A gaucho works his horse at Valle California, Patagonia Sur.

There are many reasons to travel: relaxation, escape, service, adventure, learning, etc. For me, the perfect trip is simple - it immerses me in the world’s natural beauty while providing the opportunity to observe and engage in the daily lives of its people. 

In Valle California, a remote conservation property in Chilean Patagonia, not only was I smack dab in the middle of one of the most majestic landscapes on the planet, but also introduced to the region’s rich cultural customs by the people who live and work there: My dream combo. 

Framed by the snow-capped Andes, a Valle California wilderness lodge vacation offers extensive hiking and horseback riding trails, opportunities for river kayaking and float trips, mountain biking, bird watching, fly fishing, and a five-star experience with an environmental sensibility.

In the above photograph, Valle California gaucho, Gustavo Neumann, works a horse in the estancia corral. 

See more Patagonia Sur pictures 

Read about Patagonia Sur at National Geographic Travel Favorites

Learn about getting back to basics at a Leica/Patagonia Sur photography workshop

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About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of EllenBarone.com and YourLifeIsATrip.com. Learn more here and connect on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.