Thursday, 20 April 2017

Patagonia - Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine was for me the high point of our tour - a place that I had wanted to go to for years.  And now the wish came true and triple blessed with a warm, sunny, windless day - an unusual phenomenon for the Patagonian park famous for its wind! When we first arrived near sunset the day before, we were not sure if we would actually see the famous towers after being told by the local guide that it had been raining before we got there and no one had seen the towers for a week! Having gone through the disappointment of not seeing the volcano in Puerto Varas, we were not optimistic. When one of the towers peeked through the clouds, every body scrambled for pictures as we may not see it again!

As it turned out, it was a magical evening with one of the towers being caught by the setting sun.  The following morning, it was even more magical when we stopped at the lookout to see the massif above the village with a thin layer of mist in between - it was Lord of the Rings country in Patagonia! The rest of the day continued to be one "wow" after another - awe-inspiring through and through.  We ran out of words to describe the wonderment.  You can see for yourselves the photos below.

This image of the Paine Massif was the reason for our trip to Patagonia  - and I was overjoyed that I was able to capture it!

This was all we saw when we first arrived in Torres del Paine the evening before!          Why wouldn't we be worried?

And then it got better as the evening progressed - but still no one could predict what it would be like in the morning
Morning came - our hopes were up!

This has got to be the most magical landscape I have ever came across - not even in New Zealand, the original Lord of the Rings country...

And then we saw this view from the bus - the local guide told us we would not be stopping for 2 hours.  I begged her to stop and let us take a photo before the reflection disappeared.  She changed her itinerary and we s made photo stops all the way to the waterfalls!  A terrific example of listening to customer input!  Good for you, GAdventures staff! (at Lake Pehoe)

Salto Grande Waterfall

This was the high point of the day - what an awe-inspiring panorama!

Lunch time!  We saw this Andean deer and many birds as we ate lunch by the river.

Austral Thrush
Austral Blackbird

Rufuos Collared Sparrow - it must know that it's on camera!

Patagonian Sierra-FInch

After lunch we did a "short" hike to Grey Beach and up to the lookout to see the Grey glacier flowing from the Southern Patagonian Icefield.  That was hardly a "stroll" on the beach because we were walking in 100 km wind.  The pebble beach was a wind tunnel!  But we got to experience at least a little of what Patagonian wind felt like.  There was another "short" climb up to the glacier lookout but it was the end of the day and we were all tired.  And the glacier was far away so we took a few pictures and left.  That was a two hour roundtrip even though it felt much longer.
View of the massif from the beach
The Grey Glacier
 We saw a lot of wildlife in and near the park. 
A rhea near the road to Torres del Paine
A Gray Flanked Cinclodes
A king cormorant at the waterfront in Puerto Nattales

Guanaco in the Park

Upland Geese near the hotel

We were extremely lucky - as we were leaving the park the following morning, it was cloudy and windy.  100mph winds were in the forecast!

Next post:  El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier

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