.All Trips / Chile / South America

Visiting the Otway Penguins, Chile

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It’s hard not to like penguins.  Flightless, of course, their comical waddling gait on land belies their great agility and speed in the water.  A chance to see them up close and in the wild is always something I’ll jump at, so I was glad for the opportunity to visit this penguin colony at Otway.  Otway “feels” inland but is connected to the sea and the Fitzroy Channel.

Situated off the road connecting Torres del Paine and Punta Arenas in Patagonian Chile, Seno Otway is home to a large but seasonal colony of penguins.  During the peak season, from October through March, there are up to 150,00 Magellanic penguins that mate and reside in the area.  They nest, lay eggs in October, and …

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

A Stop in Puerto Natales

01 Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is an isolated small town in Patagonian Chile, the kind where if you blink you might miss it while you’re driving through.  It’s best known as a gateway for trekkers and adventures traveling to nearby Torres del Paine.  Recently fossil rich caves near the town have brought it fame because of the giant sloth fossils found within.   Puerto Natales is situated on the Ultima Esperanza Sound and is a port for the Navimag ferry.

The first European to discover the area was Juan Ladrillero, a Spanish explorer who was looking for the Strait of Magellan’s western passage amidst the maze of the Chilean fjords (1557).  The famous British ship of exploration, the HMS Beagle (on which Charles Darwin was …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 26, 2018: Alone with the Mountain, Torres del Paine National Park

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Patagonia’s Paine Massif is one of the world’s great mountain formations.  Rugged, glaciated and beautiful — it is a hiker’s paradise.  

I remember taking these photos of a lone hiker who seemed almost lost in the vastness of the landscape.  Beautiful desolation!

 

 

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

First Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

00 Hike around Torres del Paine (1)

The Torres del Paine are three distinctive towering granite peaks of the Paines Massif (see above photo).  Extending up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level, these towers dominate much of the landscape of the park, as does the horned part of the mountain known as the Cuernos del Paine.  The Patagonian steppe abuts the mountains.

We arrived in Torres del Paine in the afternoon and had only a few hours to spare that day for a hike.  I had hoped to hike to the base of the towers, for there is a lovely glacier and lake there, but did not have the time.   Among the feasible options, we decided to hike along the hilly steppe and take in the views …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 15, 2017: Hotel Las Torres, Chile

00 Hotel Las Torres, Torres del Paine (3)

Much like the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar hotel or the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Hotel Las Torres is situated in the heart of a beautiful park ecosystem, in this case Torres del Paine National Park.  As such, it offers a unique opportunity to see the region while providing most expected creature comforts.

Founder Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic was the son of Croatian immigrants and became a successful cattle farmer.  In 1979 he bought the Cerro Paine ranch, located at the foot of “Torres del Paine” mountain range.  On this 8 thousand acre ranch, he began his cattle breeding business.  In the early 90´s Mr. Kusanovic built 9 rooms with a small restaurant to welcome the many tourists arriving from all …

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“Pic of the Week”, April 28, 2017: Arrival at Torres del Paine National Park

11 Arrival at Tores del Paine (9)

We approached Torres del Paine National Park from the east, entering Chile from Argentina.  Many people drive down the Chilean coast and enter the park from the west, so their perspective would be a little different than ours.

Our trip took us through large stretches of hilly and uninhabited grasslands (the pampas).  The first views of the National Park are among the most memorable of any mountain region I’ve ever visited (and I’ve seen many in my days).   Torres is a popular tourist destination, with good reason. Among its most iconic sites are the 3 granite towers from which Torres del Paine derives its name.

 

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Great Cars along the Highway….Torres del Paine, Chile

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Came across this rather unusual van parked in the shadows of the granite spires of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile.   The park is an amazingly beautiful place and the van definitely seemed a little out of place.

Wicked is a company that rents uniquely decorated minivans to function as transportation and sleeping accommodations for tourists.  A little cramped for me but I can see it being popular with a lot of travelers.  Certainly it was memorable and therein lays an important lesson in advertising.

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“Pic of the Week”, March 11, 2017: Leaving Puenta Arenas, Chile

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Our terrestrial journey in Patagonia was near its end, but we were leaving for a memorable four day cruise through the labyrinth of fjords and waterways off the Chilean coast.  It was a journey we would never forget.

We departed the harbor at Puenta Arenas aboard the adventure ship, Stella Australis, and were accompanied by the Harbor Master.  The wonderful rainbow in the distance seemed a good omen of things to come.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, then right arrow to advance the slideshow)

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