Posts labeled with Country ' Chile'

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This article is the first of a two part story – where TotalAdventure explores the southernmost reaches of the inhabited world. TotalAdventure was invited by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and SERNATUR ( Chile Ministry of Tourism) to joining two expeditions – one in Torres del Paine National Park – more detail in the next article and another engaging in other activities on Estancias and in the vast preserves of nature. SERNATUR paid for air travel and other essentials. The trips I joined were run by Chile Nativo. Besides exploring the incredible nature of the region – we met with 25 companies chosen to work with us to sell their packages on TotalAdventure. 32 other buyers , along with press , were invited to promote the pristine unspoiled remote areas of Chilean Patagonia , the Strait of Magellan – the Gateway To The Antarctic.

TotalAdventure has been commuting to the Southern Cone this year. First, 8 hours to Santiago. Then another 4 hours down to Puerto Natales.

To El Fin Del Mundo – The End Of The World.

From Summer To Winter.

Where The Guanacos Roam.

Stripped Clean By Pumas.

Rheas, A Smaller Version Of The South African Ostrich.

Argentina Border. In order to drive to other parts of Chile, one must drive over 1600 km through Argentina. Chile is almost all islands or impassable glaciers and forest from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. Relations between the two competing Latin giants are cordial ,but not always friendly.

We spent the day at Estancia Cerro Guido, very near the Argentine border crossing at Río Don Guillermo. The Estancia has huge herds of sheep, and allows visitors to experience daily life on the Patagonian steppes.

The sheep are very wooly by winter’s end.

It’s time for a haircut. While the ewe is mildly annoyed, there is no pain. It can be dangerous for the wool to get too thick and heavy. In freezing rain and heavy snow, the animals can’t move and can die of cold. This past winter ( May to October) was the coldest and snowiest in many years – the Estancia had to rescue some herds .

The wool is shipped all over the world to be made into high quality sweaters, dresses, socks and hats.

Lunch at Estancia Cerro Guido. Parilla del Cordero. ( Lamb ) A guest might enjoy this daily.

View From On High – Towards Torres Del Paine.

The next day, outside of Puerto Natales we rode horses up Cerro Dorotea. The outfit was not totally my choice. The horses were well tempered and responsive to more experienced riders, such as myself.

Led by Guachos – Born In The Saddle !

A warm fire at the mountaintop. It was sleeting at the top.

Patagonia Before The European Settlers.

On the final day, before sales meetings began, we boarded a cruiser for an expedition through Fjord Ultima Esperanza to Glaciar Balmaceda, about 50 km from Puerto Natales.

The saltwater fjord extends a long way from the Pacific.

Seals live in caves along the cliffs.

Mother And Pup.

The days are spent fishing and getting some late winter sunshine.

A low flying bird . The caracara ? Ornithologists  please let us know..

I’ll Have A Grant’s . On 3000 Year Old Glacier Rocks Please.

Abstract Nature.

The Explorer At Work.

Glacial Waters spilling into the fjord.

Purest Water Anywhere !

Down From Glaciar Balmaceda.

Bandera de Patagonia.

Magellanic Penguins Live On The Cliffs – Safe From Seals.

Outdoors Adventures Concluded – At the Hotel Rio Serrano we were greeted with an incredible Parillada de Cordero. The next two days were spent meeting with 25 local adventure providers – all of whom we hope sell adventures on TotalAdventure Chile Nativo already is !.

Beautiful warm pool, with nearby saunas, whirlpools and gym to warm up after a day on the glaciers !

All too soon, the adventures came to a close and it was time to head to the airport. Observed outside at a roadside cafe – two sheepdogs entertaining themselves.

From Punta Arenas it’s a 4 1/2 hour flight to Santiago, where I had a 7 hour layover, so went into the city to have dinner with a friend. After a connecting flight through Bogotá on Avianca, I was back in Miami the next afternoon. Punta Arenas is the second most southerly commercial airport in the world – with actual flights to Antarctica – about 800 mies south.

I first came to the Far South of Patagonia in February, 1991. I drove to Puerto Natales from Rio Gallegos, Argentina. I was one of 5 cars to cross the border that day. This photo is on Glaciar Moreno in El Calfate, Argentina. 31 years later, I am happy to report that the nature has not been changed much – due to strict and well planned conservation and sustainable tourism. Of course there are many more hotels, restaurants and tour companies catering to adventurous travelers from all over the world. Also technology is far more advanced. That’s a Sony Hi-8 video camera – considered quite advanced for the time with 480 lines . I had a custom made battery belt that powered it all day. To edit, I had to rent a $ 200 per hour studio in New York. Now I shoot on a GoPro 10 with up to 5300 lines and edit on my MacBook Pro. It was great to be back – stay tuned for TotalAdventure’s return to Tierra del Fuego and onwards to Antarctica next month – December 2022 !

Oct 31st
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In Late July TotalAdventure was invited to take part in AdventureNEXT Patagonia by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and SERNATUR – the marketing section of the Chile Ministry of Tourism. 32 Adventure Travel marketers were invited from all over the world to experience far-off, far South Chilean Patagonia.

12 of us were chosen to participate on the rugged World Famous – “W Trek” an extensive 4 day hike through Torres del Paine National Park. The trip was with Chile Nativo.

The adventure began the night of Labor Day . 8 hours on the LATAM flight bought us from a humid 90 ( 32C) degree night in Miami to a bright late winter morning in Santiago. There, it was 38 (3C) degrees.

4 hours more on Sky Air bought us to Puerto Natales. Latitude 52 South . As we go off the plane it was snowing, with fresh snow on the ground and 0 C 32F. After a night relaxing and dining at Hotel Lago Grey , we we boarded a ferry to take us about 15 km to Grey Glacier at the other end of the lake.

Grey Glacier is a tongue of the Patagonian Ice Sheet – the world’s third largest after nearby Antarctica and Greenland.

The lake it melts and calves into is a constant 2 C – a person will die in just a few minutes if they fall in – losing consciousness after 2 minutes.

After we left the ferry ( see video) our Group dropped off our things at camp. The tents were already set up. It was super-cold – note the frost signifying subfreezing temperatures at mid day.

Above us and about 20 km distant, are the Torres del Paine. 9800 feet 3015m high, formed by magma ejecting upwards from under the Earth. Many think these mountains and rock formations are the end of the Andes. They are not ! This is the Paine Mountain Range, formed just 1 million years ago, not 64 million like the Andes.

A glacial tongue/

We ate our excellent lunch, packed by Hotel Lago Grey on top of a rock escarpment overlooking the glacier.

After lunch it was time to kayak. Everyone got suited up and went off exploring the icebergs. Big Foot Patagonia runs the excursions with all equipment. Credit:

First Day’s Route – Kayaking Lago Grey,

We endured a very chilly night in the tents. Even with down sleeping bags it was cold. We had a hearty breakfast in the morning inside the camp shelter. The sun does not rise until almost 9 AM in September , so it was still like night.

Thursday, September 9th, began with a 5 hour trek across Glaciar Grey. Followed afterwards by a 12 km hike to the next camp.

Under the guidance of Big Foot Patagonia. Credit:

It is a long rocky uphill hike just to get to the glacier. Credit :

Across the crevasse . Credit :

After getting off the ice, it was time to hike to the next camp. The group did not arrive till evening and then it was off to sleep.

The third day was truly magnificent. The skies were mostly clear, with warmer temperatures.

At The Foot Of Cuernos del Paine. Credit :

Onwards & Upwards ! Credit :

Los Torres From Lago Pehoe.

Los Torres From The Lookout Point, after an 18 km hike.

Imagine Skiing Through The Chute – could be done with a hang glider for the cliff down below. The tallest of the Cuernos del Paine was only recently climbed for the first time ever. The rock is soft and chalky – making it very dangerous to hammer in pitons.

Te final day led to a luxurious hotel – welcome after camping out.

Sunset In Puerto Natales. There For A Night Before Exploring The Fjords.

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On the night of October 3, 2015 –  TotalAdventure boarded  LAN’s 787 Dreamliner from Miami to Santiago. It was the start of a two week journey,  with the main focus on the Adventure Travel World Summit in Puerto Varas Chile.


The trip covered a huge range – from the snowy Andes to the steamy Amazon.


After clearing customs in Santiago, TotalAdventure boarded a 90 minute flight to Puerto Montt, which was near Puerto Varas.


It was a cold misty day – especially for someone who had just flown from the 95 degree heat of Miami.


TotalAdventure warmed up with a  piping hot bowl of Parihuela – a fresh spicy seafood stew. For TotalAdventure’s Chilean adventures – CLICK HERE !

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After a long and productive week at the Adventure Travel World Summit, where TotalAdventure met with hundreds of Adventure Travel companies who will be part of the TotalAdventure community, we headed back north to the sunny springtime of Santiago.

The next morning my host and I headed one hour from Los Condes to the top of El Colorado. October 12 was supposed to the the last day of a long season -El Niño has dropped many meters over the winter – but even more heavy snow later that week kept the mountain open to November 1 – the equivalent of May 1 in the Northern Hemisphere.

Afterwards we headed back down to Santiago so that I could catch my evening flight to Buenos Aires. The snow is only at the highest elevations.


THe temperature was nearly 70 degrees ( 21 C ) just one hour below in the Valley. For TotalAdventure packages in Chile – CLICK HERE ! 

Dec 30th
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ArcticTropic is now planning 2015 journeys. Three trips are shown here. The first , in February is to Southeastern Australia. The longest flight will be from San Francisco to Sydney – about 15 hours. In March – off to the Polar Regions of Iceland. September – Puerto Varas in Chilean Patagonia for the ATTA Summit. Several other ventures are in planning stage.

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At the end of a business trip to Western Argentina, followed by the flight over the Andes,ArcticTropic took an overnight excursion to Valparaiso ( known as Valpo to the locals) . Only about 2 hours from Santiago, and 4 hours from the slopes of Portillo, the city is in some ways reminiscent of San Francisco, without the freezing fog in the summertime.

A Miami bound ship is loaded with containers of wine.

Cool winds freshen the city , offering relief from inland summer heat.

The Hotel Reina Victoria.

Reminiscent of an old train car, this 100 year old funicular climbs ta mountainside overlooking the Port of Valparaiso,Chile on a beautiful summer’s day.

The sky becomes back as night from a forest fire that burned 60 houses and temporarily closed the road to Santiago.

The icy South Pacific never goes above 58 degrees ( 17 C ), as the Humboldt Current flows directly from Antarctica.

A delicious seafood stew , Parihuela, at Restaurant Caruso.

Artistic Graffiti is everywhere.

NIghtlife picks up around midnight and goes till dawn. Bar Cinzano is a throwback to the 1940’s but there are many electro-dance clubs around.

A nightclub singer at Bar Cinzano – straight out of the 1940’s.

Valparaiso is the main Pacific port for the Southern Cone – to China, Australia, the US and even Europe via Panama.

The Chilean Navy’s main base of operations – extending from Peru to the Antarctic and out to the middle of the South Pacific.



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ArcticTropic flies by Cerro Aconcagua, 22841 ft , 6962m, the highest mountain in the Western HemisphereLast Friday,February 3, ArcticTropic was returning to Chile after business meetings in Argentina. The Mendoza to Santiago flight was on a midsummer’s day. One can see the Argentina – Chile border post on the highway below, then Portillo Ski area in Chile, beside the bright blue Lago de Las Incas.

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An eight hour flight from Miami to Santiago,Chile bought ArcticTropic from a late rainy season tropical wave to a delightful Southern Hemisphere spring morning. As we approach Santiago, one can see the icy cold South Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Above, the final approach to SCL. What was supposed to be a one hour layover, turned out to be 3 hours as the flight was delayed due to the Puyehue Volcano erupting once again. Though 670 km south of Santiago, the ash cloud spreads far and wide. We are informed the Mendoza airport is closed and the flight may be cancelled. ArcticTropic began investigating  connections by bus, but at 1 PM ,it was announced that a window had opened and we ad to board quickly.
Up over the Andes, a crossing we have made many times.
Warm spring sunshine is softening the snowpack, providing ample water for the vineyards below.
On the Argentine side, the volcanic dust cloud was apparent. I was surprised we were allowed to fly. Volcanic ash can freeze jet engines  and make a plane drop out of the sky !
Disembarking our flight at MDZ.
Early evening, about 8 PM riding north through the desert  from Mendoza to San Juan.
Volcanic sunset. Tomorrow’s north  winds will blast away the dust and send temperatures soaring.
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Valarie D’Elia  – the Travel Reporter  for NY 1 – New York City’s 24/7 All News Station is airing a summer travel feature – “ Warm Up To Cool Ideas For Extreme Temperature Travel ” Along with great clips from Havana, Iceland and New York State is footage shot by ArcticTropic while skiing at Portillo,Chile last August. Portillo is the premier ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere – now enjoying 27 inches of fresh powder that fell over the weekend. Be sure also to check out Valarie’s site – Travel With Val – for the best travel deals all over the world.

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Portillo is soon to wind down the Winter 2010 Season. Arctic Tropic’s recent trip there, 3 weeks ago, was nothing short of amazing!
LAN 501 from MIA to SCL was a comfortable 8-hour flight. After exiting customs, a driver from Portillo met us and took our luggage. Two hours later, after a 10,000 foot climb up the Andes, we arrived at the Hotel Portillo. One hour later, we were on the slopes.
Portillo is almost like a private resort. The hotel usually has about 400 guests. Since there is no other accommodation in the area it seems there are never more than 200 or 300 people on the entire mountain at any given time. On weekends, perhaps 100 more skiers arrive from Santiago for the day. The longest line we ever encountered was a group of 5 people. It is very common to be able to ski or snowboard down the mountains by oneself.
Juncalillo Run – 10 AM.
Va I Venti lifts are unique to Portillo and get expert skiers up the mountain in minutes.
Skiing down El Plateau.
Lunch at Tio’s Bob’s !
ArcticTropic was part of a press group and we had the opportunity to sit down with the owner, Henry Purcell at teatime one day. The Purcell family, originally from the United States, has owned the hotel and resort for over 50 years. A very interesting history can be read HERE.
Après – ski is relaxing and very social. First, a bone –warming soak in the outdoor pools and hot tubs heated to 38 C.
Dinner, like all meals, is included in the one-week package, along with accommodation and lift tickets. There is no need to carry cash. One simply gives their room number if asked, or signs for extras, such as drinks.
Many of the staff have worked at Portillo for 20 to 30 years and greet their guests by name when they return each season.
After dinner a lively crowd gathers at the bar, with different bands every night. For the late night crowd, there is a disco that opens at Midnight. Roaring fireplaces keep all the public rooms warm.
At night the hotel almost has the feeling of a ship, -far away from civilization under the bright cold Andean sky full of the Southern Stars.
ArcticTropic will have regular updates from Portillo during the off-season and lots of news before next season’s opening in June ,2011. Updates are always available on the Portillo Website.