“Pic of the Week”, September 7, 2018: Reminders of a Wildfire, Patagonia

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Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is a UNESCO World Biosphere Preserve and is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world.  The area has had several significant wildfires in the past few decades, the largest in late 2011 which burned into 2012 and destroyed 16,000 hectares (about 40,000 acres) .   All of these wildfires were caused by careless human behavior.  While it is somewhat shaky, this short videoclip shows the magnitude of these fires and just how scary they are when you’re in the midst of it all.

The area doesn’t have the dense forests or taller trees one sees in coastal Patagonia, but the scrubby dead bush that remains is definitely a reminder of these fires. I …

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

A Mountain with Horns: Cuernos del Paine, Chile

Paines Massif, Torres Del Paine (132)

I’ve been a lover of mountains for as long as I can remember. I grew up on the painfully flat plains of Manitoba (and I mean f-l-a-t, like a pancake), and still vividly recall seeing my first mountains when I was a toddler of about 2 or 3 years old. These were the amazing Alberta Rocky Mountains visited on one of many family vacations to Banff.  I was fascinated by mountains then and remain so to this day. 

I have seen many beautiful and interesting mountains in my life and have a list of favorites — the Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro, Ama Dablam, Mt. Assiniboine, Cascade mountain, Mauna Kea, and so on.  But there is no mountain formation I find more interesting than …

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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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First Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

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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

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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

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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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Patagonian Roadtrip: El Chalten to Torres Del Paine

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It’s hard for many people from the “Old World” to envision the vast people-less places of the Americas, especially the closer one travels to the poles.  It’s equally empty in northern North America (Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories) as it is in southern South America (Patagonia).

There are stretches of road in these remote areas regions where you might not encounter a petro station for hundreds of kilometers (don’t worry, signs will warn you in advance so you’d need to be a fool to run out of gas).  No towns, often not even a rancher, to be found as far as the eye can see.

When visiting Patagonia, we made a rather long drive from Argentinian Patagonia to Chilean Patagonia.  A …

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