Day 3 – Afternoon hike – Punta del Inca

imageCactus fields and a flowing river in the desert- novel experience.
The hike is climbing over the boulders beside the river, down a canyon and climbing out to a marvelous panoramic view of the mountain range.

Day 3 Morning Hike -Kari

We started walking through a field of large stones, then continued trekking on the edge of a 200 foot cliff- scared the life out of me! Then walked down a giant sand dune, crossed a very wide salt flat and walked through the Kari Ravine. The Kari Ravine us a small canyon formed by water erosion and surrounded by enormous salt walls. We walked through a dry river bed covered with salt. There were two rock wall drops that required rock wall climbing skills. I made it, but it was terrifying.
The edge is on the right side of the image.




Explorer Excursions

Explorer Atacama resort is a base for exploring some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world. Enormous mountains and volcanos tower over geysers, multicolored lagoons, and salt flats in the midst of an ancient civilation. Think Canyon Ranch with all outdoor activities – stunning ever changing vistas. Hikes are for beginners to mountain climbing experts. Atacama is loaded with volcanos, canyons, salt flats, dry rivers, waterfalls wet and dry, enormous sand dunes, geysers, hot springs, and ancient petroglyphs. It reminds me a lot of Grand Canyon, and Brice Canyon to name a few. Everywhere one looks, the vistas are spectacular.
Day 1 hike: started with a walk straight up a dry waterfall- gulp! When we reached the top, the view of the volcanos were amazing. We then walked through a gorgeous salt wall canyon. Pictures below:

Explorer Atacama – philosophy

At Explorer we are inspired to travel for the pleasure of the journey itself, and by the richness of the experiences it brings. They call their philosophy the Art of travel, and it is based on three pillars: remote areas, in depth explorations and luxury of the essentials.

Explorer Atacama offers 30 Hiking explorations- half and full day, 12biking explorations – half and full day and 15 horseback riding excursions.


Explorer – Atacama Desert, Chile

Volcano - it's not a painting View of the Volcano from Explorer Atacama  Lobby
Volcanos seen from the explorer lobby.

High contemporary decor- lots of whites. Explorer’s service is impeccable. Equate Explorer with activity: hiking, biking, and the only resort with horseback riding. Easy to extreme!

Excursion to the Atacama Salt Flats and Flamingos!


We were driven to the Salt Flats at sunset and were introduced to the northern version of Chilean flamingos. Really incredible! They get their pink from organism that they eat in the water.

Heading off to the Atacama Desert

Driving to Atacama Desert
We flew into Calama, Chile then made an hour and 15 minute drive to Explorer Atacama. Colors are so muted and serene. Blues, beiges and whites. Easy drive. Another world completely.

Rooftop Pool Ritz Carlton Santiago


Poolside at the Ritz Carlton Santiago

Ritz Carlton Santiago – traditional luxury

The usual tip top service, Ritz Carlton Santiago has lived up to it’s considerable reputation. Rooms are impeccable, beds are like sleeping on a cloud.

Off to Chile -flying the Divine Dreamliner on LAN

Probably the most comfortable sleep on a plane in a long while. LAN offers a comforter inside a sheet- sort of like a sleeping bag. So you lie on the comforter under the sheet. The lighting is unusual prevelant pinks and blues and i am told the humidity is pumped up so one sleeps more comfortably. I did not wake up till 20 minutes before we landed in Santiago. We hardly felt the take off and landing. Huge plane! image

image We are guests of LAN Airlines, Ritz Carlton, A&K Chile and Explora Atacama. It is such a privilege to learn about new travel options.

Another Incredible Virtuoso Travel Week

4000 talented travel consultants, suppliers and press converge in Las Vegas one week each year to connect, learn and enhance their clients’ travel experience. The energy and passion for this travel connection is immense. Classes are offered by the top travel experts in the business- highlighted by Helen Nodland, and the always delightful Ann Scully. An active network called VAST offers an all day exposition to better learn about the latest and greatest offerings in the active travel industry.
We meet hotel General Managers, heads of hotel marketing, destination management companies, tour operators, safari operators, airline representatives, destination wedding suppliers, and sales directors from all over the world – 396 meetings over a four day period. We meet before the general meetings, at specialized luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, in addition to the 396 presentations. By the time the week is over, I can say I am thoroughly ensconced in travel information. I came home energized, inspired, armed with the best information and fabulous new connections to enable me to make my clients dreams come true.

Welcome To Atlanta’s New Internatio​nal Terminal

I just received this from Delta concerning their exciting new terminal:

On May 16th, the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal will open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). This state-of-the-art, LEED-certified terminal will accommodate more passengers and make international travel a breeze.

Most international flights will arrive at Concourses E or F, although some international flights from “pre-cleared” countries will arrive on Concourses T through D.

If Atlanta is your final destination:
You will proceed through Passport Control and claim your baggage at the new international terminal.
You will no longer need to recheck your baggage upon exiting Customs.
There is a passenger pickup area and ground transportation center at the new international terminal.
From the international terminal, complimentary shuttles are available to both the domestic terminal which includes MARTA, as well as to the rental car center.
Since you are departing Atlanta prior to the new terminal’s opening and returning after its opening, please note the following:
If you parked at the domestic terminal and your flight arrives at the international terminal, you may take the complimentary shuttle bus to the domestic terminal.
If someone is picking you up at the airport, please let him or her know you will arrive at the new international terminal, which is accessible from Interstate 75.
Please visit for more information about the international terminal.

VinaVik with our host Gonzague de Lambert

Harvest time at Vina Vik


We are delighted to find that we have arrived at harvest time!
Harvest depends on the perfect time of grape maturation – four factors influence the harvest timing: tannins, chemical analysis , maturation, and sugar level.
Grapes at Vina VIK are a combination of Carmenere and Cabernet Savignon , Merlot,  Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The Vina Vik winery aims to be the top wine in Chile – 100 points. They also strive to be the greenest and most organic in Chile.  Tonight they begin picking the grapes at 1AM while it is cool. 
Vina VIK  vineyard is located 2 hours above Santiago. The valley is spectacular- green, green, green- mountains circle all around . Our host is Gonzague de Lambert.
One fact I learned: sulfites are in all wines for a fruit preservative. Vik keeps the sulfiltes very low for a more natural taste. A good harvest depends on weather conditions, light, rain, soil, the subjective decisions made during the growing year and the timing for harvest. 
Cristian Vallejo is the winemaker; he along with Gonzague, make an invincible team. The combination of vast winemaking knowledge, dedication to detail for the year in- year out effort and passion for great wine is impressive. I have no doubt Vina Vik Vineyards will have the number one red wine, and it will be very soon

Carmere grapes Vina Vik vineyards

Vina VIK Vineyards 10,000 acres

VIK Vineyards

Dining room Singular Patagonia

Sunrise at Singular Patagonia

I tried my panorama lense.

Room at Explora Patagonia

View from Explora Patagonia. Hard to beat

The Towers. Torres del Paine park

Explora Patagonia lobby

Singular Patagonia

Hallway Singular Patagonia daytime

Top Hotels in Southern Chile


Singular Puerto Bories  Patagonia 
We stayed at the brand new Singular property near Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia
It was a sheep processing plant built between 1906 and 1914, and closed during WW11 . It is family owned and operated. The architect kept the factory fittings in the main building and added contemporary rooms onto one wing. 60 rooms and suites are in the hotel.  Rooms are large and very spacious in feel. Windows are floor to ceiling Bathrooms are well lit and spacious. The decor follows the industrial chic direction of the factory. Walls are  metallic, ceilings were cement color. Predominant colors were earth tones with  grey and black. contemporary feel. Uncluttered and pleasant. Meals and We found the restaurant delightful. 
One goes to Patagonia to hike, kayak, fish, horseback ride, mountain climb, rock climb. I have never in my life seen such glorious scenery.. Two major parks, the Andes mountain chain, lake and glaciers are your focus  One plus for Singular is they cover all of the area including Torres del Paine National Park. They also offer speedboating to see the Seranno and Balmaceda Glaciers, Patagonia Fiords and Lago Azul     The negative is that it takes 2 hours to drive to the park, so your day starts early.  Singular offers three activity levels for guests and about 30 offerings of trekking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and boating, kayaking. All guided by an expert staff.  They can be half day or whole day activities. One major note: in the summer one will be contending with gale force winds on you hikes. Be prepared with wind resistant clothing. 
Explora Patagonia 
It is all about the view at Explora. You are situated right in front of the Devil’s Horns in the 
Torres del Paine National Park.  Explora is situated in the middle of the park. The view is beyond breathtaking.  They also offer three levels of activities and about 35 choices of things to do. So activites can more flexible, which can be very good because the weather is often highly unpredictable .They have a strict 4 night minimum,  Singular does not have that restriction. The hotel seems more like a lodge. Rooms are smaller and more simple, as well as small bathrooms. But it is all about the view and convenience of being right in the park.  Explora also offers meals, transfers and activities. 

Rooftop bar. W Hotel Santiago THE place to be!

W hotel Santiago. Awesome!!

Patagonia glacier

Glaciers, glaciers, glaciers!

I saw my first group of Glaciers today, what a thrill. The color of that ice is really gorgeous. The blue come from the minerals in the water. It is not photoshopped. We took speedboats to see Fiords in the region near Torres del Paine National Park. The color of the water changes from silver to turquoise to an amazing deep blue. The color depends on the amount of silt that washes down with the glacier runoff. This part of the world is simply breathtaking, photographs simply cannot do it justice.

More glaciers!

My first up close and personal glacier!!!


Devil’s horns Torres del Paine National park Patagonia

Great travel buddies

Wind was 50 miles an hour. Hey -yulp!

View hiking Torres del Paine national park

View from Explora Patagonia


The bottom of the world

The bottom of the world
Remote, majestic, untouched, wind blown pampas, big sky, spectacular, unspoiled, pictures can’t capture the majic – all these words came to mind as I traveled to Punta Natalas. We are staying at the brand new Singular hotel at the bottom of the world. Activities include trekking on glaciers, hiking to the Torres del Paine National park, fishing, speed boating through the fiords, biking, horseback riding, and or bird watching in some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever experienced!

At the bottom of the world

Packing and planning for Chile: Patagonia and Santiago

I will be trekking in this area!
I am starting to pack for my first trip to Chile. I am really looking forward to it! The itinerary calls for lots of hiking activities and I can’t wait. I am so interested in the Torres del Paine National Park and we will be able to view up close and personal the Paine Massif. We fly into Santiago and then immediately fly to Puntas Arenas in Southern Chile. We will be staying at the Singular Patagonia.
It is an old cold storage plant remade into a first class hotel. They offer 19 activty experiences from hiking to biking, horseback riding, sailing, birdwatching. Levels are easy to expert. I am deciding between trekking to the base of Torres del Paine, glacier trekking the Mirador Glacier grey, sailing around the Patagonia Fjords: Serrano and Balmaceda Glaciers, Lago Azul or a visit to Shotel Aike wetlands. We only have two full days to get in activities and each one take a whole day, so I have to choose wisely! My paperwork says I will only need my passport, hiking boots, camera and a light backpack.
Less is more. Ha ha….

Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc