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Chile and Antarctica Trip report

Last day in Torres del Paine

Well that seems to have flown past, but I understand why.

We spent a morning trying to get a replacement camera to meet us in Punta Arenas, but came to understand that it could not be done, (at least in that way). Cameras come with batteries in the box, and so cannot be shipped air-freight. Ground freight to Punta Arenas involves trucking through Argentina or ships, and the locals assure me that looking inside of a month from order is wasted grief. We had a tenuous link through a fellow traveller to Antarctica from the US, but in the end we couldn’t get the right camera to him from local shops before he left: not in stock or not local enough. Weekend shipping. So. Whatever we can find in Punta Arenas already will be it. We’ll see.

Having leapt that intellectual and emotional hurdle we went on another excursion that afternoon: the Hunters Trail.  Cave paintings, hiking through freezing rain, seeing another puma reclining near a tree.  That sort of thing.  Van for the ride home wouldn’t start.  Sat in the van taking pictures of the guanacos who came within meters, while waiting for a jump-start to arrive from the hotel.  All ended well.

Yesterday I went on the “French Valley Lookout” walk, an all-day hike to see a mountain with three levels of glacier, and back, while Cath stayed at the hotel to luxuriate.  The hike was great, and the views spectacular.  The wind, in parts, was also spectacular: I’ve never seen wind blow spray off white-caps into visible vortexes, twisters and swirls like that.  Must have been over sixty knots.  I took a video on my phone, so there will be evidence. We reached the top at a gallop, just ahead of rain, so I was able to grab some photos before discretion moved me to put the camera somewhere safe and dry. The trip down the valley was intense. The guide had clearly decided that getting back in time to catch the 5PM ferry (instead of the last, at 7PM) was a worthwhile goal. I kept thinking of Gimley in the Two Towers: “the important thing is to keep breathing”. Still, I made it, and I’m sure I’m better for it.

Today we went on two easier half-day outings: back to the “Bosquisito” or little forrest, and after luch to the Rio Baguales valley, in search of wildlife. The little forrest was lovely again, and this time we found a horned owl and its nearly fully-grown (but still adorably fluffy) offspring. We also saw eight foxes, and have good photographs of many of them. (Will appear in a future edit, I’m sure.) The walk after lunch found puma scat, and vultures at great altitude, and a few small birds, but nothing really substantial. Oh, there was a good bit with a nursery of eight or so Rhea chicks being herded ineffectually by a lone male: they ran hither and yon, crazily. Hope some of those photos came out.

Tomorrow we’re back to travel mode: check out in the morning, and transfer to Punta Arenas leaves at 1:30PM. We hope to have time to do the walk of the hotel grounds after packing, before we go, as we did in Chiloe. Depends on the weather and the success of packing, of course. Then four hours in a van south, and checking into our next hotel, probably too late to do much else. Maybe we’ll get out for a walk.

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