The Road to Patagonia, Chile in Photos
Three times now I've sat down to try to write the introduction about my first trip to Patagonia (and also first trip to South America). And three times now I've been overwhelmed by emotion when I start to put it into words (ironically while sitting at a Latin American cafe in Los Angeles). Patagonia had been at the tip-top of my life/bucket list as long as I can remember. Perhaps it stemmed from my father's fascination with places that felt like the rim of the world, such as Alaska and Mount Everest. I suppose Patagonia was my Everest.
So at the beginning of this year, I said to myself that this was going to be the year that I got there. And I started putting plans in motion. Work contracts, leases, family visits; they were all built around a fall trip to Patagonia. No trip of mine had I put so much thought and planning into. And no trip had such high expectations.
Shortly after wheels touched down in Punta Arenas, I found myself getting emotional, just setting feet near the edge of Southern Patagonia. I'm often quiet when in a new place and around new people (thanks INFJ!), but even more so upon landing in Punta Arenas. (Albeit the 3 hours of sleep and 4 a.m. wake-up call could partly be to blame.) This was my Christmas. Expectations were high, which meant the risk of disappointment was higher, too. Would I get a pet dog? Or would I get a Chia Pet in the shape of a dog (which actually did happen one Christmas; I'm still not over it)?
"Patafuckingonia." It was mere minutes into the 5-hour drive north to Torres del Paine National Park that I muttered these words. They were words I'd end up saying the entire trip. If it wasn't the beautiful rolling hills, then it was the snow-capped mountains in the distance, and if not the condors flying above, then it was the guanacos (llamas) feeding in the pastures. But what stood out the most, however, was this sense of lostness. I was on the edge of one of the most beautiful regions of the world, on the rim of the world, and I felt like the group of travelers in our van were nearly the only people there. As Ray Bradbury said, "Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness." And we were only going to get more lost in the coming days, as we went trekking through Torres del Paine National Park.
Before Chile, I had spent a week traveling solo in Buenos Aires. And while my Spanish is passable at a restaurant or bar, I'm not conversational. So while I may be an introvert (albeit an extroverted introvert, as I like to call it), I was looking forward to sharing my journey through Patagonia with others. It's a trip I always thought and hoped I'd do with my lady friend, but not having one, I sure as hell wasn't going to wait for that to go to Patagonia.
So upon arriving, I thought, if I could just have one cool person that I can connect and travel with. If the weather is shit, and I don't see a single sunset or night of stars, or if my guides have broken English, then so be it, so that I can share it with someone else, who'll at least take one photo of me as proof that I was there.
What resulted was 90% good weather during Patagonia's off-season, 12 cool people that made up one of my best travel groups to date, 2 of the best guides I've ever had, and 1 of the best weeks of my life in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I feel like you could try to recreate such a trip a million times, and one time you'd have that combination of experiences. It was one-in-a-million.
While I'll be sharing more photos from my trip to Patagonia's Torres del Paine National Park, today I'm sharing photos that are largely from the trip itself into Patagonia. The trip to Patagonia was picturesque in and of itself, from flying over snow-capped mountains, to the sprawling waterfront city of Punta Arenas, to stopping in the only town (which was conveniently hella charming), Puerto Natales, to entering Torres del Paine National Park and arriving at one of the most beautiful properties I've seen, EcoCamp. See my photos below.