©Flavia Engel Aduan Breyer
Most guests tended to congregate in the living room area on the main floor, which is set up nicely with couches, books, and an open bar stocked to the brim with top-shelf items and a wait staff looking to please. The dining room quickly became the crowd-favorite place to be, however. To say that the "food is good" is a ridiculous understatement. This food is Patagonian art, but with zero pretense. It's the kind of comfort food perfect for when you come in from an afternoon of being out on the water, perhaps having dealt with winds and rain. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests will be accommodated no problem, but most of what I ate was based on fresh-as-can-be fish such as salmon, grouper and hake, or shellfish such as abalone, sea urchin, krill and king crab. Red meats included slow-roast lamb and beef. Dishes are as expertly prepared as you would find in the best Santiago restaurants, paired with lesser-known Chilean wines that aren't exported in mass quantities.
As for activities, there is the fishing group and the wildlife group. I took part in the wildlife program basically for the whale watching, but it also came with some "soft" adventure activities—which may not be as soft as one might think. All of the activities are optional, so there is no pressure to do any activity you are not comfortable with. The hydrospeed, for example, was a little too much of an adrenaline rush for those who weren’t fully aware of what they were getting into. Basically, you put on a padded wetsuit, hang on death-grip tight to a small body board, and try to successfully solo navigate white water rapids that most take on in a big inflatable raft equipped with a guide. It's not for the faint of heart and I definitely would not have labeled it "soft" adventure. Other days included much more relaxing rafting, kayaking, beautiful trekking, helicopter landings right on the top of ancient glaciers, and jet boating through canyons.
Usually guests have to stick to their original activity group, but because one angler decided to stay in and rest, I was able to fill his spot on the fishing outing one morning. Mind you, I am not a fisherwoman. I had zero previous experience fly fishing and I have no patience out on the water. I actually thrived on the intensity of the hydrospeed, so asking me to sit still in a boat for hours had me slightly intrigued, but slightly concerned. Let it be a testament to my guide and the abundance of Patagonia that even with no skill whatsoever, I landed 16-18" rainbow trouts one after the next and reboarded the ship enthusiastic about fishing as an activity.
The cost of a Nomads trip is steep (starting at $9,850 per person for a Deluxe double room, to $16,647 for a single Premium room), but the experience truly is one that not many in the world get to live. Where else are you going to wake up in the morning to helicopter onto the coast of an otherwise inaccessible lake that quite possibly hardly anyone has ever fished before, followed up by whale watching from a Zodiac fit for Navy Seals, only to then board your yacht just in time for a wine tasting right before your dinner feast of fresh king crab expertly prepared? Then how great would it be to can end your night up in the hot tub with a cocktail in hand, taking in the Patagonian stars? If a luxury eco-adventure trip through the very best of what Patagonia has to offer is what you seek, Nomads couldn't come more highly recommended.
Story by Cathy Brown, photos by author except where indicated.