Our trip to Patagonia was epic, so epic and intense that it has taken me a good amount of time to fully absorb it all and feel able to recount the experience. First off our travel specialist, Beth Jenkins, did an incredible job curating our trip. She truly listened to what we wanted and created a true adventure with some surprises along the way.
We started in Buenos Aires, a city that I have long had interest in visiting. A majority of my travel revolves around food and, to be honest, I was a tad wary about the food focus on a trip to such a meat-centric region. The restaurant scene is booming in BA, and a veghead like me had no trouble finding delicious satiation. "Closed door" restaurants and speakeasys are trending strong in BA, and during our brief visit we were able to check out a few. Casa Felix is one of the better known closed door restaurants which, at this point, does not make it a true secret any longer. The chef invites 12 inquisitive diners into his home and serves a 5-course plant and fish-focused seasonal menu, with an option of wine pairing. Drinks and hors d'oeurve are served to guests mingling in the garden where many of the chef's herbs and vegetables are grown. Dinner at Casa Felix was a leisurely and delicious affair, and a unique experience for the adventurous and curious diner.
Other stand-out meals in BA included fresh and innoventive Japanese Peruvian fusion at Osaka and dinner at Fevor, an old school brassserie, which had the perfect combo of grilled beef classics and a robust list of seafood and vegetable options.
Hub Porteño, in the Recoleta District, was the prefect place to stay. Typically when selecting a hotel, I opt for small boutique accommodations that have a wellness focus. Hub Porteño delivered just that. From the exemplary and knowledgeable staff to the insanely large bathroom with its life changing marble shower to its low key location, Hub Porteño served as the ideal respite.
From Buenos Aires we moved south to El Calafate, a quaint town in close proximity to Los Glaciares National Park. We stayed at Los Sauces, a beautiful property slightly removed from the main drag. The hotel was lushly manicured, had an insane pool (with stationary bikes!), and was quiet and relaxed.
The pictures above hardly do justice to the Perito Moreno Glacier, 30 miles long and 97 square miles, and growing, of pure unadulterated ice. We spent a day hiking the area surrounding the glacier - a day of constant awe and respect for the incredibleness of Mother Nature.
We dined at La Tabilta both nights that we were in El Calafate, a traditional and bustling parrilla that served exceptional grilled meat, fish, vegetables, and, of course, Malbac.
From El Calafate we moved southwest to Chile and Torres Del Paine, a long but rewarding journey.
We stayed at Tierra Patagonia, a lodge nestled on the edge of Lake Sarmiento. Tierra Patagonia is so much more than a hotel, it is an experience. Photos truly do not do justice to this incredible property, which is the perfect warm retreat after a day of bracing the elements in Patagonia. Made of wood-clad walls and local sustainable material, Tierra Patagonia immerses itself in the landscape. Although the sun did not fully set until 10:30pm and rose around 5am, nothing beat waking up to the ice blue lake and hundreds of grazing sheep and ostrich-like rheas.
Breakfast is typically my most favorite meal, and Tierra Patagonia provided excellent fuel for long days of hiking and surviving the elements.
The days at Torres del Paine National Park were filled with intense, albeit rewarding, hikes. I am not going to lie. There were quite a few moments while trekking 5+ hours in forceful winds, extreme temperature shifts, and steep and slippery inclines and declines that I thought to myself, "This is vacation?". But, then we would get to a view like the base of the towers, pictured below, and all the arduous work and under breath cursing were justly rewarded.
No doubt about it, Patagonia is for the adventurous set. Despite spending a majority of the trip cold, wind blown, sore, and, at times, holding on to hiking poles for dear life, it was a trip of a lifetime. The purity and sheer beauty of the area is insurmountable, and a true testament to the audacity of Mother Nature.