By Zachary Moses
Day 7: Horseback Riding and Kayaking Among Icebergs
No gay Patagonia tour would be complete without a beautiful horseback ride through the crisp morning air with Paula, the general manager of our lodge. I can be seen in the picture getting ready for my ride.
We had three gauchos with us, who kept egging our horses on until they reached an exhilarating speed. It was amazing, with our horses at a full gallop and the wind racing by as our nimble horses navigated the twisting trails! We rode up a lush mountain and had stunning views of the three jagged peaks of Las Torres del Paine (The Towers). Today, I wore my bike shorts and my butt thanked me for it. Note to self: bike shorts, aka horseback riding shorts, are recommended for all guests.
My back had been a little sore from riding for too long the other day, and I was reluctant to get back on a horse, but Paula insisted that my back was sore because I had never used those muscles before and that the best thing for me was to ride again. Paula also insisted that the horses here were much better horses and that I would have a much smoother ride. She was right! Within 20 minutes I was feeling much better, and I was now certain of who would be providing the horses for our tour.
My colleague (and frequent tour director) Jim Laughlin and his partner John own a horse ranch outside Chicago. Jim told me that as good as his horses are, they would never have tolerated the ground conditions that these horses put up with. The ground is covered in rocks and boulders and the horses of Patagonia were unperturbed. Jim says that his horses would be hanging back and whimpering at the idea of all these rocks chipping their hooves.
After we returned to the lodge, we grabbed our luggage and made our way to the other side of the national park for a kayak tour on Gray Lake, a cold body of water fed by a massive glacier.
The lake was full of gigantic crystal blue icebergs. Their color was the most amazing blue I’ve ever seen, surely intensified by the peach sky and gray water. It was raining, but we were in wetsuits with rain coats and no-one was uncomfortable. Our paddles even had special neoprene gloves built right into them to keep our hands warm. Jim and I tried to make some video recordings of our experience but the wind kept messing up the audio. We couldn’t quit comparing the lake and icebergs to a giant glass of Gin and Tonic. So we simply twisted and turned among the icebergs until the wind howled too fiercely and we reluctantly left this magical lake and paddled back to shore.
Our evening ended at a hotel that was designed to look like an eclectic retelling of a sheep ranch. It was very avant-guard: inside, it looked like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. I kept expecting Jor-El to start talking to me through glowing crystals.
We were given a tour of the hotel by the hotel manager, who looked like Helena Bonham Carter. Everyone agreed that she was super-hot. And, also … she might be crazy, like Helena’s character in Fight Club.
During the tour, she was passionately obsessing over the building. I interrupted to compliment her beautiful hair and she blushed and lost her place. After she regained her composure, she showed us the incredible spa facility, of which she was especially proud.
On the way back to the main building she said that we would now meet the woman in charge of tour excursions, who by the way had shockingly similar hair. Very seriously, she said “If you compliment her hair as well, I will know that you were lying to me.” I told her that I was sure that even if this other woman could create an amazing excursion, it was not possible that her beauty could compare. “Such a gentleman,” she said, and then told Fabian in Spanish what a Casanova she thought I was. HA! Casanova!!
I made sure not to compliment the other woman’s beautiful (and yes, very similar) hair … but only out of fear for my safety. For the rest of the tour I only complimented the men.
Day 8: Final Day and Departure to Home
This morning we decided to scrap our excursion plans from the night before and instead ride our bikes into Puerto Natales. It was the right choice to get to know this town a little better, since we will want our guys to spend their last Patagonian night at a four-star classic hotel right on the waterfront here.
We saw the entire city of Puerto Natales, which is actually the only town within a very large area. There was a really cool fishing dock, and great little shops. We had amazing coffee, and hit a fancy little chocolate shop. I also got some seriously great gifts for my loved ones.
I was very sad for the trip to be coming to a close, and I can’t wait to go back with our guys in January, 2014. This is going to be one of our best tours yet! Here you can see how much leg room I had on the plane – along with a meal during our 3-hour flight. I like SKY Airlines in Chile!
This research in Chile led us to develop an exciting gay Patagonia Adventure, launching January 2014. For pricing and a detailed itinerary, click HERE!