Sometimes, one must travel far to truly escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This extraordinary adventure takes you to one of the most secluded parts of South America, a place as far away from the northern hemisphere as can be. To reach this destination, you must endure a 45-minute private flight or a bumpy six-hour drive on the Carretera Austral highway, a gravel road. Along the way, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking landscapes, with clear blue rivers, glacier lakes, and snow-capped Andes mountains. And once you arrive, you’ll realize that the journey was well worth it.
Welcome to the Explora Patagonia National Park, a place that will leave an everlasting impression on you. Chile, with its stunning nature and unspoiled landscapes, is home to some of the most spectacular sights in the world. The wildlife here is awe-inspiring, with creatures like condors, pumas, and guanacos thriving in their natural habitat. To protect these natural treasures, Chile has established national parks, and one of the most remote ones is the Patagonia National Park. Spanning approximately 700,000 acres, it stands as large as Yosemite National Park, with the majestic Andes Mountains bordering the Patagonian steppe, a valley filled with grasslands, wetlands, and gushing rivers.
The diversity of landscapes in this region is irresistible, ranging from dry plains to cool forests of deciduous lenga trees, where you might catch a glimpse of the endangered huemul deer. Rare and endangered animals find solace in this natural haven. Bird enthusiasts will also be delighted by the park’s 100 different bird species, including Darwin’s Rheas, ñandús (South American ostriches), flamingoes, and pygmy owls.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Patagonia National Park is its vastness, which guarantees a serene solitude seldom found in heavily touristed areas. The challenge of reaching the park, far from major airports, has effectively kept mass tourism at bay. Here, you can embark on hikes for hours without encountering another soul, surrounded only by the pure, unspoiled beauty of nature.
The park’s world-class infrastructure ensures that you can witness its incredible wildlife with ease. Its 155-mile network of well-designed and marked trails leads to breathtaking viewpoints, lagoons, and lakes nestled amidst the snow-capped Southern Andes Mountain range. The park also boasts a visitors’ center, a restaurant, a lodge, and the Patagonia Park Museum, making it a comfortable and convenient base for your adventure.
The Patagonia National Park has a fascinating backstory with American roots. It was founded by Douglas Tompkins, the man behind clothing companies Esprit and The North Face. Alongside his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia, they purchased vast amounts of ranch land in Argentina and Chile with the goal of restoring it to its wild, natural state—rewilding. This initiative aimed to conserve and recreate habitat for indigenous and endangered species such as the huemul deer, Andean condors, guanacos, and pumas. One of their seven projects, the national park, encompasses the Chilean ranch they acquired, along with neighboring properties, spanning a total of 206,983 acres. After removing livestock, fencing, and invasive plants, the lands were donated to the Chilean Government in 2017. They were then combined with the existing Jeinimeni and Tamango National Reserves to establish the Patagonia National Park, a testament to Chile’s most significant rewilding and eco-restoration efforts. Conservation, sustainability, and preservation lie at the heart of everything that occurs in the park, lodge, and experiences offered, serving as the legacy of the Tompkins.
The Patagonia Adventure with Explora provides an unparalleled wilderness retreat in cooperation with the national park service. Explora, a Chilean company, specializes in upscale adventure tourism, catering to active travelers looking to immerse themselves in nature without compromising on comfort. Unlike traditional camping experiences, Explora offers top-notch accommodations and gourmet meals, ensuring that guests are well taken care of. Their expert guides, who possess extensive knowledge of both the area and its flora and fauna, enhance the bespoke experiences and help guests delve deeper into the wonders of the destination. With outposts in Machu Picchu, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, and other locations in Patagonia, Explora provides small group activities tailored to individual preferences and capabilities. Activities range from expert-level mountain climbing to easy-paced overland tours, offering guests the chance to witness the area’s striking sights. Choose from bike rides on state-of-the-art electric bikes, kayaking along the crystal-clear waters of the Cochrane River, or challenging hikes to breathtaking lookouts over the Cochrane Lake basin. Each adventure promises a unique experience, allowing guests to truly connect with the pristine nature surrounding them.
Contrary to expectations, the lodge at Patagonia National Park’s Explora is not a typical luxury resort. Designed in a Victorian style, the various buildings, with their slate facades, resemble a residential neighborhood. Constructed from sustainable materials such as local stone, recycled timber, and copper, the lodge blends harmoniously with its surroundings. The ambiance is private and exclusive, with only a few remaining guests once the day visitors depart. Indoors, the main building exudes a luxury safari lodge feel, with high ceilings, exposed natural wood rafters, and comfortable leather sofas. The lounge area provides ample space for relaxation and conversation, allowing guests to unwind after a day of exploration. With its unique blend of authenticity and comfort, the lodge at Explora complements the surrounding wilderness perfectly.
In conclusion, a journey to the Explora Patagonia National Park is an unparalleled adventure in one of the most remote parts of South America. Its remarkable landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vastness create an otherworldly experience, with solitude and serenity that cannot be found in most tourist destinations. Partnered with the national park service, Explora offers unforgettable experiences, luxury accommodations, and expert guides that allow guests to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Patagonia. Whether embarking on a thrilling hike or enjoying a leisurely bike ride, this extraordinary exploration promises memories that will last a lifetime.
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