One of the most evocative names of travel in South America, Patagonia is unquestionably a destination whose essence is about immersing yourself into the world around you. Most obviously, this takes the form of feeling the wind (and the rain, and the sun, and the snow) in your face, as you stride out into one of the world’s most striking landscapes. Notorious for its raw and often rapidly changing weather systems, this is somewhere the outdoors feels truly great.
If that sounds off-putting, don’t let it be, these days it’s rare for many of us to get outside amongst the elements and there’s no question to our mind that doing so is wonderfully rejuvenating. That is of course, assuming you do so with the right clothing and equipment, as in all honestly it’s pretty miserable if you do just get cold and wet. Even with the right gear though, there’s no denying that a real treat, at the end of a day out exploring the Patagonian wilds, is to retreat to a comfy accommodation, where there’s a lovely log fire, a hearty dinner, and a warm welcome. That’s why we’d like to share with you a few of our favourite family-run lodges and hotels from Patagonia.
Casita del Mar, Isla Chiloé
This charming guesthouse is located on the lesser-known west coast of Chiloé Grande, and makes for a wonderful alternative for those looking to see past the typical day trip to Castro. With a couple of nights here, you can enjoy wonderful Pacific views, and get a true insight into the real Chiloé. You’ll be well looked after by the owners, who both run the guesthouse and guide their visitors on tailored explorations of the island, focusing on cultural and history, wildlife spotting, kayaking and hiking in the National Park of the rugged Pacific coastline. Not to mention tasting some of the finest fish and seafood right at source!
Mallin Colorado, Aysen
The lodge is one of the finest settings anywhere in Patagonia, looking out over the stunning Lake General Carrera, and the owners, one of our longest running partnerships. This is perhaps the epitome of a Patagonia lodge: log cabins constructed from native woods with cosy fireplaces, set in a (very) isolated location, and surrounded by world class hiking. Within easy reach you can explore marble caves, sail up to a glacier, go white water rafting, ride horses through the forests – and the food’s pretty wonderful too! Your hosts are a delightful family, who’ve looked after us and our guests so well over the years, we’ve reciprocated the favour when they’ve been in the UK!
Tierra de Leyendas, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego
Given its remote location, Patagonia is not a place to come to for cheap accommodation, which is fine when you’re staying in a gorgeous lodge with wonderful service. Way down at the bottom of the continent however – next stop Antarctica! – Ushuaia tends to be somewhere you can easily pay a premium to stay somewhere distinctly average. Which is where Tierra de Leyendas comes in.
With just a handful of rooms, this delightful hotel is located well away from the shops flogging poorly made stuffed penguins. The joy of staying here is that you really feel like you’re a personal guest of the owners, who go out of their way to make your stay special. And these are exactly the type of people you want looking after you when you’re in the southernmost city in the world: one is descended directly from some of the original settlers, and knows the area inside out. The other is such an accomplished chef he’s featured on several Argentine cooking shows on TV – you’ll definitely want to dine in at least once! Ushuaia is often (unfairly, in our view) seen as a hopping off point for cruises, or somewhere to ‘tick off,’ as part of a bigger tour of South America. Staying here means you can be welcomed by locals, and make your time in Ushuaia a special part of your Patagonian adventure in its own right.
Aguas Arriba, Fitzroy
It’s probably clear by now that to reach many of the special places in Patagonia, you need to put in a bit of travel time, and this is no exception. A 3 hour flight from Buenos Aires, 3.5 hours by road from Calafate via El Chalten, and a 15 minute boat ride – or 3 hour hike – brings you to this stunning lodge. The lodge is located just north of the village of El Chalten and the Fitzroy National Park, known as the trekking hub of Argentina, and with good reason. However, a bit of a reputation as being an area for ‘hardcore’ trekkers and climbers, means that El Chalten tends towards rather simple accommodation. Clean and cheerful, certainly, but often lacking any strong character and comfort. Aguas Arriba changes all that, with half a dozen charming rooms looking out over mountains, glacier or Nothofagus forest. Perhaps best described as ‘rustic chic,’ the largely wood construction features huge windows throughout, making it the perfect place to curl up on the sofa and look out at world class scenery. After a day out exploring the forests, waterfalls, lake and peaks, you can return to freshly cooked food based almost entirely on local produce (the lodge even has its own vegetable garden) and a roaring fire, to make for a truly special Patagonian experience.
If these lodges and hotels sound like the kind of place that would tempt you into a holiday down to Patagonia, we’d love to hear from you. We can tailor holidays in Chilean or Argentine Patagonia, or indeed combine the two, to create your own unforgettable journey.