explora is a travel pioneer within the far latitudes of South America, pushing the boundaries of traditional touring to make way for a new type of travel. Offering ardent travellers in-depth explorations, explora’s three luxury lodges - in Patagonia, Atacama and Rapa Nui - serve as gateways to explore remote areas in Chile and beyond, into neighbouring regions of Argentina and Bolivia. Brand new for 2012, explora has introduced 12 new adventures at their Patagonia base - Hotel Salto Chico - the only lodge in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Bringing the number of explora Patagonia excursions to 35, the new adventures take travellers with a sense of adventure to explore the untouched landscapes of this mythical park, on horseback (think ‘gaucho’ style) and on foot. Declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1978, the park’s striking glaciers, lakes and rivers cover 597,595 acres, the result of ancient glaciological events, inspiring awe and humility.
Arriving at Punta Arenas, on the southern-most tip of Chile, you already feel at the end of the world. By the time you reach Hotel Salto Chico, explora’s base in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, you’re following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and Hernando de Magallanes, the first Europeans to explore this mythical land in 1520. The same exuberant flora and fauna will charm travellers today, from condors, flamingoes and parakeets, to guanacos (the South American grey fox), the South American red fox and the endangered puma.
The park is home to hundreds of types of birds and mammals, and thousands of plant species. With the bewildering range of adventures to choose from, how do guests know what’s right for them? explora’s expert guides congregate every evening to help guests decide on which exploration is the best fit. Pouring over maps, and GPS at the ready, guides share their knowledge with guests as they help plan the next day’s activities.
New explorations at explora Patagonia feature 10 newly created treks, and two brand new horseback rides, offering half and full day options. Many of the new journeys take guests to the northern region of the Park.
Opened in 1993, Hotel Salto Chico coexists with the landscape in a feat of architectural design that puts visitors in touch with the sublime surroundings. The 43 rooms and six suites, each with views of the Macizo del Paine or the Salto Chico waterfall, nurture visitors with silence and privacy. Firm in the belief that luxury is in the essentials, explora has designed both the hydro massage bath and the bed for deep recuperative sleep after a day of exploration.
Other amenities include the Casa de Baños del Ona (Ona Bath House) for a relaxing massage treatment, the Estancia 2 de Enero (stables) to visit and drink ‘mate’ and watch the gauchos shearing sheep or breaking in horses, and the Quincho where Patagonian lamb sizzles slowly in time for the evening barbecue.
Rates for four nights at explora Patagonia start from $2,780 US per person (double occupancy). Family rates are available, and travellers visiting two explora lodges will receive a 5% discount through the explora Passport Program. explora’s two other lodges are located in the Atacama Desert (Hotel de Larache), and Easter Island aka Rapa Nui (Posada de Mike Rapu). explora’s series of nomadic journeys or Travesías also takes travellers across borders to Argentina or Bolivia on extended expeditions to stay in areas of remarkable beauty.
explora Patagonia can be reached via Santiago, Chile and Punta Arenas, or via Buenos Aires, Argentina, and El Calafate, each followed by a road transfer.