estancias

 

This discovery begins and ends at the town of Puerto Natales, on the Última Esperanza fjord.

 

The road makes a big loop during the day: starting on an eastern road that heads to the north, and coming back south from the west side. This route allows us to see all the possible Patagonian landscapes: from the desert steppe made up of golden coirón grasses, to the rainy evergreen forests, evidence of the humidity increase caused by the presence of the Andes. 

 

In the morning we will take Route 9 that leads to the village of Cerro Castillo, on the border with Argentina. This town used to be the main settlement within a big estancia part of the “Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego” (a corporation of  sheep ranches that flourished in Patagonia until the seventies).

 

From there on, taking a rustic track, we get deep into the more remote Patagonian steppe. With mountains, sky, and meandering rivers as a background, we will watch condors soar, rheas and flocks of sheep cross our way, and flamingoes fill up shallow lakes around us.  Along the foothills of Sierra del Cazador, the road comes across several picturesque outpost houses and sheds from the neighbouring estancias.

 

Back on the main road we will take a lonely detour, locally called “Castillo Viejo”. As we drive toward the west, forests proliferate in front of the silhouette of the Torres del Paine. The road follows the contour of the Cerro Castillo, the “castle” mountain - named after its very peculiar shape.

 

Turning back to the south, the road passes through beech forests between mountains and lakes, to finally reach the fjord’s shore.

Driving along the ocean we will visit the first colonial settlement in the area.

 

This trip is ideal for bird and wildlife lovers; also for photography and Nature enthusiasts.

Total time:                                            8 - 9 hours

 

Car drive distance:                       222 km (138 mi)