When you think of Patagonia, its a remote, wild, windswept and mysterious land at the very tip of the South American contient that will most likely come to mind. It certainly is one of the last great wildernesses on the contient and is also a land of extremes with huge ice fields and glaciers, vast rolling grassy steppes, Andean foothills, deep fjords, lakes and some still pristine forests.
We recently recieved this wonderful trip report and pictures from some of our regular clients; Mr and Mrs Wilkes.
“Thank you very much for putting together yet another amazing trip for us. It all worked out very well and we are back safe and sound. We felt very safe and only encountered smiling friendly people wherever we went, whether with guides or alone, even in Santiago.
The weather was very mild with quite a lot of warm sun (high teens – low twenties). Believe it or not we had no rain until the Thursday morning of the second week, and then only for half a day. We didn’t need half of the warm clothes we had packed.
The scenery was just amazing from the wilds of Terra Del Fuego through Pali Aike ( the largest rock garden we have ever seen) past the glaciers to the magnificence of Torres del Paine. We were in our element with so many flowers. The wildlife is rather special as well, with more birds (particularly the small ones) than I expected to get.
The trip to Magdalena Island was terrific. We spent the whole sailing time outside on the back of the ship. As a result we cleaned up on the seabirds. Black-browed Albatross, Giant Petrel and Diving Petrel were birding highlights as were the swimming penguins we saw way out before landing. We also got dolphins and sealions swimming. The guide was a young guy and an excellent birder. He found the Blackish Oystercatcher for us. The island was amazing as was the trip round the second island … and we had sunshine all the way.
The King Penguins were magical and by getting there late we had them virtually to ourselves. Close views of mink and fox were a bonus.
Pali Aike was, unexpectedly, one of the highlights. Terrific scenery, loads of flowers and plenty of birds. We walked up to the close volcano and then trekked to the more distant one before going to the lake where, in addition to Flamingos we saw a male Rhea with between 30 and 40 little ones.
The trip to the Serrano Glacier was wonderful. Again good weather but a bit chilly so we were wrapped up, but on deck whole way. As a result we got steamer duck and swimming sealion and perched condor amongst others. The walk round to the glacier gave a chance for more interesting flora as well as a close Tit-tyrant. What a view when we got there and the shapes of the floating ice.
The Puma days were great fun. Our guide is everything that you said of him and is also an excellent birder. In spite of him starting at 4.30am and us being with him until 8.15pm on the Monday – no Pumas although a great day with good weather, stunning scenery and birds. He found one after we had gone back around 8.30pm! However Tuesday and Wednesday we had 4 sightings in total including only his second ever sighting of one swimming.
The whole Paine trip was the only raining day and it blew a hooley as well! However it didn’t take the gloss off seeing the amazing Grey Glacier. Hearing the glacier creak and groan with the sheer majesty of it was one of the highlights of the trip. The weather improved on the way back. On the road back we watched two pumas hunting Guanaco! What a bonus on the day.
The two trips on the Friday were excellent, seeing other areas of the National Park. Late afternoon in the woods, I found a Chilean Flicker nest hole with a young one peering out. With patience I saw the female come back and feed the youngster – wonderful.
The transfer back to Punta Arenas turned out to be far from routine. As we passed the park exit our driver spotted a puma sitting on a mound. As we stopped Margaret spotted a second one crossing the river – what can you say? 8 pumas on the trip with only half on our puma tour and two without Roberto. And we have got a few snaps!