How To Travel Like A Knowmad: Stories From Kayli’s Trip + Things To Do in Argentina + Chile

Things to do in Argentina and Chile

Kayli, an Operations Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, and her partner Evan followed the path of one of our favorite Chile and Argentina combination itineraries. They began in Argentina’s colorful capital city, Buenos Aires, traveled south to the glaciers and mountains on both the Argentine and Chilean side of expansive Patagonia, and topped it off with a quick stop in the Lakes District before departing via Santiago in Chile. Read on for their best-loved moments, dramatic photographs, what they learned, and more.

Visiting Chile and Argentina for two weeks was a bit of a break from my usual routine. Typically, you can find me in the Knowmad office in Minneapolis, helping craft unique and custom trips to South America for Knowmad travelers. But every once in a while, my ‘office’ becomes a suitcase. My work became “travel through Chile and Argentina for two weeks.” I met with our partners, researched the places we champion, and tested out new excursions. 20,160 minutes of adventure.

These minutes were filled with laughing conversations, exciting discoveries, and ‘pinch-me’ memories. Some of these moments I shared with others, while others are uniquely mine. Travel is enriching: an opportunity to learn more about a place, a culture, and yourself. As I explore, I like to pick just one or two moments from each day, and record them in a travel journal. It’s nothing elaborate, just a normal notebook with pages enough to jot down crazy facts I don’t want to forget or funny stories to laugh about later.

Although I originally wrote my travel journal entries for myself, I’d like to share ten moments with you from my most recent trip to Chile and Argentina. These are moments that in some way, big or small, enriched my travels. And for those who ascribe to the belief that a picture is worth a thousand words (like myself), I’ve paired these memories with personal photos from the trip. I hope you enjoy these glimpses into “a-week-in-the-life” of a Knowmad travel specialist!

10 Things To Do in Argentina + Chile

 The Argentine Experience

#1: Savor BARBECUE with friends

…There was no better way to kick off the trip in Argentina than by a big asado dinner, or the Argentine barbecue. Buenos Aires has so many unique culinary experiences, it was hard to choose. You can go to a 7-course dinner and tango show, or a cocktail making class, or have some home-baked empanadas at the corner. We got a few friends together and went to an interactive dinner where we learned how to make wine-based cocktails, had an empanada-making contest, and learned some uniquely Argentinean customs and vocabulary. You know you are having a good time when dinner lasts 4 hours…

Teatro Colon Buenos Aires      Recoleta Neighborhood Week In The Life Of A Knowmad Specialist Buenos Aires      Puente De La Mujer

#2: Stroll through Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is my favorite city I’ve ever visited in South America! It felt like many little cities within one big city, because each neighborhood was so distinct and unique. The French architecture in Recoleta, the old buildings around the Plaza de Mayo – every corner is so filled with history. Teatro Colon, which I learned has near-perfect acoustics and is one of the top 5 concert halls in the world, was spectacular. And then the Recoleta Cemetery. Wow! The mausoleums and huge sculptures honoring the dead were beautiful. No wonder it is a site constantly referred to as ‘not-to-be-missed.’ I loved staying the night in the neighborhood of Palermo because there is always lots of activity and people so it really fit my style. I loved walking to the restaurants and bars through the tree-lined streets…

Horseback Ride Through Mountain Valley Horseback Riding Patagonia      Estancia Nibepo Aike Mountain View In Southern Patagonia      Horseback Ride South America Los Glaciares National Park

#3: Horseback-ride in a mountain valley

…We watched the sunrise over the mountains today in El Calafate. It was an early flight down to southern Patagonia, but even with sleepy eyes, the practically untouched countryside was breathtaking. Staying at Estancia Nibepo Aike, you can feel how this farm has been steeped in the same traditions for centuries. We had breakfast in front of the fireplace, and after watching the sheep be lead out to pasture we met Luis, an Argentine gaucho, for a trail ride. My horse’s name was Loba, or “Wolf,” which at first was slightly worrying, but it turns out she was actually the sweetest and gentlest horse. We rode with Luis, and one other couple staying at the ranch, Caylyn and Brad. One of my favorite parts of traveling are the other people you meet along the way. We heard stories of their lives, bonded over the new-born puppies in the barn, and enjoyed an afternoon riding together through the most beautiful lake valley I’ve ever seen. There is something majestic and peaceful about riding a horse along a winding trail surrounded by mountains…

Jump Inside Of A Glacier Perito Moreno     Perito Moreno Ice Hiking Glacier Face Of Perito Moreno     Ice Hike On A Glacier

#4: Jump inside a glacier

…I had finally gotten the hang of walking with crampons, and as I watched our front guide, he just jumped into a hole in the glacier! I trusted our expert ice-hiking guides, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to go under thousands of pounds of compacted ice. I took a breath and crab-walked through a small opening to dive into the ice cave. Talk about a ‘pinch-me’ moment. It was a good reminder that there are greater powers in the world than humans. The blue glow emanating from the ice was so clear, and the air felt so clean. There’s nothing quite like filling up your water bottle with pristine and delicious water from little streams on the top of a glacier…

Take A Long Drive     Patagonia Traditional Estancia

#5: Take a long drive

…Even a bus ride can be spectacular. Who knew? It takes a lot of time to travel to some of the most remote places on earth. But the wonderful thing is that these long drives are often through beautiful landscapes. Getting to watch the changes in terrain and flora was so cool, and often mesmerizing as we watched it out the window. It’s a reminder to myself that even ‘travel days,’ as I like to call them, have value and can be an important part of the memories of a trip. We saw birds, guanacos, a skunk, and with fabulous luck, a puma!…


#6: Live another language

…Evan is having a blast learning Spanish! He was a bit concerned before the trip, as his knowledge of Spanish is, ‘limited.’ With hand gestures, smiles, and being open to try, he has made friends everywhere! Learned from our hiking guide Seba, his new very Chilean favorite word is bacán (pronounced “ba-kahn”), which essentially means ‘awesome’. Needless to say, I heard it early and often on this trip. I know that learning even a few key phrases in the countries you’re visiting can create a deeper connection to the people and the places…

South American Coffee        Patagonia Cuisine Tierra Patagonia Gourmet Cuisine

#7: Eat gourmet food

…I have never tasted such spectacular gourmet food as at Tierra Patagonia Lodge. Maybe it was the combination of hard adventure during the day, a dinner table overlooking Sarmiento Lake, and the fabulous Carmenere wine that made it taste even better. 95% of the world’s Carmenere grapes are produced in Chile, which made it fun to drink while there. We told Sebastian, our server, we’d like to split one dessert because we were stuffed from the fabulous first courses. He looked at us and said, “No, no, I’ll bring you two.” We practically licked both plates clean…

Torres Del Paine National Park Great Hikes In Torres Del Paine      Patagonia Forest Knowmad Specialist

#8: Complete hikes you never thought you could

…I had to watch my feet as we were hiking, but of course every 5 minutes I just wanted to stop and look around. The fall colors of the trees were russet orange, harvest gold, and deep red. We chose to hike up to the Base of the Towers for one of our days in Patagonia. It was just straight-up hard. My average day-to-day involves a lot of sitting in front of a computer. But, I love to hike, and I love that feeling at the end where your muscles are exhausted, but you feel complete. Every corner you turn on the trails in Torres del Paine reveals another spectacular vista. The wind had been our constant travel companion. Dressing in layers, especially with zippers, helped me immensely in balancing the heat from hiking and the cold from the wind. Jaime, our guide also had to remind me once: in Torres del Paine, you don’t even want to set your backpack down without keeping a hold on it – you never know when the wind will try to steal it away…

Waterfall In Patagonia      Fall Hiking Patagonia Yurts In Torres Del Paine Relax In Front Of The Wood-Burning Stove      Visit Chile And Argentina Dining At Patagonia Camp      Patagonia Camp Yurt


#9: Relax by the wood-burning stove

…Some afternoons are best spent doing nothing. We got to our yurt at Patagonia Camp today, and yurts are the coolest thing! It’s like a hotel room, but super close to nature, and cozy as can be. Never had I stayed in something that looks like a tent on the outside, but had my own private balcony and a double vanity in the bathroom. We took a quick walk to the nearby waterfall just down the trail. This area reminded me a lot of home in Minnesota, with a calm and cold lake surrounded by a thick, colorful fall forest. But it was like northern Minnesota “Plus,” because it also had mountains in the background, of course. The rest of the afternoon we spent sitting next to the wood-burning stove, just gazing at the view, napping and reading. What a way to feel refreshed. Sometimes the best thing to do, is to just be…

History In Chile     Puerto Varas Micro-Brewery Chile And Argentina Cuisine     Bike To A Brewery

#10: Bike to a Brewery

…Mother Nature had a plan of gusting winds today when we were hoping to kayak on the fjord. Sometimes the best-laid plans have to be adjusted when traveling. Plus, great things can happen when you remember to take a breath and just roll with it. Instead of kayaking, we rode bikes through a privately protected forest under the watchful eyes of the Osorno volcano near Puerto Varas. Pretty great alternative I’d say! The ride was gorgeous, with Alerce trees and greenery nestled all around. And our journey ended at a new local micro-brewery overlooking the lake. Good beer and crispy pizza brings friends and families together all around the world to swap stories and share laughs, just like we did today…

We absolutely loved our adventure to Chile and Argentina. Both countries are places to do something completely extraordinary, like jump inside a glacier, and things completely ordinary, like take a drive. Traveling lets you do both. I’ve found that it’s a lot better to do things, than to talk yourself out of them. The views from the top are just too good to miss.

Are you ready to make memories and write in a travel journal of your own? To plan your own custom South America itinerary, give our Trip Specialists a call at 612-315-2894 or send us an email today!

Chau Chau, Kayli

South America Travel Kayli Kirkegaard

Kayli is an Operations Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She has danced, swam, zip-lined and hiked all over Central and South America and is always excited to help others dream and plan their adventures. Read Kayli’s biography and others to learn more about the Knowmad team.