Patagonia

Southern Chile and Argentina

Apologies for not keeping the blog very well up to date these days but Patagonia is not the best place to find good internet connections! We have been driving for hundreds of km on gravel roads, passing through very small villages (if we are passing through any villages at all) and sometimes we are struggling to find fuel. In Danish we would say that we are very far out onto the fields of Lars Tyndskid here! 

Strait of Magellan and the Magellanic Penguin

We stayed just outside the city of Punta Arenas. Here camping on the shore of the Strait of Magellan.L1042442_small

Nearby was a colony of Magellanic Penguins so we went there through beautiful bog land and fields with sheep.L1042437_small

It was a bit at the end of the season but fortunately the penguins were there waiting for us!IMG_7776_small

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Who is there sleeping in the grass! The Magellanic Penguin makes its nest in the ground close to the shore. IMG_7757_small

Here two baby penguins at the entrance to the underground nest.IMG_7753_small

And a baby penguin under the wooden walkway. I am not here! The parents were too lazy to dig a nest in the ground?  IMG_7750_small

Busy penguin life, always a lot of feathers to groom. IMG_7780_small

Ok, I had enough of standing around on the beach. Let’s go home.
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The Magellanic Penguin is monogamous so husband and wife stays together for all their life. Poor the husband!IMG_7781_small

Keeping up appearances! A walking penguin is a sight that makes you smile.     IMG_7793_small

Torres del Paine

From El Chalten we drove south and entered Chile again to visit Torres del Paine. And again it was raining! But fortunately it cleared up and we spent 3 great days in the national park, we walked 60 km with 2800 m altitude gain, we saw the famous granite towers and we were lucky to sleep all alone under the full moon in the beautiful Valle del Frances (special permit!). Here are the photos.

Toro Seduto at the shore of Lago Nordenskjold.L1042382_small

On the way to Valle del Frances we walked along the beautiful Lago Nordenskjold.L1042346_small

Toro Seduto is checking out the Cerro Paine Grande at the entrance to the Valle del Frances.L1042351_small

Nice ice “comb” on the Cerro Paine Grande created by the ice cold winds which frequently sweep across southern Patagonia. IMG_7608_small

Graphical ice/snow/rock at the base of Cerro Paine Grande.
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The “cuernos” or “horns” of Cuernos del Paine seen from Valle del Frances.IMG_7551_small

Cuerno Norte in the light of the setting sun. IMG_7572_small

From left to right Cerro Espada, Cerro Hoja, Cerro Mascara and the grand Cuerno Norte. The top of the Cuerno Principal is just visible in the background to the far right.IMG_7569_small

Cerro Fortaleza to the far left with Cerro Espada and Cerro Hoja in the light of the setting sun. View from Valle del Frances.L1042360_small

Our solitary camp site in Valle del Frances.L1042374_small

The view back up the Valle del Frances as we walked out the next morning. IMG_7601_small

The “shark-fin”.                     IMG_7591_small

Cuerno Principal and Cuerno Este.IMG_7634_small

On the way back we had a long break at the shore of the Lago Nordenskjold. The weather was beautiful and the surface of the lake was like a mirror. IMG_7623_small

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The following day we made a quick day trip to see the famous Torres del Paine. Here in the morning sun. There were two climbers on the central tower (number two from the left).IMG_7647_small

Torres del Paine!                  IMG_7682_small

After about an hour the clouds started to concentrate around the granite towers but it only made the view more dramatic.IMG_7687_small

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Finally, as we left the Torres del Paine National Park we got the full view of the peaks from across Lago Amarga. L1042415_small

Guanaco

We love guanacos! So here they are in the chilean version: 

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Lago Electrico and Paso del Cuadrado

One beautiful morning we headed up along the Rio Electrico with the noble objective of reaching Gorra Blanca or at least the Paso Marconi at the edge of the Hielos Continentales / the continental ice sheet between Argentina and Chile. About 4 hours up the path we had to realize that we were in fact exhausted, our muscles all painful, our legs like rubber and so we spent the day sleeping on the rocky shores of Lago Electrico. Literally, we slept 8 hours there in the sun, under the blue sky and in the clear fresh air. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon we woke up feeling much more rested. And very noble! The next day we went up to Paso del Cuadrado from where the view was incredible. Photos below!

Rio Electrico
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Cerro Electrico and Monte Fitz Roy.IMG_7283_small

Lago Electrico with Cordon Marconi and Glaciar Marconi in the background.IMG_7297_small

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The great and noble alpinists spending the day on the beach – on the rocky shore of Lago Electrico. IMG_7295_small

View to Monte Fitz Roy                       IMG_7287_small

En route to Paso del Cuadrado – Ag. Guillaumet, Ag. Mermoz and Monte Fitz Roy.IMG_7303_small

View to the continental ice sheet to the west, the third largest in the world after the ice caps on Antarctica and Greenland (Cerro Marconi to the left and Paso Marconi in the center).IMG_7310_small

Marco enjoying the view to Gorra Blanca and Paso Marconi.IMG_7322_small

Gorra Blanca barely visible as a rounded white peak behind Cerro Neumeyer. IMG_7360_small

View down the valley to the east, down below flows the Rio Electrico.                IMG_7327_small

Just below the Paso del Cuadrado we had a lovely view across a small glacial lake to Ag. Guillaumet, Ag. Mermoz and Monte Fitz Roy. IMG_7319_small

Up there is the Paso del Cuadrado, to the right of the big square rock. IMG_7318_small

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Finally arrived at Paso del Cuadrado we were awarded with an AWESOME view! Monte Fitz Roy was right there in front of us (right) flanked by Ag. Mermoz and Ag. Guillaumet.IMG_7346_small

In the background to the right of Fitz Roy stood Cerro Torre. IMG_7328_small

A more expanded view with Cerro Torre to the far left with the grand Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte flowing down the center and to the right the beautiful peak of Cerro Pollone flanked by the Glaciar Pollone to the far right.IMG_7350_small

Cerro Torre and the Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte. IMG_7345_small

Cerro Torre with the famous ice mushroom on top. On the left side of Cerro Torre is the famous “compressor route” on the southeast face, climbed by an Italian team led by Cesare Maestri in 1970. They brought a compressor to bolt the route but only made it to the end of the rocky part of the mountain, below the ice mushroom. Maestri claimed that “the mushroom is not part of the mountain” and did not continue to the summit (quote Wikipedia)! The compressor is still up there but two young climbers from Canada and the USA removed the bolts in 2012. Certainly a summit with a history! To the left of Cerro Torre stands Ag. Torre Egger, Ag. Herron and Ag. Standhardt.                     IMG_7340_small

The “compressor team”! Maestri standing.cerro+torre+compressor

Cerro Pollone and Glaciar Pollone.IMG_7335_small

Cerro Pollone.                    IMG_7359_small

The foot of the Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte.IMG_7339_small

Cerro Pollone and Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte.IMG_7333_small

Los Glaciares National Park

The skyline of El Chalten looking East towards Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and to the far left Cerro Solo.IMG_7227_small

Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Cerro Poincenot and Monte Fitz Roy (left to right).IMG_7222_small

Clouds blowing off the granite peak of Monte Fitz Roy. To the left Cerro Poincenot and behind the Bifida. IMG_7220_small

Early morning view up the valley of Rio Electrico. In the background the large Glaciar Marconi.IMG_7257_small

Laguna Piedras Blancas on a cloudy day. The peak of Fitz Roy is just visible.IMG_7266_small

Laguna de Los Tres at the foot of the Glaciar de Los Tres. In the background Fitz Roy partly hidden in the clouds and to the left Cerro Poincenot and further left Ag. Saint Exupery.IMG_7268_small

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El Chalten

El Chalten, at the foot of the impressive granite peaks of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, has changed a lot since we were last there 3 years ago. But behind the hotels and restaurants on the main street it is still a nice and messy little pioneer town with a lot of things to discover. For example the best, BEST alfajores in Argentina in a small bakery on a side street (next to a shop selling green plants/flowers) we can’t remember the name so you will have to explore the town to find it yourself! 

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A UAZ in El Chalten! From Russia with love.                                IMG_7396_small

The alpinist                     IMG_7406_small

The free-rider                     IMG_7409_small

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The Colours of Patagonia

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Cuevas de las Manos

In the middle of nowhere, in the heart of the Patagonien hills, there is a canyon with painted hands of guanaco hunters dating back 9000-13000 years. “Cuevas de las Manos” is a world heritage site and it is worth the long drive to visit this remote but special location.

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Wild guanacos still roam the hills like they did 10,000 years ago when the hunters painted their hands and images of guanacos on the walls of the canyon.IMG_7174_small

Sweet guanaco kids!                    IMG_7180_small

The guanaco hunting hand-painters also hunted ostrich and one finds a few paintings of ostrich feet on the canyon walls, see below. IMG_7156_small

The famous Cuevos de las Manos!                        IMG_7131_small

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Elegant guanacos running across the canyon walls.IMG_7150_small

Pregnant (or fat!) guanacos.                                 IMG_7135_small

There are two ostrich feet (poor!) painted in between all the hunter’s hands (lower left half).IMG_7144_small

Life after Aconcagua

After Aconcagua we drove south from Mendoza towards Bariloche. We were eating a lot and still feeling hungry, sleeping 12 hours per night and still feeling tired and we were a bit lost now that the Aconcagua expedition was successfully completed. What to do? So we decided to climb something!

First we drove to the Volcan Lanin National Park to climb the beautiful Lanin volcano right on the border to Chile. But…..we had all the required equipment including crampons and ice axes and helmets etc but we did not have a VHF radio so we were not allowed to go to the peak by the park rangers! We made a day trip to the upper hut and came down to drink some beers and drown our sorrows.

Gaucho working with the cattle – on the way to Volcan Lanin.IMG_7027_small

Frida parked at the foot of Volcan Lanin, 3747 m. Preparing to go for a hike the next day. Unfortunately we could not get the permit to go to the summit because we did not have a VHF radio!IMG_7029_small

This is as far as we were allowed to go. At the upper refugie on Volcan Lanin.IMG_7034_small

View over the valley.          IMG_7030_small

The military refugie on Volcan Lanin.IMG_7037_small

After our failed attempt at climbing the Lanin Volcano, we drove further south, through Bariloche where we stopped only to buy one kilogram of our favourite Argentinian chocolate and then we continued to the lovely Monte Tronador. But alas, conditions were not good. The weather forecast was bad for the next couple of days and we were not committed enough to wait that long.

Monte Tronador, 3491 m.IMG_7046_small

Marco and Frida at the start of the trail to Monte Tronador. We spent the afternoon putting all our stuff in order while we watched the clouds closing in on the mountain.IMG_7050_small

The Colours of Chile

South of Bariloche, we made a detour into Chile to drive the Carretera Austral, a gravel road which provides access to the beautiful and very sparsely populated southern part of Chile. Unfortunately the Carretera Austral is a road of very bad quality and the climate of southern Chile is very wet so the experience was mixed. After 3 days of very slow driving and very cold weather we decided to pop back into sunny Argentina!

Chilean Patagonia is a wild and beautiful region but it is also very wet and cold.L1042265_small

Most of the time it was either raining or almost raining!L1042266_small

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Turquoise coloured river water from the glaciers.L1042280_small

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Rounded valleys reminded us of Norway.IMG_7081_small

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Beautiful lake views – photos taken at the rare moments of sunshine!IMG_7101_small

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Typical Patagonian wooden architecture.IMG_7110_small

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The rainbow ends in Chile! Almost back into Argentina, looking back to the dark and heavy clouds looming over Chilean Patagonia. IMG_7118_small

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4 responses to “Patagonia

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