Day 4 Hike Atacama Luna Valley – best one!

imageTowering sand dunes and a straight up ascent. A 5K hike with stunning panoramic vistas that seemed to go forever. The best hike of all. Ending with a slide down a 200 foot dune

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.


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On the cliff edge - looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

On the cliff edge – looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

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Excursion to the Atacama Salt Flats and Flamingos!

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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.

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

Dining room Singular Patagonia

Sunrise at Singular Patagonia

The Towers. Torres del Paine park

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!

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!

Patagonia

Wind was 50 miles an hour. Hey -yulp!

View from Explora Patagonia

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. http://thesingular.com/puertobories-en
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….