The second half of our Patagonian honeymoon started with a bus ride from Argentina to Chile. This bus ride took about 7 hours, which obviously isn’t ideal, but it was our best option unless we wanted to take a super expensive flight with layovers. The customs process was pretty annoying with 2 busses filled with about 50 people each. Everyone had to get off the bus, find their own luggage, and go through Chile customs. I had read some things about their customs process being really strict about snacks and food, but we didn’t have any problems.
We started looking for lodging in Torres del Paine National park in January for our November trip. At that point, a couple of our top choices were already sold out. Lodging in Torres del Paine is extremely limited (unless you want to camp). The other option is to stay in Puerto Natales which is about an hour away from the national park entrance and take busses in and out every day, which we did not want to deal with. During our search, we stumbled across EcoCamp Patagonia. We thought this was a great choice because in was IN the park (with a view of the towers!), was all-inclusive (food, excursions, etc), and involved staying in yurts! Our guide picked us up at the bus station in Puerto Natales and drove us to EcoCamp.
Along the way, our guide pointed out wildlife, like guanacos.
When we got to EcoCamp, they gave us a tour of the space. It really is an amazing set-up: a community tent where everyone eats breakfast and dinner together, a yoga dome, and individual yurts for everyone.
Home sweet dome! Our yurt had an amazing view of the towers
We were greeted with a welcome drink, and were given an overview of the excursion options for the next day. Andrew and I had 2 hikes in mind that we knew we wanted to do: the base of the towers and the French Valley. To our displeasure, neither of those hikes were being offered the next day. We chose the hike that seemed best to us, and proceeded to enjoy dinner.
Sunset views from dinner
The next morning, Andrew got up early to do yoga. When he came back to our yurt, he announced that he had an amazing idea. The weather that day was PERFECT and he thought we should do the base of the towers trek on our own. We could get to the trail head from EcoCamp, so we didn’t need to rely on their transportation, and the hike was supposed to be pretty straight forward. We had to sign our life away with a waiver (for the second time on our honeymoon!), and then we set off on our own.
There was no way we were leaving without seeing this view!
To be honest, most of the hike up was pretty boring. It was not very scenic, it was exposed, and it was LONG and UPHILL. However, we knew the view at the top would be worth it, and it was!
Our lunch spot
Overall, the hike was about 15 miles with a ton of elevation. Needless to say, we were exhausted when we made it back to EcoCamp. That evening, we selected the group trip to French Valley for the next day.
Hikes like the French Valley are where having an all-inclusive package like EcoCamp is worth it. They drove us to a boat, which took us across Lake Pehoe to the start of the hike. The views from this boat ride alone were incredible, so we knew we were in for an amazing day.
Hiking the French Valley was a totally different experience than the base trek. While the hike was still demanding, the views the entire time were gorgeous However, you also weren’t heading towards that one, jaw-dropping view at the end. After much deliberation, Andrew and I both decided that we liked the French Valley hike the best (but we don’t regret doing the base trek AT ALL).
My body must have been tired from all the hiking, because I rolled my ankle on the way back down. I powered through, but by the time we got back to EcoCamp my ankle was the size of a small orange. Luckily, this was our last super active day of the trip and I made some nice friends who gave me an ankle wrap to use for the rest of the honeymoon.
This is the definition of exhaustion
The next day, we flew from Punta Arenas to Santiago. Given the situation with my ankle, our exploring was more limited than we may have liked. But we still enjoyed ourselves with a cooking class and some sightseeing.
Our Uncorked cooking class started at the Mercado Central, where we helped shop for our ingredients for the day. In the cooking class, we made things like pastel de choclo (a corn pie with beef) and pisco sours!
Our next day was filled with some relaxing and sightseeing before our red-eye flight. Santiago seemed like a really cool city, and I hope to make it back sometime without a sprained ankle!
If you ever go to Patagonia, what is at the top of your must-see list?