Patagonia / Easter Island

This trip was dome by our good friends Slava an Anaya Rabinowitz. We left them in Chile at the Atacama and they went onwards to Ester Island and Patagonia.  Now Arden and I did Northern Patagonia on the Argentina side and you can go to my blog to visit it.  They  landed in Santiago before heading out for Patagonia. Santiago is a very cool town with many churches and fine dinning.

is the southernmost region of the American continent and one of the least populated areas in the world. Millions of years ago, it underwent major geological and glaciological transformations which created mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. Today this region is home to an extensive variety of plants and animals, many of which are native to the area below.

The territory shared by Argentina and Chile, boasting some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth. The region comprises embraces the southern provinces of Chile and Argentina  including the west side of Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, and Palena Province in Los Lagos Region from the southern section of the Andes mountains. The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people that his expedition thought to be giants.

Patagonia is for the most part a region of steppe like plains.  In the hollows of the plains are ponds or lakes of fresh water. Towards the Andes, animal life becomes more abundant and vegetation more luxuriant, acquiring the characteristics of the flora of the western coast, and consisting principally of southern beech and conifers.

The high rainfall against the western Andes and the low sea surface temperatures offshore give rise to cold and humid air masses, contributing to the ice-fields and glaciers, the largest ice-fields in the Southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.


In addition it is one of the highest critically acclaimed group of rivers in the world for fly fishing. Every year thousands of fly fishermen flock there for the hope of catching “the big one”.

 

It can be said that Chilean Patagonia is divided into two types of territories which includes all the fjords and channels along the Pacific Ocean down to Tierra del Fuego, and the “Cordillera Patagonica” which includes valleys and glaciers towards the steep mountains of the cordillera where Argentinean Patagonia begins.

 

The region is known for its unique ecological characteristics, including unspoiled habitat for numerous indigenous species. Its terrain and form are very similar to those of the Alaska Panhandle, the northern Norwegian coast, and New Zealand’s Milford Sound region. Laguna San Rafael National Park, accessible only by boat or plane, is one of its most popular tourist destinations.

The low population and vastness makes this region a good place for many native animal and plant species. It is relatively easy to find penguins, ñandúes, guanacos, condors, and other animals in their natural environment.

The guanaco, the cougar, the Patagonian Fox, the Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk, and the Magellanic Tuco-tuco a  rodent are the most characteristic mammals of the Patagonian plains. The guanaco roam in herds over the country

Black-browed Albatross, near Ushuaia.Bird-life is often abundant. The Southern Caracara  is one of the characteristic objects of a Patagonian landscape; the presence of Austral Parakeets  as far south as the shores of the strait attracted the attention of the earlier navigators; and Green-backed Firecrowns, a species of hummingbird, may be seen flying amidst the falling snow. Below are Chilean Flamingos from a different area in Chile but they are still Chilean Flamingoes.


Of the many kinds of waterfowl it is enough to mention the Chilean Flamingo, the Upland Goose , and in the strait the remarkable steamer ducks. Signature marine fauna include the Southern right whale, the Magellanic Penguin , the Orca and elephant seals. The Valdés Peninsula is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance as a nature reserve.

Ok so on to the trip:

Our smoking cool EXPLORA lodge “Hotel Salto Chico” is located right at the heart of the extraordinary Torres del Paine National Park in central Patagonia.Photo below from our window


The varied and untouched landscapes of this area led UNESCO to declare it a biosphere reserve.

The hotel lodge opened in 1993 on the banks of the Salto Chico waterfall. It affords an excellent view of the unique Paine Massif and two of the three impressive torres, or towers, which give the park its name.

The lodge has 49 rooms and a variety of inviting spaces. Situated on a 3-hectare (7.4-acre) site, the design borrows certain organic forms from the landscape itself, adapting to it with simple elegance. It was designed to create a dialogue with its environment, putting human beings in touch with the sublimity of their surroundings.  For travelers, the lodge provides the welcome surprise of comfort in a remote area; nonetheless, you are not isolated from nature, but placed “within” it. Located 100 meters (109 yards) from the lodge and reached by a sloping wooden walkway, this bath house has a heated indoor swimming pool, a sauna and four open-air jacuzzis, all with views of Lago Pehoé and Macizo del Paine. Here you can also enjoy different types of massage with essential oils, such as therapeutic, relaxing or energizing massage.

Patagonia is more than just pristine landscapes; it is home to the unique and legendary gaucho culture. You can drink “mate” tea with gauchos and watch them shear sheep, drive livestock, break in horses and carry out other typical ranching tasks on this 6,000-hectare (14,826-acre) estancia, which belongs to explora and is located 53 kilometers (33 miles) from the lodge. We had a smoking time horseback riding here.

We also did horseback ridding on me nay occasion. The ride begins at the eastern side of the Paine River, heading toward the La Feria Ravine. Ride uphill 250 meters, with views of the Paine Massif and River. Continue along interior valleys dotted with lakes and through beech forest. The trail continues until reaching the Toro Heights, with a spectacular, 360-degree view of the park. Descend toward the Weber Bridge and return to the stable

Another ride begins at the eastern side of the Paine River, heading toward the La Feria Ravine. Ride uphill 250 meters, with views of the Paine Massif and River. Continue along interior valleys dotted with lakes and through beech forest. The trail continues until reaching the Toro Heights, with a spectacular, 360-degree view of the park. Descend toward the Weber Bridge and return to the stable through narrow trails through forest, along lakes and across prairie land. We had a picnic lunch next to Los Choros Lake. Prairie, streams, mountains and exuberant flora are a few of the highlights of this horseback ride.

The excursion allows for walking through an open landscape with panoramic views. On several rock walls it is possible to see Aonikenk Indian paintings, primitive inhabitants of the region. There is an abundance of guanacos here. Gradual descent to the Laguna Amarga Ranger Station. Wow smoking cool hiking below!!! 

HIKING below

Another walk is along a trail with lovely vegetation along the trail and the possibility of viewing huemules,a local deer. Ancient forest of deciduous beech and a spectacular panorama of the Paine Massif from the eastern flank of the Pingo Valley. View of lakes Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskjöld and Sarmiento.

Walk to the shore of Lake Pehoé, first passing the Salto Grande waterfall, then toward the Paine Massif until reaching the vista point of Lake Nordenskjöld.

Spectacular view of the French Valley, the Paine Grande Massif and the Horns. Note: Frequent strong winds.

Observe birds, regional fauna and characteristics of the local aquatic flora.

Views of Lake Toro and the Serrano River flanked by grand Andean peaks such as the Ferrier and Donoso mountains, among others.

 

 

Another walks leads to Lake Sarmiento, which has unusual yet beautiful calcium formations along its shore. Possible sightings of guanacos and diverse birds, and a wide variety of flora (especially during the spring). Views of Lake Sarmiento in its entirety

During the journey it is possible to observe  numerous varieties of fauna such as guanacos, rheas, condors, foxes, skunks, ducks, geese and other varieties of birds, especially during the spring.

Views of the Horns and the Towers, the Almirante Peak and the Paine River Cascade

 

 


Hiking on the shore line above being toured by cool Zodiac and saw the glaciers up close


 

 

From here Slava and Anaya  traveld to Easter Island and stayed in the Eplora hotel there called “Rapa Nui” as well.  Fine food, wine and very cool interesting statues. Their hotel below