Pehoe Lake in Torres del Paine, Chile
Lago Pehoe Torres del Paine
Lago Pehoé (pronounced payway) is the star of Torres del Paine's luminous lakes, its milky turquoise waters setting off the mad jagged peaks of the Paine Massif. It's also the easiest Lake to get to, with an eastern shore flanked by the road from Puerto Natales. Three lakeshore hotels compete for Best View.
Puerto Natales in Patagonia Chile is about 150 miles north of Pehoe. Buses run twice a day, during the summer season - 7am and 2.30pm. The Journey takes about two hours. Alternatively, if you your have own vehicle, take the Y156 road from Puerto Natales passes close by.
Lago Pehoe is just off the access road to Torres del Paine, and it has perhaps the best range of accommodation in the Park, including a luxury hotel, a hosteria, a refugio and a camp site.
In the west corner is Refugio Paine Grande, the least attractive of the three. Still, views east are pretty good, although they miss out on the best of the Paine Massif, which is to the north.
In the East Corner is the swish Explora Hotel Salto Chico, slap bang in front of the Paine Massif, and nearby, the low-key Hosteria Pehoe. Only 1.6km apart, their views are similar, but their prices miles apart.
Paine Grande Mountain Lodge
Grande is the word. The rustic Refugio Pehoe has been replaced by this massive hotel/refugio. It tends to attract day trippers rather than the hard-core hiking crowd, although it is at the start of the Torres del Paine W Trek. The Catamaran ferries them in three times a day (9am, 12 noon and 6pm, US$32 return, US$20 one way, reservations not required). The crossing starts at Pudeto, crossing Lago Pehoé in about 30 minutes.
Paine Grande Moutain Lodge is run by Vertice Patagonia.
The Lodge is one of the best equipped in Torres del Paine. Facilities include shared rooms, hot showers, a restaurant, a bar, tent and sleeping bag hire and even internet access and telephones.
If you're trekking, the Lodge is 7.6km (2.5 hours) from Camp Italian in the French Valley and 11km (3.5 hours) from the Grey Glacier Lookout.
Bed only from US$39. Full board from US$73
(not including sheets, duvets or sleeping bags)
Tent hire (two man) US$13
Sleeping bag hire US$9
This island hotel has 45 basic ensuite rooms, most with jaw-dropping views of the Paine Massif. Access is via a long wooden bridge.
Standard rooms from: single: US$171, double: $187, triple: $236 and Superior rooms from: single: US$187, double US$161 and triple: $268
Explora Hotel Salto Chico
While Explora's views of the Paine Massif are not that different from Pehoe's, it does also have a view of Salto Chico Waterfall. Inside, it's all natural materials, soft colors and panoramic picture windows. The hotel also has an open-air hot tub, a swimming pool and an excellent restaurant to come back to after fully inclusive day-trips into the wilderness. Riding, boat, hiking trips are some of the activities.
Rates (for minimum four-night stay including excursions)
The steep rates at Explora’s Hotel Salto Chico (www.explora.com; four nights: $1,560 to $2,688 per person, double occupancy) include exquisite meals paired with fine wines, plus excursions led by bilingual guides.
Room with view of Salto Chico Waterfall
Single: US$3,748, Double: $2660,
Room with view of the Paine Massif
Single: US$4,288, Double: US$2,920,
Lakeside campsite with a restaurant and great views
Camping Pehoe sits on the south-eastern corner of the lake. Views across the lake to the jagged peaks of the Paine Massif are incredible. (Latitude: -51.106821; Longitude: -72.988787).
The Y156 road (and buses) from Puerto Natales pass close by.
You can bring your own tent or hire one (large dome tents start at $90 for two with breakfast).