by Dave Stamboulis
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.
The Cerro Castillo National Reserve, about an hour south of Coyhaique, is billed to be the next Torres del Paine.
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.
Photo by Dave Stamboulis
Herds of wild guanacos can outnumber humans, especially in places like Parque Patagonia, one of the newest national parks in Chile.
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.
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.
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.
Sunsets on Ventisquero Sound are pretty spectacular as well, as they are throughout Patagonia.