It took us a while to turn the Hulman's adventure through Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica into a blog because a. their trip was so expansive and varied and b. their evaluation was FILLED with memories, insights, tips for future travelers, and jaw dropping photos.
They started their journey in Santiago where they explored the city and the Casablanca wine valley. According to them, "the Singular Santiago was the perfect location with great staff. Our Guide, Marie Kopan, and the folks at the Singular, had excellent restaurant recommendations. We loved Chipre Libre, a traditional food and Pisco bar, and Boca Nariz, a great wine bar with good food just around the corner from the hotel."
From Santiago they flew South to Chilean Patagonia and Torres del Paine...
In Torres del Paine, the Hulman's stayed at one of our favorite lodges, Awasi. Awasi has 13 stand alone villas with views straight to the famous Towers. Each villa is assigned its own guide who works with you for the duration of your stay - it's the ultimate personalized experience. "We loved Awasi in Patagonia (Chile), it has a great location and all of the Awasi staff went above and beyond expectations. Our guide planned the right level of activities for us based on our interests, abilities and the weather." When asked what places stood out on their trip, the Hulman's said, "In terms of accommodations, activities, amenities, guides: Awasi hands down. Chilean Patagonia was so amazing. Everything about it."
The weather in Patagonia is famous for being temperamental and Wildland tries to prepare you as best we can. The Hulman's imparted a few more tips to keep in mind on your trip to Patagonia, "it is VERY windy in Patagonia so make sure to take some kind of hat clip or anchor for your hat. At times I wore my buff or polar-fleece headband over my ball cap to both keep my head/ears warm, but to secure the ball cap to my head. Another good idea is to bring a ball cap, for under a hood or by itself. I found it more useful in high winds than my full brim hat. (I had both). Peter and I had Kuhl ballcaps from REI, which are lightweight and easy to pack with D rings on the back to "secure" it to something."
From Torres del Paine they continued overland to Argentine Patagonia...
It's a beautiful but long 5 hours drive between Torres del Paine and El Calafate - the hub from which most people explore Argentine Patagonia. The Hulmans stayed at Eolo, a lodge located outside of the main town. From Eolo, you can actually see Torres del Paine, on a clear day.... Eolo was, "beautiful and restful. Their grilled lamb dinner was one of our favorite meals." While in Calafate the Hulmans explored the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the only stable glaciers in the world and an impressive natural wonder. "Moreno glacier was very good - coming from two people who live in Alaska! The various vantage points on the catwalks are definitely worth the visit. Try and find a quiet place and listen to the ice."
A hop, skip, and a flight later, the Hulmans were in Ushuaia, the end of the world....
Ushuaia is the embarkation point for many cruises to Antarctica - including the Hulmans. They added a little time to explore Ushuaia, especially Tierra del Fuego National Park and the local king crab. "We loved Joaquim in Ushuaia - lots of fun! He shared a social Mate with us. Very special. Talked about Mate and how to properly prepare / share Mate." They also had nothing but praise for Viejo Marino, "restaurant by the pier. They specialize in local seafood and we had the best King Crab ever!!" Once again, coming from two people who live in Alaska.
From the end of the world, there's only one place to go.... Antarctica
"The highlights in Antarctica was . . . ALL OF IT! The Antarctica ship crew were well informed and were naturalists, historians, etc. There was also a whale researcher on board, and Peter and I participated in ocean water filtration for an international micro-plastics study (read more). We had lots of bad weather, but there were always workshops or lectures or something to do or learn, if you could keep your chair (or your stomach) in place (see our video below on spotting whales!)."
If your going to Antarctica make sure your prepared with the right clothing! Here are few tips:
1. Bring at least one set expedition weight thermal layers, especially if you're thinking about the overnight camping. If you ARE considering overnight camping I would definitely include at least one of those emergency/space blankets to add to your sleeping bag / liner combo provided by the ship.
2. Bring little hand/pocket warmers and maybe a package of toe warmers for boots. Even on nice days, the water and the zodiacs are cold and you are surrounded by ice after all. I would often just tuck a hand warmer in a pocket close to my chest and it kept me very warm.
3. I loved my Patagonia Houdini jacket. It's an extremely light windbreaker and good for light rain. I also carried my gortex shell and rainpants, but the Houdini was perfect in our weather conditions and it weighs nothing.
4. Bring 2 pairs of at least mid, inner layers and gloves to change from morning to afternoon excursions. We had rain but also on the hikes I got sweaty. It was good to be able to switch out gear mid day and let it either air out or dry out.
5. Bring something "nice" for the captain's dinner on the ship. I had a little knit black dress and a scarf as we were traveling other places and Peter had a nice shirt. It wasn't "formal", but folks did try and fix themselves up a bit more.
6. Have fun with your head gear. If you're up for it, bring a conversation piece knit hat. One person had a kermit the frog knit hat that I really wanted but I only had a plain ol' black one which was warm but boring.
7. Bring UV blocking contact lenses, I highly recommend them if you wear contacts. There were times my sunglasses were too dark, so I was glad I at least had my UV contacts.
8. Bring photochromic sunglasses with different lenses to help with darker and very bright light. The guides pretty much all wore a rose colored lens due to the heavy overcast. I did have polarized photochromic sunglasses but they were dark so better suited to brighter light. They worked great in many other situations on the trip, but a bit dark at times in very cloudy Antarctica.
9. Bring sunscreen. There was lots of ice and water glare, even on cloudy days!
10. Bring seasickness prescriptions. You know it's going to be bad when you notice the majority of the staff are sporting Scopolamine patches. Our patches worked flawlessly, and Peter is very sensitive to sea sickness. We also had backup phenergan tablets, which we did not have to use. There was a physician on board but I don't know what he had to offer medicine-wise, and there is a fee for the service. The few people I talked to that had visited the doc for drugs were prescribed meclizine - (dramamine). Also, by the time you're crawling to the infirmary, it's probably a bit late to survive unscathed. You want to pre-medicate.
....arrival in Buenos Aires
After their epic adventures in the far South, the Hulmans arrived back in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires where " we fell in love with our guide Andrea. So knowledgeable and very personable. We had a great time with her. We learned a lot about many aspects of Buenos Aires and Argentina - food, history, culture, etc. . Her favorite Tango Bar( Milonga) is LaViruta."In true Argentine spirit, they also went to a wine tasting with our local sommelier, Gaston. It was, "the BEST wine tasting class I've ever attended (and Peter and I spent 3 weeks in Italy) ! Andrea also attended and we all had a relaxing, but informative time."
From frozen water to the jungle paradise of Iguazu Falls...
To cap off their journey, the Hulmans traveled to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls. Straddling Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is an incredible series of waterfalls that is a jaw dropping display of nature's power. The Hulmans thought the Melia Iguazu, a hotel located inside the National Park, was "ideal for our short stay with its proximity to the falls. We arrived early afternoon and were able to walk the lower falls loop before dinner. We did the other walks including the (nice) train ride to complete the other loops." They also had a great time with their guide, "Jessica Baptista was our guide in Iguazu, she was very young and very knowledgeable. She kept us out of trouble in Iguazu, like warning us of the coral snake along the trail..... and reminding us to stay out of the jungle at night. She certainly knew her way around the fall trails and the best time to go certain places."
The Hulmans recommend making sure you have proper mosquito repellent/ precaution. Sharon liked having a buff, which is "good for hair, hat, neck warmer, face shield in Patagonia or antarctic wind. Just handy. You can put drops of bug dope on it, or wet it to cool off in the tropics.
We asked the Hulmans what some highlights of their trip were and they said, "learning the proper norms of sharing Mate and talking with the locals about their town(s), their history, their lives and families. Seeing a Torres del Paine sunrise and an Antarctic sunset."
To conclude, the Hulmans said, "we have traveled with Wildland many times and we always feel more secure with their input and experience. We cannot praise them enough, we couldn't have done it without them! We had so many questions and this complex, detailed itinerary came together thanks to them. The guides are another reason Peter and I turn to Wildland again and again. You work with the best local guides!"
Here at Wildland, we feel like we get to work with the best travelers!