Patagonia: Fire and Ice at the Bottom of the World

When you think of towering mountain peaks, glaciers, and icy fjords, places that come to mind include the coasts of Norway and British Columbia, or perhaps the Alps in central Europe. However, there is another part of the world that has all these features and more: Chilean Patagonia at the bottom of South America. South America usually brings to mind steamy jungles and the Amazon basin but the southern part of Chile has a much more alpine climate reminiscent of parts of Europe and northwestern North America. In addition to mountains, there are also cosmopolitan cities, spectacular ocean views and the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth! The high deserts of this region host some of the world’s largest astronomical observatories that are located here to take advantage of the clear dry air and excellent viewing conditions.

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A trip to Patagonia is certain to build enough memories to last a lifetime. Your trip to this region will start with your arrival in the Chilean capital of Santiago. Santiago is a sprawling city but with a compact city center and is easily walkable. There are many historic churches and other historic buildings located here, along with trendy restaurants and nightclubs. The experts at Condor Tours & Travel are happy to work with you to plan your stay in Santiago and find just the right neighborhood for you. The city features a variety of tours and entertainment including an innovative dinner show that features Chilean cuisine combined with a journey through Chile’s rich cultural heritage. Chilean cooking includes many seafood dishes and a great selection of Chilean wines. Because of the difference in seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, many of the fresh fruits and vegetables we get here in the United States during our winter months are imported from Chile.

Once you leave Santiago behind, you may want to visit the national park of Torres Del Paine, famed for its spectacular scenery and outdoor sporting opportunities. Kayaking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are all available here. There are numerous mountains, rivers, pampas (high grassy plains), and glaciers just waiting to be explored! The best time of year to visit is in December and January during the Chilean summer, but be advised the park is likely to be crowded and nights will still be cool so you will want to make sure you dress appropriately. The more adventurous among you might want to visit Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Los Glaciares has more than 350 glaciers whose meltwater tumbles into the icy blue lakes below. Thrill-seekers may want to climb Fitz Roy massif or scale the borders of the Perito Moreno glacier.

North of Santiago lies the famed Atacama Desert, a place so dry that there are regions where it does not rain for years at a time. If you are a person, who enjoys quiet and solitude, the Atacama may be right for you. The desert stretches for hundreds of miles along the southern coast of Chile. Feel free to explore the salt flats, arid valleys, and eroded lava flows of this harsh but beautiful land!

No visit to Patagonia would be complete without a stop in the Chilean Lake District. The Lake District is one of the most bio-diverse and culturally interesting regions of Chile. The area is rich in fish and bird life and ranges from azure lakes to temperate rain forests and active volcanoes. The indigenous Mapuche people still live here in their traditional fishing villages alongside the descendants of German settlers who arrived in the 1850’s! The whole region is a uniquely beautiful, and at the same time, culturally enriching experience.

For those truly interested in something exotic, you might want to consider a trip to the area of Tierra del Fuego and the very southern tip of Argentina and the South American continent. In these remote lands, the climate becomes harsher and wilder and amenities fewer. Mossy forests, craggy mountain peaks and winding fjords dominate in these regions. A visit here is best done during the local summer season as winters are long, cold and dark, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a truly unique experience. Merely a few hundred miles away across the gray storm tossed southern seas lies the icy fringe of Antarctica. Only a few intrepid souls ever make it this far south!

If your interest is piqued, we encourage you to contact Condor Tours & Travel, Inc. today. Patagonia is a land of contrasts, adventure, and romance. So why not leave behind the mundane and boring everyday world for a while? Rejuvenate yourself with a trip to Chilean Patagonia. You can contact Lori at info@condortoursandtravel.com for more information or visit their web site at www.condortoursandtravel.com.

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