Patagonia Part III: Estancia Cerro Guido

I couldn't believe it, we were leaving Torres Del Paine (please read here about our stay in this magical part of the world). My heart was crying. I knew we were going to be back one more time as our next destination was close to the park, to its other side. But still, there is nothing like waking up among the mountains of my beloved Torres Del Paine and that part was definitely over for me.  

 
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What surprised me is the quick change of scenery from the snowy mountains soaring into the skies and green valleys covering the endless spaces of the park to yellow dusty desert. While we were driving through this new planet of next to nothingness, the views of Torres Del Paine on the far horizon were following us. But, honestly, there was nothing around. At some point I actually started to be concerned about our next place. The only thing I knew was that Robert booked a room on a ranch because he really wanted to do some horse-riding and have some relaxation after hiking in Torres Del Paine.  

So on we drove through the land with nothing on it at all for quite awhile when I finally saw a couple of buildings still miles away. It was an historic ranch, (or estancia in Spanish) Cerro Guido (264,000 acres), Patagonia's largest estancia in Chile.  

 
 Estancia Cerro Guido

Estancia Cerro Guido

 
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When we came closer, my first reaction was "Oh my God, what are we going to do there for 4 days?!". The estancia is located in the middle of nowhere, in the desert with a bunch of sheep! And! You need to drive 2 hours to the next town to get some gas. But, as soon as we unpacked in our large and cozy room and went to the restaurant located on the estancia to have some lunch, I knew I already in love with Cerro Guido. What a place. And here it was, Torres Del Paine serving as backdrop to this spectacular ranch! It was amazing to see my favorite mountains while being in the middle of chaparral. 

 
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 Kaw Restaurant on Estancia Cerro Guido

Kaw Restaurant on Estancia Cerro Guido

 
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The estancia's restaurant is really something special. Even if you are not planning to stay on the ranch, you must come for lunch or dinner. First of all, it's all glass with the views of desert, Torres Del Paine on one side and Sierra Baguales on another side. Do I really need to mention the beauty of sunrises and sunsets over there? The beauty of the clouds in the sky? Amazing! Secondly, the interior is stylish, the staff warm and wonderful, and food delicious with top-notch presentation. Great wine selection. The only downside was that for 3 days they had no damn limes for Robert's cocktails. But that was more funny than disappointing. All the people who live and work on Cerro Guido are very very nice and some of them became our friends.   

 
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The first couple of days the whole estancia basically was ours. No other guests. That was great.   Hiking around the estancia or just simply sitting in the middle of the desert, listening to the winds, watching clouds swimming past is an outstanding experience where time simply doesn't exist.  There was definitely something going through the lands that just hypnotizes you, making your heart slow and your mind wander. 

 
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We did go back one more time to Torres Del Paine to see the other side of the park. It's only 30 minute drive from the estancia. But the most unforgettable part of our stay in Cerro Guido was the 4-hour horseback ride to the top of the Sierra Baguales. And no, I didn't have experience of riding a horse before. I mean I did couple of times in California, in Half Moon Bay, where they give you a dead horse and a helmet, and you are like an idiot in Disneyland with other bunch of people in line as you watch snails pass you by. No, riding in Cerro Guido was the real deal. I even don't know how to start writing about it....  

 
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It was a very windy morning (wind was 60 miles an hour). Freezing. I didn't have the right clothing for it. Thank God I had a scarf and a hat. My horse was big and healthy, a true horse, not a dead one. She didn't like the wind so that fact connected us together and made us friends right away. However, each time she was jumping left or right trying to hide from the wind, I thought that might be my last time seeing anything alive. I really liked that our guide Enrique was giving us enough space to feel like we are by ourselves (or maybe we were just too slow for him). However, sometimes it was scary because my horse wanted to run to catch up with the guide. So yeah, I know what it feels when the horse is running and you have no idea how to control it. But as soon I would cry, the guide would quickly fix my horse back to normal. Going up was actually fun, but then it became even windier and colder. My nose was running. My horse was sneezing. I couldn't feel my face. I was shaking from cold. But we were going forward because Robert and I never stop in the middle. Plus, when else would we have a chance to ride in a place like this? 

 
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Then we topped a shoulder of the ridge and there was a moment when I was truly afraid. I don't remember being so afraid in my life before. I was even crying. So, wind 60,000 miles an hour, I am on top of a mountain riding a loose dirt edge with a 50-60 degree drop of some 800-900 feet. Remembering this now, I still can't understand how I did it. How? But yes, through the crying, through the fear, I was going forward. The guide said to trust the horse. I closed my eyes, but not because I was trusting the horse. I couldn't look down. But just a few minutes later, when we were finally at our destination with its mind blowing views, I felt different, reborn. I was standing there, looking into that new world in front of me and inside me. I can't explain it, but I felt truly different.  

Going down was even more scary but I felt more brave. That was an interesting realization. I was even allowing my horse to run slightly and by the end of our adventure I fully could control the horse. And that was awesome. To feel the control. To feel the freedom. All my life I thought I am a fragile flower. But the truth is I am not. I am not a flower. I felt as a flower because I was raised in the world full of NOs and bubbles. Who knew I had so much spirit and strength inside. I am surprised to know how much bigger I am. We as humans too often allow fear to control us, entrenching ourselves into our "safe boxes". But we need to go though it, not run from it. That's freedom.   

 
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Four days passed fast. We were leaving Cerro Guido at sunrise, in complete silence. No words, no music. Just endless lands of Cerro Guido and snowy Torres Del Paine.  

 
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But there was still one more destination in front of us... We were on our way to Argentina again.

P.S. Please follow me on Instagram @nadyazim to see more photos from Patagonia.