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Bird of passage

Category: Glacier

Chilean Patagonia: Torres del Paine and the Southern Andes (part 3)

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This is the last part of our trip to the Tierra del Fuego. We are getting so close to the Antarctica that I hope if I stare good enough in the right direction, I will be able to see that white continent.

We just left Torres del Paine National Park and now we are moving to Puerto Natales, which is where we disembark from our ferry. I’ve already mentioned that it’s better to see things if we travel by sea and the one I’d recommend is Navimag Ferries. They provide several routes and choices depending on your preference. I departed from Puerto Montt, travelling down, seeing loads of stuff for 3 days and disembarked at Puerto Natales. The price was 550 USD per bed and that already includes food. The facilities are really convenience and clean. There are shared bathrooms and toilets as well as the kitchen and other common areas like bar and dance floor. You might experience some seasickness as we have to navigate pass the areas where the surface of the water is really naughty, but there are medication service that will help you. Staffs are really nice and the food is really good as well.

Puerto Natales
  • Last Hope Sound (Última Esperanza)
  • Eberhard Fjord
  • Milodon Cave (Cueva del Milodón)
  • Navimag and Navy pier

Puerto Natales is a small waterfront town, with piers that bring people from every corners. It’s very classic, with old and colorful houses along the lakeside. One of the signature of this port town is the Última Esperanza, which is a spot to watch the sunset, flamingos and take cool pictures with old, ruin piers that reaches into the body of the water. It’s suitable to bike there along the shore of the Eberhard Fjord or treat yourself with another boat ride, which will bring you closer to waterfalls and animals. On the way, you will be visited by fellow sea lions as well.

You should also visit a cave that triggers the giants mysterious of the Fire Land. I’d recommend spending time around and inside Milodon Cave until it opens you to the great green scenery.

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You could also spend time relaxing by the pier, either at Navimag pier or if you want a bit a beach then there is the Navy pier for you. Also, if you are looking for a nice place to stay and relax, then you might wanna check out Remota Patagonia Lodge.

Punta Arenas
  • Magdalena Island (Isla Magdalena)
    • Penguins
  • Rey Jorge Island Natural Sea Park
    • Whale watching
  • La Cruz Hill Viewpoint (Mirador Cero de la Cruz)
  • Nao Victoria Museum (Museo Nao Victoria)
  • Punta Arena cemetery

A bit below Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas is one of the biggest city in this area. It has an airport, which you can fly back to Santiago instead of travelling back by sea. It’s the base for Antarctica expeditions in which you can buy tours or cruise trips from town centre. There are many islands in this area and one of the most known one is the Magdalena Island. It’s where you can get close to the Magellanic penguin colony. The other one is not as known , but you can spend time observing wild mammals like whales. It’s the Rey Jorge Island National Sea Park.

You could also go to La Cruz Hill Viewpoint that will allow you to see the whole city and it’s a great picture opportunity. And if you are interested in navigation history, then you should check out Nao Victoria Museum. Inside, there is the replica version of the first ship that successfully circumnavigate the world. However, if you want to know more about the history of Punta Arenas then you’ll want to go to Punta Arenas Cemetery. This place is known for their trimmed cypress trees that decorated the whole place.

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Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego
  • Porvenir
    • Cerro Mirador
  • White lake (Lago Blanco)
  • Camerón River
  • Navarino Island (Isla Navarino)
    • Puerto Williams
    • Los Dientes Circuit
  • Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos)

Tierra del Fuego is a very remote island, again owned by both Chile and Argentina. It’s so remote that it’s only a boat ride away for the Antarctica. The main town of this Fire Land is Porvenir. There is not much of the scenery to see, but there are loads of history awaited to be discovered as well as many animals. To have the best look of this town, you will have to go to Cerro Mirador. It’s the viewpoint this town can offer.

There is a great spot on this island that will allow you to spend time relaxing or fishing. It’s at the Lago Blanco. Here, you can catch yourself some fish and cook them fresh on spot. However, another body of water that you shouldn’t miss is the Camerón River. Again, you can spend time here, catching wild fish. But that’s not all, you could also stay at the Estancia Cameron Lodge and experience the whole Tierra del Fuego culture. There are many activities provided for fellow travellers, such as fly fishing, trekking, kayaking and bird watching.

To get yourself even more down south, you might want to stop at the Navarino Island. The main port of this island is the Puerto Williams, which is the southernmost inhabited settlement of the world. It’s a beautiful port city, with lots of boats and ships passing by or stopping by. It’s also decorated with white mountain range. It’s really peaceful and cold. I have to mention the cold. However, the beauty and what’s await allows us to easily forget about the weather.

You can easily get here from Punta Arenas via Transbordadora Austral Broom. Apart from taking you to Puerto Williams, there are other services as well, such as trips to Magdalena Island.

Just outside the town, if you are experienced and you are prepared, you might as well get yourself into one of the hardest hiking trail in South America. To complete Los Dientes Circuit, you will have to spare around five days, but you will definitely love what you see. The trail of the circuit is over 50 kilometres, so get your blood pumping.

Further from the Navarino, there sits the end of America. Cape Horn is reachable by sea and plane, but I would suggest the sea, even though it takes longer to get there. When you arrive there, you will see the sign that marks this legendary spot. It says “Armada de Chile, Alcaldia de mar, Cabo de Hornos.”

And finally, we are here, the end of this continent. We can’t go any further without having to move to Antarctica, in which I’m sure all of us would love to and we will.






Chilean Patagonia: Torres del Paine and the Southern Andes (part 2)

In my last post, I stopped at the Laguna San Rafael National Park. From this point, we are moving closer to the end of this continent and things are going to be better and better. Let’s us start at the Bernando O’Higgins National Park.

Bernando O’Higgins National Park
  • Lautaro volcano
  • Glacier Pío XI (Brüggen Glacier)
    • Eyre fjord
    • Lake Greve

It’s a place that you can’t miss. Bernando O’Higgins National Park is the largest protected area in Chile, a major sweet water reserve of the world, a part of both Aysén y Magallanes and Antártica Chilena region. It’s also part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Unlike other places we discussed in the previous post, rivers here are narrow fjords between mountains. The background of these fjords are decorated with high tips like the Lautaro volcano. It’s the highest point in this park, with 3,607 metres above the water.

There are also more blue area of glaciers. In this national park alone, there are more than 10 major glaciers, including glacier Pío XI, which is located at Eyre fjord by lake Greve. It’s the largest glacier in the Southern Hemisphere, outside of the Antarctica, with an area of 1,265 square kilometres. I would recommend a boat trip to see this glacier or if you are navigating with ferry, they will surely take you very close to this huge ice block for loads of pictures. The blue in pictures is going to be intense!


Torres del Paine National Park
  • Cordillera del Paine
    • Paine Towers
  • Grey Glacier
  • Valleys
    • French Valley (Valle de Francés)
    • Valle Bader
    • Valle Ascencio
    • Silence Valley (Valle de Silencio)
  • Ice fields
    • Dickson
    • The Tyndall
  • Lakes
    • Lake Pehoé
    • Lake Nordenskjöld
    • Lake Sarmiento
    • Lake Del Toro
    • Paine river
  • Viewpoints
    • Mirador Condor
    • Salto Grande
  • Trekking routes
    • W Trek
    • Paine Circuit

Our next stop is Torres del Paine National Park. It’s more known compare to other national parks we’ve mentioned. It’s has been talked about a lot more, but it does make sense because there are so many things to see as you can see from the long list I’ve made above.

Prepare yourself both physically and mentally if you plan to visit this park. It’s cold and windy but you will be mind blown with the beauty. Note down that it shuts in Winter due to the extreme weather. Apart from that, get yourself there and pay about 5,ooo Chilean Pesos if you are Chilean or 18,000 Pesos if you are not, depending on the season.

The park takes up part of Chile’s Southernmost and largest region. It is decorated with mountains like Cordillera del Paine that lies between Magellanic subpolar forest and Patagonian steppes. I should say, it’s really hard to choose the side, Magellanic or the steppes. Along the range, there are Paine Towers, which is the signature of this park. It could possibly be considered as the signature of the Chilean Patagonia.

The other gem of the park is the Grey Glacier. It’s an enormous block of ice. Despite the name, the blue of this glacier is as good as James Dean’s eyes. It’s that sexy!

By foot, you can reach all valleys with breathtaking views. At French Valley, you will be standing in the middle of the wall of magnificent mountains, just like the Paine. At Valle Bader, you will have high mountains in front of you, with blue body of water in between. At Valle Ascencio, you will be walking side by side a small lake that cuts right between two mountains. But if you want to take a look at Paine Towers from opposite angle then you’ll want to visit the Silence Valley. It’s a the rockier part of the park.

One of the reason that makes me wanna go there are them ice fields. I just want to experience them once in my life or more. Hand in hand, you and some mates, it would be a great experience to explore the Dickson. Also, do not miss the Tyndall.

In warmer days, lakes are nice place to see the reflection of the Cordillera. The blue one you see in many postcards is the Pehoé Lake. The other one is the Nordenskjöld lake, which also has a beach with dark, almost black gravels. There are many more, such as lake Sarmiento and lake del Toro. The main one is River Paine, which passes many parts of the park.

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If you want great pictures, you’ll probably wanna go to them viewpoints. Tho best one is the Mirador Condor. It’s simply beautiful, with mountains around the outside, blue water filling in the space in between them and small green land in the middle of them all. It’s the best! The other viewpoint is Salto Grande. It’s a huge waterfall that will blown you whole existent away.

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The best way to get around the park is probably by trekking. There are two main routes in which along the path, you’ll be accompanied with other fellow trekkers. The easier one is the W Trek and the more extreme one is the Paine Circuit. Paine Circuit is world’s top trekking route in which it will take around 9 days to complete the circuit and see everything. Please, pack everything you need as light as possible.

Apart from these scenarios, there are also animals that you have to keep an eye on, such as Guanacos or llamas, foxes and pumas. The the park, there are also may places that you can camp and lodge during the night and stay warm.

If you are keen on staying in one of the most extreme hotel in one of the most exotic park, you might want to check out Explora Patagonia. It’s beyond luxury, it’s also peace and majestic. If you are interested, there is also another Explora Hotel in Chile, which is at the Atacama Desert. You can check for more information from my post as well.

Once you are finished with the Torres del Paine, I hope you already taking it all in and are ready to move onto our next stop soon. It’s Puerto Natales. In my next post, we will disembark from our ferry and keep travelling down.






Chilean Patagonia: Torres del Paine and the Southern Andes (part 1)

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I’m sure Patagonia is on many people’s bucket list, simply because of it’s beauty and how exotic this place is. It’s on the edge of the world. It’s at the tip of a continent. It’s filled with great histories, including the world’s navigation, European exploration, Spanish conquest of South America or the colonization of this specific desert between Chile and Argentina. It’s about tales like giants. It could also be about the neighbor like Antarctica. However, the peak is its nature, the flora and fauna, them ice fields and the desert.

Patagonia is shared between Argentina and Chile, but this time, we’ll focus on the Chilean side and we’ll start at Puerto Montt and marking our way down until we arrive at the Fire Land. This is a long trip so be prepared.

Puerto Montt
  • Ferries’ embarkment
  • Chapo Lake (Lago Chapo)
  • Calbuco volcano
  • Llanquihue National Reserve
  • Reloncaví Estuary and Sound

Puerto Montt is the ending of the pieced Chile and is a door to the Patagonian desert. Travelling to the South from here is possibly best with Ferries, otherwise flight to Punta Arenas would be recommend but that means you’ll have to skip the whole crooked area as it’s not reachable by land. Though, some area is reachable by land if you cross over from Argentina.

If you happen to stop by Puerto Montt, you might as well spend your time at the Chapo Lake. You can spend your time camping, fishing or visiting an active Calbuco volcano in which its peak can be easily spotted from Llanquihue Lake.

Reloncaví Sound is a great place to witness the Reloncaví Estuary which is a fjord that is surrounded by many National Parks, volcanoes, lakes and valleys.

Chiloé Island (Isla Grande de Chiloé)
  • Canal Chacao
  • Castro
  • Chiloé National Park
    • Sea lions
    • Cole Cole beach

A bit below Puerto Montt is the Greater Island of Chiloé, which is reachable by boat from Puerto Montt by crossing Canal Chacao. It’s the second largest island in Chile, only after Tierra del Fuego.

The biggest city on the island is Castro. It’s a nice area to get an accommodation if you want to spend a night on this island as it’s surrounded by a peaceful waterfront, which is decorated with colorful houses. These wooden houses float above the water and leave beautiful reflection on the water. It’s a really cool picture opportunity.

The other option for accommodation is camping or lodging at Chiloé National Park. It’s a good place to see sea lions as well as chilling by the beach. It’s really nice to drive or walk along the coast until you reach the long, calm Cole Cole beach.

  • Coyhaique National Reserve
  • Simpson River bank
  • Lake Atravesado
  • Puerto Río Tranquilo
    • Only between December to February
    • Marble Caves (Capillas de Mármol)

Coyhaique is just a bit below Chiloé and it’s a nice town surrounded by river and mountains. This town is also known as “the city of eternal snow” because these mountains are always covered with white. It’s especially beautiful in Winter and brightly nice in Spring. It houses a tiny National Reserve of Coyhaique that is packed with deers and other animals. You could also get closer to nature by spending time with horses and ride them around the Simpson River. It can be a bit chilly during Winter so you might have to prepare yourself a bit before hand.

Also, maybe because these mountains are surrounded by rivers, the land is very green and fertile. Along the green scenery, there is Lake Atravesado. On the way there from town centre, the road is always accompanied by the water, which makes the trip a lot shorter. Apart from the body of water, Lake Atravesado also has a small waterfall that decorates the whole mountain.

One of the place you should never ever miss if you’re already in Southern Chile is Puerto Río Tranquilo. It’s so special that it’s only available between December to February, otherwise this place is too cold to visit. It shuts during Winter.

Getting there from Coyhaique is possible by bus. The bus should take about 5 hours to get to the port and it costs about 10,000 Chilean Pesos. The star of this place is the Marble Caves. They are islets, popping a bit above the sky blue water, with marble walls, columns or rooms. To get there, you can hire a boat or rent a kayak from the lakeside and for about half an hour you will arrive at the cluster of beauties. I would recommend taking waterproof bag with you as sometimes, the tide can be a bit high and you might get wet. Also, you might wanna get out of the boat and explore the interior of the caves in which you might have to go through some water. It’s impossible not to take too many pictures here.

Laguna San Rafael National Park
  • San Rafael glacier
  • San Rafael Lagoon
  • Moraleda Channel
  • San Valentín glacier
  • Mount San Valentín
  • Park’s facilities
    • Punta del Cisne
    • Caiquenes Lagoon

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From Río Tranquilo, you can go to Laguna San Rafael National Park by sea. Depending on the services you choose, it can take a day or a week to get here. You could also get here from Puerto Montt as I mentioned earlier.

This park is very special for many reasons. First of all, it’s very remote and not easily accessed by land. It’s also a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve for the beautiful environment and nature. It holds the entire Northern Patagonian Ice Fields (Campos de Heilo Norte), with about 19 glaciers. One of the most impressive of all is the obvious San Rafael glacier at the San Rafael lagoon that is right by the Moraleda Channel. The other one that should be seen is San Valentín glacier. It’s close to the highest peak of the Southern Andes, which is Mount San Valentín. Its height is 4,058 metres above sea level, which is impressive as the background for many points of interest. In an addition to that, the fjords here are massive. The biggest one is more than 16 kilometres long. It’s even better if you see it in person and up close. Also, the service and facilities of this park are really good despite being so far away from the main land. However, there are only two places where you can access these facilities: Punta del Cisne and Caiquenes Lagoon. My final reason recommending this place is because there are so many things to do, such as trekking, sailing, fishing, camping and animal watching. There are high chances to see Black-necked swans, sea otters and Andean foxes. This place is goals!

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At San Rafael, we are only half way through our trip and there are already so many to see. The final half of the trip will be available very soon in my next posts. It won’t be too long, please wait for the rest.






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