On this Patagonia Wildlife Safari, there are three different itinerary options each day. Here we’ve set out an itinerary that doesn’t require too high a degree of physical preparation prior to departure – and one of the many beauties of staying at EcoCamp is you choose your daily activities.
|Day 1||Tuesday||Drive & Walk Western Lakes, Glacier Grey Boat Ride|
|Day 2||Wednesday||Pehoe Lake Boat Ride & French Valley Hike|
|Day 3||Thursday||Hiking or Biking to Laguna Azul|
|Day 4||Friday||Lazo Weber Hike|
|Day 5||Saturday||Sarmiento Lake & Fauna Trail|
Cascada EcoCamp is nestled in a beech forest inside the eastern edge of Torres Del Paine National Park (Patagonia Chile), facing the three granite monoliths from which the park gets its name (blue towers). Cascada EcoCamp is camping in style, or ‘glamping’ – an environmentally friendly eco-camp that offers a superb way to get closer to nature and a comfortable base from which to explore Patagonia.
Activity: Nature Walk & Boat Trip, Schedule: 10am to 8pm, Distance: 0.8km, Difficulty: Easy, Walking time: 1h, Altitude point: 200m
The day starts with a drive across the park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires. Stop at various viewpoints on the way where you may spot herds of guanacos, Andean condors and interesting flora. Walk along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe to the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascade down into Pehoe. From here, drive up to Grey Lake and wander along the beach. Enjoy a tasty box-lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey. After this up-close look at the glacier, drive back to EcoCamp. – *Please be aware that the Grey Glacier boat trip is subject to availability, so please confirm your reservation in order to participate on the day of your arrival. (*During shoulder season -September, October, April and May- the boat trip to Glacier Grey may be cancelled as the boat requires a minimum of 8 passengers to sail, which might not be reached in some cases. If this is the case we will plan an alternative excursion in the park.)
Activity: Demanding Hiking, Schedule: 8am to 8pm, Distance: 18km, Difficulty: Medium, Walking time: 6h, Altitude point: 500m
After breakfast, you will be driven to Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. Board the catamaran that takes you to the north-western sector of the Lake where you will begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that leads to the very heart of the Paine Massif. How far in you go depends on our group’s trekking rhythm. A faster pace will lead you to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south east face of the Massif, where you will be treated to fantastic views of the valley.
Then continue to ascend towards the upper section of the valley where you will be able to marvel at the extensive mass of the valley’s geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). After your upward trek, the group will stop for a picnic and a much deserved rest. The day’s adventure will end as you descend through undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest which will take you to Refugio Paine Grande, located on the shores of Lake Pehoe. Here you will board the catamaran which takes you back to Pudeto, where you will be collected and transported back to EcoCamp.
N.B. The excursion to French Valley varies throughout the season depending on the catamaran connecting Pudeto and Refugio Pehoe.
Activity: Nature Walk or Biking, Schedule: 10am to 4pm, Distance: 5km, Difficulty: Easy, Walking time: 2h, Altitude point: 200m
On the way to Laguna Azul, you will have the chance to enjoy some marvelous views of the famous Torres, as well as passing through the pampas (the local steppe) where you will be able to walk amongst many elegant guanacos. After soaking up the beautiful surroundings, continue the drive to Laguna Azul (“Blue Lagoon”), where a delicious Chilean barbecue will be waiting. Enjoy lunch with fantastic views of the lake including the three granite towers in the distance. An alternative is a bike ride in the wilderness near Laguna Azul where you will cycle among the herds of guanacos that roam the pampas. You will then return to the van and head back to the EcoCamp in time for cocktail hour.
Activity: Hiking, Schedule: 10am to 8pm, Distance: 12km, Difficulty: Medium, Walking time: 5h, Altitude point: 700m
Start your day at 8:30am with breakfast at EcoCamp and a moment to prepare our Box Lunch before boarding the bus at 10am. The bus takes us past the Lazo Weber Estancia where you’ll enter the National Park via Laguna Verde and begin a 12km hike. The Lazo Weber Trail is filled with native flora and wildlife – so have your camera ready to snap pics of the guanacos, owls, eagles, condors, and caranchos; another bird of prey – all with the mountainous Paine range on your right. The hike is rather easy and apart from a few hills, the trail remains flat. Stop a moment to refuel by the magical Laguna Honda, and enjoy the sights and sensations of the gorgeous landscape and fresh breeze. On your way, hike through one of the quietest forests in the national park, a fantastic opportunity to observe native trees such as the Lenga and the Coihue.
The rest of your hike takes you to a lookout point (El Toro Lookout) where you’ll be wowed with a 360 degree view of the Paine mountain range, the Patagonian Andes, and a suite of rivers and lakes (including the Paine, Grey, and Serrano Rivers, and Lake Toro, the largest in the region). An hour’s descent towards Paine River will see you reunited with the van. But before returning to EcoCamp, search for more animals to photograph and take a final moment to enjoy the scenery. At about 7pm, arrive back at your dome ready to share a tasty dinner and reminisce about your day hiking the Lazo Weber Trail.
Activity: Nature Walk, Schedule: 10am to 5pm, Distance: 10km, Difficulty: Easy, Walking time: 5h, Altitude point: 200m
This predominantly flat trek boasts stunningly diverse natural scenery and offers the chance to feast your eyes upon a startlingly blue lake, which is secluded from all the other water systems of the area. There will be ample opportunity to spot many graceful guanacos and great grebes along the way. First we will examine the geology of the area’s turbidite rock folds, before descending the isthmus which separates Lake Sarmiento from Lake Sarmiento Chico (the two lakes were once a single mass of water), walking along a slight slope, and ambling beside the eastern edge of Lake Sarmiento Chico. We will eventually arrive at an impressive bay on the western side of Lake Sarmiento, admiring a breathtaking view which could easily be mistaken for a piece of art!
Then begins our ascent back to the van, and along the way we will stumble across an awe-inspiring, panoramic vista of Lake Sarmiento from its western shore, looking towards its eastern coast glimmering on the horizon. From here we drive back eastwards along the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake until we reach the starting point of the Fauna Trail. As we walk northwards along the trail we see park fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos, rheas and maybe the occasional puma pug mark! We pass by Goic lagoon and after an approximate 5 km relaxed walk we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we’re picked up and driven back to EcoCamp.