Postcard from Patagonia

“Patagonia, how fabulous!” This was the most common response when I mentioned my recent travels to this area. The second response then followed … “Where exactly is it again?”

Patagonia lies on the Southern end of South America – mainly in Chile but sharing a border with Argentina. It is a starkly beautiful and wild territory with prominent glaciers, mountains, fjords and rivers. The area is a delight for gastronomes, nature seeking souls, adventurers and photographers alike.

Northern Patagonia showcases Chiloe Island, lakes, dramatic volcanoes and little towns such as Frutillar, their Germanic heritage reflected in the architecture and food.  Delectable Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, locally produced salmon and cheese and steaming seafood pots ensure an eating experience every bit as good as the landscape.

Further south awe-inspiring scenery created by the wild forces of nature found around Torres del Paine will leave you breathless. National Parks such as Los Glaciares and Tierra del Fuego and glaciers such as Perito Moreno that are constantly calving as ice collapses into the lake are reminiscent of New Zealand…but on steroids!

The Singular Patagonia is the most WOW hotel I have ever experienced. Driving into what looked like a white barn, it was obvious on arrival at the glassed off reception area that this was no ordinary hotel. A renovated cool-store, the wows kept coming. Drinks and truffles ensued, then imagine being shown onto a funicular to get down to the accommodation and real reception area. The next wow came with the room with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the lake and mountains (oh, and of course whilst walking past the lit up machinery on the way). Next stop the bar and lounge – wow yet again at the décor, stylish and modern while taking full advantage of the history of its surroundings.  And then the food and wine – fresh crab, salmon, ceviche, Pisco Sours and Malbec. A little bit of heaven on earth.

All inclusive activities at The Singular vary from hiking to watching condors soaring, horse riding and visiting Estancias, boat trips on the lake, full day excursions into the National Park and kayaking  – although always subject to the weather conditions which are notoriously changeable.

A four night expedition style Australis Cruise from Punta Arena to Ushuaia was a brilliant way to really get out and truly appreciate the more inaccessible surroundings. Stella Australis with its 100 cabins was just a nice size and very comfortable.  Each day we were out and about on zodiacs for excursions to go penguin watching, hiking up to viewpoints over bays and walking right up to the beautiful Aguila Glacier – truly magnificently beautiful.  Regaled by excellent varieties of food and matching wines at each meal, I didn’t want it to end!

The cruise highlight was being able to disembark at Cape Horn – the very southernmost point of South America. We were even greeted by a light shower of snowflakes whilst taking photos by the lighthouse and the remainder of the sign that had somehow not been blown away by the 180km winds.

By Judith Wesley