Return to the airport and fly to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia (4hrs). On a clear day you have other-worldly views of the swirling meringue of the southern icecap, its fjords, volcanoes and glaciers. Approaching Punta Arenas you see the rust-brown stain of the Patagonian steppes, pitted with small lagoons stretching out towards the Straits of Magellan. On the other side of the water rises the hand of jagged peaks on the wilderness island of Tierra del Fuego.
From the airport, drive into Torres del Paine National Park (5 hrs), with opportunities to take photographs of wildlife (rheas (ñandu) graze prolifically throughout the park), silvery rivers, aquamarine lagoons and savagely wind-carved rocks, cliffs and mountains. The road takes you across inhospitable plains, battered by perpetual winds, which were colonised over a hundred years ago by British sheep farmers and Yugoslavs fleeing the war-torn Balkans.
The scenery becomes more dramatic as you approach the towering massif of rock towers and icy pinnacles which is the centrepiece of the park. Milky blue and gem-sharp emerald lakes, sinuous rivers, glaciers and wind-scoured steppes have created a remarkable and unique environment. Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the area is a natural habitat of over 150 species of birds (flamingos, condors, eagles and ostriches) and 25 species of mammal (including guanacos, armadillos, silver foxes and pumas).
Your hotel is close to the massive vertical towers of granite that dominate the mountain massif.