During your Patagonia Wildlife Safari you can choose between easy or active excursions – depending on your mood, weather conditions and travel companions’ preferences. Detailed below are the activities, which vary in availability depending on the day of the week and local conditions. Each day ends back at EcoCamp for dinner and relaxation:
Hiking to Laguna Azul (EASY) – MON, THU
On your way to Laguna Azul, enjoy marvelous views of the famous Torres and pass through the pampas (the local steppe) where you will be lucky enough not only to spot many elegant guanacos, but also to hop out of the van and walk among them. After soaking up these beautiful surroundings, continue the drive to Laguna Azul (“Blue Lagoon”), where you’ll enjoy a box lunch looking out over the lake, with a view of the three granite towers in the distance. Then jump back into the van, heading back to the EcoCamp in time for cocktail hour. Activity: Nature Walk. Distance: 3 miles. Walking Time: 2 hours. Altitude: 660 feet.
Towers Base Trek (ACTIVE) – MON, WED, THU, SAT
After a hearty breakfast, walk from EcoCamp towards Hostería Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower’s eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. The big challenge comes on the climb up the steep moraine, leading toward one of the world’s most famous views overlooking the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (9,350 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and your picnic box lunch, backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp. Activity: Demanding Hiking. Distance: 14 miles. Walking Time: 9 hours. Altitude: 3,000 feet.
Pehoe Lake Boat Ride & French Valley Hike (ACTIVE) – MON, WED, THU, SAT
After breakfast, drive toward the Pudeto dock, on the shores of Pehoe Lake. Board the catamaran, then disembark on the northwest shore of the lake to begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep you go depends on the group’s rhythm. An active walk leads to the hanging bridge over the French River, at the foot of the Massif’s southeastern face. Continue to the valley’s upper section to admire the area’s entire group of geological formations, then enjoy a picnic rest. This day’s adventure ends with a descent through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest at Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. From here, board the catamaran back to Pudeto, where you will be transported back to EcoCamp. Note that the catamaran does not operate in May, and this excursion will be replaced by a 9-mile trek to Los Cuernos. Activity: Demanding Hiking. Distance: 11 miles. Walking Time: 6 hours. Altitude: 1,640 feet. *Note: In May, the catamaran is out of service and therefore the French Valley excursion is replaced by a 7.5-mile hike to Valle Encantado (Seron Woods).
Drive & Walk Western Lakes & Grey Glacier Boat Ride (EASY) – TUE, FRI
Drive across the Park, admiring the view of snowy Paine Grande and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires. Stop at various viewpoints on the way to enjoy observing and photographing herds of guanacos, Andean condors and interesting flora. Walking along the shores of Lake Pehoe, see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls and enjoy a spectacular lookout point. From here, drive up to Grey Lake and wander along the beach. Here enjoy a tasty box lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Grey Glacier. After this incredible up-close look at the glacier, drive back to EcoCamp. Activity: Nature Walk & Boat Trip. Distance: 0.5 miles. Walking Time: 1 hour. Altitude: 660 feet.
Please be aware that the Grey Glacier boat trip is subject to availability, so please confirm your reservation in order to participate on the day of your arrival. During the shoulder season months of September, October and April, the boat trip to Grey Glacier may be canceled as the boat requires a minimum of 15 passengers to sail, which might not be reached in some cases. If this is the case, an alternative excursion in the park will be planned. *Note: In May, the catamaran is out of service and therefore the Grey Glacier boat ride is replaced by a 5.6-mile Pingo Trail Nature Walk.
Western Lakes Drive & Cerro Ferrier Hike (ACTIVE) – TUE, FRI
Drive across the Park to Grey Lake, then pause and raise eyes to the huge peaks of the east. This windswept rock monster is Cerro Ferrier which, standing at 5,246 feet, makes a rewarding (but intense) hike. First, pass through a forest that gives a fascinating insight into the diversity of austral trees. Here meet all the classics, lenga, coihue, ñire, and with luck meet the famous South American deer, the huemul, which is a national natural monument (keen-eyed watchers will remember it from the Chilean coat of arms) Activity: Hiking. Distance: 7.5 miles. Walking Time: 4 hours. Altitude: 1,970 feet.
Lazo Weber Hike (ACTIVE) – TUE, FRI
Start the day at 8:30am with breakfast at EcoCamp and a moment to prepare your box lunch before boarding your bus at 10am. Drive past the Lazo Weber Estancia where you’ll enter the National Park via Laguna Verde and begin this active hike. The Lazo Weber Trail is packed with native flora and wildlife, so have your cameras ready to snap pics of the guanacos, owls, eagles, condors and caranchos, another bird of prey, all with the mountainous Paine range on your right. The hike is rather easy, and apart from a few hills, the trail remains rather flat. Stop a moment to refuel by the magical Laguna Honda, and enjoy the sights and sensations of the gorgeous landscape and fresh breeze. On your way, hike through one of the quietest forests in the national park, a fantastic opportunity to observe native trees such as the lenga and the coihue. From here, continue to a lookout point (El Toro Lookout) where you’ll be wowed with a 360-degree view of the Paine mountain range, the Patagonian Andes and a suite of rivers and lakes (including the Paine, Grey and Serrano Rivers, and Lake Toro, the largest in the region). An hour’s descent towards Paine River will reunite you with your van. On your way home, search for more animals to photograph and take a final moment to enjoy the scenery. Activity: Hiking. Distance: 7.5 miles. Walking Time: 6 hours. Altitude: 2,300 feet.
Sarmiento Lake & Fauna Trail (EASY) – WED, SAT
This predominantly flat trek boasts stunningly diverse natural scenery and offers the chance to feast your eyes upon a startlingly blue lake, which is secluded from all the other water systems of the area. There will be ample opportunity to spot many graceful guanacos and great grebes along the way. First examine the geology of the area’s turbidite rock folds, before descending the isthmus that separates Lake Sarmiento from Lake Sarmiento Chico (the two lakes were once a single mass of water), walking along a slight slope, and ambling beside the eastern edge of Lake Sarmiento Chico. Arrive at an impressive bay on the western side of Lake Sarmiento, admiring a breathtaking view, then begin your ascent back to the van. From here, drive back eastwards along the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake until you reach the starting point of the Fauna Trail. As you walk northwards along the trail, look for fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe the occasional puma print! Pass by Goic lagoon, and after an approximate 3-mile relaxed walk, reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station to be driven back to EcoCamp. Activity: Nature Walk. Distance: 6 miles. Walking Time: 5 hours. Altitude: 660 feet.
Cerro Paine Trek (ACTIVE) – SUN
After a tasty breakfast at EcoCamp head for Cerro Paine, a nearby mountain characterized by its two imposing peaks. Hike along the mountain for half an hour, which allows you to warm up while admiring the view of the surrounding pampas. The challenge begins as you start climbing the eastern part of Cerro Paine. Cross the lenga forest with the sound of the local birds and enjoy a few stops to observe the immense Almirante Nieto Mountain and its glacier on your left side. With any luck you will follow the tracks of the puma as the towers come into full view. A nice place for lunch, isn’t it? Start the steepest part of the hike, leaving the forest to hike on rock. As you ascend, admire the spectacular panoramic view of the immense pampas and the mountains in the distance, like Balmaceda Mountain. Walk upward for about an hour up to 4,920 feet to reach the eastern peak of Cerro Paine, which offers an unforgettable lookout of the towers and the Ascencio Valley. Take in one of the most striking views of the national park, then backtrack along the same trail and return to EcoCamp. Activity: Demanding Hiking. Distance: 9 miles. Walking Time: 8 hours. Altitude: 4,920 feet.