Tag Archives: Patagonia

March of the Penguins

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Three weeks ago, we arrived in Puerto Madryn, Argentina just in time to see the molting Magellanic penguins at Punta Tomba reserve on the Peninsula Valdez. It was strange that the day was so warm and the beaches so sunny.   After Tierra del Fuego, we expected to see penguins while wrapped in ten layers of warm clothing. But it was beach weather, and the penguins just wanted to play in the water and hang out in shady spots (They particularly like to gather under the footbridges.)   It was incredible to be able to see so many penguins.   These are the last weeks here, as they finish molting and ready themselves to head north and follow the anchovies to warmer water.

In addition to all the penguins, we got to see a Choique (Darwin’s Rea), an ostrich-like bird, as well as several Guanaco, who seem to like hanging at the preserve where they are far from hunters. We felt really lucky–it was a very special day, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.   Enjoy the pictures!



The end of the world-Tierra del Fuego

We landed in Ushuaia, Argentina after cruising some amazing territory.

The highlight here was our trip to Tierra del Fuego National Park, after a drive through the Pipo River Valley. The park was created to protect the southern portion of sub-Antarctic forest. It rambles through the Andes and the region’s forests, rivers, lakes and peat bogs. We saw some gorgeous scenery, although the weather wasn’t great for bird-watching. But we did see an Andean Condor as well as crested ducks and brown pintails. We encountered quite a few of the endemic Fuegian red fox, too. The Pan American highway ends here–it begins in Alaska. I wonder how many have traveled its length through two continents? I’m not sure that will ever have a place on our bucket list—that’s a long road trip!

Here everything is the “southernmost” — the “fin del mundo” (end of the world) is definitely something locals brag about. We sent post cards from the southernmost post office at Lapataia Bay (actually postmark of “fin del mundo”) We passed through the southernmost settlements, saw the southernmost rugby and soccer fields, the southernmost golf course, and drank our southernmost glass of wine. It was pretty cold, this close to Antarctica, but not too bad, at least not after a New England winter.

And when we sailed away, we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow over the water. Unforgettable.

After leaving Ushuaia, we rounded Cape Horn—the southern tip of South America. The weather wasn’t clear, but the winds were friendly enough for us to circle past twice—from east to west and then back around west to east–a very nice thing for the captain to do. Sadly, the photos don’t do it justice but you get the idea.

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Through the Straits of Magellan…

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The voyage through the Straits of Magellan to Punta Arenas was incredible. Hard to believe these waters were navigated in small sailboats back in the 16th century—truly amazing.   The fog was too thick to really see the Amalia Glacier, but it was still thrilling to be in these waters, to slip in between glaciers and through fjords on our way to Argentina.

Punta Arenas,our last stop in Chile, was an affluent Belle Epoque city back in the 19th century. Until the Panama Canal was completed, it was a transportation hub, and the robust Patagonian wool trade created wealth for many families.  The European style of the city is apparent in its center at the Plaza de Armas, and the architecture is stunning. We visited one of the mansions created during that time–the Palacio Sara Braun at the Plaza Muños Gamero.   At the main square, we stopped into the Cathedral, where the bishop was celebrating a special mass for the sailors who were in town—and there were lots of them.   South American naval academies from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia were all in town on this day, midway through their around-the-world sailing voyage.   This elite group of young sailors were happy to welcome visitors, pose for pictures, and swap travel stories—great fun!

Then we were off to continue our own adventure—through the Beagle Channel and Glacier Alley to Ushuaia, Argentina. We had wonderful weather in port, but sadly, it was mostly cloudy and overcast in the channels—so the photos don’t really do justice to the glaciers and beautiful channels.   But enjoy the photos anyway!

Puerto Chacabuco, Chile – the middle of nowhere!

…but the natural beauty was worth the trip.   After sailing out of Puerto Montt , through the Golfo De Ancud and into the Canal Moraleda, we got here–to the middle of nowhere.  So we visited the Aiken del Sur Private Park in the forests of Patagonia. Although the weather was damp, the wild fuschia was in bloom, the waterfall (Barba del Viejo or “Old Man’s Beard”) was running, of course, and we didn’t get rained on. The park rangers treated us to some empanadas, cheeses, and sweets, not to mention Chilean wine and Pisco sours, topped off by adorable folkloric dance performance by local school children.   Cute!

Now for a few days of sailing through the Chilean fjords and down to Punta Arenas. The weather may not be the best for viewing (or photographing) these natural wonders, but we’ll find a way to have fun!
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Waterfalls and Volcanoes in Patagonia.

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It was smooth sailing, literally, to Puerto Montt, Chile.  A transportation hub in Patagonia, it’s the best way to get to Chiloé and several other points of interest in the area.   Since we only had a day, we stayed local and visited the gorgeous rapids and waterfalls of the Petrohué River at V. Perez Rosales National Park, the lovely “city of roses” of Puerto Rava, beautifully situated on Lake Llanquhue, and then headed to the Osorno Volcano for a little hike. This time, we weren’t hiking up an active Volcano, so it was a little different from our experience in Sicily—but still exciting because of the incredibly beautiful views. As usual, the weather gods smiled upon us, and the dense cloud cover lifted as we reached the top of the volcano.   How lucky we were! We enjoyed a great lunch right across from the lake. It actually reminded us of Tahoe, enormous, peaceful, and deep blue.  What a beautiful part of the world!