Today, on my birthday, I am back at home and will celebrate with friends and family.
However, the last 4 weeks I traveled far from home and explored Patagonia and the southern region of the South American continent.
Overview of my Journey:
My journey took me from
to Buenos Aires in Argentina
– albeit not in a straight line fashion as indicated on the above map. Painfully, I had to go through New
York before the night flight to the capital of Argentina. But traveling with my good friend Lynda made
the long flight and layovers bearable.
After a short trip for the airport to the inner city, we were met by our Photo tour group at the hotel and spend 2 nights exploring the ‘city of tango and music’. Our next flight took us further south to El Calafate in the heart of
Patagonia, the most southern region of the
South American continent shared by Argentina
The next 14 days, we explored the FitzRoy Massive, a mountain chain with its highest peak at ~11,000ft, walked on the Viedma Glacier after strapping crampons under our hiking boots, met with an original ‘gaucho’, the South American Cowboy, and his dog and horse, heard the rumblings of glaciers as they move and saw calving big ice sheets from the glacier face, observed sheep herding on an authentic sheep ranch, Estancia Alicia, photographed guanacos, the cousins of alpacas and guanacos endemic in the South American Andes in the Torre del Paine region, took a great ferry ride to Terra del Fuego (Land of Fire) and saw our first penguins, a small and newly established King Penguin colony – and I fell in love with these curious and beautiful non-flying birds.
On the Punta Arenas-El Porvenir Ferry crossing the Magellan Strait
Lynda and I left the group to return to
Arenas where we explored the most southern town of
150,000 inhabitants and explored more penguins, this time the Magellanic
Penguins on Isla Magdalena, before joining our next group for an expedition on
the . We traveled by small boat – 15 participants –
that carried zodiacs and kayaks for the further exploration of the shores and
waters. During the next week, we had an
incredible experience with humpback whales that played in the waters by spyhopping,
slapping their narrow white flippers on the water, and breached. We saw mothers followed closely by their
babies and observed the little ‘baby breaches’ as they tried to imitate their
mothers. Curiously, the whales were
often followed by fur seals that also jumped out of the waters as if to
say: we can also breach as our big
cousins. Magellan Strait
Our home on the Magellan Strait
Curious Young Elephant Seal
The time passed quickly with so many wonderful experiences and soon we were back in
not looking forward to our long haul back to the US: Punta Arenas
– Santiago – Buenos
Aires – Newark
– San Francisco.
Last day on the Magellan Strait - finally the sun made an appearance!
But what a journey it was!! High mountains, open seas, wildlife on land, on sea and in the air. Seeing 8 condors taking the thermals up higher and higher was an unforgettable sight better enjoyed without the camera in front of my eyes. What a joy to see these enormous birds with a 3 m (9ft) wingspan taking flight and soaring in the high sky. They are not threatened in these mountains, gliding over the enormous glaciers and over the fjords and islands of this untouched land. There is a beauty in the rough landscape that tells of hardship for man and beast who try to penetrate it. Those who survive the raw nature in this region are richly rewarded. Since the land in the southern cold climate offers sparse, low and hardy vegetation, the seas mostly provide food for the condors, albatross, petrels, fur seals, elephant seals, humpbacks and all the other critters that make their life here. I am thankful having been given all but a glimpse into a world quite foreign to me. I loved having the wind blowing in my hair, happy that I did not fall into the icy waters when kayaking! - and mastering my fear of climbing on crampons over glacier crevices.
Moody sunset over the Magellan mountains
Now I am back home. My camera and I were very busy during the trip – amazing that I did not get cramps in my index finger from triggering the shutter release - and I will share my images as I work through and relive my trip.
Til next time soon,
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