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Global photo tours to breathtaking lands led by expert photographers

Chile: Wonders of Patagonia – Torres del Paine National Park (10 Days)

Chile: Wonders of Patagonia – Torres del Paine National Park  (10 Days)

This photographic journey is led by professional photographer and author Sergio Ballivian, offering a superb teaching and learning workshop.

The goal of this photographic tour is to immerse ourselves in the heart and soul of Torres del Paine National Park, considered the 8th Wonder of the World!  It is so true!  There are countless opportunities to photograph the rugged majesty of this living landscape from afar and up close and personal.  We will be hiking, sailing and driving to some of the most iconic locations where the character of this battered chunk of the southern Andes Mountains is bathed in special light and scoured by the winds of the southern Patagonian Ice Cap.  Where the steppe meets the mountains and where the lakes lap at the feet of massive rock walls is where we will be each day.  We have the perfect locations, timed just right for the best light…all we need is mother nature to show us her treasures.

Undoubtedly, Patagonia is well-known for a challenging weather patterns….we just need to be patient and work within the laws of nature…and we will come back with stunning images of rugged mountains, dense forests, open steppe and fjords carved by blue glaciers that protect icy summits and hidden coves.  Where the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is where Patagonia challenges the mind, body and spirit.  We will capture all of it during this 10-day journey.  When someone tells you that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed…listen to them!

There is a very good reason Torres del Paine is considered the 8th Wonder of the World!

 

The trip begins in Punta Arenas, Chile in the Magallanes region (at sea level).  Connections from Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina are frequent, so getting here is easy.

We will spend a total of 2 nights in Puerto Natales (at the beginning and end of our trip) with prime accommodations in this historical port city.  This is the starting point for any trip into Torres del Paine National Park and offers plenty of accommodations, restaurants and amenities and supply options before heading into the wild.  The locations we will be visiting are a combination of viewpoints and access points where we can see the massive Cuernos and Torres del Paine from high above, at lake and river level and at the base of these massive rock walls.  Our accommodations in the field will provide stunning and perfect jumping-off points to have a great variety of angles to catch the light caressing the peaks and the reflections on a variety of bodies of water.  Our routes take into account the best time to be at the perfect location and the ease of accessing some more remote areas with comfortable accommodations nearby.  We will hike to some areas that are only accessible via foot, but we also will sail to a few locations and drive for short periods of time from one prime location to another. We spend more time doing photography than driving to and from locations.  We also have time to rest, relax and review our images during the time we have at our comfortable lodges and hotels.  The people in southern Patagonia are welcoming and hospitable and our local guides are experts in the region, well-versed in the weather, locations and always have a plan B in case our prime location is not perfect for our needs. The itinerary below describes the day-to-day journey of what we will do and what we will see.  We believe in our hearts that this combination of locations and timing will provide a truly unforgettable journey to southern Patagonia.

 

Questions and requests?  please e-mail:  [email protected]

 

Your Photographic Leader:

Sergio Ballivian was born in La Paz, Bolivia and lived abroad in the US, Canada and Spain for almost 35 years, with addresses in Washington D.C. and Boulder, Colorado and in La Paz.  He graduated from Calvert high school in La Paz and studied in Sevilla Spain, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Dividing his time between the Andes and the Rocky Mountains, he continues pursuing adventures via 4×4, motorcycle, kayak or mountain bike.  He worked for 5 years in National Geographic in the photography department, supporting the photographers traveling around the world.  He started taking photos when he was 15 years old, falling in love with the medium to remember his adventures that continue to this day.  His love of adventure and exploration grows further (even after so many years) and every time he sees a place he does not know on a map.  He has traveled in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile and also to Nepal and New Zealand.  The love he has for his native land allows him to travel with clients for photography workshops, shooting documentaries and organizing expeditions.  He started doing private photo tours more than a decade ago and leads photographic trips throughout the year to all corners of Bolivia and Latin America.  His latest venture is to publish photography books.  Two recent books include; Altiplano – Where Earth and Sky Embrace (2016) and Madidi – An Uncertain Future (2017).  His 3rd book is about the Bolivian Andes to be published in late 2019. His photography of landscapes, animals and people sheds light on unique places that need urgent protection. His work can be seen at:  www.sergiophoto.com, www.sergiophototours.com and www.explorebolivia.com

Sergio will be accompanied by another guide and expert staff from Patagonia Camp during the whole tour, adding another level of expertise and knowledge so that your photographic journey will be un-matched in the region.

We will end our photographic journey on the 5th day at the Punta Arenas airport with a fond farewell and hoping our paths will cross again in the future.


 


 

Tour Dates: January 21-30, 2020 (Tuesday to Thursday)
Tour length: 10-days / 9-nights
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Group Size Limit: 10
Tour Highlights: Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales, ancient indigenous cultures, settlers of Patagonia, Andes Mountains, Southern Patagonian hospitality.
Prices are in $ US Dollars:
7-10 guests:   $ 5,190.00/per person
5-6 guests:   $ 5,475.00/per person
3-4 guests:   $ 5,780.00/per person
2 guests:   $ 6,320.00/per person
1 guest:    $ 7,665.00 /1 person
*International airfare is NOT included in the tour price.
**Tour begins in Punta Arenas; at the airport or your hotel.
Deposit:$ 700.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee)
Inclusions: As per the itinerary – hotel and hostel accommodations, meals as noted (B,L,D), private transport, bi-lingual guides, airport transfers, decades of experience and local knowledge
Questions and requests?  please e-mail:  [email protected]

 


Anyone can book a single spot on any tour at any time. These prices reflect the cost for one or two people for 5 days/4 nights.  The minimum number of people required for this trip to run is 4.  We encourage you to include friends and family to join you…as Patagonia and Torres del Paine are truly one-of-a-kind destinations!


Please note: We can run this trip at any time from September to April, so please let us know your date preferences and we will create a custom departure date for you and your group, dependent on room availability for your dates.



ITINERARY

Flights to Punta Arenas, Chile depart from most major cities in Latin America, usually routing via Santiago or Buenos Aires, and arrive at various times of the day.  Depending on your airline, you would arrive at different times on day 1 in Punta Arenas.  However, we would highly recommend you arrive one day earlier in Punta Arenas in case of flight delays due to weather. Please let us know your flight info so we can coordinate pick-ups and other services. We can make all your hotel reservations that are not included in the 10-day tour.  International airfare is NOT included in this itinerary.  For airline tickets, please contact our ticketing agent GEO Travel 1-800-938-7285.

 

Questions and requests?  Please e-mail:  [email protected]

 


 

Day 1 / Tuesday / January 21, 2020:          Drive from Punta Arenas to Estancia Olga Teresa – Condor rehab – Puerto Natales

The tour begins with a private overland transfer from Punta Arenas airport (PUQ) to the town of Puerto Natales (PNT) (total drive time is 3 hrs).  En route, we will share with you the history of Patagonia, its native people, the early colonizers, the remote ranches and the times before tourism arrived in the region.  En route to Puerto Natales we will stop at a unique Estancia (ranch) Olga Teresa in Rio Verde to see one of the world’s largest flying birds – the Andean Condor (vulture gryphus) where they raise, rehabilitate and help these birds stay wild.  We will partake in a typical Patagonia lunch called “El Asado de cordero Magallanico Al Palo” (roasted lamb over an open fire) that is our way of welcoming you to southern Patagonia.  This is a great opportunity to photograph portraits of the condor and the people of Patagonia.  After lunch we continue on our drive north to Puerto Natales, 2 ½ hours north from this hacienda.  Upon arrival in Puerto Natales, you will learn some history of this remote settlement, ranchers, miners and fishermen, including visiting some monuments and nearby viewpoints along the coast.  You will visit Ultima Esperanza Fjord, to see the unique quality of light due to the proximity to the South Pole.  Upon arrival in Punta Arenas we will check-in to our hotel and then get together to discuss the upcoming jourey in more detail.  We will discuss and share logistics, weather and shooting locations so everyone is on the same page.  Puerto Natales has a rich and varied history and tomorrow we will get a proper introduction to it with a complete city tour.  We will get together for a group dinner tonight at an appointed time.  Overnight at Hostal Vinn House (4*). (L,D)


 

Day 2 / Wednesday / January 22, 2020:        Puerto Natales City Tour – Lago Grey – Lago Grey Peninsula

We begin with a nice breakfast then head out to do a city tour with a local guide who can share all the intricate details of Puerto Natales and the region.  Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales are intricately entwined and you will learn about the beginnings of the port city, the massive estancias and how Torres del Paine became a National Park.  There are some interesting and surprising details!   Afterwards we will have lunch at a well-known restaurant serving local dishes typical of the Patagonia region.  Soon thereafter we drive from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park and head to Hotel Grey – located on a peninsula with stunning views of peaks, lago Grey, blue glaciers, floating icebergs and dense forests.  The location truly is one-of-a-kind and offers us lots of options for our sunset shoot towards the end of the day.  We return to our hotel for a gourmet dinner with stunning views of the rugged peaks of Torres del Paine National Park in front of us.  Overnight at Hotel Lago Grey (5*). (B,L,D)


 

Day 3 / Thursday / January 23, 2020:        Lago Grey – Pingo Valley – Ferrier Viewpoint – Sail Lago Grey – Refugio Grey

Today will be a pre-sunrise departure to a location where we can see the rising sun light up the mountains and forests across Lago Grey.  Once we are satisfied with our images, we return to the hotel for a proper breakfast.  Afterward we head off to Monte Ferrier where we can see all the lakes in the park and adjacent regions.  The views are stunning and well worth the effort to hike a couple of hours on a trail that will be of medium difficulty – slow and steady is the mantra for today.  The views include Grey, Pingo and Zapata glaciers!  We will have a picnic lunch en route – weather permitting – then return to the trailhead (1 hour down) for the quick shuttle to the ship that will cross Lago Grey, with views of Grey Glacier before dropping us off at Refugio Grey, which lies at the heart of the infamous ‘W’ trek circuit.  This location puts us in a great location for further excursions to prominent viewpoints.  Dinner and overnight at Refugio Grey (3*).  (B,L,D)


Day 4 / Friday / January 24, 2020:         Refugio Grey – Grey Glacier – Trek to Paine Grande – Refugio Paine Grande

A pre-sunrise excursion to photograph the sunrise near Grey Glacier is a must from this location.  We return to Refugio Grey for breakfast and have a quick break.  We enjoy a nice lunch at Refugio Grey before we embark on a short trek to Paine Grande – our location for the next two nights.  The trek takes us through dense forest, views of rugged peaks and lakes before emerging in a little valley where our refugio is located.  We should arrive in the late afternoon, check-in and find a good spot for the sunset on the lake and surrounding peaks.  Dinner and overnight at Refugio Paine Grande (3*) (B,L,D)


 

 

Day 5 / Saturday / January 25, 2020:         Refugio Paine Grande – Valle del Frances (full day) – Refugio Paine Grande

We begin with a hearty breakfast as we have a full day of walking today.  We depart at 8 AM from Refugio Grey and head towards Valle del Frances – a deep, rugged valley with hanging glaciers and stunning rock walls and fast-flowing glacier-fed rivers cutting the gorge deeper and deeper.  We will have a picnic lunch en route at a location where you can enjoy the scenery, the sound of the river and mother nature in her raw elegance.  After going up the valley until we reach the French Glacier viewpoint, we begin our return journey to Refugio Paine Grande.  We should be back at the end of the afternoon in time to see the sunset from another angle. Dinner and overnight at Refugio Paine Grande (3*) (B,L,D)

 


 

 

Day 6 / Sunday / January 26, 2020:         Refugio Paine Grande – Sail via Catamaran to Pudeto – Cuernos del Paine view – Lago Pehoe

Sunrise jaunt right outside our doors!  We return to the refugio for breakfast then head to the ferry for our half hour sail to the Pudeto port.  From here, we have a hike to another viewpoint right in front of the Cuernos del Paine, about an hour away through rugged scenery, small lakes and a thundering waterfall.  We return to the port for a quick drive to Hosteria Pehoe for lunch.  We check-in and have time for a little rest before heading out for sunset.  There are many viewpoints from this location and we will choose the one that affords us the best views based on what the weather will do in the afternoon.  Keep in mimd that the weather in Patagonia changes quickly and completely, so we’re always keeping an eye on what’s happening in the sky. Dinner and overnight at Hosteria Pehoe (3*) (B,L,D)

 


 

Day 7 / Monday / January 27, 2020:         Lago Pehoe – Paine Massif – Rio Serrano

Today requires an early rise so we can decide where we want to be for sunrise!  There are many options and we will see what the weather does to make our decision.  We return to Hosteria Pehoe for breakfast.  We  head out for another interesting vantage point in the morning, luckily we have access to many stunning locations very close to here.  We return to Hosteria Pehoe for lunch.  Afterwards we drive to where we see large herds of wild Guanacos (Lama Guanicoe) – a relative of the domesticated llama seen across the Andes.  Our objective later is Villa Serrano and our hotel for the evening.  We want to make sure we’re at the place where we can get some reflections of the Cuernos and huge mountains from water level for sunset. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Rio Serrano (5*) (B,L,D)

 


 

Day 8 / Tuesday / January 28, 2020:         Rio Serrano – Laguna Azul – Estancia Goic

This is one of the most amazing locations for sunrise photos of the Paine Massif!  The location, the foreground, the clouds and the imposing peaks all come together from this location to show off how stunning mother nature is and is protected in Torres del Paine National Park.  Once satisfied with our photos we return to the hotel for a proper breakfast in Villa Serrano.  From here we head to Laguna Azul for another breathtaking angle of the park, lakes and steppe…the rugged mountains rising abruptly from the rolling hills of the Patagonian steppe.  Today is when we see the famous Torres del Paine, for which the park is named after – three stunning, gargantuan granite monoliths…cutting the sky with teeth like ancient dinosaurs…standing proud and surrounded by deep valleys, alpine lakes and glaciers.  There really are few places in this world like Torres del Paine!  A picnic lunch en route where the food is as good as the views.  After sunset we head to Estancia Goich in time for dinner.  Overnight at Estancia Goich (3*) (B,L,D)

 


 

Day 9 / Wednesday / January 29, 2020:       Estancia Goic – Las Torres – Puerto Natales

This is the angle where we get the best view of the sun as it lights up the Torres del Paine so we will be at the best location for this event!  We return to Estancia Goic for breakfast.  We head out afterwards to a location where pumas are very common and often seen hunting the wild Guanacos, their favorite prey, with the rugged Patagonia wildscape as a backdrop.  We make our way south to Puerto Natales for a late lunch.  Afterwards we check-in to our hostel for the evening.  Dinner and overnight at Hotel Weskar Lodge (4*).  (B,L,D)

 


 

Day 10 / Thursday / January 30, 2020:         Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas Airport

After breakfast we begin our return south to Punta Arenas airport.  The drive is 3 hours long going through flowing hills and wind-blown grasslands.  We should arrive at the airport with plenty of time for you to check-in before your flight to Santiago or Buenos Aires  We would have all your flight info ahead of time so it’s important that you share your flight info when booking the tour so we have the transfer times perfectly organized.  We highly recommend an afternoon flight back north so you have ample time for any weather-related delays. (B)

– End of our services –

 

Questions and requests?  please e-mail:  [email protected]


NOTE: Due to weather conditions, excursions are subject to change without prior notice as well as the order of the excursions in the program . If any activity is cancelled it will be replaced by another one.


 


 

 


 

 


 


 


 


 

 


 


 

 


Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.