Chile Guide Fio

March 17, 2023

Our Guiding Lights: Meet Our Fearless Tour Guide Fio from Patagonia

- By Jules Torti

Continue reading Our Guiding Lights: Meet Our Fearless Tour Guide Fio from Patagonia

Our Wild Women guides are everything. They are our built-in cheerleaders, they set the pace, they encourage us to be better (even when we’re wetter than we like to be). They live adventure 24/7 as a career and let Wild Women hang on to their bright spirit, experience and passion. They apply Band-aids, offer insider insights on the local menu and make a destination come alive with their knowledge of birds, mountain ranges, recipes, traditions, and legends. Some of them, like Fio, even know how to do the flying trapeze! Really!

I speak on behalf of our Wild Women group that recently experienced the true wilds of Patagonia on the Patagonia Hiking Adventure in Chile. Fio amplified each day of the daunting W Trek with a bounce in her step (even though her pack weighed over 60 pounds!) and reminded us to slow down, stop chatting and take in the natural wonder that embraced us. She frequently stopped us all in our tracks to say, “Chicas, look!” Our first, seemingly fictional iceberg was in full view and we had been too busy talking about cats to notice. A rainbow was practically sitting on our shoulders and we were gabbing away about Pink Floyd lyrics.

Fio gave each of us exactly what we needed without asking–it came in the form of a wide smile, a hug, tips on how to adjust poles on the descents, shared handfuls of trail mix, words, wisdom and her ever buoyant spirit. She is a fierce force and the best ambassador for Patagonia. Following in her measured La Sportiva steps, we were introduced to her beloved national park in all of the elements. The Patagonian wind was unforgettable and a sharp reminder of our size and presence. Thank you Fio for being your vulnerable, curious, dynamic and inspirational self. You showed our group an intimate and remarkable part of your precious Patagonia.

Behind the Scenes and Patagonian Mountains with Fio

Fio is a spunky ecotourism graduate with deep knowledge in mountaineering, leave-no-trace hiking, progression and glacier rescue and wilderness first response. She is also an International Yoga Federation certified yoga teacher. That’s how flexible she is! She illustrates her on-trail geology and glacier lessons in rich watercolours, loves to doodle sweet cartoons and can mimic countless bird calls. Her knowledge of medicinal plants and the natural world is impressive–if I lived closer I’d be on her heels everyday to absorb more!

She has been guiding in Chile for more than 15 years (from the northern reaches to the south), working in environmental interpretation with children and adults, leading hikes around her beloved national parks, and for the past few years, guiding through the beautiful Patagonia region. She’s fluent in Spanish (her native language) and English–any lost in translation moments in our group were in trying to decipher what the gal from Philly was saying!

Chile Guide Fio Group

In our email exchange post-trip I can feel Fio’s vibrancy and humble self shine through.

“I didn’t choose to be a guide, I chose Nature, to be outside and the joy in that. I want to study and learn from nature and develop a fulfilling career in guiding.”

Fio definitely belongs outside. Being by her side was a lucky lesson in how to live a full life of gratitude, openness and appreciation of Nature’s mood and wisdom. Her love of Torres is immense. Her backpack was even more immense! She carried us (and that pack) through the W Trek and sideways rain. Fio is a powerful force and a solid gold leader with an unstoppable spirit. We were so lucky to feel all of Patagonia’s wicked and wild temperament with our dear Fio.

Now for the really fun bit–I asked Fio a few questions about what makes her heart pound most wildly! 

What’s your favourite place on earth? 

Patagonia. It’s wild, free and beautiful. The landscapes steal your words, but your heart knows. You feel grateful and lucky for being there and are merely a spectator of the force and beauty.

What secret spot do you love to share with Wild Women?

I love the trail going to Cuernos (“The Horns”), and then the one as you approach French Valley. You are  hiking along and suddenly these massive, sheer walls of different coloured peaks and their dramatic shape appear just in front of you. I can really feel how little we are with the waterfalls falling and the immensity of Paine Grande mountain with the different glaciers. They sit on top, on the body and at the bottom, it’s just incredible. You feel blessed to be born on planet Earth.

What’s the most incredible experience you’ve witnessed while guiding?

To be part of Nature. The wind in Patagonia is so strong that you feel like a condor flying through the wind. In a way you know what it is to be wind. You look at many rainbows on your hikes and feel and know how amazing Nature is. You can feel the pure Magic–when you look at the stars at night, the Milky Way, the hundreds of stars and the entire universe that you can see. This is the incredible experience of being alive on this planet, to feel part of that Magic.

What is your spirit animal? 

Little birds. I just find them so harmonious, how they give their songs in the rising sun, they’re flying wings with a feather body. 

(There is actually a tiny bird called the Fio-fio or Elaenia albiceps chilensis. We heard it call out Fio’s name as we hiked the famed W-Trek).

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

To help fight a mental disorder, I could easily choose to say something like “I went rock climbing in Patagonia. A big granite mountain.” Instead, to have the courage to ask for help when I was suffering in solitude, that’s my biggest accomplishment. When you let yourself be vulnerable and take off the mask of being powerful (or any kind of hero that you think you have to be) and be real and face your fears–that is the biggest mountain you can accomplish.

What don’t we know about you?

I did a lot of theater when I was young. I learned how to do trapeze, fire juggling and juggling clubs. I did a lot of clown shows for little kids, too. Lots of fun playing around, always!

What’s your biggest fear in the wild? 

I guess it would be suffering a bad accident alone. Like falling from a cliff, or breaking a leg.

What would you like to learn more about? 

I would like to work with indigenous communities from the jungle and learn more about medicinal plants and natural herbs and their uses from the Shipibo of Perú.

Tell us–what’s your kick ass song that gets you revved up and ready to take on the day?

Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones. Just thinking of the song makes me want to do something Big!!

What’s your favourite trail snack?

Fruit always! A juicy peach, or strawberries, especially the wild berries standing next to you on the trails. So good! 

What’s your favourite piece of gear?

My trekking poles. I’m a pole converter, jajaja. It doesn’t matter how heavy my backpack is— a good pair of poles are My Best Friends. Climbing up the mountain or down the rocky moraine, crossing a river, they are just an extra pair of legs for me.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

My  girlfriends, they are the loving family that you choose. I always learn when I’m close to them and I love having friends that I admire. Whether it’s their sensitivity, courage, knowledge. I feel there’s something really special in being a woman and to have girlfriends to be around. They are always the Best mentors.

Please confirm you are a person.

Find Your Trip Let's Talk!