Cascada ExpedicionesThe Trails of Torres del Paine Chile's most spectacular national park offers rewarding walking and trekking opportunities. Clear trails lead you across wind-buffeted plains, alongside torrential streams, across meadows on the flanks of granite cliffs, to the snouts of glaciers and the feet of vertical towers and pinnacles of ice-clad rock. There are trails you can follow on your own, guided day-walks and longer hikes of several days' duration, camping or staying in refuges.The mini-trek combines a few days at the igloo-style walk-in dome tents of the Eco Camp (below) with a night at a mountain refuge and visits some of the most remarkable areas of the park. Boat over Lago Pehoé and hike up to the Mirador del Francés, hike across the moraines alongside the shores of Lago Grey and board a boat that will take you up to the walls of the glacier. The trek ends with a walk up to the foot of the Paine massif (above).The comprehensive W trek involves moderate 5-8 hour walks over 5 consecutive days. There are 4 nights at the Eco Camp and 2 in mountain refuges. You start with a hike along the undulating Los Cuernos Trail, spending a night at a refuge. Over the following 3 days, visit the Mirador del Francés, Glacier Grey and the foot of El Paine granite massif. Finally, hike via the Mirador Laguna Azul to Lago Sarmiento and over a pass with good views over Paine and Lago Pehoé.If you're looking for more comfort and just a taste of the park's wonderful trails, spend 3 or 4 nights in the Eco Camp's newer en suite domes and choose from a menu of easy or active walks to suit different interests. You can also combine walking in Torres del Paine with Argentina's Fitz Roy mountains. Following a stay at explora en Patagonia (p144), drive to El Chaltén in Los Glaciares National Park and, based at a cosy inn, hike in the surrounding wilderness of soaring glacial peaks and dense forests. Camping in Torres del Paine?weather and scenery together with walks were stunning. JD, Reading 146 ChileBelow Whether you're a relaxed rambler or keen hiker, the imaginative Eco Camp is a great base for exploring the park on foot. A few of its domes now have en-suite facilities.Cascada Expediciones
istockphoto.comexploraPolynesian Easter Island (Rapa Nui) lies3790km off the Chilean coast, in thesub-tropical south Pacific. Windsweptand grassy on one side, lushly vegetated(though treeless) on the other, and witha benign climate, it is famous for the clusters of enigmatic stone heads standing starkly against the azure skyline. The unique atmosphere is mysterious but the people are friendly and unassuming.The village of Hanga Roa has a number of simple hotels. There's a programme of excursions: visits to the Rano Kau volcano, site of ancient petroglyphs and religious ceremonial centre; Ahu Vinapu (ahu and moai stone statues), Rano Raraku quarry and 'factory of the statues' (below) and Poike crater. There are also visits to Orongo, a ceremonial village and to Ahu Akivi, where seven gigantic moai statues stand on a plinth facing the sea.Besides the regular LAN Airlines service from Santiago, a new flight from Lima means it's also easy to combine Easter Island with a holiday to Peru (pp112-127).020 8747 8315 / journeylatinamerica.co.uk bookings, consultant advice and additional information 147Easter Island Just wished we had stayed longer at explora. A fantastic experience ?guides, food, accommodation were top class. JW, Perthshire explora en rapa nui Sister property to the exploras in Atacama and Patagonia (pp139&144). This exceptional hotel sits on a hill with ocean views in the southwest of the island. It is a service-led resort providing very comfortable accommodation, excellent cuisine and a range of activities, mostly walking-based, from which guests can choose according to their personal preference.