One of the world's most gorgeous hidden gems

by Dave Stamboulis

Northern Patagonia

Cerro Castillo

Aysén, the region that makes up the bulk of Northern Patagonia in South America, features clean water, clean air, uncut forests and a real chance to commune with the wilderness.

Photo by Dave Stamboulis

The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, about an hour south of Coyhaique, is billed to be the next Torres del Paine.

The Carretera Austral

This 1,240-kilometer route is not a "highway" as the name implies, but more of an adventuresome route through some of Chile's most remote areas.

Drivers here often have the road completely to themselves.

Photo by Dave Stamboulis

Parque Patagonia

Herds of wild guanacos can outnumber humans, especially in places like Parque Patagonia, one of the newest national parks in Chile.

Capilla de Mármol

One of Patagonia's most wonderful sights is the Capilla de Mármol (the "marble chapel"). This series of caves and caverns sits on General Carrera Lake.

Photo by Dave Stamboulis

The Futaleufú River, or "Fu," as it's locally known, is renowned for having some of the best stretches of whitewater on the planet.

There's plenty of water everywhere in Patagonia, but in Queulat National Park, you can see it in in the form of the park's most famed sight, the Ventisquero Colgante hanging glacier.

Parque Patagonia might be the crown jewel of Northern Patagonia.

Volcanic activity

Patagonia is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," home to many volcanoes.

In 2008, the Chaitén volcano exploded; it was the largest rhyolite eruption in history.

Amazingly, the flora around the mountain has also regenerated, although you'll still see plenty of stripped single tree trunks, evidence of the massive power of the eruption.

Parks like Corcovado have become part of the Ruta de los Parques (Route of the Parks), a 2,800-kilometer route comprised of 17 national parks and 28 million acres set through southern Chile.

Photo by Dave Stamboulis

Sunsets on Ventisquero Sound are pretty spectacular as well, as they are throughout Patagonia.

A famed local Patagonian proverb states, "Quien se apura en Patagonia, pierde el tiempo," which means, "He who rushes in Patagonia loses time," which perfectly sums up the languid chilled out culture in one of the world's most magical places.

Dave Stamboulis

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