Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Trip to Patagonia - Dec 31, 2014 - Overland to Torres del Paine National Park; Salto Grande Trek

- from the Itinerary:

Today, we travel overland to Torres del Paine, widely considered to be South America’s finest national park and one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. We’ll spend two nights here, giving us time to hike winding trails over rippling currents; witness the ostrich-like rhea (known locally as nandu), condor, fox, and other wildlife protected by this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site; and take in the stunning land- scapes of snowcapped mountains rising dramatically over mirror-smooth  lakes and flowering fields.

We’ll stop for a boxed lunch at a scenic viewpoint en route to Torres del Paine, and check into our hotel in the early afternoon. Then we’ll hike to Salto Grande, a rushing waterfall set between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe. We’ll witness the awesome power of the falls, and have a chance to spot some of the indigenous wildlife—like the guanaco, a cousin of the camel—that comes here to feed on the verdant foliage along the riverbank, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Left the hotel at 8:00 AM, heading to Torres del Paines National Park (the reason I wanted to go on this trip and a destination that has been on my list for years). On the way out of town, we stopped at the NAO Victoria Museum, an open-air museum centered on a replica of Magellen's ship, Victoria. There is also the start of a replica of Darwin's Beagle.



On the long drive, the bus driver would stop and point our wildlife along the road - Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle, Rhea, Guanaco, Southern Crested Caracara, Ibis and a Patagonian Condor (although it was not really close enough to see any detail).


Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle

Male Rhea with the children

Rhea

Patagonian Condor

Guanaco family

We had a "box" lunch that we had picked up when we left our hotel this morning. We ate this lunch on the bus as we continued our drive. We also had additional discussions of books about Patagonia, such as Isabella Allende.

We stopped at a couple of lakes and overlooks as we approached the park.


After entering the Torres del Paine National Park, we left the bus for a 2 hour hike where we again saw many Guanaco, including a mating pair that seemed oblivious to all the people stopping to watch and take pictures!



After the hike, we still had 1 1/2 hour drive to our hotel on Lago Grey. The views from the hotel were wonderful! I'm so happy to be here!


View from our hotel across Lago Grey

Another view from the hotel

Lago Grey Glacier across the  lake