Carlos Leon has called Patagonia “home” since childhood and has been a part of WT’s Patagonia trips for almost 20 years. His enthusiasm for the outdoors, studies in anthropology, and personality with a mix of well-organized and easy-going fun-loving parts, make him an incredible asset to our adventurers, a perfect trip leader for the other-worldly natural paradise that is Patagonia. Read on to hear what Carlos loves about his home.
What are your favorite parts of a Patagonia trip? Any special outdoor spot, view, or experience that is most magical to you?
Magical? Hosteria El Pilar, Helsingfors, La Leona, Chali Aike, Hosteria Mirador del Paine, the hike to the base of Las Torres. I think the whole trip is magic.
But the first thing that comes to mind if we say “magic” was at Estancia Rincón Chico in Península Valdés last year. We had a long day; a very early flight from Buenos Aires, then a couple hours driving to the estancia. During the afternoon we hiked to the beach to watch sea lions. After a while the sunset found us, sitting on the beach all together surrounded by a group of baby elephant seals. One of the babies began playing with us, looking at us with those big and beautiful eyes, passing among us. I looked at the passengers and their faces looked radiant. Everyone was happy.
What a way to begin a trip! I have those eyes stuck in my mind.
What do you want travelers to remember most from their trip with you?
I want them to be able to describe the trip to others. Sometimes I see other groups who don’t know what they’re doing, where they were yesterday or are going tomorrow. I want my guests to enjoy as much as they can and, at the same time, to truly learn about Patagonia—the mountains, the wind, the people, the trails, the food. So that when they remember the trip, they can feel the wind on their forehead.
How do you incorporate nature education into your trips?
I love maps and on the Patagonia trip I love use maps to show how, each day, we are changing our perspective on the Southern Patagonia Ice Field and the Andes mountain range. Because on this trip we experience these environments in many ways: we fly, we sail, we hike, we ride, etc.
We will also have a talk before dinner where we discuss what we are doing the next day and especially what we expect to see the next day. We talk about schedules, weather- to suggest the right clothes to wear, and descriptions of the landscape, terrain , wildlife and history. Then during the day we talk again, now on the trail, at a look out, or on the bus to rehash the ideas that we talked about before.
How do you stay excited visiting the same places more than once?
Easy. Come here just once and you’ll understand how. Every time I hike to Laguna Azul (Argentina) or Laguna de los Tres (Argentina), or to Puente Weber (Torres del Paine), I feel that I have the best job of the world.
It’s not just the landscape; it’s the people also. The way I get to interact with so many different people: travelers, guides, drivers and many others. Overtime we’ve created strong friendships and that makes it even more fun.
What do you like to do when you are not trip leading?
I love to hike. So, for instance, last summer, when I had a couple days off and the weather showed three clear days, I drove to El Chaltén to hike the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, one of the hardest hikes in El Chaltén and one of the most beautiful views of the mountains. Last summer was particularly rainy and cold, so I took advantage of those clear days to do one of the things I love the most.
Also I love to repair computers. Solving issues with Linux and Windows based operating systems, settings, visualizations, recovering lost data, software and hardware upgrades, backups, etc.. And I work as an electrician and I love it too. It’s very good for me to have these contrasts among different activities during the year.
To see what Patagonia trips Carlos is scheduled to lead, check his trip leader page: http://www.wildernesstravel.com/leaders/leon-carlos