(Meant to post this 2 weeks ago, but here it is at last!) It is the bleak midwinter around here. Not too cold, and little snow. I've had a cold (flu?) over 2 weeks. And even the pigeons are too bored with the gray to be out. And so, I have two strategies for dealing with this. Ok, three. 1. Cook something new every night and end up with way too many leftovers. 2. Dream about an upcoming trip that is a surprise to my main man and 3. reminisce! And right here, right now, we're at #3. Look at this.
Our Patagonia trip was split between Argentina and Chile. We started in Buenos Aires, blossoming purple, and moved to the Calafate region (main attraction: glaciers), and here we are in the recap, with a 6 hour drive from Calafate to the Torres del Paine region of Chile.
Our itinerary had mentioned a 'border crossing experience', which turned out to be stops at two check points, where our driver chatted with the border control, and we had to lug all of our luggage out of the car and back to pass through a detector (I don't know of what). And that was it! Another round of passport stamps all around.
As we approached our hotel for the next 5 nights, we could see the famous Torres del Paine (which translates to Towers of Paine, an explorer in the region), the huge massifs of stone centering the national park, closer and closer. It's hard to show in photos, but the rest of the landscape we had driven through for hours was on the flatter side, and dry, so to see this range jutting out was jaw-dropping.
And we pulled up to see a huddle of villas scattered over the hillside facing this magnificent view, as well as the main lodge (above), where we were welcomed with washcloths and smiles.
Over the next few days, these little villas would become home, and the view would never fail in its first impression. Here was the view right out our window,
and a peak inside,
and out back, where, if the winds weren't too strong, we came home from hikes to a fire-wood warmed jacuzzi, which sure did get smoking hot. Strong winds meant a greater fire hazard, but we came home so late a few evenings, that we didn't have time every night.
Since we were at Awasi six days, we got into a rhythm of the days. They started with a little walk from our villa
down the short hill,
to breakfast at the lodge. The main lodge was so welcoming: fires in the large entry fireplace, a comfortable lounge and dining room with quite the view. A special touch were slippers at the door, assigned by room, so we could leave our hiking shoes and feel at home. It was really fun to wear slippers to nice dinners. I know this is sounding like an ad (of course not), but Awasi was definitely one of the most beautiful and luxurious places we've stayed, and we absolutely loved it there.
We would always plan our itinerary the evening before with our guides, Diego and Katica, so we'd know how early to get to breakfast, depending on the day. Some days, Walker and I were up before breakfast with Diego for sunrise, and came back for breakfast. Awasi's meals, whether to go or at the lodge, were surprisingly interesting. My mouth is watering now thinking about their soft gluten-free breads, which they told me they made from scratch.
After desayuno, we'd be off in our 4x4 for the day, always driving past some ranches,
and very often through rivers, which never made Diego flinch, but which was always thrilling for me,
and once, a roadside hunt to spot an armadillo, which Walker did manage to capture. These photos make me laugh, because all 6 of us were standing on the side of a random road, wishing for him to come back out of his hole.
I'll write more about each day of excursions, but nearby the property, here were a few common sights: a friendly guanaco,
a rhea and her chicks, which was kindof like a smaller and much less grotesque ostrich,
and this beaut, which I honestly have no recollection of, but which my tree-obsessed husband spotted somewhere nearby.
Some days we ate lunch on the trail, and a few days, we got up early and came back for a quiet lunch at the lodge.
The Towers themselves were sometimes shrouded by weather,
but some evenings, the sunsets were incredibly spectacular.
We had a glorious view right from our table at dinner; and sometimes half the lodge would empty onto the deck to watch the painting melt over the mountains.
The color shows started again the next morning, if we could pull our heads off the beds, and had the energy to unlatch our wooden blinds to see.
I love seeing new places and new things like nothing else, but we kept finding ourselves saying 'when/if we return'. Awasi Patagonia was truly the best place for us to explore, and we can't wait to show you all the incredible things our guides brought us to soon!
Thank you, thank you, Diego and Katica, for showing us all the treasures of Patagonia!