Patagonia. The jewel at the southern end of the world. Famous for its wild open spaces, epic mountains and tremendous ice cap! In fact, it’s the 3rd largest continental ice sheet on earth! The most iconic regions are the Torres Del Paine and Fitz Roy mountain ranges in Chile and Argentina. Fun fact – Patagonia spans two countries! Today our team would love to share with you 5 Offbeat Adventures in Patagonia!
We love exploring where few others go! Whether it is for Patagonia weddings or for adventuring personally, we thrive on going beyond the ordinary to discover the most amazing hidden gems! With this in mind these are five of our favorite ‘off the beaten track’ adventures in Patagonia!
Disclaimer before we begin… In Chile off the beaten trails will often require local permissions and the need to hire guides to access. For instance, our adventure wedding planning team partners with the most professional and exciting outfits to make sure your trip is a memory of a lifetime! Come along with us as we share with you 5 Offbeat Adventures in Patagonia!
Firstly, starting in Torres Del Paine National Park, a three day Rio Serrano kayak adventure is undoubtedly the best way to escape the crowd. To illustrate, it also provides you with a more intimate experience of the landscapes. It is also an intrepid alternative to taking the bus home after the famed W-Trek if you have already been hiking in the park.
Secondly, with our recommended local kayaking company who use the best gear and extremely professional guides, you will paddle the length of the Grey and Serrano rivers. Thirdly, along the way you will see icebergs, mountains and experience a glacier. Make no mistake, you will be heading into genuine wilderness! Carrying everything you need in your kayak with you. Even your wedding dress if you intend on embarking on a hiking elopement!
But, you will not need to worry as we can fit fresh local food, wine and even Pisco Sours to serve with glacial ice at camp. After all, the wild doesn’t compromise luxury! Both campsites on route are well equipped with bathroom facilities -the first night even has a shower! Now on to the day by day guide to offbeat adventures in Patagonia kayaking…
Starting at the southern end of Lago Grey you will kit up with the help of your expert guides and pair into your tandem kayaks. Imagine jumping into the kayak with your partner knowing you’ll be eloping along the Rio Serrano is oh-so EXCITING! Next, you need to know Patagonia is notoriously windy and you start your adventure on a river leading to the lake. Therefore, it may feel a bit like a baptism of fire (or ice) here, but don’t worry your guide will take exceptional care to keep you confident!
Additionally, if conditions allow you will arrive in the lake and experience paddling with icebergs. Truly, an incredible and unique experience. Meanwhile, here you will head downriver into a canyon that offers stunning views of the Torres Del Paine mountains just ahead of your bows. Just around the corner a superb lunch spot awaits on the river bank.
Are you ready for a challenge? For instance, ahead a few small Class II rapids are coming… Most importantly, don’t worry they are entirely optional as the river splits around them with a smooth and a rougher line, the challenge is your choice to make. Re-joining the shuttle van you drive 5 minutes to camp, a small local campsite with bathrooms and showers. After settling in, the guides will help pitch your camp and cook a tremendous Asado BBQ! Plus there’s plenty of wine to drink while the meat cooks, enjoy these offbeat adventures in Patagonia!!
Morning brings packing your kayaks. Because after breakfast you will head straight from camp onto the Rio Serrano. Today you travel just over 40km, all the way to the sea. Above all, don’t worry the river flow will do a lot of the work. In addition your day starts looking onto Torres Del Paine as you meander between windy and sheltered straights in the river. However, by mid morning you reach the Salto Serrano, the rivers only waterfall. You will carry your kayaks around it with a short portage assisted with a specially built trailer.
While, working up a sweat, you pause here for a snack before heading back to the water. Moreover, your second half of the day you venture into the wild Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, Chile’s largest wilderness reserve. Likely here, we will be all by our selves and we will be totally alone with the mountains. As a matter of fact, you’ll even have a distant ice cap to gaze upon!
Furthermore, as the river narrows between the mighty 2,200 meters Cerro Balmaceda and Cerro Chacabuco you venture toward the sea and the next camp is in front of the mighty Glacier Serrano, which is just 1.2km from the tents. As you collect ice to drink in your Pisco you might hear booms and rumbles from nearby, honestly a pretty humbling experience.
Our final day together is one to remember! If the weather allows we push our kayaks out into the Serrano lake and weave between the icebergs toward the glacier. The guide will take you as close to the ice as it is safe to do so, the full scale of the huge ice flow is tremendous.
After an hour or so on the water we return for a coffee warm up. By now a tour boat has arrived which we load our kayak onto. Time for you to relax, enjoy a complimentary whisky and a bonus tour of the fjords as we journey home together. You’ll feel like a celebrity on board, ‘the adventurous few who came from the hills in little kayaks’. How fun would it be to share the story of our kayaking and hiking elopement experience in Patagonia too?!
Lastly, we’ve made it back to town the fun way and the best way to experience offbeat adventures in Patagonia!
La Olla ‘The wave’ is a mountain outside of Torres Del Paine national park. Until recently it has been a really hidden gem mostly climbed by locals. However, in hiring a local guide, is open to visitors and offers a tremendous view. Please be aware this option is only recommended on calmer days, on extreme windy days it will not be possible or safe.
At 1,340 meters high, it is a big day out! To illustrate, at almost sea level a short drive from the local community Puerto Natales, the walk is off trail and moderate terrain. Ascending along a ridge you will climb above the beautiful Lake Sophia. What a stunning location for a Patagonia elopement ceremony location! I mean who wouldn’t love to be married while doing offbeat adventures in Patagonia!?
From approximately 800m you leave the tree line and venture onto the open plateau. Honestly, it feels a little like walking on the surface of the moon up here as the barren rocky shale crunches under foot. The ascent eases to a more gradual incline and then a wide open plateau. You will see the Pratt and More ranges to the north and look toward Torres Del Paine in the distance. La Olla is a non-technical mountain, however the climate can be extreme and unpredictable in Patagonia, whilst this is possible alone, we strongly recommend with a local guide.
Lago Sophia is a local favorite for families and day trippers. Why? Picture a small lake with epic 360 degree mountain views all around it. Whether as a place to relax on the beach or explore with a short wander, it is an excellent local gem. To the west a tall cliff fringing Cerro Benitez and is a popular climbing location if you fancy a more adventurous day out -this due to re-open in 2021 to commercial climbing.
A short walk of approximately an hour each way can take you to the summit of Cerro Benitez and gives the chance to stand eye level with the majestic Andean Condors. These tremendous birds with a wingspan of up to nearly 3 meters that glide gracefully across the edge of the cliff on the thermal winds. Fun Fact: They nest on the rocky face of the mountain. Beside the condors you might see eagles too and certainly a spectacular view of the Prat mountain range a short way to your north.
Feeling more adventurous? How about a swim in the lake to cool off. Maybe even a post hiking elopement dip?
The early western settlers in Patagonia made sheep and cow farming a huge industry. Even today it is a significant portion of local employment. The ‘Gaucho’ rancher lifestyle is a huge part of the local culture. Estancia la Peninsula is a 19,000 hectare ranch on a wild peninsula only accessibly by boat. For instance, a 30 minute navigation brings you to the farm where you can take a 4×4 tour or do horse trekking to see the beautiful views of the Chacabuco and Pratt mountain ranges.
Returning to lunch a traditional lamb Asado (BBQ) is served with seasonal vegetables and extremely generous portions of Chilean wine. Further, after lunch you are welcomed to a tour of the historical sheep shearing shed. Here the local Gauchos show their skill in looking after their prized sheep.
It is a wonderful blend of local culture, adventure, luxury and history! Also an ideal type of offbeat adventures in Patagonia to experience!
Heading across the border to Argentina we arrive to El Chalten. A hidden mountain community at the foot of the Fitz Roy Mountains, you might even see the peaks from your hotel window. Most famously are the hikes to the Fitz Roy lookout and to see Cerro Torre, normally done in a 3 day camping trek.
But there are many other fantastic trails on the fringes of the park which we love too. For example, hiking to the summit viewpoint of Plieque Tumbado is a spectacular and varied day out. Certainly it is a moderately difficult trek with a good trail that is well market to the best lookout. The option to continue to the summit is an excellent addition, but can be a little more demanding and may have snow. The advances of this hike are spectacular views of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. A perfect day embarking on offbeat elopement adventures in Argentina!
Deciding to elope in Patagonia is an empowering decision. Why? Likely you are combining your loves of the outdoors, hiking, and experiencing beautiful places. However, why choose to just head over to the tourist locations and share space with others? Why not experience Patagonia from a local perspective far away from tourists learing beside you. Our team would love to talk more about creating a custom elopement adventure in Patagonia! Feel free to contact us for more information!!
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