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Best places to stay in Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile, is one of the world’s most spectacular regions. Flanked by glorious mountains, lakes and glaciers, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a hot spot for backpackers and adventure travellers alike.

 

But when it comes to finding the most unique places to stay it can be tricky, that’s why we’ve put together a list of our favourite places to stay in Patagonia. From glamping in eco lodges inside the national park to enjoying warm log fires, spas and breathtaking views of the park. Patagonia’s accommodation has it all.

Domes-Patagonia-Ecolodge

 

Ecocamp

The award-winning EcoCamp is uniquely located in the stunning Paine massif in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park. Stay in a sustainable lodge and enjoy community dining amid the natural surroundings of the mountains and glaciers of Patagonia. Spend your days trekking through the natural beauty of the region and finish your days in the warmth and comfort of your lodge, equipped with polar fleece blankets and a private bathroom. The camp offers four different types of lodges, with one large enough to accommodate a family of four.

 

Photo: Singular Patagonia
Photo: Singular Patagonia

 

The singular

The Singular is a hotel chain that has made its mark on Patagonia with the Puerto Bories Hotel. This five-star luxury hotel was refurbished from its original life as an old storage plant in the 20th century (by company Frigorifico Bories). The hotel is committed to protecting the environment and are always finding innovative ways to reduce their carbon fingerprint and water efficiency, including building the hotel with sustainable materials. This unique building is located just outside Puerto Natales and celebrates its heritage and history with so many original features still intact. Make use of world-class spa and stay in one of the 57 rooms and suites onsite. The hotel also offers a number of excursions to the Torres del Paine National Park, and has been voted one of the best hotels in Chile by the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.

 

Photo: Awasi hotel
Photo: Awasi hotel

 

Awasi

The stunning Awasi Patagonia hotel is made up of 14 exclusive villas nestled amid the foliage of a private reserve, overlooking the region’s jewel: the Torres del Paine National Park. Every villa comes complete with a specialist private tour guide and vehicle to explore the park and allow you to get off the beaten track. Modelled old Patagonian outposts and shelters, every villa offers exclusive views of the forest and the Patagonian Steppe as well as unrivalled privacy, a warming hot tub and an open fire. Dine at the on-site restaurant, the Relais & Chateaux, and enjoy fresh, made-to-order dishes cooked by chef Federico Ziegler and picked from the natural landscape. Villa rentals start from $950 USD per day, per person.

 

Photo: Tierra Patagonia Hotel
Photo: Tierra Patagonia Hotel

 

Tierra Patagonia

Situated close to the breathtaking Lake Sarmiento, Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa is a relaxing retreat for visitors looking to escape city life. Immersed in the hillsides of Patagonia, the hotel offers incredible vistas of the Torres del Paine National Park. The wood clad walls and Chilean furnishings and craftsmanship are a cosy space to spend a cold evening in the park after a day of hiking. When your legs are tired you can make use of the hotel’s exceptional Uma Spa, with its adventure spa philosophy that includes indoor and outdoor pools, a jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna and spa treatments, all of which come with extraordinary views of the national park.

Altiplanico Natales
Photo: Altiplanico Patagnonia

 

Altiplanico

Get up-close to the wondrous Torres del Paine National Park, one of the finest natural sights in the world, when you stay at Altiplanico Hotel Puero Natales. Popular amongst backpackers, eco-lovers and adventurous sports-people, the hotel has all of the mod-cons and luxuries you can expect from a luxury hotel, including free internet, a bar and a restaurant with a varied daily menu, massages and laundry service. The hotel’s ethos is all about being at one with nature, and instead of imposing on nature the architecture actually merges in with its surroundings. The interior and exterior design reiterate a respect for the environment and the native culture that inspired the design.

Organic wineries in Chile

Chile is home to some of the world’s greatest wine regions. With cool and warm climates across hilly, lush mountains and valleys, the lands of Chile offer some of the most fertile fields in South America for growing wine.

Winemaking is a historic pursuit in the country, and some Chilean wineries date back to the 16th century, but did you know that Chile is also one of the world’s most innovative and environmentally-conscious winemakers?

The country is not only home to some of the oldest wineries in South America but is also leading the way in sustainable, organic wines – a creation that is equally as delicious but far less destructive.

Here are the top organic wineries in Chile you must visit:

Emiliana
Photo: Vanessa Lotz

 

Emiliana Vineyards 

Founded in 1986 by the Guillsasti family, the Emiliana Vineyards specialise in creating organically grown and eco-friendly wine. In fact, the company are so invested in making organic wine that they became the first ever winery in South America to create a biodynamic wine. Of the vineyard’s 2,812 acres, around 1,470 acres are fully organic and biodynamic while the rest is in transition and is currently an ISO 14.001-certified vineyard. Every process of their award-winning winemaking is overseen by Alvaro Espinoza, one of the world’s authorities on organic and eco-balanced winemaking.

bodega-Lapostolle
Photo: Lapostolle

 

 

Lapostolle

All three estates at Lapostolle received fully organic status in 2011 after years of working to achieve organic vineyard status. This means every grape grown and used to make wine at Lapostolle is made with 100% organic grapes – that is no pesticides, herbicides, regulators, GM organisms or artificial fertilizers are used. Lapostolle uses composting, bees and recycling to help produce its vines and has released its very first organic wine: Cuvee Alexandre Syrah Los Kuras 2009.

Viña Miraflores
Photo: juan marchessi – Maipo Travel

 

Viña Miraflores Del Maipo

Every wine at Viña Miraflores Del Maipo is handcrafted with an inherent respect for the environment and surroundings of beautiful Chile. Located in the Maipo River Valley, the oldest wine producing zone in all of Chile, Viña Miraflores Del Maipo has developed an organic know-how and produces two unique varieties of wine – Sol y Viento and Gil Ferrer. Every wine is created with utmost care and respect for the natural culture of Chile in a bid to protect and preserve the surroundings, and the company also focus on good ethics and offer job security for all of their workers.

 

Conosur winery
Photo: Conosur

Cono Sur

Located in the region of Valparaiso in Chile, Cono Sur is one of the leading organic wine producers in the country and has earned an international reputation for its wine. The company take sustainability very seriously, and have optimized their vineyard management to reduce their carbon footprint and make environmentally-friendly wines. The workers navigate the vineyard on pedal bicycles and use natural alternatives to protect the grapes from disease and pests. Cono Sur was the first winery in South America to received a double ISO certification for quality assurance and environmental policies and the first winery in the world to receive a CarbonNeutral delivery status. Try the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauv/Carmenere organic wines.

IMG_0874
Photo: Vanessa Lotz

 

Vina Nativa

Established in 1995, the award-winning organic winery Nativa was created as a strand of the larger Vina Carmen – one of Chile’s most recognised historic wineries. In 1999, the Nativa wines made history and became the first organic Chilean wine to be exported. Historically, the company worked closely with organic grape producers until 2008 when they received their very first organic grape harvest, and have been growing their own organic grapes ever since.

Forests that temperate the soul

The temperate rain forest is one of the gems of our country, even though you can also find them in some border areas of Argentina, their larger extensions are here, in the south of Chile, from Valdivia to Chiloé. It is wonderful to be in the middle of one of these forests, despite their darkness, in them you feel how life sprouts from below, everything emerges seeking for the sunrays that appear like extraterrestrial spotlights that cross the branches and leaves to the floor. A bed of rotten leaves, new ones, sprouts, lichens, mosses, renews, seedlings, shrubs, flowers and an endless list of native fauna thrives thick while being escorted above by evergreens, creating a perfect and unique jungle climate where we will feel astonished by the mere life anxious to come out on stage.

Photo: Andrea Riquelme
Photo: Andrea Riquelme

Also called the “Valdivian jungle”, this forest appears in a temperate rainy climate, unique, given the fact that it hosts more than two thousand endemic species, which means that you will only be able to see them there, in no other place in the world.

Not only you will be able to see the green color in all of its memories, you will also feel it, breathe it and keep it forever within yourself. Somewhere there, where certain emotions are recollected and kept, those that once you feel them allow you to come back to them mentally, whenever you want, when you feel the need for.

nalca
Photo: Andrea Riquelme

If you feel emptiness in any area of your life, you should visit this place, its density, diversity and beauty will fill this gap for sure, and the smell of its fertile and fruitful floors will make you walk happily between ferns and water courses. You will feel protected as you walk, the same way that the tallest treetops protect these lands that are real cradles of life, hope oasis for the world we live in.

Photo: Andrea Riquelme
Photo: Andrea Riquelme

Some of the species that you will be able to see are: Chilean myrtle (Luma apiculata), Chilean hazel, (Gevuina avellana), Coihue (Nothofagus dombeyi), Hardy fuchsia (Fucsia magellanica), Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis), Ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia), Tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma), Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum), Colihue (Chusquea culeou), Bellflower (Lapageria rosea), Chilean mitre flower (Mitraria coccinea), Ferns (Lophosoria quadripinnata), Luma (Amomyrtus luma), Chilean guava (Ugni molinae), Chilean firetree (Embothrium coccineum), Quila (Chusquea quila), among many others, as fungus, mosses, lichens, creepers, birds, frogs, insects and mammals.

Popular religious festivities in Chile

All human communities have developed and grown expressions and traditions related to the meeting between the man and the divine throughout history. As a remaining memory of the fusion between the traditions and practices of the indigenous populations and the evangelization in the time of the Spanish Contest (16th century); colorful big festivities, ceremonial costumes, music, dance and deep faith, still remain all along Chile, displaying characteristic aspects of our popular Catholicism.

A large list of celebrations take place all over the country, on different periods and moments of the year. Here I will let you know about some festivities from the north of Chile:

Fiesta La Tirana
Photo: Gonzalo Orellana Hidalgo

“FIESTA DE LA VIRGEN DEL CARMEN DE LA TIRANA”- 16th of July:

I the middle of pampa del Tamarugal takes place the “Fiesta de la Tirana”, one of the most important multicultural celebrations held in the north of the country, that turn the small town into a colorful carnival with a runway of masks, music, rituals and dances.

As a result of a large history, cultural elements typical from the Chilean and Peruvian population, Atacama and Aymara people, afrodescendents, Chinese and European among others who have lived in this zone throughout the years,  come together and get mixed here.

The name of the “Tirana” is based on a local legend that has as the protagonist the Spanish conqueror Diego de Almagro and the daughter of a priest, Ñusta, who fought to defend her territory, receiving the name of “Tirana del Tamarugal” by her enemies.

Where: Locality of la Tirana, 90km away from Iquique, in the Tarapaca Region. Arriving to the Pozo Almonte town (11km away from La Tirana) there is regular and fluid public transportation during the time of the festivity.

Virgen de Andacollo
Photo: Francisco Peralta Torrejon

“FIESTA GRANDE DE LA VIRGEN DE ANDACOLLO”, the ‘Queen of copper and gold’- 26th of December:

With a history that goes back to the time of the conquest of our country, in the miner town of Andacollo, located in the Coquimbo Region, is commemorated the coronation of the Virgen de Andacollo or the “Chinita” image, with a gold crown that represents the Vatican’s recognition of the significant devotion of their believers and the miracles that she had realized to that moment. The love and faith of her believers is demonstrated with the dances of Chinos, Turbantes and Danzantes, performed by comparsas and local confraternities that take the lead of the celebration.

Where: Locality of Andacollo, 56kn in the southeast of La Serena.

Virgen de peñas
Photo: Tito Alarcón

“FIESTA GRANDE DE LA VIRGEN DE LAS PEÑAS”- First Sunday of October:

With confusing written records and altiplanic legends, we suppose that this pilgrimage and place of devotion could be almost 200 years old.

Chamarcusiño, is the start point sector of 20km of pilgrimage that go to the Virgen de las Peñas Temple, a sculpture carved in rock which is more than 1 meter and a half tall. The route of adverse conditions attracts more than 40.000 wayfarers, among them religious dance companies, Bolivians, Peruvians and Chileans, who each year go to render thanks at the rhythm of the Andean wind instruments, for the favors granted or to ask the Virgin for a favor.

Where: 95km to the interior of Arica, and more than 1.200 meters high, next to the San José river. The route to arrive at the sanctuary goes along the Azapa valley, to Chamarcusiño, where is located the vehicular whereabouts. Quebrada de Livilcar (archeologic route), Arica Region and Parinacota.

La tirana
Photo: Gonzalo Orellana Hidalgo

 

These celebrations of the Catholic calendar, are not just the place and moment of connection of the man with the gods, they are also witness of our territory’s history.

The dates may vary in some cases each year, so it’s recommended to check them before coming.

Chile and its scientific potential

Today’s dynamic result of the interaction of the geographical elements that have made up the Chilean territory throughout history is a highly rich patrimony. It has a variety of ecosystems, microclimates and diverse scenery – some of it unique worldwide.

 

These characteristics of Chile are not news to the global scientific community, which has shown interested in them for decades through the development of important scientific and technological projects. This has enabled us to keep expanding our ability to perceive and interpret Chile as a true natural laboratory.

Alma
Alma Observatory

 

To astronomers, the skies over the Atacama Desert are unrivalled. International institutions have funded various astronomical installations and by 2018, 68% of the world’s capacity for observing the universe will be found here. Observatories you can visit in the Atacama Desert include Paranal and Alma.

What is more, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are frequent events in Chile. In fact, more than 40% of all the planet’s registered seismic energy has been released in Chile, with these phenomena constantly present. This presents a perpetual opportunity for scientific tourism and research. Additionally, we are located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, meaning that this is one of the most volcanically active countries on Earth.

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Kultracultura park

 

In this respect, one of the most interesting areas to visit is Kutralcura Geopark, situated in the Araucanía region in the south of Chile. Here, you can explore the volcanoes of Chile via its 15 georoutes.

 

These examples are but a small sample of local projects and places with unique features of Chile related to their intrinsic scientific value. If you are interested in learning more about these types of initiatives, I recommend consulting the book “Tecnociencia” by Andrea Obaid, editorial compass Chile, where 30 routes for scientific tourism in Chile are detailed in Spanish and English.

Mamalluca Observatory

 

The legacy felt over the 4,270 kilometres taken up by Chile comprises the expressions of the country’s nature and culture, demonstrating the evidence of its land’s evolution and that of its inhabitants. It is like traveling in time; being able to discover, understand and value that which often seems so little and insignificant.

 

We should take advantage of the opportunities these places offer us, so we can relate to our heritage in a more profound way, broadening and complementing our knowledge.