Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chile: Torres del Paine

This park is to Chile what Yellowstone is to the United States. Both are unique and quite different, yet superb in landscapes and wildlife. No comparison as possible so each must be visited. I was at this park the first time back in 2003 and took me until 2010 to return. I traveled from Calafate, Argentina to Puerto Natale in Chile, where I rented a 4-wheeled truck to go to the park. It is mostly known by its huge granite pillars from which takes the name, and also Los Cuernos (the Horns). These are primary the reason why landscape photographers and tourists to go there.

The weather here is like in Iceland; it changes every 15 minutes, so warm as well as foul weather clothing are a must. The roads within the park are not well marked and rough requiring stressful driving. Recently the access roads to the park have been paved but those inside the park are still narrow gravel roads. Talking to one of the locals, I found out that there is some controversy going on between the purists and the realists. The purists want the roads left as they are to “protect” the environment while the others want them asphalted. There is heavy traffic with large tours buses that I wonder how they manage to get through those roads. They should be upgraded to slow down erosion in the shores next to the lakes as well as to keep the dust down, but mostly for safety reasons. The photo below speaks for itself.

I stayed at the same hosterias as in my previous visit; but there numerous new ones are now available but they do not offer such great views of the park. My favorite ones are: (a) the one in Lake Pehoe that is located in a small island that provides an outstanding view of the Torres particular in the afternoon and (b) the one in Lago Gray where the glacier is visible and located inside a wooded area full of wonderful creatures. I spent the first night at the hosteria in the island from where the landscape photos in this blog were taken.

Next I stayed at Hosteria Lago Azul where there is a family foxes that live on the grounds of the complex and are accustomed to humans. One early morning I was out taking photos and ran into a large fox that was growling at me about 10 feet away, my first though is that it was rabid, so I took photos and moved on (no, I was not afraid of getting rabies since I was bitten by a raccoon a couple of months earlier and freshly vaccinated). Later on in the morning, I told one of the staff in the Hosteria about my encounter. He laughed and proceeded to take me an area where the fox’s liar was. And there the whole family was lying around, including the one that harassed me at sunrise. Most amazingly, it appears that since now I was properly introduced, I received no more signs of hostilities. I just sat on the ground ignored by the vixens that played chasing each other and jumping on the parents. According to the staff member, families of foxes has been there for years and the present male, took over when he pushed his parents away 3 years ago. It is obvious why these foxes are here…they get fed and/or raid the trash containers. But they have not learned to beg from tips when photographed.

The Patagonian parrots were nesting in the nearby old trees and their cacophony was the first thing to be heard in the mornings. They were hard to photograph due to the harsh early morning red light and constant activity. I had seen then in my previous trip but did not have the opportunity to get close. They feed on the leaves and fruits of favorite trees, I noticed this one morning so the next one I arrived at the location earlier and waited, within minutes they were there within 10-15 feed and totally ignored me.

That morning I saw a small beautiful owl seating on a branch where it stayed for hours. I decided that I was going to catch him at the time when he would fly away; as always the owl took off so fast that I missed the shot.

Another common bird is the Cincloides patagonicus. This small bird spent the time wading around the shore of Lago Gray feeding. He is constantly jumping around and turning around stones looking for insect larvae.

After a few days in the shores of Lago Gray, it was time to move to the northern part of the park which I will discuss in a future blog. Boat tours to the glacier originate from the vicinity of this Hosteria. I did not go since I have taken the tour during the previous visit. One of the amenities of this trip is that the crew offers you cocktails with glacier ice fished from the lake, while the tourists partake, the blue iceman watches begging for some too.

11 comments:

劉KarolR_Sundquis said...

thanks a lot..........................................

Tim Rucci said...

You've got some really amazing landscape images here, Jose. I Really enjoyed seeing them. Fantastic stuff!

Tony nile life said...

Thanks for sharing some amazing scenery and wildlife lovely blog.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That second shot is spectacular Jose. What a wonderful formation in that mountain range.

What a fantastic experience that must have been to sit like that with the foxes. It is not everyday one get the opportunity!!

Love the owl and the glacier too. How big is it?

Thanks for showing us this spectacular part of the world Jose.

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hola José, tus imágenes son espectaculares, los paisajes son de una extraordinaria calidad, un placer contemplarlas. Sin duda ha debido ser ungran viaje del que tendrás muy buenos recuerdos...además de las imágenes. Un saludo!

jeannette said...

Thanks for taking us on your tour. The mountains are magnificent! I wonder what the yellow is in the 2nd pic (top left), since it's in the sky?
Yes, I like your ice man:)

Jose's World said...

But those that asked for information: I do not know how big the glacier is.

In the second image, the yellow in the left is coming from the sunlight coming thru the clouds.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Jose. A person does not have any conception of size when seeing a photograph. The holes in them could be anything from 6 inches to 6 feet.

Jose's World said...

Sorry, you were referring to the glacier,s calf; that is the chunck of ice that broke loose from the glacier.
I could stand inside one of the eyes and not been able to touch the upper lid.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That gives me a pretty good idea of it. Thanks Jose.

HaydeeG_Mccra鈺苓 said...

成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.............................................