Explora Lodge is located in the Chacabuco Valley in the heart of the Patagonia National Park, a few kilometers from the northern ice fields and surrounded by spectacular rivers and lakes. The area of the former Lago Jeinimeni and Lago Cochrane National Reserves and the Chacabuco Valley make up this unique destination, which was declared a national park in 2018 after parts of the park were donated to the Chilean government by the Tompkins Foundation.
The lodge is the ideal starting point for exploring the breathtaking natural landscapes and wildlife watching. Our travelArtist Juliane tells us about her stay …
In mid-April I started my trip to Patagonia from Santiago. After landing in Balmaceda, a transfer took me to the Explora Lodge. On the approximately 6-hour drive past Cerro Castillo, Puerto Tranquilo and Puerto Bertrand, I was already able to enjoy the colorful autumn landscapes of the Carretera Austral.
In this area, untouched nature is preserved and native fauna is protected, part of which in danger of extinction. With herds of guanacos in the grasslands and condors high in the sky, Patagonia Park with its diverse ecosystems is a wildlife paradise. I was able to see this for myself during my stay. The next morning I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with a view of the guanacos that could be seen outside the windows every day.
After breakfast, I joined a hike to Laguna Cisne. This tour of about 9 kilometers led directly from the hotel to a lagoon with a large number of birds. Guanacos accompanied me several times along the way and I was able to experience the immensity of the landscapes with the view of the mountains in the background. Arriving at the Cisne Lagoon, the well-known changing Patagonian weather appeared… Within an hour there was sun, clouds, rain and hail.
In the afternoon, I got to know the La Vega trail. The hike was much easier than the previous one and I was able to enjoy the beauty of the area.
The next day, I did an overland through the Chacabuco Valley. We drove with a tour guide to the Paso Fronterizo Roballos border crossing. Along the way, we stopped several times to marvel at the vastness of the valley. In this area between the Chilean and Argentinean parts of Patagonia you can observe nandus (rheas).
On the way back, we stopped at the “Casa Lucas Bridges” museum to learn about the lifestyle in the Chacabuco Valley about 100 years ago.
We then headed to the Douglas Tompkins viewpoint, my personal highlight of the day. Driving there is only possible with a four-wheel drive vehicle. From here you have a spectacular view of Lake Cochrane.
Unfortunately, time passed far too quickly and on day 4 I started my journey back home to Santiago.
Although the weather can be quite unstable in April at the Carretera Austral, I had excellent weather and was able to admire the yellow-orange-red colored leaves of the trees every day. The play of colors under the sun was simply indescribably beautiful and invites you to visit the Carretera Austral again. I am definitely already planning my next stay there!