We met up with our naturalist/photoguide Claudio Vidal at our hotel in Punta Arenas in Chile. A road sign nearby said “Fin del Mundo;” however, we found this area more primordial than post-apocalyptic. The “end of the world” sign had more to do with being on the southern tip of South America, gateway to our just completed Antarctica adventure.
Claudio proudly announced that our first stop was at a resort outside of Patagonia called Ramada. While not wanting to sound like a snob, I was a bit startled; him thinking this worthy of more than a casual mention as a bathroom/coffee stop. Would we also be stopping to photograph squirrels and dogs? Much to my relief, he actually said Remota, not Ramada. This is an architectural marvel of clean-lined, low impact, organic design. Living roof, big windows and killer views. He was quickly redeemed and remained so for the week we spent together. Claudio is a treasure.
Our eco lodge was on the bank of a glacial river with breathtaking views of the Cordillera del Paine, in the Chilean Patagonia park of Torres del Paine. These snow/glacial covered granite mountains were the sun to our universe while in the park. We would drive hours on washboard gravel roads to corners of the park and there would be the Cordilleras, as if we never moved. Of course, each view is unique, the light and clouds always changing. Each sunset and sunrise were pure poetry and as unique as finger prints.
Sunrises came early and we were generally off just after 5am. Some were so windy that I could barely keep the tripod on its feet. Those days gave us more sculpted clouds and no bugs. Less wind meant less interesting mashed potato clouds and some annoying bugs.
This was not just about the light, wind, clouds and Cordilleras (although it would have been more than enough). We had guanacos (a llama/camel like creature with a kangaroo face and wool that you could make ugly socks with). They were pretty calm and the calves were fun to watch. They were plentiful food for the puma, which we didn’t see.
There was also a hairy armadillo with dorsal armor and something that looked like a grass skirt. Not good looking and accordingly, it didn’t want to be photographed.
We had condors and black necked swans, as well as many species of ducks. Also fairly plentiful were rheas (an ostrich-like creature). On the last day, we spotted 3 grey foxes who tolerated our photographic pursuit.
P.S: More detail and images from Patagonia available on Marie’s blog: