The Eden at the End of the World! Thats what they call it! The Eden at the End of the World! It sounds delicious doesn't it?- Well that description pales in comparison to witnessing Patagonia in person!
|12,500 year old cave painting|
The topography of the region is called "steppes"- 13 great plains rise in succession- each one elevated about 100 meters (330 feet) higher than the last- and each one taking in vast, vast expanses. On the horizon lie the snow capped mountains of the Andes with their impossible craggy peaks. Filling the hollows of the steppes are cobalt blue pools of brackish water filled with pink flamingos! Low lying shrubs cover the plains and lean to the east as the strong prevailing western winds whip across them. Rivers and waterfalls appear out of nowhere. Looking closely, you will see ostrich sized birds named Rheas and the llamaesque animal called the Guanaco. Enormous Condors soar overhead- besides the people in our group, it seemed there was not a soul for hundreds of miles.
|Patagonian Ice Field and|
Peito- Moreno Glacier
the Straits of Magellan. The day was crystal clear, not a cloud in the sky, as the plane flew over the expansive Patagonian ice fields and glaciers- the scenery stretching out below us was mind blowing. It's a long way from Santiago to Patagonia! The flight was 3 1/2 hours in duration covering almost 1400 miles!
The following morning we boarded a luxurious motor coach and picked up our local guide (who , between she and the bus driver, were AWESOME!) We headed north on our way to Puerto Natales- along the way we would stop and see the Magellanic Penguins! Into the flat, flat plains armed with a picnic we went.... Before long we spotted a gray fox eating a rabbit, giant Rhea pecking the dirt in the distance, Pink Flamingos sifting through brackish ponds and huge Condors flying over our heads. The road was a dirt track and the only real signs of man was the wire fencing along it. Eventually we came to the penguin colony- the birds are adorable, about 2 foot tall and, of course, black and white. They mate for life, live up to 25 years and return year after year to their nesting grounds to raise their young. Each pair usually has two chicks and nurtures them in a sandy burrow. There is a raised wooden platform that loops around the breeding ground so that you can see the
After our amazing visit with the penguins we head back out though the Patagonian wilderness to Puerto Natales- a rustic town siting upon a jaw-dropping fjord called the Ultima Esperanza Sound. We check into of lovely hotel and go out for a stroll along the towns waterfront. The warm, lovely weather has brought everyone outdoors! All along the shore people are picnicking, sunbathing and playing. The days are long down here and activity went on well into the evening.
In the morning, the people were gone and the clean, rocky beach was filled with water fowl of all descriptions. Dogs, who are considered by the towns people communal property, ran happily along and accompanied me on my explorations. The water was clear and silver and still. The clouds drifted over the mountain tops exposing the incredible peaks of the Torres del Paines every now and then. I could hear the sound of distant cattle lowing and the ducks quacking- and not much else.
|plying the fjord|
away from it and we walked up a trail for a mile or so past milky green lake formed by it's runoff. Once at the bottom of the glacier you could hear sounds like powerful gunshots and huge hunks of the ice would cascade down the slope. Amazing stuff!
|Torres Del Paine National Park|
By evening we found ourselves in a picturesque resort town called El Calafate. Situated on the
|Perito Moreno Glacier|
The mysteries of Patagonia are many- the people who are looking to unravel them are few. If you are looking for an extraordinary adventure- something completely different- something that will astonish all of your senses- then Patagonia is for you! But if you intend to witness it in this lifetime- you had better go now- the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate!
How to get there:
Smartours.com offers this trip for about $3800 including airfare from Miami, most meals and three days in Buenos Aires on the return!
Are you in the Memphis area? Contact Julie Butler at Peacock Travel-901-527-1991 she will arrange things for you.