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Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park

July 26th, 2011

Glaciar Grey - Parque Nacional Torres del PaineOne of the most beautiful destinations within the National Park Torres del Paine is the Glacier Grey, the biggest in the zone, 6 kilometers wide and 30 meters high. The name came from the color of the water and icebergs, which are mixed with various tonalities of blue.

This mass of continental ice is one of the 49 which breaks down the Campos de Hielo Sur, the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world, just after the south Antarctica and Greenland in the northern hemisphere.

The area is not only famous for the natural spectacle, such as detachment of huge icebergs, but also offers many different panoramas for all kind of visitors, either experienced adventurers, extreme sports fans or people with little experience, but good physical condition.

For the adventurous, the Lago Grey is ideal for kayaking, because of its quiet and beautiful landscapes. You can also participate in hiking tours on the glacier, always keeping precautions with the ground cracks and caves. It is necessary the presence of an expert guide in this kind of expedition.

For those who are looking for activities that require less effort, 4 kilometers to the south of Camp Guards is a viewpoint in front of “La Isla”, an easy to reach nunatak that divides the glacier in two.

The Full Day Program in Hotel Las Torres Patagonia offers catamaran tours from the pier on Lake Pehoe (Pudeto) to the viewpoint of Lake Grey. The tour runs only from November to March (there are needed suitable climatic conditions).

Other tour operators offer trips on zodiac, which can be hired in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. Prices vary between $ 70 and $ 100 per person (about 40,000 Chilean pesos (CLP) average ).

Recommendations

The climate in the lake has no dry season, with more than 2,000 mm of snow and rain annually, and the temperature rarely exceeds 10 º C during the spring and summer season (recommended time for visits), while on the glacier thermometer shows always temperature below 0 ° C.

For all types of activity are required trekking shoes, sunglasses with UV protection, sunscreen and protective clothing, especially if you want to practice extreme sports.



Direct route to Las Torres del Paine

July 11th, 2011

Valle Ascencio - Creative Commons joerghassAscencio Valley is known for being the most difficult point of circuit “W”, a narrow path that can take up to four hours of trekking, located on a hill, surrounded by forests of large ñirres and blizzards in the spring season and summer.

Although the required effort in this trip is intense, you will forget this immediately, seeing directly the iconic peaks of Las Torres: north, central and south with a vast lagoon of turquoise waters.

For security reasons it is recommended to travel in large groups or take part in organized tour, moreover use trekking poles and clothing against the cold and wind.

You don’t need to carry many things; this route is only two hours north from Hotel Las Torres Patagonia.

Along the route through the Ascencio Valley you will see in their natural habitat huemul, an emblematic animal of Chile and Magellan Region and also exotic orchid, both endangered species.

One of the possibilities recommended for expert travelers who like extreme sports, is the Valle del Silencio, a plain surrounded by hills Oggioni, Trident and Condor’s Nest. It is an hour’s walk to the north, near Camp Japanese, and it is an ideal place for mountaineering enthusiasts.
Importantly, the Japanese Camp and Camp Chileno are open between September and March only, for climatic reasons.

Punta Arenas Travel Guide – Part II

June 29th, 2011

If you prefer a natural goodness of the area, Punta Arenas offers a variety of scenarios, for both the family and for adventure tourism.

  • Punta Arenas - Cerro MiradorIdeal for athletes with a certain level of experience and adrenalin seekers is the Centro de Ski Cerro Mirador, located in the Magallanes National Reserve, 600 meters above the height of the sea and 30 minutes from Punta Arenas, more specifically by Peninsula Brunswick.
    The place has 12 trails, rental of equipment, instructors, and a medical center. Its strategic location makes it ideal to have views of Punta Arenas, Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan. You can also do trekking and learn more about the flora and fauna along the clearly marked trails.
    It’s important to highlight that it doesn’t have a paved road, making it necessary to mobilize in cars with chains. We recommend visiting the area in summer (December-March) or spring (September-December) to avoid the rainy season and low temperatures.
  • Punta Arenas - Cabo FrowardYou can also take zodiacs expeditions through the Cape Horn, Glacier Balmaceda and Serrano, the fjord of Good Hope (Buena Esperanza), Cape Froward (at the end of the mainland, famous for The Cross of the Seas) and the Magdalen and Santa Maria Islands, home to a large colony of sea lions, cormorants, Antarctic gulls and Magellanic penguins, which come to nest in pairs. If you take a tour with trekking included, find out if the roads are suitable for children or if the difficulty is high, medium or basic.

An option for the whole family is Estancia Otway, best known as the Parque Ñandú (Ostrich Park). Here is a site dedicated to raising these birds similar to ostriches, where you can take photos, feed them and learn more about this species. The Park is in the direction of way to Puerto Natales (take the turning for Green River) and is open daily from 9 to 19 hrs.

Punta Arenas - Parque Nacional Marino Francisco Coloane - Pinguinos¿What is the better experience than cross the Strait of Magellan and see wildlife in all its glory? During this amazing trip you can visit the Francisco Coloane Marine Park. Is the first area of water protection in the country, including important sectors such as the channel of St. Jerome and Saint Agnes Island. Named after the successful Chilean writer, winner of the National Literature Prize, elected to the Chilean Academy of Language and Chevalier des Arts et des Lyrics in France, among other awards.
In this place live multiple cetacean species, southern dolphins, Magellanic penguins; sea lions eyed Cormorants, among others. An unforgettable point of this trip is to see jumping whales.

Punta Arenas it’s almost at the end of the world, but doesn’t mean that can’t offer views for all kind of visitors. The southern zone of Chile has beautiful scenery, everything 328 km from National Park and Hotel Las Torres Patagonia.

Torres del Paine among top 25 travel destinations in Central and South America

June 20th, 2011

TripAdvisor, well known website with tourist information, hotel reviews, photos and travel advice released its latest Traveler’s Choice Awards 2011: Torres del Paine National Park can be found on the list of top 25 destinations of Central and South America, on a 10th place.

Trip Advisor highlighted the spectacular nature of this region, forests, lakes and glaciers. This is also the natural monument with the best rating among other four on the list.

Moreover Torres del Paine has the greatest recognition of the three destinations of Chile, that are in the TripAdvisor ranking (the other two are: San Pedro de Atacama and Santiago).

Among the information that can be found on TripAdvisor, Hotel Las Torres Patagonia has an excellent rating, especially among business travelers.

We invite you to visit our site, where you can find description of our services, and the natural attractions offered by this beautiful place, almost at the end of the world.

Patagonians: ethnic groups at the “end of the world”

June 7th, 2011

In the sixteenth century, the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan contacted with the tehuelches . This famous explorer was surprised by the physical characteristics of native people of Patagonia, mainly because of the size of their feet. This story marks the name given to the area, where word Patagonia comes from large feet or pata gau in Portuguese.
All groups who coexisted here had a special bond with the sea, because of the hard Patagonian life, where it was difficult to mobilize by land, agriculture and hunting.

Although they were not a big civilization, all the small tribes with the same beliefs and characteristics got one name in order to their easier classification.

Tehuelches:
Called by the Mapuche “brave people”. They were skilled hunters and gatherers, living as nomads. One of the interesting points was the reproduction habit through the exchange of women between clans.

Their religion was based on myths, emphasizing the creation of the world by Kóoch, a god who was overwhelmed with loneliness and were crying until he created the sea. Seeing this situation, Arrok sighed and divided the sea, creating after the Sun and the Moon.

Selknam en la playaSelk’nam (Onas):
These people had great similarities with the Tehuelches: physically, their culture, language, organization of clans and their principal deity,  called Kénos. Anyway, there were also differences in the faith in a god who punishes the evil (Temáukel).
Despite of living with nature and being great constructors of tools, they never worked in the land. We know about Selk’nam thanks to their descendants who survived colonization. Currently there is no pure race.

Kawésqar:
Various nomadic groups which were traveling in canoes through the channels of Tierra del Fuego and Magallanes. Their name means “human being”, while the nickname “alacalufes” was created as derogatory name by Yagan.
They are one of the Patagonian ethnic groups with the highest number of survivors in the country. The University of Chile made in 1999 the Kawésqar Language Revitalization Project, preventing them from disappearing with the time.
Their most treasured possessions were the canoes, in which they spent the majority of the life, hunting seals, otters and sea lions,  which they ate and wore their skins. Kawésqar believed in good and chaos spirits.

Perro YagánYamana (yaganes):
They have great similarities with Kawésqar in their way of life. Anyway, the main difference of the Yamana with other ethnic groups in Patagonia was the domestication of the red fox, (yagan dog) that probably was their pet or helped them hunting. There are plans to clone this animal and return it to its habitat.

Yamana were monotheistic people, although they believed in spirits and creatures. According to their traditions, when a Yamana dies, they wrap the body in skin and leave on the mainland, where they can never return.
Their language is still not classified and can disappear in the future. However, there are several projects to save it.

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: