I'm Portuguese, live in Lisbon and I'm a travel addict!
I've been traveling since I was a teenager and I've been around the World a few times already.
This is my attempt to share with you my experiences and the knowledge I've collected after more than 20 years of non-stop traveling. Hope you like it!
You can read more about me here.
Latest posts by Ana Barreto (see all)
- An Elephant Never Forgets! - April 11, 2017
- Postcards From Venice - April 6, 2017
- A Night On the Arctic Circle: Inside the Ice Hotel - March 1, 2017
“Once upon a time there was this beautiful enchanted land called … Patagonia”
It may sound silly to start a post this way but if you visit this place I bet you’ll feel tempted to do the same.
The Little Prince
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible places in this World but Patagonia left me speechless and amazed. Did you know that this place was one of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s inspirations to write ‘The Little Prince’?
The Little Prince is one of my (and I’m sure – thousands of other people’s) all time favorite books, so I guess we all can agree that anything that served as an inspiration for this masterpiece of literature has to be special.
It’s widely accepted that the name Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Fernando de Magalhães (Ferdinan Magellan) in 1520 to describe the native people whom his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed that the people that the Portuguese explorer called Patagons, were actually Tehuelches, who tended to be taller than Europeans of the time.
Patagonia lies inside two countries – Argentina and Chile, and its a home to almost every scenery mother nature could possibly create. It has the World’s seventh-largest desert, glaciers from the last ice age, turquoise blue ponds and lakes, waterfalls, beautiful mountains, and a rain forest. It’s got everything! For the lover of the great outdoors it’s an absolute heaven.
“What is Essential is Invisible to the Eye”
In Patagonia I had a few unforgettable experiences, some were extraordinary and almost spiritual but one was exceptionally bad. In any case the good surpassed the bad by far and in no way affected my perception of this magical place.
One of my favourite memories was when I came across a fox during a hike.
The animal didn’t seem to fear me at all! It came really close, then sat in front of me and allowed me to take her pictures. This was so special as I love animals and this made me feel like I was the little price himself! I could almost hear the fox whispering: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Another memory I treasure, is that of the Grey Lake in Torres del Paine National Park – when me and my friend got there no one was around and the silence was so impressive that we could not hear a single sound, as if we were completely alone in the World. It was us and God… I never felt more at peace with myself.
Now for the bad… I took a boat tour through the fjord of Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope fjord), and the boat got us very close to Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers.
While we were there one of the crew members served us a pisco sour (typical South American cocktail) with ice he took from the glacier. It looked like a pretty awesome thing to do, and I was already imagining myself telling my friends that I drank a pisco sour with some ice from the last ice age! How cool was that! Well, stupid me… it turned out that the piece of ice that ended up on my glass had probably an ancient bacteria in it.
About an hour later I got so sick, that I tought I would die, and I remember thinking it was very appropriate that I was going to die in a place called El Fim del Mundo (The End of The World). That’s actually the place where we were staying. I spend two days vomiting, had diarrhea, and fever, and I never felt so bad in my entire life. I recovered well enough thankfully, I always travel with a first aid kit that has all the essential medicines and hey, I still had a story to tell friends!
The Wild Life
Patagonia is great to watch wild life, there’s so much to see!
I was surprised with the quality of the hotels in the region. Many smart hotels that have opened in recent years provide comfort and luxury, and great dining options.
Altiplanico Sur Hotel in Puerto Natales is one great example! The hotel is constructed in a way that it blends in with the surrounding nature.
The hotel has huge windows with wonderful views. More than once I could observe wild animals pass by in front of them.
- The best way to get to Patagonia is to fly to Santiago and then get a connecting flight to either Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas. Punta Arenas usually has more flight options. A bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales takes about 3 hours.
- There is no best time to visit Patagonia. The nature there is always stunning and every season has its charms. Summer is the high season though and the national parks are more crowded and accommodations are more expensive.
- The weather in Patagonia is very unpredictable. It is not uncommon to have sunshine, wind, rain and even snow on a single day, even if traveling during the Summer months, so the key is to wear layers. If you are hiking – bring t-shirts, a fleece sweater, a water-proof jacket and pants, choose breathable clothes (cotton) so you don’t get wet from perspiration when you hike. Water resistant boots are a good idea.
- You’ll also need a warm jacket, gloves, a hat or a bonnet, and a good scarf for the glaciers and the mountains.