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Most interesting places to visit in Punta Arenas (part I)

June 1st, 2011

Algunos derechos reservados por mschutt

Many tourists who visit the Hotel Las Torres, first arrive to Punta Arenas, the capital and largest city of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.

The area has many touristic attraction and natural magnificence for all kinds of people, from the adventurous to the whole families.

The first part of this article describes museums, historical buildings, cultural and entertainment activities.

First of all, the city is one of the three largest in Patagonia. It is more than 3,000 km from Santiago de Chile and this location makes that during the winter you can expect here around 0ºC, heavy snowfall and blizzards, which can sometimes reach 150 km/h. In summer, the temperatures are higher and reach even 20ºC.

In Punta Arenas is located Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Airport, which receives daily flights from Algunos derechos reservados por mschuttSantiago, Puerto Montt and even from the Falkland Islands and the Chilean Antarctic.

But without a doubt one of the places that has become known in recent times is Zona Franca, a shopping center visited daily by 15 000 people ( locals, tourists and even Argentinians from surrounding towns), where if you purchase up to $ 1,200, it will be free from taxes. It’s ideal for finding products, as we say in Chile, that are good, nice and cheap.

Architecture of Punta Arenas emphasizes European influence, mainly due to the passage of ships through the Strait of Magellan as the point of arrival of the Croats, people of great influence on our country.

The constructions are ideal to see during family outings or for knowing the culture and history of Punta Arenas. It is worth a mention:

  • The Cathedral, wood construction, built by the Salesians in 1892 and reconstructed in nearly a decade, after falling to ruin. It was the first building to use bricks. It is located next to the Plaza de Armas.
  • The mansion of Sara Braun and the palace Braun Meléndez are samples of height that experienced the region in the late nineteenth century, thanks to the sheep farming. Currently, the mansion of Sara Braun is a hotel, while the palace Braun Meléndez was donated to the State and became the Regional Museum Regional of Magallanes. Both were declared National Monuments. The buildings are near the main square of the city.
  • Municipal Cemetery, in northeast of the city, with a high level of maintenance of parks and grandeur of the mausoleums of the most important families in the region, decorated with marble and bronze. Specially recommended it is the tomb of Unknown Indian and the pantheon of Jose Melendez, scale replica of the monument to Victor Emmanuel in Italy. It is located at north of the city and it is advisable to visit it early to avoid crowds.
  • Statues like for example Croatian Immigrant Monument (on Avenida Bulnes), Shepherd (between the cemetery and the Equestrian Club), Ferdinand Magellan (in the Plaza de Armas), St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians.
  • Punta ArenasOne of the most outstanding sites for their historical contribution is the Fuerte Bulnes, created by the Chilean state in 1843 whit the beginning of colonization of Patagonia. The story says that the building of wood and straw established sovereignty over the strategic Strait of Magellan just 24 hours before did it the French. It is located 55.1 km. south of the city, along Route 9, and requires no experience to follow it. It is important to carry provisions, and there are not many places to shop.

Great alternative, if you look for entertainment at night, is the casino that was opened in the coastal area in 2009. It has a conference center and botanical garden.

It also highlights the Winter Carnival of Punta Arenas, which begins with the winter solstice festival and offers shows of floats, the choice of queen, a folk festival, sports activities, book fairs, exhibition of films, concerts and others. The Invernadas, as they are known, attract tourists from neighboring areas in the Chilean Patagonia and Argentina.

The next part of the article will present the natural attractions around the city, possibilities to practice extreme sports, ideal for travel enthusiasts and adventurers.

Experience the authentic Patagonia with “All inclusive” of Hotel Las Torres

May 18th, 2011

Exterior Hotel Las TorresIf you think about going to Chile and visiting the Torres del Paine National Park, there is an unforgettable experience that you can´t miss. It is “must” to explore and know the beauty of Chilean Patagonia, soak up the beautiful geography, its customs and freedom, which everybody breathes here.

To achieve this, our Hotel Las Torres offers a great alternative – all inclusive programs where we take care of everything to ensure your comfort and convenience, from transportation service to tours, sailing in the glaciers, entertainment and meals.

The programs all inclusive of Hotel Las Torres include transportation from Calafate, Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. If you come from Punta Arenas you can also visit Ranch Cerro Negro, the place tremendously descriptive and historical, where lives some special Croatian family (Kusanovic) and has worked at the ranch for many years. Speaking about history, the real cowboys will give you here very unusual warm welcome, leaving you many unforgettable memories of this journey.

How do we ensure entertainment for our gusts? First of all, Hotel Las Torres provides to them with all amenities, including meals, National Park entrance tickets, Internet, accommodations, bilingual guides and all tours straight from the Hotel. Among other beautiful attractions you can visit such places like Grey Lake, the Enchanted Valley, Lake Nordenskjöld and Lake Sarmiento.

So if you want to live through an authentic experience in the Chilean Patagonia, be sure to know our programs all-inclusive… to meet a real and incredible Patagonia, without any worries.

You can also enjoy our additional services such as Calafate Sour, a cocktail made on the basis of Calafate (typical fruit of the area) and, of course, our occasional barbecues (asados a palo), and horse riding to know the beautiful landscapes and experience rich local gaucho culture.

Welcome to Hotel Las Torres Patagonia!

30 recommended items for trekking in Patagonia

April 21st, 2011

trekking in Chilean Patagonia Travel to Torres del Paine is an adventure for all visitors of the park. If you are thinking about doing there trekking some day or you want to go deeper into the valleys and tracks for several days, it is important to take some precautions which will help you to avoid accidents and enjoy completely the Torres del Paine National Park.

While the weather is usually mild in summer, it is also not uncommon to experience the 4 seasons in one day in Chilean Patagonia. Therefore, when planning your journey through the Patagonian lands you should be prepared with appropriate clothing for sun, cold, wind, rain and even hail. Note some ‘must ‘ to visit the Torres del Paine National Park and plan your trip in advance:

What you will need?

  1. Strong and waterproof footwear. Comfortable mountain boots. Running shoes are not appropriate for trekking in Patagonia.
  2. One pair ligh shoes for camping or outside de refuges.
  3. UVF sunglasses.
  4. Sunscreen.
  5. Lip protection (balm).
  6. Trekking Poles.
  7. Long trousers and shorts, light, quick drying.
  8. Lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket and pants, preferably of quick-drying synthetic fabric
  9. Thick socks (the best are wool socks), two or three pairs.
  10. Gaiters.
  11. Woolen vest or sweater – easily washed and dried.
  12. Wool, warm cap.
  13. Hat.
  14. Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt.
  15. Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts.
  16. Fleece.
  17. Thermic gloves.
  18. Scarf.
  19. Thermal refillable water bottle.
  20. A backpack with a weight you can carry for miles.
  21. Linterna.
  22. Compass or GPS.
  23. Pocket Knife.
  24. Medical kit with good blister supplies, aspirin, ibuprofen, band-aids/bandages and other essential medicines.
  25. Flash-lights, lamps and spare-batteries.
  26. Food – you can buy some within the park, but it will be more expensive. We recommend bringing musli bars, nuts, cookies, chocolates, etc.
  27. Descriptive route maps. You can get them at the entrance of the National Park.
  28. Plastic Bags – to keep dry your clothes. to keep clothes dry. Along the way you can change clothes several times, pack everything separately to keep the rest clean and dry.
  29. Camera and and a lot of batteries to capture every moment inside this beautiful park. Keep it in a plastic zip-lock bag.
  30. Good humor and enthusiasm.

If you are thinking about camping you will also need:

  • Waterproof tent, roof-cover, tent pegs, rope
  • A four-season sleeping bag
  • Camping-stove
  • Cooking equipment
  • Food for the day stay. We recommend you always consider one or two additional days.
  • Towel
  • Personal hygiene items

Finally, something very important is to carry all trashes until to the next refuge. It is essential to have some extra bags that allow you to take your garbage to the closest refuge and keep Torres del Paine clean.

If you think that we have forgotten to put on the list something important, write us on our blog. Happy trip to Torres del Paine.

10 tips for visiting Chilean Patagonia

April 14th, 2011

Patagonia Chile

If you are visiting Torres del Paine, in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia, it is likely that some of these tips can be useful to make your trip in this marvelous part of the world unforgettable.

Of course, many of these tips can be used on different journeys and are not limited to traveling in the Torres del Paine, but these should always be taken into account. And not because they are obvious, means that they are less important, they may even be forgotten. Let’s start:

  • Don’t forget that if you’re traveling by plane, the last stop is in Punta Arenas. From this city you’ll have to take a transfer or ask for bus services that take you to Torres del Paine.If you buy a tour package or will be staying at a hotel like Las Torres, it is probable that this is has already been taken care of. I’ll leave this link, where you can get to know the different airlines, buses and ships or use the Hotel´s transportation service.
  • Before the trip, another aspect that you have to take into account is the clothes that you must take on the trip. The Patagonia is characterized for its low temperatures and strong winds, therefore warm clothing is a must.For example: Waterproof jackets and pants, winter hats, shirts, thermal socks and gloves, wind jackets, trekking and resting shoes and boots, sun glasses, and sun block.
    But you also have to leave room for the sun, so you have to include light pants, shirts and even light shoes for the sunny days.
  • If you’re already in the area, and something goes wrong, don’t worry. You’re not left in the dark. First of all, the Hotel can give you all the help that you require and on the other hand 145 kilometers form the park is Puerto Natales, where you can find all the services required.
  • But attention. Something that you have to keep in mind, commerce is opened all day, but with a lunch break between 1 and 3 pm. So plan your necessities in good form.
  • Do yuo want to use your credit cards? Paying with Dollars? In general, commerce and hotels receive any type of credit cards, but it is essential to have some Chilean pesos for the little things like, small shops, entry fees or transport because in the National Park there are no cash machines.
  • Which is the best season to visit the Torres del Paine National Park? Although the park is opened year round, it is recommended to visit from October till April, coinciding with spring on this side of the hemisphere. The days are sunnier and there is less rainfall. Therefore more activities.
  • The Torres del Paine National Park is administered by Conaf (Corporación Nacional Forestal). They are the ones who take care of park security and for sure they’ll give you all the necessary recommendations.
  • One of the things that you cannot miss is walk until you can’t walk any more in this scenic wonderland. Or if you want you can take a horse back ride or even tour by car to see all the beautiful sites that the Chilean Patagonia has to offer. Would you like to fish? Fly fishing is another interesting alternative.
  • A stroll through Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas, be it on your way in or finishing your trip, will be more than pleasant.
  • Take care of the environment and respect nature. For example, Hotel Las Torres has a great ecological compromise on how to manage waste, energy and edibles. Follow this example and all instructions from guides and official personnel could give you… a great time in a unique part of the world.

Enduro Encuestre in Torres del Paine 2011

April 12th, 2011

Hotel Las Torres Patagonia and EnduranceX invite you to live an extreme, unique and unforgettable experience: the Equestrian Enduro in Torres del Paine “Copa Pampero” 2011.

Equestrian Enduro is more than just a race; you will be enchanted by one of the most amazing landscapes on the planet. It takes place on April 23rd, 2011. Don’t miss it out , and be a witness of an adventure that you will never forget…

  • Category Expert: 100 Km
  • Category Hunters: 60 Km
  • Category Safari: 35 Km
  • Adults: Above 18 years old
  • Juniors: Older than 10 years old and younger than 18

Judges: Elizabeth Huyghe (FEI), Juan Del Canto (FEI), José Rivera,

Leader of veterinarians: Cristián García

PROGRAM of Enduro (3 and 4 Nights):

This is only an example and may change depending on the date of entry.

April 21

  • Transfer from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine
  • Lunch at Estancia Cerro Negro.
  • Arrival to Hotel las Torres.
  • Dinner.

April 22

  • 8:00 Breakfast Buffet
  • 9:00 Excursion Full Day (Glaciar Grey)
  • 19:00 Tecnical discussion “Enduro TDP”
  • 20:00 Dinner
  • 22:00 Activity at “Bar Pionero”

April 23

  • 8:00 Breakfast Buffet
  • 9:00 Start of “Enduro Ecuestre TDP”
  • 17:00 Prize Ceremony
  • 21:00 Dinner.

April 24

  • 8:00 Breakfast Buffet
  • Hotel Las Torres activity (Programs of 3 nights)
  • 9:00 Tour “Base Torres”
  • 20:00 Dinner

April 25

  • 8:00 Desayuno Buffet
  • 9:00 Activity of Hotel Las Torres

Program Ecuestrian Enduro 4 days / 3 nights:

Rates per person in double room.

View from Room Base Companion Competitor
Almirante Nieto (Mountain) Doble $ 652.000 $ 950.000
Sierra Contreras (Garden) Doble $ 594.000 $ 896.000
Programs Include:
1. Transfer from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine (Ida y vuelta)
2. All meals (Breakfast Buffet, Lunch and Dinner)
3. Open Bar
4. Visit to “Estancia Cerro Negro” includes a farm show and a delicious lamb roast .
5. Excursions programmed by LAS TORRES.
6. 35% discounts in Spa services.
7. Entrance fees to the Torres del Paine National Park.
8. Inscription to “Enduro” Category Safari (40 km) * COMPETITOR
9. Activities organized by “Las Torres”.
Includes:
1. Inscription to Encuestrian Enduro
2. Horse Category Safari. (40 km.)

Additional Night: $ 125.000 por person

Other Categories:

ADDITIONAL COSTS: Hunter 60 Km: $ 200.000 Expert 80 Km: $ 300.000

Ecuestrian Enduro Torres del Paine 2010:

Torres del Paine and use of fire

March 28th, 2011
conaf

Fuente: Conaf

In 2005 a fire caused by a tourist devastated 15 000 hectares of native vegetation in the Torres del Paine National Park. Careless visitor behavior and the influence of wind that quickly gave strength to the fire caused one of the biggest fires in the history of Torres del Paine.
Conaf estimates that since 1980 in Torres del Paine have been more than 18 fires caused by carelessness of tourists, affecting about 17,000 hectares of this beautiful place in Chilean Patagonia.
Most of the fires were caused by human action, neglect and reckless use of fire, like the last accident on February 14th, when the rain fortunately helped control the flames caused by an Israeli tourist, who made a bonfire in an unauthorized place in Torres del Paine National Park.
For this reason it is essential to respect the camping areas in Torres del Paine and indications of park officials.
If you plan to visit this amazing place in the Chilean Patagonia, we ask you to take extreme precaution with the fire. Take into consideration the following recommendations and help us care of Torres del Paine:
  • In the Torres del Paine National Park you can camp only in authorized places.
  • Do not throw cigarettes and matches on the ground. They can also cause fire and also pollute visually.
  • You are not allowed to make any kind of bonfire outdoor. Fire can be set only in equipped marked places (shelters, areas for camping, etc.).. Before leaving the place, make sure that the fire is completely extinguished.
  • In Torre del Paine is permitted only the use of camp stove (but you cannot enter the park with benzine stove)
  • If you see an seat of fire and you cannot control it by yourself, immediately notify guard of park.
  • Always let the guard of park know about any kind of plume of smoke in sight, even if it seems to be small and not dangerous.
  • In the case of fire always run downhill the fire. The fire rises much faster uphill.
  • Remember that in case of detecting an incident of this nature must be reported to the numbers: 130 (CONAF); 132 (Fire department) or 133 (Police).
In Chile, the season of forest fires begins in spring (October-November), when atmospheric conditions favor the spread of fire, and lasts almost until April-May. At this time you should be particularly careful in forests and grasslands.
Help us take care of Torres del Paine being responsible with the use of fire and denouncing the reckless behaviors.

Hiking in Torres del Paine: An unique experience

February 28th, 2011

Hiking, Torres del Paine, PatagoniaA journey by unknown routes is always a challenge for those, who want to go into areas that man has not intervened and are kept intact. The desire to experience and connect with nature has encouraged many people around the world to visit Torres del Paine Park.

There is no doubt that the highest of Los Cuernos and impressive mountains make that the Park is a unique destination for lovers of outdoor sports and hiking.

What do you need to take to climb in Torres del Paine?

Torres del Paine are considered one of the toughest and wildest climbs of the world. Their summits have an average of 2-3 thousand meters high, and climatic variations that occur as one is climbing, and taking in consideration occasional winds of 100 kilometers per hour, turn the escalation of Las Torres into extremely challenging.

Therefore, it is necessary to submit documents confirming and authorizing your ability to climb.

The first thing you will need is permission required by the Government of Chile, both from domestic and foreign tourists. The permission is checked by the administration of the Park, which is located on the northern edge of Lake Toro. The expedition leader must present there documents to identity all members.

Chileans must prove their expertise in mountain sports and present a special curriculum with specified full names and phones numbers in case of accident. Foreigners must submit an authorization from the Directorate of Borders and Boundaries (DIFROL), which can be obtained online on the website of the institution or through the Embassy of Chile in each country, or in the provincial government of Puerto Natales.

It is important to mention that all members of the expedition must have accident insurance, which should also be presented for the Park Administration, with other documents.

What are the best peaks to climb?

While there are many interesting and difficult peaks to climb in the Torres del Paine National Park, three Las Torres are the most famous and present the biggest challenge for many climbers. Among them, the South tower is the highest and most difficult to achieve.

While the North Tower measures 2,260 meters, the central 2,460 meters, the South Tower reaches the 2,500 meters.

Who have undertaken the task of climbing this mountain, know that the perception of low height is misleading, because the winds of 100 km / hr and snowstorms make this adventure really difficult.

What is the best time to climb?

The spring season is, without doubt, the ideal time to hiking. Since October, when the season begins, until February, when summer is ending, the weather permits to climb without the complications in Patagonia. Still, blizzards and storms may occur, so it is advisable to go prepared for all types of weather.

The camping ground conditions to make stops along the way, involve necessity of taking tents and seepage water, cooking utensils to prepare your own food. In order to reach the highest points of the peaks without unpleasant surprises, the main recommendations are:

Climb the circuit in the opposite direction as the rotating hands of a clock: Patagonia’s winds are quite strong and make the trip to the left means never have reached them.

Use insect repellent: Although the weather in Torres del Paine is characterized by being cold, mosquitoes can become a big problem if you don’t take some kind of protection. When the strong of wind drops to four miles per hour, it results in the appearance of these nasty insects.

Don’t make a fire outside camps: In 2005 a fire caused by a tourist who started a fire outside the camping area, destroyed 1,500 hectares of Torres del Paine. It is very important to enjoy the wonderful natural environment and preserve it for future generations.

Making camp-fires is strictly prohibited in the Patagonia.

Do not buy bottled water: The water in many lakes and rivers Park is safe to drink.

Hotel Las Torres is an excellent choice for athletes wishing to stay a few days at the foot of the imposing mountains and take advantage of the peace of this place. Hotel also offers a lot of tours for each type of guest who enjoy wildlife such as hiking, horseback and vehicle expeditions.

Each of them provides an opportunity to meet with mountains, observe and understand the flora and fauna. You can’t miss it…

Practical information about Torres del Paine

February 17th, 2011

Declared by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, the Torres del Paine National Park is one of the main attractions in the world. It stands out for its beautiful landscapes and diversity of natural elements: glaciers, lagoons, lakes, mountains, accompanied by a beautiful flora and fauna.

Located 113 kilometers in the north of Puerto Natales, between the Andes and Patagonian plateau, the Park covers an area of 242 hectares, in the central part there is Paine mountain range formed by the three towers (Tres Torres). Some of them have a very particular shape, as the famous horns of Paine (Los Cuernos).

If you are planning a trip to this wonderful place, then we give you a series of useful information that will make your trip through the Torres del Paine Park unforgettable.

How to get there

The Torres del Paine National Park is located in the south of Chile. All the year is available direct access by land, through a paved road of 250 km. between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. Next, Route 9 North (150 km.) takes us just to the point: Portería Lago Sarmiento and Laguna Amarga.

Recently was enabled the Y-290 road, known as Lago Porteno, route 80 miles long, that connects Puerto Natales with the Park: Portería Serrano and Park Administration.

Between October and April, several bus companies make daily trips from Puerto Natales to the National Park. Their destination is the Administration Office of Park (entrance through Laguna Amarga, via Castle Hill).

For more information about the access roads to the park, review the guide prepared by Hotel Las Torres.

Open hours

Entrance to Torres del Paine Park can be done through four gates. All of them are open 8.30 – 20.00 in the period October – April, and 8.30 – 17.30 between May and September.

Climate

Although the park is classified as a zone of “mild temperate with rain and no dry season”, weather conditions during the year are various, and it is very difficult to define the exact weather.

In terms of rainfall, it is observed that during all months of the year, average rainfall exceeds 40 mm, concentrating between March and April.

The region is characterized by the fresh summer; the maximum temperature in January (the hottest month) does not exceed 16 ° C, but has a large thermal homogeneity with variations that do not exceed 12 ° C.

Anyway, tourists say that in Torres del Paine can be found all four seasons just in one day, so we advise you to prepare for… everything.

Fees

The park entrance fees in high season (October – April) are:

  • National: $ 4,000
  • Foreigners: $ 15,000
  • Children: $ 500

During the low season (May to September) rates are:

  • Chilean: $ 3,000
  • Foreigners: $ 8,000
  • Children: $ 400

History

The Torres del Paine National Park was created in 1959 and declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. Since 1975 it is in charge of National Forestry Corporation (CONAF).

His natural creation dates back 12 thousand years ago, when first inhabitants arrived to Patagonia, followed by Tehuelches (“People of the South”), who inhabited a vast area of the park.

Some damages on land which was used for livestock caused the concern of governments and the community to preserve so rich and attractive area. From this moment has begun a period of maintenance that led to the enactment of this National Park area.

Torres del Paine is currently one of the important tourist attractions in the world, with Hotel Las Torres, place that offers everything what you need to make unforgettable trip to Patagonia.

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race photos

February 9th, 2011

We present you photos how the teams of Wenger Welcome Patagonian Expedition Race were welcomed to Hotel Las Torres…

World’s wildest race

February 8th, 2011

In a spectacular start under the crystal clear mountains of Torres del Paine, the 2011 Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race began with a wild ride for the racers as they tailed a herd of horses down the dirt track on the opening cycling leg of the event.

The teams face a 60 km ride on the dirt tracks of the park, passing over three bridges and enjoying fantastic views of the Torres and Cuernos del Paine. They will then reach the Hosteria Lago Grey, where they will switch to kayaks in front of a spectacular ice-filled lake.

The 56 competitors from 15 countries compete in the nine-day race across the  Chilean Patagonia.

Each team has four athletes who compete in separate disciples, including sea kayaking, cycling, trekking and climbing. The race  will continue until Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race is gaining a reputation as both the toughest and wildest race in the world, having run editions through the diverse region of Chilean Patagonia, including Tierra del Fuego, the Darwin Range, Torres del Paine, Straits of Magellan and the Beagle Channel.

The challenge, the isolation, the unpredictable weather, and the unexplored landscapes all add to the mix – and the glory of finishing, and finishing first, is what everyone strives for.

Thanks to the continued support of Wenger, maker of the genuine Swiss Army knife and precision outdoor equipment, and other sponsors, up to 60 international athletes have the opportunity to take on the most rugged and diverse challenge known to expedition racing.

Chilean Patagonia is rewarding, but you have to earn it,” says race organizer Stjepan Pavicic. “When planning the course for the race each year we always make sure it is a good mix of virgin terrain and stunning views and I guarantee that 2011 will be no different – it will once again show competitors just how spectacular the scenery in this region of the world can be, but for sure it will test them to their limits.”

Sources: www.patagonianexpeditionrace.com, The Patagonian Times