Geopaleo Crusade (5 days Patagonia expedition)

By Madre Roca Patagonia
Punta Arenas, Chile
$3200 / person

This 5 days trip is designed for geology and paleontology dorks who want to explore Patagonia through a scientific lens. Madre Roca invites you to rediscover Patagonia as the land of giants it once was during the Paleolithic age. This is your opportunity to grasp the landscape formations left behind by the glaciers...

Day 1: PALI AIKE

Our day starts in Punta Arenas, where you will be picked you up from your accommodation. We then head 196 kilometers northeast through the patagonian steppe, in order to reach Pali Aike National Park: a unique environment, full of rock formations, craters and caves of great archaeological importance.

The steppe abounds native an endemic flora and fauna. On our way, you will notice "Estancia San Gregorio", a vestige from the Settlers that used to work in the cattle business, and is nowadays considered a National Monument. Pali Aike National Park offers spectacular views over an exotic lunar landscape and crater, where several archaeological remains of more than 11.000 years ago have been found . Inside the park, we will visit different attractions, the pools of the Devils amongst others, and, of course, the main attraction of the place, the Pali Aike Cave. The we're off to Puerto Natales!

© Timothy Dhalleine

Difficulty: low
Time: ~3 hours
Distance: ~8 km (~4.9 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~200 m (~650 ft)

Day 2: MILODON DARWINI

Have you heard of the giant sloth that once inhabited Patagonia? This excursion will take you to its caves and around Cerro Benitez and Laguna Sofía. You will be taking a time machine and being thrown into the ages when our ancestors lived in caves. You will walk on what used to be a paleolake basin, and imagine how the ice age carved these lands.

First is the visit of the Monumento Natural Cueva del Milodon, where we will take you through three natural caves and their respective historical events. Then, off towards Cerro Benitez to see cave paintings left by the first nomads that populated Patagonia after the last glaciation period. Finally, you will arrive at a beautiful viewpoint overlooking Laguna Sofía and its surrounding snow caped mountains. Watch out for your heads when the condor passes!

Difficulty: medium
Time: ~6 hours
Distance: ~8 km (~5 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~700 m (~ 2300 ft)

Day 3: SIERRA BAGUALES

Sierra Baguales is one of the less visited geological sites in the region. Have you ever found a fossil? This is your chance to fall upon remains or impression of prehistoric plants or animals, including sharks' teeth, petrified wood, and much more. You will wonder through wetlands, dikes, moraines, and rock formations that are millions of years old. Sierra Baguales is Felipe's favorite play ground, and he will make sure it becomes yours as well.

The terrain is irregular and very exposed to the weather elements: it could get very hot for Patagonia, so watch your water and your skin. Many short ups and downs among some flatlands. We call it Patagonian flat. Just like anywhere here, if you are ready for the worst, you will be ready for the best.

Difficulty: high
Time: ~6 hours
Distance: ~16 km (~10 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~700 m (~2300 ft)

Day 4: TORRES DEL PAINE EAST

Time to discover the geological and paleontological attractions of Torres del Paine National Park. This day will take you across the eastern side of the park, stopping at relevant sites and lookouts in order to understand the origins of this wonder of nature. Dramatic landscapes, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife are on the menu! Additionally, we will take you through a short hike rich in flora and fauna, but also fascinating in terms of geology and paleontology. More cave paintings to come, as well as breath taking views over the Paine mountain range. Cameras are a must!

Difficulty: low
Time: ~3 hours
Distance: ~6 km (~3.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~200 m (~650 ft)

Day 5: TORRES DEL PAINE WEST

More dramatic landscapes and wildlife sightings await! Visiting the western side of Torres del Paine National park is of equal importance to understand the eldest rock and moutain formations. This side is full of foldings and dykes, not to mention the vast strectches of ice. That's right, you have entered the land of glaciers! The Southern Patagonian Ice Field covers the Andes in this southernmost part of the world, and represents the third largest reserve of fresh water on earth.
Many short hikes are also available on the western side, but their completion will highly depend on the weather and time constraints, as this is also the coldest and windiest area of the park. So bring your hats and gloves!

Difficulty: low
Time: ~3 hours
Distance: ~6 km (~3.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~200 m (~650 ft)

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Offered by Madre Roca Patagonia
We are an adventure tourism company based out of Puerto Natales, in southern Patagonia, Chile. We offer private excursions and expeditions around the region. Madre Roca was born out of an effort to expand tourism horizons in Patagonia. Its founders, Claire and Felipe, believe that the tourism industry has been detrimental to the environment in Torres del Paine National Park, due to the lack of environment friendly infrastructures, but also the lack of options accessible to the fast-growing number of travelers. Claire and Felipe are both certified guides with much experience in the region. We strive to deliver to our guests a differe... Read more