Ask the team: trekking in Patagonia and Korean cuisine
A friend and I want to go trekking in Patagonia, walking the Torres del Paine circuit and Los Glaciares National Park from El Chalten to Villa O’Higgins, and visiting Punta Arenas. Many companies in the region offer sightseeing trips with some walking. Are there any that do proper trekking itineraries?
Sandra Monk, Hilton, Huntingdon
Vincent Crump replies: A decent spread of South American specialists lay on meaty Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares treks in discrete bites, and will happily rustle up a bespoke itinerary, for a price.
Swoop Patagonia has an off-the-peg trip running north from Punta Arenas, in Chile: there’s a day spent exploring the town’s mansions and museums, then it’s on across the steppe for the six-day Torres del Paine trek. The Argentine stage detours to the Perito Moreno glacier en route to El Chalten, where the guided three-day Huemel circuit is rocky, remote and well beyond the standard tourist trail. Oh, and you get three days in Tierra del Fuego to finish, which should dent any disappointment about missing out on Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. The 21-night trip starts at£3,110pp, excluding flights (0117 369 0196, swoop-patagonia.co.uk).
Adding your Villa O’Higgins stage makes things trickier, but a local operator, Robinson Crusoe, now joins it up with El Chalten and Los Glaciares. To tick all your boxes, you’ll need to fly to Balmaceda via Santiago. Then it’s a two-day drive to Villa O’Higgins and a 12-mile walk across the Argentine border to El Chalten, with a couple of short boat journeys tying up the loose ends.
Andean Trails can sort all that out for you from the UK, and suggests adding three days of self-guided trekking to Mount Fitz Roy and other Los Glaciares marvels, then two days to eyeball the Perito Moreno glacier. The full nine-day Paine circuit follows — with a guide this time, because it’s more technical — winding up in Punta Arenas. That will set you back about £2,350pp, based on two sharing; allow at least £800pp for flights (0131 467 7086, andeantrails.co.uk).
I’m visiting a friend in Seoul in July, but have recently discovered that I can’t stomach kimchi. Will it be everywhere, or can it be avoided?
Will Teak, Shrewsbury
Alessia Horwich replies: Pungent, spicy fermented cabbage isn’t for everyone, but the Koreans can’t get enough of kimchi, and you should expect it to be served with most of your meals. The good news is, it’s usually offered as a side dish, along with pickles, garlic cloves and green chillies, which Koreans chomp raw without breaking a sweat. So, unless you’re directly offered any, you can probably avoid kimchi altogether.