Close Encounters

Mountian Lion in Torres del Paine National ParkPhoto by David Valdés

It was day seven of our eight-day trek through Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile. My whole body hurt as I dragged myself slowly up the hill. We had been walking for several hours and I needed to rest. As we came over a steep ridge, I found the perfect place, a rocky ledge overlooking Lake Nordernskjöld and the green glacial valley before us. Unfortunately, two girls were sitting in our spot. Silently cursing them, I moved on while Tony suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“Thomas, look!” he whispered hysterically pointing at the rolling hills down by the water. I had no idea what he was pointing at, but I instinctively grabbed my binoculars dangling from my neck. “A mountain lion!” Tony blurted out. I almost started laughing. Continue…

Puerto Varas

Osorno Volcano

“Aqui Kuchen,” announced the rickety roadside sign in a comical mix of Spanish and German. I started to drool as we drove past the rustic café in our rented Toyota Urban Cruiser. As if the cake sign weren’t distraction enough, the route along Lake Llanquihue was absolutely gorgeous making it more difficult for me to keep my eyes on the road. Snow-covered Osorno Volcano loomed tall across the water, partially hidden from view by giant conifers. I pulled down the visor and stole a glance at the picture-perfect cone we were about to visit. Talk about Fahrvergnügen!

We had arrived in Chile’s spectacular Lake District a few days earlier. The picturesque region, settled by German immigrants in the mid-1850’s, is a sprawling region of glacial lakes and towering volcanoes, quaint German villages and epic national parks. Not surprisingly, it is Continue…

The Llao Llao

The beautiful Llao Llao Hotel

There aren’t too many travelers who arrive at a 5-star luxury resort by public transportation. So when our bus from Bariloche stopped right outside the famous Llao Llao Hotel, Tony and I were the only passengers to get off. It was love at first sight. Without a doubt, this was one of the most gorgeous settings imaginable. The luxury hotel was built on a ridge between two lakes and backed by the sharp granite peaks of Cerros López and Trenador. This was a side of Patagonia we hadn’t seen. Gone were the subpolar forests of the south and the dry desert steppe of the east; instead, we stood in a dreamy Alpine wonderland surrounded by soaring mountains and lush evergreen cypress and coihue forests. We couldn’t wait to Continue…