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Chile, Torres del Paine mountains and alpine lake

Article

Charlie’s Chilean Adventure in Patagonia

With its mesmerizing terrain, from icy peaks to mist-shrouded rainforest, it’s easy to see why Charlie, our Pelorus Projects and Operations Manager, decided to visit Chile and its spectacular Patagonia region. We caught up with Charlie about his experience, part of our ongoing commitment to continually build Pelorus’ knowledge and networks to help us craft top-tier adventures.

While it was wonderful to sit down with Charlie, who looks after Projects and Operations for Pelorus, it was hard not to be jealous of what he had to tell us.

Chile, a thin strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, offers the ideal conditions for a momentous road trip. Seizing his opportunity, he joined the Carretera Austral Route 7 at Puyuhuapi and traveled south, passing stunningly contrasting landscapes.

His route passed through Chile’s quietest region, Aysén, his Chilean Patagonia adventure arrowing into some of South America’s most unspoiled and stunning wilderness before arriving at his ultimate destination of Chile Chico.  

Chile, Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo, Charlie hiking view

“Everything I have ever seen or read about of Chile has evoked a certain amount of wonder for me, I am drawn to the remoteness as well as the incredible, natural beauty. When it came to planning which region to go to, Aysén was an area that I knew relatively little about so it really felt like an exploration.”

Charlie Drinkwater
Project Expert

Puyuhuapi

“The region feels truly undiscovered, you would turn a bend to be met by a striking 60-metre waterfall.”

Their 4WD Chilean odyssey began in Puyuhuapi—the fjord-fragmented region located in the country’s south. With the journey described as“80% was almost off-roading”, this was a journey with scarce evidence of humanity with often only the staggering views for company.

With the rising sun, they pushed out on kayaks onto a fjord’s still waters, accompanied by a guide. “With the fantastic guidance of Danilo, we stopped at otherwise inaccessible areas of land, hiking through heavy jungle to discover amazing waterfalls. With help from an expert eye, we were also incredibly lucky to spot a school of dolphins from the kayaks.”

Afterwards, in the spirit of exploration, they experienced an energizing contrast soaking in thermal springs before plunging into the chilly fjords. Next, a trek into Queulat National Park to see its dazzling centerpiece Ventisquero Colgante, a hanging glacier that Charlie summed up as “nuts!”

Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo

“Often overlooked, it offers a different type of beauty, a varied terrain relatively undiscovered and untouched due to being northern Patagonia.”

“We crested the hill to be welcomed by an epic sunset.” With the southerly latitude you’re visiting, and at the time of year, a sunset here is a dramatic, drawn-out delight. “You can see for miles out to the lake which we later ended up driving around. On the other side of this, you are gazing at Argentina.”

Onto the Parque Nacional and a hike through the forested alpine territory, emerging from the beech trees and moraine fields to see stunning basalt spires along the ridges above.

Chile, Cerro Castillo, winding road Chile, Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo, Charlie hiking view
Chile, Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo, Charlie watching sunset from car Chile, Laguna Cerro Castillo, alpine lake

Laguna San Rafael

“We drove out on what felt like a road taking you to the end of the world. There’s no reason for the road to be there, other than to get you to a tiny port with some boats.”

Taking advantage of the availability, Charlie and his superb guide cruised within about 300 feet of the Laguna San Rafael glacier, this “remarkable white expanse cracking and calving, making extraordinary noises like distant rumbles of thunder.”

“Listening to it and watching the ice drift by was one of the most incredible things I have seen in all of my travels.”

Conrtibuting to the natural profundity, chance had it that an “enormous piece of ice calved off” the glacier just as Charlie and his guide were sipping whiskey on the nearby, glacier-deposited rocks.

Puerto Rio Tranquillo

One “mesmerizing natural phenomenon” should always be followed by another, and so Charlie made a beeline for Lago Gral Carerra—the second largest lake in South America.   

Exploring by kayak, they cut through the waves to eventually glide into the otherworldly marble caverns carved by the pristine waters. The naturally polished marble walls reflected their awestruck looks back at themselves as they soaked up the uniqueness of this phenomenal destination. 

It was finally time to reach their ultimate destination, following a road that snaked beside Chile’s epic coastline. Surrounded by imposing mountains, on the border with Argentina, they’d reached Chile Chico. 

“As we drove away, we were looking back to the San Rafael Glacier. The previous day we had been on the Western side, so it was incredible to take this in from a different perspective.”

Chile Chico

Trekking into the hinterland of Valle de la Luna Charlie discovered Chile’s remarkable climactic range.

“The weather systems that the Pacific brings in create this dense jungle environment on the Chilean coast, and then as you venture further inland, by the time you reach Chile Chico, you are welcomed by vast dry plains” that are punctuated with stunning wind-carved rock formations.

Further into this dramatic country, they came to Lago Jeinimeni’s glorious glacier-blue waters. A hike further up for a condor’s-eye view was irresistible. “We were so lucky to have such a beautiful place all to ourselves,” although they probably shared the view with majestic Andean condors and the llama-like guanacos.

“Hiking over what feels like moon dust” was Charlie’s summary of his final trek across the arid, barren wilderness extending between Chile and Argentina. Following several days of self-care soaking up the sun on gorgeous Chilean beaches, Charlie flew home to use his fantastic experiences to design new ones for our clients, except with added luxury.