In a piece titled ‘The untapped power of Patagonian berries‘ journalist Mark Johanson writes for BBC Travel about the little-known superfoods of Patagonia.

Birds certainly love the calafate bush, here with its distinctive yellow flower in spring

“Visitors to Torres del Paine in Chile may be familiar with calafate,” says the BBC Travel article, “as the small, blue berry is widely found alongside hiking trails.”

Spectacled tyrant bird taken by Awasi Patagonia guide, Fran Girado

“It’s also deeply rooted in local folklore,” continues Johanson. “Legend has it that anyone who eats the sour-sweet calafate berry will find themselves transported back to Patagonia’s rugged landscapes in the near future.”

We love our guests to learn about the myths and legends behind Patagonia, as well as the history and geology. As such, one of the gifts we leave in the 14 villas at Awasi Patagonia is a small book of bedtime stories.

An illustration from a small book created by the Awasi team

The myth of the calafate berry

A Tehuelche chief had a beautiful and obedient daughter with
golden eyes named Calafate. One day a young Selk´nam visiting
the village fell in love with her, and before long, love grew
between them. Since their communities opposed their union,
they decided to elope. The Tehuelche chief consulted a wizard,
who assured that he would keep them apart forever. Thus
Calafate was transformed into a shrub with flowers that were
the same golden color as her eyes. After wandering through the
steppe looking for his beloved, the young man almost died of
grief. The spirits took pity on them, turning the young man into a
bird so he could fly over and explore the Patagonia, and Calafate’s
flowers into a fruit, as sweet as her heart.
One summer, the young bird landed on a bush and tasted its
fruit, recognizing the heart of his beloved. They had managed
to come together again, despite believing it was impossible.
The legend says that the spell remains and that “whoever eats
Calafate, always comes back for more”.

As the BBC article correctly points out, “The story has its origins in a tale from the indigenous Tehuelche, who inhabit the southern tip of the continent and believe an ancestor turned herself into a calafate bush to give elders the energy needed to survive long journeys.”

Another way we enjoy celebrating this local berry is with a Calafate Sour (as pictured above) served at the bar in the Awasi Patagonia Main Lodge.

Awasi Patagonia, Chile

Awasi Patagonia is the only Relais & Chateaux property in Chilean Patagonia. The 14 rooms are stand-alone villas with private hot tubs overlooking the iconic Torres del Paine Mountain Range. Each room has a personal guide and private vehicle for the duration of each stay.