vibrant-blue icebergs (Paine is a Tehuelche Indian word for “blue”). From here, our guides will introduce us to the equipment needed for the kayak tour and we will have a safety briefing. We will be paddling around icebergs that are floating in the lake and afterwards we paddle towards the eastern side of the Grey. Dinner and night at Grey Lodge.
- Hiking Time: 4 hours
- Distance: 6 miles
- Kayaking Time: 3 hours
Ice Hike Grey Glacier
After breakfast, the guides will have an introductory chat and explain the route and make sizing adjustments to your equipment. Then, we go in a zodiac boat for 15 minutes until we reach the west side of the Grey Glacier. On arrival, we will disembark on the island at the glacier (Nunatak) and we will walk on it for an hour until we reach the ice. Before walking onto the glacier, the guide will talk to us about the safety aspects, and they will explain the techniques of displacement in the ice and the correct use of the equipment. Once the safety briefing is complete we will begin our exploration of the Grey Glacier which will last approximately three hours. During this time we will be able to observe cracks, rivers, lagoons and tunnels with their different tones of blue. After the tour, we will return to the zodiac boat and ride back to the base camp where we will have lunch. In the afternoon, we will board the Grey II boat and explore the lake, navigating among the ice bergs. Dinner and night at Tyndall Hotel.
- Zodiak Boating Time: 15 minutes
- Hiking Time: 3 hours
- Grey II Boat Ride 2 hourss
Boatride by Serrano Glacier
Board a zodiac boat to be taken across the Serrano River to Puerto Toro, which is located in a very tranquil, natural wilderness area, complete with striking views of the Serrano glacier. We will transfer to the boat and travel across Last Hope Sound to Puerto Natales. Farewell dinner and night at IF Hotel.
- Boating Time: 3 hours
Transfer to airport, return trip home.
Our guides will once again assist with your private Transfer to Punta Arenas airport, with a stop at the Seno Otway penguin reserve. The penguin reserve gives you an up-close encounter with the adorable Magellanic Penguins, a wonderful waddling creature that mates for life and returns to their birthplace each year to mate with their lifelong partner. Once safely checked into the airport, you will bid your guide and Patagonia one final “adios”... for now.
This event or trip is Intensity Level 4.
ADVENTURES AT ALL SKILL LEVELS
We offer adventures for everyone, no matter what your skill level. This guide will help you decide which trip is right for you.
How long (in hours) you may be active every day during the trip.
You should feel confident that you would be able to complete these distances every day of your trip.
What types of terrain you may encounter and should be prepared for on your trip.
The largest elevation change you may encounter on your trip.
The highest elevation you may reach on your trip.
LAID-BACK, UNHURRIED, RESTFUL
Welcome to the outdoors! These trips are designed to introduce you to new challenges and new adventurers. Take in the scenery, tackle moderate elevation, experience some local flavor, and enjoy your day out of the office.
You can expect to be active for one to two hours. To prepare, walk around your neighborhood for at least one hour to make sure you’re comfortable being outdoors and active.
For our Level 1 trips, you’ll be walking or hiking less than three miles. This is the equivalent of up to twelve laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on flat terrain. This means there will be limited rocks and a few tree roots.
There will be little or no elevation change on this trip. To simulate the change in elevation, try walking up and down three flights of stairs.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
Level 2 trips complement introductory activities you would encounter on Level 1 trips and will whet the appetite of anybody looking to explore outdoor sports. Your group may stop occasionally to learn about the natural surroundings and their local lore.
You can expect to be active for two to three hours. Take a long walk around your local park for at least two hours to prepare.
Level 2 trips range from two to four miles. This is approximately eight to sixteen laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on mostly flat terrain and may encounter some rocks and tree roots.
There will be minimal elevation change on this trip. We will gain no more than 500 vertical feet.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
EASY ACTIVE — PERFECT FOR ACTIVE FIRST-TIMERS
Level 3 trips will give you a broad sense of what hiking is all about. Test yourself on intermediate terrain, including light rock scrambles and ascending multiple peaks. The trips will invigorate you and inspire you to continue strengthening your hiking skills.
Three to five hours is standard. Prepare for the trip by jogging three miles or exercising two or three days a week.
Plan on getting starter miles under your belt. You’ll be hiking three to six miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long basketball game.
You’ll be hiking on rolling terrain with bare rock surfaces, steeps, roots and small boulders.
There could be up to 1,000 feet per day.
Up to 4,500 feet.
IDEAL FOR ACTIVE BEGINNERS AND FORMER PARTICIPANTS
Level 4 trips balance physical and aesthetic components of the day. Get your heart pumping on intermediate terrain with some rock scrambles and multiple peaks, then enjoy a well-earned break with a stunning view. These trips are effective preparation for even more challenging weekend-long trips.
Trail time ranges from for four to six hours. You should be in good physical shape and exercise at least three times a week to get the most out of the day.
You’ll be traveling five to eight miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long soccer game.
You’ll be hiking on steadily rising terrain with loose rock surfaces, switchbacks, roots and small boulders.
Up to 1,500 feet per day.
Up to 6,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR SKILLED BEGINNERS AND INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS
Level 5 trips place greater emphasis challenging you physically. Whether you’re still new to the scene or have some experience, you’ll appreciate a more deliberate pace with a capable group.
We’ll be out on the trails for five to seven hours. Prepare for this trip by doing cardio and strength exercise at least three days a week.
Be ready to cover six to nine miles today before heading home.
We’ll be hiking on moderate mountainous terrain, which may require navigating various rock faces and trail conditions including steep inclines and uneven ground.
Up to 1,800 feet per day.
Up to 8,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS AND ABOVE
Level 6 trips will push you with a faster pace and longer distances. This hard work allows you to see more terrain and higher vistas. You should expect to be tired and fulfilled on the van ride home.
We’ll be active for five to eight hours. Prepare for this trip by maintaining your daily fitness regime that includes both cardio and strength.
Be ready to cover some serious distance. We may hike up to eleven miles today, nearly a half-marathon.
We’ll be hiking on varying mountainous terrain, which will involve navigating various rock faces, loose stones, and steep, uneven trails.
Up to 2,000 feet per day.
Up to 10,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS WITH BASIC SKILLS
On Level 7 trips you’ll encounter some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available within a day’s drive. These trips are for athletic types and those who wish to push their physical abilities.
You can expect to be active for six to eight hours. You can best prepare for a Level 7 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below eight minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 7 hikes can be anywhere from ten to thirteen miles.
We will be on mountainous, exposed terrain and steep, uneven trails. Most hikes will require not only hiking boots but also additional gear like hiking poles and headlamps.
Up to 2,500 feet per day.
Up to 12,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — RECOMMENDED FOR FIT TRAVELERS WITH EXPERIENCE
On Level 8 trips you’ll be challenged by some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available on the east coast. These trips are for endurance athletes and those who wish to truly test themselves. These are our hardest day trips and our weekend trips that prepare you for international adventure.
We will be active for six to nine hours. You can best prepare for a Level 8 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below seven minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 8 hikes range from twelve to fourteen miles.
We will hike and scramble up numerous peaks with exposed, uneven surfaces, large boulders, and steep ascents/descents. Hiking boots, poles and headlamps are recommended.
There could be elevation change of up to 3,000 feet per day and possible altitude.
Up to 14,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — ADVANCED OR VERY FIT TRAVELERS
If you yearn to touch the sky and think the rewards outweigh the risks and extreme conditions, a Level 9 trip is what you’re looking for. Over the course of multiple days you will be called upon to prove you belong among the best. Only inner fortitude and perseverance will get you and your team to the top and back safely.
You should be ready for at least eight to ten hours a day of pain, challenge, and constant small victories. Prepare for this by racing in triathlons, training for a marathon and keeping up your hiking skills.
You should expect to be hiking twelve to fifteen miles per day.
On Level 9 trips you will be trekking in remote mountains with exposed terrain and loose features.
There could be elevation change of 4,000 feet per day with some altitude travel likely.
Up to 17,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — EXPERIENCED TRAVELERS WITH EXPERT SKILLS
With the proper technique, experience, and a generous dose of luck, you and a team of the hardiest adventurers around will tackle extreme terrain, unrelenting elements, and improbable odds as you strive to conquer the ultimate outdoor challenge of our Level 10 trips.
You should be ready for a minimum of ten hours per day of excruciating hiking, scrambling, and climbing.
You should expect to be hiking for at least twelve miles per day. Prepare with an intense cardio and weight-lifting circuit training regimen to increase cardio output and endurance.
On Level 10 trips you will be trekking in the most highly exposed, remote terrain imaginable.
There could be elevation change of 5,000 feet per day and prolonged travel at altitude.
Up to 19,000 feet.
Travel Arrangements, Physical Preparation, and Pack List
LANDING AT PUNTA ARENAS
Upon your landing at Punta Arenas, you will need to pay for your Chilean visa. Please have US $140 on hand for this. From customs, claim any bags you have checked and proceed toward the airport exit. Look for a sign with your name on it: your Discover Outdoors guide will meet you here and transport to your hostal in Puerto Natales.
We recommend that you plan your itinerary so that you land no later than 5:00 PM on December 28. If you plan to arrive prior to December 28, we can help you arrange public transport to Puerto Natales (there are additional transport fees). Your departing flight should leave on the evening of January 5th. Please forward your flight itinerary to [email protected]
Your stay in Puerto Natales will be at the Hotel IF, located near the water and convenient to all shops and restaurants around town. These accommodations were carefully selected and chosen based on its ideal location, cleanliness and excellent staff.
Cancellations within 45 days of departure are non-refundable. Cancellations before 45 days of departure will receive a full refund (minus transaction fees of 5%). We highly recommend travel insurance for all domestic and international adventure trips.
Weather in Patagonia is a very important factor to consider. Remember that strong winds, rains and snow characterize this region. While it is summertime when we visit, the temperatures could be 80 degrees one day, and then quickly drop into the 50’s the following day with a storm. Winds blow from the northeast and the Pacific, crossing the southern Patagonian ice fields to rapidly form clouds that can result in nasty storms. We often travel under clear skies with great sunny weather, however you need to be prepared for quick changes in temperature as well as flash rain and wind storms.
We will be hiking and doing activities for nine days straight, which means that your endurance should be high and your recovery time should be minimal. Engaging in as many long, hard hikes as possible is a great way to prepare for your trek. Look for hikes like Fourteen Peaks, Storm King Mountain, Slide Mountain, Panther Mountain and Indian Head Mountain.
You will need your routine vaccinations to be current, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. If you have motion or seasickness, we would suggest talking with your doctor about prescribing medication for this as well.
For more specific information on health precautions consult a travel medicine doctor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Patagonia is generally a safe and pleasant place but as with any destination, it’s important to be aware of possible hazards. Violent crime is almost unheard of in the regions we visit. In the rare instances crime does occur, it is usually petty theft; to limit your susceptibility, we suggest you always travel with at least one other person when going out, and that you avoid flaunting jewelry, cameras, expensive watches and other items that may be tempting to a thief.
The standard unit of currency in Chilean-Patagonia is the Chilean-Peso. This is different from the Argentine-Peso and the Mexican-Peso. As of September, 2015, $1 US is the equivalent to 692 Chilean-Peso’s. The Chilean-Peso can fluctuate, however, so we suggest you check the online Universal Currency Converter or with your bank for the most up-to-date information close to the time of your departure. Credit cards are accepted throughout Chile including the town of Puerto Natales. ATM’s are also available. We recommend bringing at least $500 for spending and $200 for tips (this includes Torres del Paine trek, kayaking and horseback riding tips).
Puerto Natales is in the Eastern Standard Time zone.
To call Puerto Natales from the United States, dial 011 (America’s international access code) +56 (Chile’s country code) + the city code (61 in Puerto Natales) + the local number. To place an international call from Puerto Natales, first dial 00 (the international access code) and the appropriate country code. To call the United States, dial 00 + 1 (the U.S. country code) + area code + local number.
The electricity in Puerto Natales is 220 volts and the plugs have two round pins, like those in Europe. An international adaptor is needed for all other types of plug.
A valid passport, along with evidence of return or onward flight, is required for U.S. citizens traveling to Chile. A tourist card will be given at the airport.
- Analgesics (painkillers); acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen, Vicodin*
- Anti-Allergy; hydrocortizone, diphenhydramine hydrochloride; epinephrine*
- Antibiotics; Bacitracin (ointment), erythromycin*, ciprofloxacin hydrochloride*
- Antacids; Bismuth sabsalicylate (ie. Pepto-Bismol)
- Anti-Diarrhea; Loperamide hydrochloride (ie. Immodium), Tinidazole*
- Anti-Emetics (anti-vomiting); Prochlorperazine*, Promethazine*
- Anti-Vertigo (anti-motion sickness); Meclizine*, Scopolamine*
* Prescription medicines
- 2 Merino wool or polypro mid–weight long sleeve shirts (long enough to tuck in; snug fit and zip neck is best).
- 2 Merino wool or polypro T shirts
- 2 Cotton T shirts for nights at the refuges
- 2 pair Hiking shorts
- 2 pair Hiking pants
- 2 pair quick drying long underwear (merino wool or polypro mid–weight)
- Waterproof shell pants made with Goretex or similar, to repel water but let the body breathe
- 1 pair polar fleece pants for relaxing around camp
- 1 pair leg gaiters
- 1 pair socks for each day; 9 pair mid–weight. Wool or wool/synthetic are best.
- 1 pair underwear per day
- 1 warm fleece or softshell jacket
- 1 waterproof Gore-tex rain shell jacket
- 2 pair windproof, lightweight gloves
- 1 warm hat
- 1 sun hat
- 1 pair trekking boots (medium weight, waterproof)
- 1 pair comfortable tennis shoes or tevas for around camp
- 1 pair wrap–around, UV–blocking sunglasses
- 1 soft duffel bag (no hard frame or wheeled suitcases or bags). These will hold extra clothing that you will bring for kayaking and will be transferred to camp directly from Puerto Natales.
- 1 backpack which you will trek in every day. 60–80 liters is ideal.
- 1 sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees fahrenheit
- 1 sleeping pad
- Plastic bags of different sizes (to protect clothes in your bags against the rain.
- Pair of trekking poles–strongly recommended for everyone
- 1 head lamp with extra batteries and extra light bulb
- 1 emergency heat blanket (reflective foil)
- 1 pocket knife
- 3 one–liter water bottles, or equivalent hydration bladder for your pack
- Sunscreen. Highest possible SPF rating.
- Water purification tablets (the water is very clean and you have the option to drink directly from streams along the way, without purification if you’d like)
- Blister bandages or moleskin
- Small and large band aids
- Kleenex and wet wipes
- Elastic Ace bandage wrap
- Safety pins
- Small pair of scissors
- Airline tickets
- Medications and copies of prescriptions
- Sunscreen and lip ointment
- Travel alarm clock (watch)
- Camera with plenty of memory and extra batteries
- Current converter and outlet adapter
- Sport sandals
- Camelbak or similar hydration backpack
- Flora/fauna field guide
- Leisure reading
Climb for a cause.
Make your effort more rewarding by raising funds for the Discover Outdoors Foundation or your favorite charity. When you give your adventure a purpose beyond personal goals, your experience becomes more fulfilling, helping you reach the summit.
HOW IT WORKS
When you register with the “Fundraise for a cause” option, we will ask you by email what charity you would like to support. If you choose the Discover Outdoors Foundation, your fundraising commitment is $7,500. In exchange for your effort and commitment, the cost of the trip is covered at no cost, minus your airfare and personal expenses. You will receive a fundraising commitment letter, giving you the support and tools for reaching your goal. Please email [email protected] or call 212-579-4568 with any questions about the program.
DISCOVER OUTDOORS FOUNDATION
The Discover Outdoors Foundation began in 2012 with a singular focus: increasing graduation rates in our urban schools through education experienced in the outdoors. Inspired by the positive impact our for-profit business, Discover Outdoors, was making through our youth leadership program, we soon felt compelled to serve our entire community, not just those who could afford it. Since then, the path of students has taken a different course; one that leads to a diploma and a brighter future. To learn how you can make a difference, visit the Discover Outdoors Foundation website.
- Dec 28 Arrive in Punta Arenas, private transfer to Puerto Natales
- Dec 29 Full day of horseback riding along pristine lakes and mountain passes
- Dec 30 Enter Torres del Paine National Park, trek the Ascencio Valley to the base of the towers
- Dec 31 Trek along Lake Nordenskjold and the hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto, to the base of Los Cuernos
- Jan 01 Trek to the French Valley with granite walls and hanging glaciers and trek past the turquoise waters of Lago Pehoe
- Jan 02 Trek along enchanting Lake Grey; kayak Lake Grey
- Jan 03 Zodiak boat ride and ice hike on Grey Glacier
- Jan 04 Zodiak boat ride down Serrano River. Return to Puerto Natales by boat through the Last Hope Sound
- Jan 05 Transfer to Punta Arenas airport, with a stop at the Seno Otway penguin reserve