I have traveled extensively over the years through out the world and I must say that my trip to the Explora Lodges in Chile was one of the best experiences in all my travels.
Our first stop was in Northern Chile at the San Pedro de Atacama (Explora Lodge). We were greeted by the staff of the Lodge and a wonderful dinner was waiting for us. The rooms at the lodge are basic but very functional. All have wonderful views of the desert, the volcanoes, the horse ranches and beautiful rock formations. The Explora Lodges are all-inclusive and cater to an active clientele. All hikes, outings by bus, on foot, or horseback are accompanied by very wonderful, youthful and enthusiastic guides. The programs are categorized by your fitness level and interests. The guides sit down with you every evening before dinner to plan the next day. There are a vast variety of excursions being offered every day and it is up to the traveler with the help of the guide to decide what activity to participate in the next day. The Atacama Explora Lodge is at an Altitude of 10,170 feet and it is wise to take it easy the first day in order to acclimatize your body to the altitude.
Soon it was time to leave this very beautiful place in the North in order to make our way down to the very South of Chile. Another adventure was awaiting us. We traveled via Santiago and flew near the newly erupted Chaiten Volcano on our way to Punta Arenas. The erupting volcano was an amazing sight and will always be in my mind. We arrived in the very South in Punta Arenas and were greeted by our hosts of the Explora Patagonia with two Mini Vans for the 6-hour drive to Torres Del Paine National Park where Explora is located. We were treated to a beautiful lunch at a hotel outside of Puerto Natales, the geographical and cultural center of the Chilean Patagonia and the last town before entering the Park. Another hour on unpaved roads brought us to beautiful Explora Patagonia Lodge. Again we were greeted by the friendliest of staffs including the manager Mr. Rodrigez. The Lodge is beautifully built with light wood and has a Scandinavian feel to it. The rooms are lovely but not large. The views are amazing with the Torre massive with their glaciers and eternal snow and ice right there. I can honestly say I have never seen a more beautiful sight and I have traveled extensively throughout the world including the beautiful Alps and Rockies. We met with the young and enthusiastic guides before sitting down to dinner. The weather was going to be favorable the next day. We decided on a day hike (14 KM) to the Grey Glacier. A wonderful experience with a boat ride at the end of the day taking us as close as possible to where the glacier was ""calving"". Our guide again was excellent and very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and the geology and a fun person to be around. We returned to the lodge when it was getting dark and got to see a cougar taking a siesta. We did many more excursions and horse back rides during our four days in Torres Del Paine. Every time we had great guides and always small groups. Usually 8 people max. We experienced a BBQ with real gauchos who cooked wonderful lamb for us and took us on an afternoon horse-back ride.
The excursions are tailored to every one’s ability. Some guests decided to stay at the lodge and enjoy the Spa with an indoor pool and several outdoor hot tubs. Massages were great and needed after some of the hikes. Meals were wonderful and the lunches served on the trail included hot coffee and soup and sandwiches.The Explora lodges are ""all inclusive"" meaning really that. The only time I needed money was for extras such as a massage or something in the gift shop and at the end of our stay some tips. It is very freeing to know before one ever starts on a trip how much the trip will cost. Even the transfers and lunches or meals during those transfers are included in the package price.
We left Patagonia happy for all the wonderful experiences but also sad that such a great vacation had come to an end.