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Adventure Travel in Patagonia Chile

June 2005

“Wine in the Wild”: More and More Vacationers are looking for Upscale Adventures. Here are our Top Picks for outdoor adventures where great wine and food are travel essentials.

Maybe it’s because 21st-century urban professionals are looking for new ways to blow off steam, or maybe because folks who used to pitch tents at K.O.A. campgrounds have a few more dollars in their pockets, but one thing is for sure: Upscale adventure travel is on the rise. And it only stands to reason that travelers who can afford US$4,000 safaris aren’t going to be satisfied with rations of pork and beans out by the campfire, washed down by some river water. Wilderness adventure companies are discovering that people who sign up for white water rapids expeditions and cattle drives through Montana are often the same people who get a rush navigating book-length wine lists. With this in mind, many high end adventure outfitters are building up their wine cellars and hiring chefs who can do wonders with local produce and small –herd, grass-fed beef. We’ve found eco-lodges that reward long days of hiking with fireside glasses of 1982 Bordeaux, and guides with who you can rappel over Andean cliffs by day, and taste Chilean Carmeneres in the evening. Grab a life preserver and a corkscrew-have we got some adventure-filled destinations for you.

H2O Patagonia:

A day with this outfit’s daring guides is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. Guest Bill Taylor recalls lowering himself down a canyon “supported only by a rope and a small piece of hardware” when he lost his footing and ended up in the path of a cascading waterfall. Guest Rob Lagrone fell out of raft on Class V rapids through Inferno Canyon. “One thing’s for sure,” Lagrone maintains, “between the freshness of the water and the power of the rapids, the Futaleufu (River) will really cleanse your palate for the evening’s wine tasting.” Those who prefer to stay dry can test their mettle riding with local huasos (Chilean Cowboys) –it’s a good thing massages are included in the package. At the end of the day, adventurers retire to a quincho, a rustic circular building with a large central fireplace that overlooks the snow-capped Andes.

Wine and Food: LaGrone feels that the program’s Adventure in Wine tastings “are a lot like rafting—only much less scary…with adventures around every corner.” One evening during the program, Sommelier Alex Ordenes teaches the technique of sensorial analysis using aromas and flavors of Chile’s popular grapes, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other tastings are devoted to Chile’s top wines, including Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor and Sideral’s Altair Vineyard Cabernet blend, as well as native, organic wines and limited-production Carmeneres.

H2O Patagonia, Tel: 888-426-7238; www.h2opatagonia.com Eight day “Adventures in Wine” weeks, usually held Jan-February (Chile’s summer) are US$4,000 per person including all wines, meals, and sports. Other eight-day trips such as whitewater rafting and women’s multi-adventure, are US$3,800 per person. Above: Guests at H2O Patagonia raft along the Futaleufu in the heart of Chile.

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