Filmmaker Garrett Martin and his team spent four long months hiking and packrafting along the Andes Mountains in Chile in order to film the documentary “Unbounded”. Here he shares some incredible Chile travel photography to fall in love with:
Chile is truly a world of its own. Snow-peaked mountains, towering peaks, glacier lakes, turquoise rivers, barren deserts, geothermal activity and a biodiversity that is unlike anywhere else in the world. To say Chile is unique is an understatement.
Our four-person team spent four long months hiking and packrafting along the Andes Mountains in Chile in order to film the feature length documentary “Unbounded” which documents our experience and shows the necessity to protect this beautiful part of the world. To be able to capture these photos and video, we had to carry all of the heavy camera equipment on our backs, with no support team following us.
The equipment that we brought with us included two Sony a7s cameras, one GoPro, two heavy duty tripods, four hard drives, a laptop, a boom pole, over twenty batteries, numerous pieces of sound and recording equipment and every accessory that goes with them. On top of all this, each of us had pounds and pounds of backpacking equipment and food for our survival needs. For most of us, our backpacks would, at times, total more than 50 pounds each. Despite it making the trip twice as difficult, it also made it twice as rewarding as we documented places that, for these reasons exactly, have never been documented before.
Our journey started in Santiago as we made our way south, hugging the Andes Mountains, eventually concluding in the heart of Patagonia. We followed a little known trail, “The Greater Patagonian Trail”, which is the longest continuous trail network in South America. Right after starting our journey, it seemed like we passed through every landscape imaginable. We managed to walk through a sandy desert, hike a snow-capped mountain pass and submerge ourselves in a tropical temperate rainforest – all in just the first two days. We knew Chile was diverse but had no idea that the landscapes could completely change in just a couple day’s walk.
On foot and packraft, we covered nearly 700 km, which allowed us to see many different regions of Chile and what they have to offer. In central Chile, in the Bio Bio region, we got immersed in the Indigenous culture of the region, The Pehuenche, and learned of the history of the area and how it came to be. This area also boasts extremely long and beautiful rivers like the Bio Bio and the Nuble, which are world famous destinations for whitewater rafting.
Further south, we encountered Puyehue National Park and witnessed desolate, barren landscapes with geothermal and volcanic activity before we summited Volcano Puyehue. Despite being a National Park and containing some of the most incredibly unique landscapes we had seen, we did not encounter a tourist for days until the end of the trail when we summited the volcano. This was the case for a majority of the trip as we could go for weeks without seeing a foreigner. This isolation allows you to appreciate the beauty in front of you and puts in perspective how desolate this region actually is.
Lastly, we entered Patagonia and were immediately greeted by massive granite cliffs and pristine, blue rivers. Patagonia is known around the globe for being one of the last truly wild places and we certainly weren’t disappointed once we arrived. Snow-covered mountains and beautiful meandering rivers surround the region along with many other natural landscapes.
These are just a few examples of the diversity and uniqueness of areas we crossed through but in reality – the possibilities are limitless. We explored Chile for over 120 days and we couldn’t even say we scratched the surface. Chile is the second longest country in the world and with Patagonia being one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world, there are literally endless places to explore.
The landscapes are incredible but really, what sets Chile apart are the people – people that live along the Andes Mountains and survive in the harsh environments and unpredictable weather in the mountains. The culture and generosity of these people was something that never ceased to amaze us. They were some of the most hospitable people any of us had ever met and quite possibly ever will. Their generosity and kindness was what made Chile such an incredible experience and something we are excited to share with the world.
Unfortunately though, these beautiful places the locals call their home are currently under threat. Mega-Hydroelectric dams, mining corporations and destructive development all play a role in harming these pristine landscapes, which in most cases, cause irreversible damage to the environment and often result in the relocation of locals who have been living there for generations. With Patagonia having perhaps the cleanest air and water in the world and Chile hosting one of the richest biodiversities on our planet, this is a huge concern.
Luckily, there is a huge environmental movement currently happening in Chile to help protect these beautiful and wild places and our hope is that we can be a part of it. Our film not only follows our adventure and experience across this diverse country, but also highlights the places threatened. To do this, we interviewed some of the top environmentalists across Chile including kayakers, activists, organizational leaders, politicians and locals who are passionate about protecting their land.
Please help us in raising awareness about this area and contributing to its protection for future generations. We just recently launched a Kickstarter and the first teaser for the documentary. If your interested and want to contribute to raising awareness about this incredibly unique part of the world, please head over to our Kickstarter page and consider donating.