Patagonia

Patagonia

Jagged, icy mountain peaks epitomise the scenery on the tip of South America. It’s hard to imagine why anything lives in this arid, godforsaken place. It truly is a wilderness, that’s why.

Tourists visit the northern lakes region of Argentina and Chile. Los Glaciares National Park is on the Argentinian side. A close look at the area shows big empty spaces and ranches. Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is a puzzle of lakes, a labyrinth of channels dotted with isles.

South of the Rio Negro is the Argentinian Patagonia. The land meets up with the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Viedma. Whales sightings are frequent in these waters.

The South Atlantic abounds with marine life. Southern Right whales calve between July to September (winter). Sea lions, orcas, fur seals and elephant seals are visible year round. At Punta Tombo, there are over 210,000 Magellanic penguins. The largest colony of penguins in the world from September to March. At Puerto Deseado, rockhopper penguins, Commerson’s dolphins, five species of cormorant and more seals.

The stunning Los Glaciares National Park protects the southern ice field. Virgin forests and dozen of ice rivers make up the landscape. A huge turquoise lake is to the south. A glacier Perito Moreno sits in the lake. A massive implosion causes a tsunami wave as the ice expands and warm water erodes it. Visitors are always amazed by the spectacle.

The long, skinny country of Chile is proper wilderness. Uncrossable icefields, impenetrable forests and a rugged coastline. A series of national parks protect the Villarrica and Puyehue Volcanoes.

The centrepiece of the Chilean Patagonia is the Torres del Paine National Park. Key species to find are the guanaco and the condor. The puma is the biggest land carnivore here. The park is one of the last sanctuaries of this rare animal.

Ushuaia is the southernmost town of Argentina. A principal departure point for trips to the Antarctic along with Cape Town.

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