Health Travel Magazine - Digest 2024

Spotlight on: Awasi Patagonia, Chile

Returning from Awasi Patagonia in Chile, our product and marketing manager, Shana, shares her experience at Patagonia’s most talked-about luxury hideaway.

Of all the hotels around the world that I have the pleasure to work with, Awasi Patagonia has always sat high on a pedestal. There’s something enchanting about the idea of being the edge of the wilderness, experiencing the mighty Patagonia in such exclusivity.

There was almost of part of me that wanted to keep that magic bottled – perhaps my expectations had been too high. However, I say with great confidence, that the little pocket of paradise stretched beyond my wildest dreams. With only a short 2-night stay, I had just a flavour of the many adventures to be had, but it was enough to build a picture of what makes Awasi Patagonia so special.

Transfers to Awasi Patagonia from Puerto Natales

Starting in Puerto Natales, my fantastic private guide Ignacia was waiting at the hotel ready to whisk me across to Awasi. The 90 minute journey from Puerto Natales airport was spectacular, offering the initial glimpse of Patagonia. It felt like we have the open road and mountains to ourselves as we cruised by guanacos and rheas, with no cars in sight. It had been a cloudy morning, but as we ventured further into the wilderness, the clouds seemed to shift for our arrival, unveiling the iconic views onto Torres del Paine National Park.

Maps, route planning and calafate sours

Discretely tucked into the hillside, Awasi Patagonia’s charm is in the its level of exclusivity, privacy and hospitality. The 14 private villas, neatly perched on their stilts are certainly just a taste of the magic to come. You can lose yourself for hours just gazing out over the valley and the surrounding mountains from the comfort of your wood-fired hot tub. Receiving a warm welcome from the team in the main villa, I opted for a calafate sour – a sweet twist on the classic ‘pisco sour’, using the deliciously local calafate berry – as I wondered around, taking it all in.

Ignacia joined me with a large map of Torres del Paine and the updated weather charts, as we sat together and planned out our route for the next couple of days. The experiences and routes are entirely chosen based upon weather patterns, interests and desired level of intensity, so you really do have full flexibility when crafting your time in Patagonia.

With only a day and a half to see as much as I could, I opted for shorter scenic walks and more driving around the park. If I could have stayed longer, I would have certainly chosen a day of horse riding, a long day hike to the base of the towers or to the French Valley, as well as the puma tracking programme. There’s so much to see and do here, you are spoiled for choice, so I would recommend a minimum of four nights to really get into the rhythm of Patagonia. Once you arrive at Awasi, you will realise that you want to put some time aside to enjoy this captivating hideaway too.

Private villas with wood-fired hot tubs

The villa was even better than it looks in the photos. The wine from the well-stocked minibar – included in the price – which was sampled along with the hot tub – for research purposes, of course. With the glass of wine in hand and sun shining on my face, I looked around and knew that I was somewhere special.

Dining at Awasi Patagonia: a Relais & Châteaux experience

Awasi Patagonia is a Relais & Châteaux hotel, so you can guarantee an impressive culinary showcase at every meal. Each evening, a new 6-course tasting menu is presented, which you can choose to follow or opt to craft your own dining experience with the guidance of the chef and hospitality team. Each course has been expertly paired with accompanying wine, from deep, full-bodied carmenere to light, citrusy whites from regions dotted around Chile. Even with this five-star dinner service, the experience still had a relaxed and comfortable approach, as I sat in a pair of slippers watching the sun setting behind the mountains.

What was surprising was how easy it was to fall into conversation with other guests staying at Awasi. For an incredibly private set up, from the standalone villas to the private guides, you can sense that the solo travellers and many of the couples were eager to swap stories about their adventures in Patagonia. The cosy lounge in the main villa served as the perfect spot for a night cap, as people across the world told tales of pumas, routes across Chile and stories from previous journeys.

Sunrise over Patagonia

Opening your eyes to the trees and mountaintops of Torres del Paine was the perfect way to ease into the day. I woke up with the sunrise, as the granite towers transformed into pastel pink. Within minutes, the valleys and hillsides shifted into deep shades of burnt orange, illuminating Patagonia and the distant snow-covered peaks.

Adventures with private guides in Torres del Paine

After a hearty breakfast, Igancia and I set off to Torres del Paine in our private 4×4. Every villa booked is assigned its own private guide, vehicle and bespoke picnic for full days out in the national park. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Torres del Paine, but the drive is simply beautiful which adds to the full experience.

Within moments of setting off from Awasi, we spotted the local gaucho inspecting a sheep which had just been hunted by a puma. A small, grey fox was lapping up a much-welcomed meal whilst the crested caracaras eagerly looked on, awaiting their turn. We cruised along the empty roads, past the golden hillsides – prime puma territory – until the jawdropping Torres del Paine greeted us with her granite spires and hanging glaciers, as we weaved round through the entrance of the national park.

Mirador Cuernos, Salto Grande and Lago Pehoé

The first gentle walk was 7km in total to Mirador Cuernos, wandering past the cascading waters of Salto Grande waterfall, which is fed by the ice-blue waters of the lake, tumbling 50 feet over the edge into Lago Pehoé. The final viewpoint offered a fantastic panorama of the mountains, include the Horns and Paine Grande. We paused for a snack as we soaked up the view over the vibrant turquoise expanse of Lago Nordensköld before making our way back. The weather was picturesque, with no breeze and not a cloud in the sky, so the lakes turned into panes of glass, perfectly reflecting the mountains that towered above.

A luxury picnic in Torres del Paine National Park

The finer details make a big difference and that is certainly the case with the lunch experiences with Awasi, even when you’re exploring in the national park. A chequered tablecloth was rolled out and a selection of cocktails and beers were offered (which felt very indulgent for a solo traveller!) before Ignacia served up grilled cheese, fresh tomato soup and a light couscous salad, as a red fox and her pups wandered beside our picnic spot.

Hiking to Mirador Condor

The afternoon walk was a short yet steep uphill climb to Mirador Condor, the highest hillside to capture a panoramic 360-degree view over Torres del Paine. The estimated time is 90 minutes in total, however it took us half the time, so I believe it depends upon conditions and ability. There’s some loose stones on the trail, so take care when descending and try to use the side-step technique to aid stability. At the top, the views stretch far into the horizon, giving an entirely different perspective of the national park as you overlook Pehoé and Nordensköld and other surrounding lakes as well as the iconic Horns and even Cerro Paine Grande on a clear day.

We returned back to Awasi Patagonia be early evening, feeling tired yet fulfilled, ready for another delicious meal and a long soak in the hot tub. I spent the final hours before bed sat beside the crackling fire, playing some relaxed tunes on the villa’s Bose speakers.

Laguna Azul, Florence Dixie and Cascada Paine

As I only had a short visit to Awasi, the check-out came far too soon. I wanted to breathe in every last moment in this magical place. Before saying a final farewell, my private guide and I spent the late morning exploring the eastern region of Torres del Paine. Laguna Azul is a very quiet stretch of water which brilliantly reflect the three towers in its mirror-like reflection. This is the spot where Florence Dixie – British aristocrat and the first tourist at the national park – travelled to back in 1879. She travelled on horseback along the wild lands, arriving at Laguna Azul, which is a route that can be organised with the horses from the local estancia.

Cascada Paine is a spectacular waterfall, backed by the iconic skyline for which Torres del Paine is famed. This was a popular tourist spot, but thankfully Ignacia knew the best spot to dodge the others. Just a few steps away, among the shrubs away from the carpark is an even better, direct view over the waterfall. I spent some time capturing this dreamy look-out, listening to the burble of the water as soft mist lifted from the plunging depths. A beautiful end to a beautiful 2-nights at Awasi Patagonia.

My top recommendations:

  1. Stay for a minimum of four nights to really embrace the full Awasi experience.
  2. Variety is the spice of life, so embrace as many types of activities as you can whilst at Awasi Patagonia. From horse riding to mountain biking, road trips through the park and intrepid hikes to viewpoints, each experience creates a unique lens on the sensational scenery throughout Torres del Paine and beyond.
  3. All of the villas are positioned beautifully, but for me, the villas with odd numbers were the best for undisrupted views over the valley. Speak to our team to find the best one for your stay.
  4. If the weather report suggests a clear night ahead, request for the wood-fired hot tub to be heated later in the evening – it offers the best seat in the house for stargazing.
  5. Don’t hesitate to get chatting with the guides, the hospitality team and other guests. Everyone has a story to tell, and more often than not, others want to hear yours too.

If you’re ready to start planning an adventure of a lifetime in Patagonia, speak to our team of travel experts by the contact details at the bottom of the page or via our online form.