Fabulous Sabbatical in Patagonia!
Patagonia | Jan 9 - Jan 24, 2024

Anne K.
San Antonio, TX | Reviewed on Feb 10, 2024

This was a sabbatical that we planned one year in advance. We love South America but had never been to Patagonia. We decided to spend a couple weeks there and spend a few days in Buenos Aires as we made our way home. It was AMAZING!

Planning the trip with Erin was a lot of fun, and Nara was also very helpful. The originally proposed itinerary was great, but we made a few tweaks to make it even better. We told Erin we like to be active during the day (hiking, biking, etc.), stay in really nice hotels, and drink great wine. We did all of those things and more!

During our trip, we stayed in six different cities: Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, El Calafate, El Chalten, and Buenos Aires. Our transfers were very reliable. We appreciated kimkim's responsiveness when we had flight delays to ensure our driver was notified.

Punta Arenas - We liked Hotel Boutique La Yegua Loca. It was quaint, and the staff members were friendly and helpful. The highlight was traveling by boat to Isla Magdalena to visit the penguin colony.

Puerto Natales - The Singular Patagonia was one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in. It was truly incredible. We loved our room and view, as well as the hotel bar and restaurant. The only hiccup we experienced was some confusion over logistics to get to the departure point for the boat tour excursion to visit the park and glaciers. There was not a pick-up, and we had to walk to the dock, which was 15 minutes away. Having to walk wasn't a problem, but we were a little late--just glad they didn't leave without us!

Torres del Paine - We thought it was a great idea to drive up the western side of Torres del Paine since we would eventually be staying and hiking on the eastern side. Our driver and guide were terrific. We stopped numerous places (waterfall, views, etc.), took photos, and learned about geology and wildlife. The Hotel Las Torres was fine. Our room was small but comfortable. The bar and restaurant were okay. Access to the trails was the selling point. The hike to Las Torres Lookout was easily self-guided but challenging; the views are weather-dependent, and seeing the glacier lake was worth the effort.

El Calafate - The Kau Yatun Hotel & Estancia was nice. They had an assortment of tasty food for breakfast, and we enjoyed cocktails and dinner of guanaco in their restaurant. The hotel has bicycles to borrow, which is helpful, as it is a pretty far walk to the main drag in town. Taxis were also available. Kimkim warned us that obtaining pesos was necessary but challenging; therefore, we sought that out immediately, but it was not easy. Banks closed early afternoon; the money exchange office ran out of pesos. We ended up having to go to a restaurant "back office" for an off-market change of money. It was interesting to learn that the exchange rate for American large bills ($20 and larger) was more favorable than that for small bills. We got a kick out of the Yeti Ice Bar (cheesy but fun). The boat trip to the glacier was lovely. Unfortunately, due to the proximity of icebergs, we were unable to dock and go to the balcony overlooking Perito Moreno Glacier.

El Chalten - It was fun to stop in Leona on the way to El Chalten. We enjoyed stretching our legs and learning about the historic spot. We appreciated the support we received from kimkim when we asked to do different guided hikes (one of us was still recovering from ankle surgery); one of us went to Laguna de los Tres and the other to Laguna Capri--both were great experiences. Both hikes could have been self-guided, but we liked our guides. One benefit was being dropped off at the north end of the Laguna de los Tres trail, which cut down on back-tracking. Mount Fitz Roy and the Fitz Roy Range are spectacular. On our last day, we hiked up to Mirador de los Condores, which offered fabulous views. Destino Sur Hotel was great, and we loved the town. We took advantage of the hotel's bikes so we could ride around town; there are no Ubers. We enjoyed beer and nosh at La Cerveceria and cocktails and wine at La Vineria. A local folkloric group performed a few tunes for us while we were dining at both Oveja Negra and Fuegia, which was a special treat. We had a blast riding mountain bikes 23 miles from Lago del Desierto to El Chalten. It was gravel the whole way with a few hills and a lot of tailwind and gusts. We stopped often because it was just so beautiful.

Buenos Aires - We were a little disappointed when we arrived a the Duque Hotel Boutique & Spa in the Soho neighborhood. Our room was quite small, and there wasn't anything special about it; however, we received exceptional service from the staff. They helped us plan our free days in Buenos Aires with an estancia excursion for the full "gaucho experience" with a brief nose-to-tail horseback ride, asado, and folk music, as well as a boat trip to the Tigre district. Due to a strike, our flight home was delayed until 3A. It was very kind of the staff to allow us to shower in the spa after we had checked out so that we would be more comfortable traveling home. We really enjoyed riding around Buenos Aires on bikes with a guide and ending with charcuterie and a wine-tasting. We were disappointed in the sub-par dinner at Viejo Almacen but absolutely loved every minute of the tango show afterward. There were plenty of good restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. We especially liked Nicky Harrison--fantastic sushi in the front and a step back in time at the speakeasy tucked behind the restaurant.

Local specialist: Erin Wiley
Erin Wiley
Local specialist in Puerto Natales, Chile | Replied on Feb 22, 2024

WOW, Anne thank you for taking the time to send over such a detailed review. It folks like you that help keep us up to date and good at what we do, we are really appreciative for that. Thanks to you for planning in advance we were able to put together a trip with all of these wonderful locations. Thank you again for everything, planning with you was very easygoing and natural. Wishing you the best and glad that we could be part of your experience :)