Published: September 4th 2007August 30th 2007
Torres del Paine
Me in front of the famous Torres del Paine.
So we flew to Punta Arenas (almost at the end of the world)! Very far south and only about 4000km from Antartica and boy did we feel the wind blowing up from there! The flight down here gave us breathtaking views over the southern patagonian icefield. We saw glaciars and and beautiful lakes and the landing in to Punta Arenas we interesting to say the least, rather like dive bombing out of the sky and almost in to the sea!
Punta Arenas is a lovely town with nice buildings and great views over the Magellan straights. Unfortunately the famous penguins you can see here were all off on their holidays so we made do with sightseeing in the town. We visited the naval museum which had some cool exhibits about voyages off the Cape Horn and Antartica. The navy have a big presence here and there were lots of sailors walking around the town in uniform! We also visited the cemetary which has some very impressive tombs and tells a real story about the immigrant history of the area.
Puerto Natales a 3 hour drive north east was our next destination. The journey there gave us a real feel
We saw a Buzzard Eagle on the way to the Moreno Glaciar from El Calafate.
for Patagonia. Vast incredibly windy and bleak semi desert landscapes with impressive mountains in the backdrop. Puerto Natales is a small town located next to a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains. Black necked swans float around on the water and you get stunning views of the scenery around. The town is typically patagonian with wooden buildings. We saw very few tourists here as it is the winter time so it was good to see life without people leaping at you to go on a tour! Our main excursion in Natales was to the Torres del Paine National Park. We only did a day trip because of the immense cold! But what a day it turned out to be. Once again luck was with us on the weather front. We had a clear and sunny day with superb views of the mountains and "torres" of the park. Within moments of entering the park area we had seen a large group of condors feeding on a dead animal. Just as we turned around we then saw a Nandu (patagonian ostrich) running at full speed! We drove around the main sights of the park stopping to take in the stunning scenery. We took
Ingrid and a Guanaco
A baby Guanaco who was trying to eat my hat and my hair!
a small hike to the waterfall Salto Grande and also spent a few hours at Lago Grey and the Grey Glaciar. Wow is all I can say about the glaciar! We spent our lunchtime eating our sandwhiches behind a bush to keep out of the wind, taking in the amazing view of the huge ice bergs that broke off the glaciar! On the way back to the minibus we were very lucky to see a red headed woodpecker (don´t know the proper name!).
After a full day in the park we headed back via a different route to visit the huge Milodon caves. I didn´t think I´d be that taken by a cave but the sheer size of it made it amazing! They have found remains of extinct prehistoric bears and other wildlife in there and the caves hold a lot of history for the area.
I have never seen such beautiful and breathtaking scenery as the Torres del Paine and would recommend that everyone come to this place once in their lifetime. It was truly magical!
Our patagonian experience then continued on to El Calafate in Argentina. We loved the town of Calafate and enjoyed a
First view of the Perito Moreno Glaciar
very tasty meal of Patagonian lamb one night! Our hostal was possibly the best hostal in the world with under floor heating and a hair dryer! (having not used a hair dryer in 11 months I was understandably very excited!). We took a day trip to see the Perito Moreno Glaciar. I can´t describe just how impressive this glaciar was. Please look at the pictures on our website to understand! The noises from the glaciar were also out of this world. It was like gun fire hearing the ice cracking and seeing chunks just sliding off the ice face and in to the water below. We spent a few hours admiring from the viewing platforms then we took a boat ride for a closer look. Once again the weather man had booked us the best possible weather!
Our second day in Calafate we wandered up to the Laguna Nimez where we saw lots of cool flamingos! We really wanted to go out to do some bird watching (stop laughing theres some really cool birds here) but we acquired two dog friends who escorted us the entire morning and spent their time chasing all the birds away. So we had
Gavin at the glaciar viewing platform
fun with them instead playing catch the stick (ruth, gav threw the stick not me!).
From Calafate we continued on the Puerto Madryn to go whale watching on the Valdes Peninsula. On our first evening there we wandered down to the beach to watch the sun set and to our astonishment looked out on to they bay to see about 10 whales just basking in the evening waters right near the pier and seafront of the town! We spent ages watching them and getting incredibly excited about what we´d see on the real whale tour the next day. Things did just get even more amazing the next day as we saw more whales than you can shake a stick at! One came within a metre of our boat. We saw mother and babies and ones with their tails in the air, jumping whales you name it! We saw some great wildlife as well on the peninsula, Guanacos (llama type animals), patagonia hares (which are more like rodents).
All in all our time in Patagonia has been incredible. The wildlife we have seen down here has been unexpected and amazing. I´m slowly running out of describing words to explain
Boat at the Glaciar face
You can see just how massive the face is. The glaciar is about 40 metres above water and goes about 100 metres below. The face is about 5km across.
all this so will bring this blog to a close (with a huge cheesy grin on my face from being so happy in Patagonia). If you come here in winter bring a lot of wooly clothes but do come out of season i think we´ve experienced the best Patagonia has to offer.
There are more photos below