After as sumptuous meal, and with a heavy heart, the members bid adieu to Helsingfors. To tell the truth, everyone wanted to stay back for another day, but unfortunately the rooms weren’t available. So, we thanked the staff members at the property for their wonderful hospitality and we started our drive out of Helsingfors moving north to El Chaltén.
Though at first, everyone was a little upset to leave Helsingfors, but those feelings soon got replaced by the excitement for the journey. At first, the route we had chosen was skirting the turquoise Viadema lake which was completely dirt trails along the foothills of the Andes. The surroundings resembled a Martian landscape. We got to see a group of cute llama-like guanacos running around the hills, some rheas which are distant relatives of ostriches, and Andean condors flying gracefully while looking for their next prey.
Soon we hit Ruta 40. Dead straight to the horizon, bounded on one side by a view of turquoise lakes and shimmering mountains and on the other by the infinite steppe, and with a huge dome-shaped blue sky dappled with lenticular clouds up above. Immortalised by its role in Che Guevara’s ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ Argentina’s Ruta 40 encapsulates the spirit of the country and for that reason, it is often called La Mitica Ruta 40 or The Mythical Route 40.
One of the world’s great driving adventures, running parallel to the Andes Mountains for nearly 5,000 km, this route is the stuff of legends. It was the sort of road you make movies about.
After many stops for photographs, we finally reached El Chalten, proclaimed to be the “National Trekking Capital of Argentina”. The village is certainly no picture postcard, half-built with dirt streets and little thought for planning. But then again, we were not there for the village, but for Fitz Roy Mountain and the wonderful motoring journey on Ruta 40.
We stayed at Destino Sur for the evening. It is certainly not cosy and boutique like some of the properties we have stayed earlier, but it does stand out a little amongst the properties available in this sleepy town. Since the group wasn’t interested in trekking or hiking the mountains, we decided to take it easy and have a relaxed dinner. We had chosen El Puma restaurant which was a great little find, set on one of the small roads that run off the main street. There is nothing overly fancy about his restaurant, but what they have done here is to create a feeling of welcome and the service is superb. All in all, on paper it may not look like much, but in reality, it is one of our favourites!
Day 8 – Driving back to Puerto Natales. Our plan was to cross the Argentina – Chile Border by noon so that we could reach Remota Hotel for a late lunch. Unlike the onward journey through the border crossing, we had to take care while entering Chile. Chilean customs officers are extremely strict about bringing food into the country, especially compared with their Argentinean counterparts. They are usually flexible once items are declared, otherwise, you face a hefty fine. After the border scrutiny we were on our final stretch of the expedition.
During the final stretch of our drive, everyone got hold of their handled radios, to share some of their best experiences of the expedition. As an expedition management team, we felt really proud to hear that everyone had the best travel experience of their life. That’s exactly the thought we wanted the clients to take back home.
Watch the complete behind the scene moments and all the expedition members testimonials.
And we reached Hotel Remota, another successfully Nomadic Road expedition executed safe and sound. We requested everyone to clear all the expedition vehicles, unload their luggage and handover the keys as some members had to leave to the airport as they had a flight to catch from Punta Arenas that evening. After lunch, few members left to the airport and then the others checked-in to our respective rooms to relax for a while before we head out in the evening for a wonderful farewell dinner. We chose La Aldea restaurant where Chef Pato changes the offerings daily, with his focus on fresh and Mediterranean, with a nod to local ingredients. Grilled clams, lamb tagine and quinoa dishes with an elegant presentation. And we loved the decadent tres leches (three milks) cake for dessert before we returned back to our hotel
Hardly anyone slept because we all had a very early morning flight, which means we had to leave the hotel atleast 3 hours prior. So, we decided that we might as well stay awake, ordered couple of special wine bottles and spent the night at the lobby cherishing all the great moments of the expedition. Charles managed to quickly edit some of the best shots he had taken from the trip and we showcased it to the clients. I literally had goose bumps going through the pictures. The expedition members were spellbound to see the superlative landscape and experiences that they enjoyed for the last couple of days. I’m sure that these pictures and videos will definitely remain part of their eternal memories.
What started as a dream, now has become a reality. Patagonia is truly one of the last frontiers and literally took our breath away.
Soon we will be coming back here again with another unique itinerary and another unique group of expedition members. Take a look at our latest Patagonia Expedition itinerary here.
Thats a wrap from our driving adventure across Patagonia. We look forward to share more and more interesting stories from our expeditions. Here are the other stories.
When it comes to travel, it’s easy to prioritize ease and comfort while forgetting about being environmentally conscious. We all do it. But we started being a bit more thoughtful about our travel options especially when it comes to our motoring expeditions. While we may not be able to fly on biofuel run airplanes yet, there are lots of choices we can make that will make a difference.
We are proud to take a special initiative towards Social and environmental responsibility and make it integral part of all our Nomadic Road expeditions. By choosing to travel with us all our members became an integral part of the mission to restore our planets ecosystem and make it a better place.
Here in Patagonia, with the help from our on-ground partners, we contributed towards The Carbon Fund, through which we were able to offset every single emission produced by the expedition vehicles during our trip. Furthermore, through the non-profit Reforest Patagonia, we planted a tree for every client on our trip in the forest located at the edge of Pehoe Lake in Torres del Paine National Park. In the next 4 years, this tree would have absorbed enough Co2 to offset the emissions generated by your entire stay at the different hotels throughout Patagonia, thereby making our entire adventure Carbon Free. Once the expedition member reached their homes, they received a personalised tree certificate along with the coordinates of where its located.