Outpost Departure: Photography

NORTHERN PATAGONIA THROUGH THE LENS OF A PHOTOGRAPHER

If there is anywhere to improve your photo skills, it’s in the sublime light of Northern Patagonia. Here we spend 9 days exploring the dramatic views of this far-flung land, from the endless, windswept pampas of Northern Patagonia, past craggy, towering peaks, milky azure lakes and slow crimson sunsets. On this trip, we spend 9 days traversing through this untouched landscape with a professional photographer, exploring extreme terrain that changes continuously, with ample opportunities for wildlife, rushing water, and astral photography with the waning moon.

STARTING AT

$6,260 usd

9 Days / 8 Nights

Overnight

Outpost Patagonia; El Puesto; Borde Baker

when

Feb 26 – Mar 06, 2019

TRIP PREVIEW

Day

01

From Balmaceda, a small airport that serves the region capital of Coyhaique, we’ll drive along this paved section of the famous Carretera Austral, past lenga forests and towering, raw Cerro Castillo, so named because it looks like a castle) and through wild Patagonian landscape. In a few hours we arrive to Puerto Tranquilo, a small town on the Carretera Austral, and most importantly, on the vast azure Lago General Carrera. From here we will visit the Capillas de Marmól (known as the Marble Caves in English), striated limestone “caves” which are in fact, large rocky outcroppings that have been worn away underneath by thousands of years of water lapping at them. We will navigate the caves by small boat in what is our first (official) photography session.  Sunset comes long and late in this part of Patagonia, and we’ll have lakeside opportunities to catch it.

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: El Puesto

Day

02

On day two, from Puerto Tranquilo, we backtrack just slightly, and drive into the Exploradores Valley, for approximately two and a half hours, past lakeside views, through abundant vegetation including blooming lupines in yellow and purple. This drive ends at the Exploradores Bay (also known as Puerto Grosse), where we board boats to navigate the pale green Exploradores River. We enjoy breakfast on board, and continue towards Laguna San Rafael National Park. Here we disembark at CONAF (Chile’s national parks service)’s dock and walk approximately 30 minutes to stretch our legs and visit the ruins of the historical Ofqui Hotel. Afterwards we will return to the boat and navigate towards the front wall of the Glaciar San Rafael, which calves into the lagoon below. On blue days, the glacier looks white, whereas on overcast days, it takes on a bluish cast, ever changing, depending on how the light hits it. Small icebergs may also bob nearby, as we photograph the glacier and surrounding landscape, and enjoy a homemade lunch. Whisky on the (iceberg-mined) rocks is a classic here, and a hot tea or coffee against the chilly Patagonian air is never in excess.

Meals:

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation:

El Puesto

Day

03

After waking up in Puerto Tranquilo for the last time, we continue our drive south on the Carretera before turning towards the southern coast of Lago General Carrera, the largest lake in Chile. We continue our drive south on the Carretera Austral along the shores of Lago General Carrera passing towards the small town of Puerto Guadal. We then double back to the Carretera passing through the tranquil hamlet of Puerto Bertrand, where on windless days, Lago Bertrand is a perfect mirror. While today’s drive is only about 60 miles, the scenery begs us to stop as we round each corner, to take photos of snow-capped mountains such as San Valentín, the tallest mountain in Patagonia at 4058 meters. On this day we stop at the edge of Chile’s most voluminous river, the Río Baker, whose turquoise blue waters were saved from a hydroelectric project by international and home-grown activism. The river, together with the surrounding vegetation make this wild landscape a photographers dream.

Meals:

Breakfast, box lunch, dinner

Accommodation:

Borde Baker

Day

04

Today we drive past the city of Cochrane to visit Parque Patagonia which is the product of 20 years of conservation work by the late Doug Tompkins and his wife Kris. Following the restoration of former estancia lands, the goal of the park was to restore wide swaths of Patagonia to their original splendor. The park covers 650,000 hectares of Patagonia, and restoration efforts have yielded renewed population of Patagonian wildlife such as the llama-like guanaco, the ostrich-like southern rhea (ñandú), and a population of shy huemules (an endemic deer). Lucky visitors might also spy a puma here. The park is an idyllic setting to photograph this megafauna, as well as varied birdlife and landscapes, including lakes, forests and peaks.

Meals:

Breakfast, box lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Borde Baker

Day

05

From Borde Baker Lodge we’ll continue our journey around the south shore of Lago General Carrera, considered by many to be the most beautiful section of road in this region of Patagonia. Here the topography changes almost completely, turning much more desert-like and therefore much more gold, ochre and orange, with canyon-like walls and giant boulders along the sides of the road, but with the vast Lago General Carrera never far away. Arriving to the town of Chile Chico on the shores of the lake, we will continue south another 30 miles where we begin our  completely off-grid adventure at Outpost Patagonia, set along the shores of Río Jeinimeni.

Meals: Breakfast, box lunch, dinner

Accommodation:

Outpost Patagonia

Day

06-08

Over the next few days we’ll explore the Jeinimeni National Reserve, whose scenic landscapes include the area’s four ecosystems: deciduous forests, evergreen forests, steppe, and high peaks. We’ll spend time talking about the region at our Outpost and from there decide which sites to see on which days, based on the groups interests and ever changing weather conditions. For example, down in the protected river valley, we’re less exposed to the wind, whereas on stiller days, we’ll have better conditions for some epic hikes.

We approach each area with a photographer’s eye, talking about the geography as well as the lighting, techniques in shooting landscapes and how to plan for various types of shots. There are also endless opportunities for activities at Outpost and the days can be as active or as restful as you like. Some options include: fly fishing the Jenimeni river or lake, both of which are rich in trout coming up from the deep, frigid waters of the Lago General Carrera. There is also, horseback riding with a local gaucho (Patagonian cowboy), hiking a circuit that includes the Valle Lunar (Moon Valley), with igneous extrusions of many colors, or simply catching up on your reading list along-side your temporary home, the deluxe tents we use for this faraway stay.

There is also the chance to visit the Cave of the Hands with cave paintings dating back at least 7,000 years, walking the shores of Lago Jeinimeni with its stunning turquoise blue waters and interesting foliage, nighttime campfires along the river, and a highlight for many, the chance to eat cordero al palo, the Patagonian barbecue of spit-roasted lamb. Here we share stories with each other, and with a local gaucho, all while toasting with some of Chile’s finest wine.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Outpost Patagonia

Day

09

We’ll enjoy one last warm breakfast in our dining dome before beginning the journey back to Balmaceda for our flights.

Meals: Breakfast

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