Explore Patagonia.    the End of the World

Located at the southernmost tip of the Americas, Patagonia is one of the most mysterious and majestic places on planet Earth.

With an unparalleled biodiversity and abundance of national parks, it should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Now, let’s journey to el Fin del Mundo

 

The Marinelli Glacier once reached the land on Ainsworth Bay.
The Marinelli Glacier (in the distance) once reached as far as these flowers on Ainsworth Bay

 

Boat tours are the best way to see Patagonia's majestic glaciers.
Boat tours are the best way to see Patagonia’s majestic glaciers.

Wild Life in Patagonia

Look left – there’s a school of dolphins swimming alongside whales, penguins, ducks, sea lions, geese, seals and glaciers.

Look up – it’s a condor soaring above a fox and alongside eagles, crows, vultures, hawks and woodpeckers.

Such is life in Patagonia.

 

Dolphins love to swim alongside whatever boat you may be in.
Dolphins love to swim alongside whatever boat you may be in.

 

Cormorants can be found all over Patagonia.
Cormorants can be found all over Patagonia.

A Brief History of Patagonia

Shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia has been inhabited by humans for nearly 15,000 years.

Before its “discovery” by European explorers, thousands of indigenous tribes called the land home.

Today, that number is down to a handful.

 

Patagonia’s vast terrain includes mountains, deserts, grasslands, oceans and rivers; occupying more than one million square kilometers.

It also includes the Magellan Strait; which was the only way for ships to cross the Americas before the Panama Canal was finished in 1914.

What follows are a few of Patagonia’s natural highlights.

 

There are so many snow-capped peaks in Patagonia.
There are so many snow-capped peaks in Patagonia.

 


Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park is the most popular destination in Chilean Patagonia.

Many visitors opt to hike the “W Circuit;” which encompasses 36 miles and takes five days.

However, for travelers (like us) without time or equipment, a one-day tour is possible.

Although most of that day is spent in a van, the park’s highlights are well worth the effort.

 

Known as Cascara Grande (Big Waterfall), the name doesn't lie.
Known as Cascara Grande (Big Waterfall), the name doesn’t lie.

 

These are the Torres del Paine.
These are the Torres del Paine.

 

Glaciers often appear blue because  because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue.
Glaciers often appear blue because because the dense ice absorbs every color of the spectrum except blue.

 

Along the beaches of Torres del Paine, you can find bits of glaciers that have floated to shore.
Along the beaches of Torres del Paine, you can find bits of glaciers that have floated ashore.

 

Grey Lake looks extra grey on a grey day.
Grey Lake looks extra grey on a grey day.

Penguins on Isla Magdellena

Imagine a landscape of black, white, brown and cactus green.

As the seasonal home to 140,000 penguins and fleets of hungry birds, that landscape is in constant motion.

Could penguins BE any cuter?
Could penguins BE any cuter?

Seagulls fight, penguins kick up sand, parents protect their young and everyone pecks at the remains of the dead.

Meanwhile, black and white heads cautiously poke out of nesting holes like Puxatony Phil looking for his shadow.

. . .

Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos

To protect the animals from curious humans, Isla Magdellena has been declared a natural monument.

Visitors are confined to a roped-off path; which cuts through the landscape and provides a direct route from dock to lighthouse.

From the panoramic viewpoint atop the island’s windy peak, I couldn’t help but marvel at our insignificant presence on the island.

We were but a small river of outstretched camera lenses among an ocean of outstretched beaks.

 

The lighthouse on Isla Magdellena is one of the island's few manmade objects.
The lighthouse on Isla Magdellena is one of the island’s few manmade objects.

 

Who knew that penguins were such excellent sand-surfers!
Who knew that penguins were such excellent sand-surfers!

Tierra del Fuego National Park

Located mostly in the Argentinian side of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego National Park occupies 240 square miles of natural beauty.

Depending on where you hike, you may even find yourself wandering into Chile.

The internationally boundary between the two countries is marked only by a metal sculpture and a wooden sign.

As for our experience, Carrie and I spent two days hiking and exploring the park – in rain and shine – and even spent the night at a dorm-style campsite.

 

Yup. These are geese. Just like the ones you have back home.
Yup. These are geese. Just like the ones you have back home.

 

Do you have your passport? Because Chile is on the other side of this metal tower.
Do you have your passport? Because Chile is on the other side of this metal tower.

Elusive Skies in Patagonia

It’s amazing how quickly the weather changes in Patagonia.

When you see postcards, they often are filled with blue skies.

In my opinion, that’s false advertising; as the heavens were almost exclusively painted gray during my 10 day visit.

Curious about the missing sun, I asked a tour guide when I should return to Patagonia.

He replied,

“Even this summer, we only had four days without clouds. And those were terrible days: so hot and uncomfortable. Because, you know, we don’t have the ozone layer here.”

 

A rare blue sky over Santa Cruz Island and Tucker's Bay.
A rare blue sky over Santa Cruz Island and Tucker’s Bay.

Crossing the Magellan Strait

For centuries, sailing the Magellan Strait was a treacherous sea journey.

Today, it’s the easiest way to see unparalleled natural beauty: including glaciers, forests, whales, dolphins, penguins and the origins of life on earth.

Treating ourselves, Carrie and I boarded the Stella Australias for a five day cruise from Chile to Argentina along the Magellan Strait.

It may be the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

 

The Stella Australis was our home for 5 days.
The Stella Australis was our home for 5 days.

 

Out of our five day cruise, this sunset over Wulaia Bay was the most spectacular.
Our cruise passed countless mountain ranges and snow-capped peaks: like these by Wulaia Bay.

Random Thoughts From Patagonia

I have a really nice camera; but, I’m constantly in camera and lens envy of my fellow tourists in Patagonia.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Even at the edge of the Americas, the South Pole is still thousands of miles away.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
My wife, Carrie, puts me up in an Acro Yoga pose on the Pia Glacier.
My wife, Carrie, puts me up in an Acro Yoga pose on the Pia Glacier.

Before this trip, I didn’t even know what Patagonia was. Now that I’ve been there, I feel like I’ve got unfinished photographic business with the area.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

All of the parks in Patagonia have separate prices for tourists/extranjeros and locals.

. . .

We Almost Didn’t Go

Carrie and my original plan was to fly to Easter Island from Santiago, Chile.

However, LAN Airlines – the one company that flies there – had a broken ticketing Web site.

Assuming that everything would work out, we arrived in Santiago a few days before our intended departure and headed to the LAN office.

“Bad news. You can fly to Easter Island tomorrow. But, there are no return tickets until next month,” the friendly travel agent told us.

In a moment of “um, ok… so now what,” we quickly changed gears and made the impulsive decision to fly to Patagonia instead.

Best. Decision. Ever.

 

Your parting photo: from the Montes Sarmient Parque National Alberto de Agostini
Your parting photo: from the Montes Sarmient Parque National Alberto de Agostini

So what do you think?
Is Patagonia your next holiday destination?

 

  • Yay! I’m so glad you went! I remember asking you if you were going and you originally said no… Glad, you made this decision. Easter Island would have been fun, but different kind of fun I think.
    I have my trip booked for December this year for about 10 days in the lower part of Patagonia. I have been already excited enough, but after seeing your pictures I just can’t wait any longer! :))

    • I agree. Yay! :) I’m so glad I went too. What an experience… what a place… I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated nature the way I did on that part of the trip. Can’t wait to read your stories and see your photos too.

  • Cam

    Hi Greg! I’m Camila, from Chile. I just wanted to say that I met you in Santiago when you needed to clean your camera CCD (I think), and you went to my uncle’s tech service. I was in the counter that week and you gave us small samples of your photos. Your visit (your wife was downstairs!) was quick but great: I’ve been following your travels since that day and I love your work! It’s sad, but even though I’m chilean, I still can’t visit Patagonia, it’s quite expensive, even for locals. So, for me, your photos are a real inspiration, and I hope I’ll be able to tell how beautiful is my country through my own experience. Your photos are beautiful, I sincerely love them and how you narrate your travels through them. Carrie’s photos are the cutest thing ever, too. Thanks for your wonderful work, and always have a safe journey :)

    • CAMILA! Wow, what an amazing comment. I’m so so happy to hear from you. I still remember that day in your uncle’s shop and having a lovely conversation with you. I truly hope you make it to Patagonia one day. You live in such an incredible and beautiful country. Your words fill me with such joy… please tell your uncle hello for me as well.