Chilean Patagonia

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It’s the end of the world, and it has a grip on many people’s imagination: Patagonia.

My Mom and I traveled there for four nights. We flew from Santiago to Punta Arenas (4 hrs). Punta Arenas is two hours by plane north of Antarctica. From there we took a five hour shuttle to our hotel in Torres del Piene national park.

Torres del Paine is a park that contains glaciers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, island formations, giant rocks. There are dozens of possible excursions within the park: hikes through treacherous terrain en route to a massive glacier; a gentle horseback ride through green grass fields; a stroll around a still lake and through fields of lupines (flowers).

The sights are stunning, of course.

On our first full day we hiked to the French Valley. It was in total an 8.5 hour hike, at times through fierce wind and pelting rain. We ate lunch on some rocks and watched an avalanche on the glacier in front of us. I didn’t have waterproof hiking boots so my feet got soaked and that was a downer. But we felt adventurous, and now we can tell people that we hiked through fierce wind and pelting rain en route to a glacier, so all is well.

On our second day we ate Chilean barbecue (delicious) near Laguna Azul, and then walked around the lake. It was a gentle day as we were still recovering from yesterday’s long journey.

On our third day we explored a different part of the park. It looked very much like Yosemite at times, and at other times like the Marin Headlands. We ascended a tall mountain and enjoyed views of all of the park. So beautiful. It was a five hour hike in total.

Bottom line on Patagonia: It’s very beautiful. The diversity of sights you can see is impressive. Downsides: You pay a premium for the “brand” of Patagonia and the sights are not unlike those you can see in the Southwest U.S. The glaciers are massive and some of the views one-of-a-kind, but the overall feeling didn’t seem totally different from other places. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Chilean Patagonia if you are in South America.

Ben Casnocha
Ben Casnocha is the author of the bestselling business book
'My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley", which the New York Times called "precocious, informative, and entertaining." He founded Comcate, Inc., an e-government software company, at age 14. Ben's work has been featured in dozens of international media including CNN, USA Today, CNBC, and ABC's 20/20. At a conference in Paris PoliticsOnline named him one of the "25 most influential people in the world of internet and politics".

BusinessWeek recently named Ben "one of America's top young entrepreneurs." He writes prolifically on his blog which the San Jose Business Journal called one of the "Top 25 Blogs in Silicon Valley." He's also a commentator for public radio's "Marketplace."

In addition, Ben has given speeches at dozens of universities and organizations around the world. He has traveled to more than 25 countries and he also co-runs the Silicon Valley Junto, an intellectual discussion society for business and technology executives. In his free time Ben enjoys playing chess, ping-pong, reading, and writing.

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