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EcoCamp-Patagonia

Torres del Paine national park has an incomparable amount of natural treasures awaiting to be discovered. And whereas many travelers choose to experience demanding treks such as the W Trek or the Torres del Paine Circuit (also known as "O Trek"), there are many places highlighted for their extraordinary beauty which are not included in these iconic trails.

EcoCamp Patagonia, the world's first geodesic hotel, designed the perfect program for nature lovers to enjoy the best places in Torres del Paine, which includes routes throughout the most beautiful trails of the W Trek and alternative routes that are perfect to observe local wildlife or just to relax. This package of personalized adventures offers the most flexibility to travelers with options of 4 to 7 days.

The 227 298 hectares of Torres del Paine are now within your reach with the Wildlife Safari program! These are the highlights and particularities of this popular EcoCamp tour.

SUMMARY

1. ¿What does the Wildlife Safari include?

2. What are the activities of the Wildlife Safari?

3. Who is the Wildlife Safari Recommended for?

4. What is the best time to do the Wildlife Safari?

5. How to book a Wildlife Safari with EcoCamp?

1. What does the Wildlife Safari include?

EcoCamp with a Drone

The Wildlife Safari program includes guided excursions through the main areas of Torres del Paine National Park. This way you don't have to worry about logistics : we have all things under control! From the transfer from and to Puerto Natales to the transfers to the excursions. It also includes the national park entrance and the navigation tickets for the Grey glacier and the Pehoe Lake crossing.

At EcoCamp, you'll enjoy a cozy stay in our domes while discovering the particularities that make it a sustainable hotel that is so special for travelers to connect with both nature and fellow travelers. Accommodation is made in one of our three types of domes - Standard, Superior o Suite, and we also have 3 larger Suite Domes (called "Suite Dome Loft") that are ideal for families or groups of friends, with enough space for up to 4 persons. 

You'll delight yourself with some delicious food, as at EcoCamp food is sacred, with high standard gastronomy, local organic ingredients and a passionate kitchen team. Food is included in the stay, and so is Chilean wine over dinner! Furthermore, we also have a Yoga dome with daily yoga sessions so you can stretch and relax before and after the excursions.

Of course the Wildlife Safari includes stunning excursions with experienced guides, with great passion for nature in the southernmost region of Chile.

¡Discover the epic excursions of the Wildlife Safari! 

2. ¿What are the Activities of the Wildlife Safari?

Paine (3 of 1)_resultado

The Wildlife Safari programs includes three daily activities (except on Sunday with two options). There is always an easy, intermediate and demanding option. There is usually an option that is focused on fauna & flora observation, another one that is popular (such as Grey glacier, French Valley and the Towers' Base Viewpoint) and an alternative option, with off-the-beaten-path trails (which are just as stunning!).

Keep on reading for the full list of Wildlife Safari activities!

Level : Easy

Laguna Azul

Blue Lagoon at Sunrise

Days: Monday and Thursday

Distance: 5km/3mi

Difficulty: 2/5

Estimated walking time: 2 hours

Max. altitude : 200m

Laguna Azul (the "Blue Lagoon") is a jewel of the eastern side of the park, that offers one of the best viewpoints of the granite towers that gave their name to the area. This is where Lady Florence Dixie, the first tourist of the history to explore the area on a horseback in 1879, reached Torres del Paine. On the way to Laguna Azul, you'll travel through the Patagonian steppe and see plenty of local wildlife, including guanacos and ñandus. Near the lagoon, a short trail (one hour round trip) offers a majestic view of the blue waters of the lake with the towers as a backdrop. You can also walk at the shore of the lake to observe local birds.

On the way back, travelers see the Paine waterfall, one of the most photogenic waterfalls in southern Chile. 

Grey glacier navigation

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Days : Tuesday and Friday

Distance : 1.6km/1mi

Difficulty : 2/5  

Estimated walking time : 2 hours

Max. altitude : 200m

Grey glacier is a highlight of Torres del Paine national park. Whereas the glacier is retreating at an increasing rate like most glaciers of the southern Patagonian ice fields, it has still a large surface (more than 250 square kilometers) and its ice walls never cease to amaze humans. The best way to observe Grey glacer is by sailing, a daily option at grey lake.

To get there from EcoCamp, you'll have to go on a two-hour drive with a van. The stunning beauty of the Paine massive with numerous viewpoints along the road will make you stay focused. Once you'll reach the Grey lake parking, you'll have to do an easy walk for roughly 45 minutes to get to the catamaran. As a matter of fact, "easy" is a relative word, as the strong winds in the area can turn this walk into a short odyssey. Don't be afraid, though : the trail is very accessible and hundreds of people wander through the area during the day. However, keep in mind that weather here is a game changer, and the daily navigation might sometimes be canceled depending on the weather conditions.

Once in the catamaran, you just have to relax and enjoy the view. The sailing allows travelers to get very close to the walls of ice, and you can see the famous "cuernos", Mt. Paine Grande and the icebergs in the lake.

An alternative easy excursion is the Pingo trail, only accessible with a certified guide and that includes a stop-over at a beautiful waterfall in the forest. This last option requires about 3 hours (9 kilometers).

Fauna trail

Fauna Trail

Days : Tuesday and Friday

Distance : 7km/4.3mi

Difficulty : 2/5

Estimated walking time : 4 hours

Max. altitude : 200m

This easy hike may be the most accessible excursion for wildlife encounters. After roughly a one-hour drive, you'll start hiking through the Patagonian steppe from the Sarmiento area (near one the park's main entrances). Here, you can observe many guanacos, but also plenty of birds (there are some wetlands in the area) and - if you're lucky - you might see the elusive puma.

SPOILER ALERT | In the middle of the hike, you'll walk inside a beautiful cave with a nice view of the Paine massive. This is an interesting spot no only for geology lovers but also for those interested in the fascinating history of Patagonia. Here, you'll see cave paintings dated from about 7000 years bc. (the age is approximate) and painted by the Tehuelches, indigenous tribes that used to live in the pampa.

Salto Grande and the Condor's Viewpoint

Salto Grande en Torres del Paine

Days: Sunday

Distance : 4km/2.5mi

Difficulty : 3/5   

Estimated walking time : 3 hours

Max. altitude: 200m

This contemplative trail goes through some of the most spectacular viewpoints in Torres del Paine (and in Chile), that include views of the Nordenskjöld and Pehoé lakes. After breakfast, there is no better way for digesting than walking to Salto Grande, an easy walk (about half an hour round trip). This iconic waterfall is a fantastic place to feel the power of nature (and of the wind!) with the stunning Paine massive as a backdrop.

After this walk, it is usual to have lunch at the shore of the Pehoé lake, with the majestic Cuernos and the melody of the southern birds. Depending on the energy of the group, travelers can go for a walk to the Condor's Viewpoint. It is necessary to hike up, but this short ascent offers a fantastic reward, with the magic of the Pehoé lake as seen from above.

Nevel : Intermediate

Lazo-Weber

Lazo Weber en Torres del Paine

Days : Tuesday and Friday

Distance: 4km/2.5mi

Difficulty : 3/5   

Estimated walking time : 6 hours

Max. altitude : 350m

Lazo-Weber is one of the off-the-beaten-path jewels of Torres del Paine national park, with an unforgettable walk through a lenga forest and tremendous viewpoints of the Paine mountain range. This activity requires some logistics that make it a full day option. You'll go out after breakfast with a van that will drive you towards Puerto Natales before taking an alternative road to Estancia Lazo. On the way you'll see the beautiful Sarmiento lake.

Right before midday, the hike begins in a private land where you'll be able to spot local birds with the Paine mountain range as a backdrop. Here, there's nothing difficult or technical. It is just about walking through the woods and enjoying some nice viewpoints of local lagoons. After about 4 hours, you'll reach the spectacular Toro lake viewpoint. This is one of the best 360° views in the park, which offers a panoramic view of the Paine massive from the Grey glacier to Mt. Almirante Nieto. It also offers the best view of the blue waters of the Paine river, that flows in the great Toro lake, the largest lake in the region.

Then comes the hardest part, with a steep yet short downhill (between half an hour and one hour depending on your physical condition). For that reason, you should avoid that option is you have any pain in your knees and use hiking poles. If you are in good shape, this is one of the best hikes in Torres del Paine.

Level : Demanding

The Towers' Base Viewpoint

Mirador Base de las Torres

Days : Tuesday and Thursday

Distance : 22 km/13mi

Difficulty: 4/5   

Estimated walking time : 8 hours

Max. altitude : 914 m

The most popular hike in Torres del Paine national park, this full day hike is undoubtedly a highlight of the area. It offers the most famous postcard of the three granite towers, with a beautiful lake at their base.

To get there, you'll have to wake up early (well, I guess you know it already) and hike up from EcoCamp to the Ascencio Valley. After a landscape of pampa (steppe), you'll start seeing the woods of the Ascencio Valley with a nice view of the main glacier of Mt. Almirante Nieto.

After a walk through the forest, it is a steep hike up through a moraine (about an hour hiking) to get to the famous lake, a unique place where crowds usually gather in high season (from November to March). Eating a "box lunch" while staring at the spires is a great classic!

An average of 4 hours is necessary to reach the lake, and about the same amount of time to get down. Hiking poles are highly recommended.

The French Valley

Valle del Frances

Days : Monday, Wedsnesday, Thursday and Saturday

Distance : 21 km/13mi

Difficulty : 3/5   

Estimated walking time: 7 hours

Max. altitude : 500 m

The heart of the Paine massive, the French Valley has a privileged location between Mt. Paine Grande - the highest peak in the park - and los Cuernos. This valley has a diversity of extraordinary views, with views towards the Pehoé Lake, the French glacier, los Cuernos and many other incredible peaks of which you've probably never heard of.

To start this trek, you'll have to get in the van for about an other to drive to Pudeto, where you'll be able to sail in a catamaran that does the crossing of the Pehoé lake (half an hour sailing) to take hikers to the Paine Grande refuge. This is a resting place and meeting point for travelers doing the W Trek. It is also the starting point of the French valley hike.

From the refuge, you'll have to hike for a couple of hours until you reach the start of the valley (the Italian campsite). This is a first easy step (yet exposed to the wind) with beautiful views of the Skottsberg lake and los Cuernos. Once inside the valley, there is a one-hour uphill (approximately) to reach the French glacier viewpoint, where you may see avalanches. That is a forest area which is a bit steep so hiking poles are recommended.

On average, between 6 and 7 hours are necessary to do the full hike (French glacier viewpoint round trip).

Cerro Paine

Cumbre de Cerro Paine

Days : Sunday

Distance : 16 km/10 mi

Difficulty : 5/5   

Estimated walking time : 8 hours

Max. altitude : 1200 m

Cerro Paine is without a doubt the best "off-the-beaten-path" hike of the Wildlife Safari program. It is recommended only for travelers in good shape, as it is the most demanding hike you can do with EcoCamp. It offers an alternative view of the Torres del Paine that some prefer to the traditional towers' base viewpoint. Here, you'll find yourself in the heart of the mountain, exposed to the elements and with a steep slope (hiking poles? Of course!).

The hike usually starts early (from EcoCamp) to make the best of the day on the trail. You can reach a first summit (about a half day excursion) that offers a good view of the towers, but the real challenge is to reach the very summit of Cerro Paine, a full day hike that is more demanding than the towers' base. You'll have to hike up, up and up to get to a rocky area, with an epic panoramic view. From here, you'll see most of the lakes of the park, many mountains (including the towers and Mt. Almirante Nierto) and glaciers both Chileans and Argentineans. It is one of the best views in the park, with an incredible postcard of the towers' base lake.

Mt. Ferrier Viewpoint

Caminata Cerro Ferrier

Days: Tuesday and Friday

Distance: 12 km/7.5mi

Difficulty: 4/5   

Estimated walking time: 3/4 hours

Max. altitude : 800 m

The Ferrier viewpoint - visible from EcoCamp - is a beautiful mountain whose summit towers at 1.599 meters above sea level. It is a place that is very exposed to the wind because of its proximity with the southern Patagonian ice fields.

To get there, you'll need to drive about two hours from EcoCamp to reach the parking lot of Grey lake (for that reason, this activity is offered the same days of the navigation to the glacier). Then, you'll have to hike up for roughly an hour and a half to get to the viewpoint that offers an incredible view of the Grey lake and of the Grey and Zapata glaciers.

The hike is well-known for having a forest that looks like a fairy tale. Here, you'll be able to admire the diversity of southern trees, with the classic Lenga, Ñirre and Coihue. And if you're very lucky, you may be able to see the endangered south Andean deer.

3. Who is the Wildlife Safari recommended for?

Condor and Guanacos (2 de 1)_resultado-1

The Wildlife Safari program is recommended for travelers seeking the best mix between comfort and adventure. Furthermore it is a great option for those looking for some improvisation, as it offers different daily options that will allow you to take decisions depending on how you feel. Both wildlife lovers and hikers looking for a demanding outdoors activity will find happiness in the Wildlife Safari, as it is an amazing option to reach spectacular places while observing animals or burning calories on the trails. And if you are interested in the W Trek but don't want to stay in the refuges or campsites, this is a good alternative as it will allow you to wander through the main trails of the circuit.

Finally, it is one of the best ways to enjoy EcoCamp, as it allows you to stay in a dome every night. You'll be able to enjoy your daily breakfast and dinner at the hotel, and also to prepare a delicious boxlunch every day in the Community Domes.

4. What is the best time to do the Wildlife Safari?

When is the best time to travel to Torres del Paine? This is the million-dollar question for travelers eager to plan a trip to Patagonia. However, there is no exact answer, as the weather in Torres del Paine can change in the blink of an eye.

But there are trends. For instance, high season (end of spring and summer, from November to March) is known for the higher temperatures and more daylight (up to 17 hours in December). However, there is also more wind and more crowds. During low season (September, October, April and May) there are less people in the park, less wind and usually more opportunities of wildlife spotting, though it is colder and days are shorter.

Check out our article answering that question of watch our fun video that goes into the details.

 

5. How to book a Wildlife Safari with EcoCamp?

You'll be able to see more information or book your Wildlife Safari in our website. You can also contact us via reservations@cascada.travel to make your Torres del Paine dreams come true! 

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