Sometimes, Patagonia = New Zealand

11 02 2015

In November 2011 I was in Patagonia with my Dutch friends Angelique and Elwin. Witnessing many eye popping scenes, we often pinched ourselves, saying, “This looks like a postcard from New Zealand!” So in 2012 we made plans to go to New Zealand to find out if we were right. By December 2012 and all of January 2013 we were in New Zealand! And in this blog, I’ve got photo comparisons. While there are major differences in terms of sheer size of the territory and size of geologic features, the view often seems nearly identical.

torres del paine,chile,patagonia

Torres del Paine Chile

tasman glacier,mt cook,new zealand

Tasman Glacier Trail New Zealand

Patagonia and New Zealand are full of trails winding through glaciated valleys. Both have mountain ranges where the western slopes are wetter, with fjords, and the eastern side has landlocked glaciated lakes and the weather is much drier.

They’re both subjected to blasts from frequent Antarctic storms. New Zealand’s South Island is especially impacted in a similar fashion to Patagonia.

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Lake Te Anau New Zealand

Here are two pictures of gigantic inland lakes. In both regions, ice age glaciers cut deep valleys on the east side and west side. Today both New Zealand and Patagonia have massive inland lakes fed by glaciers. In Patagonia, many of these lakes have ice bergs!

los alerces national park argentina

Los Alerces National Park Argentina

On the west side of Patagonia and New Zealand the ice age glaciers carved fjords leading to the sea. In Patagonia these fjords wend their way for more than 1,000 miles. In New Zealand they also form magical vistas.

Doubtful Sound New Zealand

Doubtful Sound New Zealand

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Puerto Natales, Chile

Believe it or not, both regions even have some of the same trees! They both just happen to have the purple-flowered Jacaranda tree!

jacaranda tree,hastings new zealand

Hastings New Zealand

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Blooming jacaranda tree Buenos Aires

The Jacaranda tree blooms its beautiful purple flowers in spring.

They can be glimpsed in drier areas of New Zealand, as well as Buenos Aires, Argentina.

So many times viewing a landscape we’d swear we were seeing the other country!

Many of New Zealand’s inland lakes are a light colored “glacier blue,” as are many in Patagonia. And driving through the dry inland valleys, whether you’re headed toward the Andes or the Southern Alps, often times you’d swear you were several thousand miles from where you actually were!

mount cook

Left sided driving to Mt Cook…

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Argentina, heading into the Patagonian Andes – right side driving!





Birds of Patagonia!

9 01 2012

During our journeys through the steppe, our walks along the ocean, hikes in the mountains, or time spent on the lakes, we witnessed a lot of birds, and a fair amount of other wildlife. So this post is dedicated to the fauna! Most of these photos are courtesy of Monique Poesiat.

These Chimango Caracaras are everywhere in Patagonia!

Often seen where other colonies of birds lived, and flying low, this caracara could sometimes be approached on a perch within 10 feet of the trail.

Another bird which was our companion from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego was the Black Faced Ibis.

Black Faced Ibis

These Ibis are gregarious, and I saw several raucous colonies! They also fly in groups. They don’t seem to have any trouble surviving in this part of South America!

No narrative of our trip would be complete without the pink birds – Flamingos. We saw them high in the Andes and down on the steppe.

Flamingos seem to congregate wherever there is a brine type of water. But we also saw them in marshes right next to some of the huge glacial lakes down on the steppe, near El Calafate, so I’m not entirely sure what attracts Flamingos to a place.

That doesn’t matter, because they are so beautiful. And, their pink color is always a pretty contrast to the green or brown environment where they forage.

Torrent Duck

On a hike along a steeply sluicing river Nahuel Huapi National Park, we noticed a duck diving in and out of the steepest rapids! It would dive right in, and stay in, only to re-appear somewhere else along the rapid. Or, well, waterfall? This amazing duck is called the Torrent Duck, and it is not a good flier. Rather, it is an Olympic swimmer!

Quite the singer!

Along a glacier, the Rufus Collared Sparrow was declaring his territory, and his call would be answered by others within earshot!

And when a mate is secured, they are busy. This Sparrow, and other birds we’ll cover, were often fanatically working to build nests and raise families!

In the mountains or in sea colonies, all are set about bringing up the next generation. Some of the most industrious were the Cormorants.

Another time, a flash of yellow caught our eye, and it’s the Sierra Finch.

And throughout our time in Patagonia, whether we were out in the steppe, which is flat, or in the mountains, we would witness one of the largest land birds on Planet Earth. And that bird is the Andean Condor.

The Andean Condor

In Patagonia, Condors do not require mountains and steep aeries to fly from. It is so windy, they can often be seen perched on hummocks. They rest, and when the wind picks up, all they need to do is spread their enormous wings to get aloft.

Another bird seen soaring everywhere is not quite as revered, yet its eating routine is not unlike the condor-the lowly turkey vulture.

A common sight was a relative of the woodpecker, a flicker.

They could be seen seeking insects in the hollows of trees or even on the ground sometimes.

More rare was the fire eyed Diucon.

Down in Tierra del Fuego, the busiest birds of all were Arctic Terns and Cormorants.

They build island-colonies solely occupied by their species.

When one arrives by boat, all you see are busy birds flying back and forth with nest building materials!

They are simply fascinating!

The islands where the terns and cormorants nest remind me of WWII aircraft carriers, with “aircraft” constantly coming and going. Noisy and smelly, too.

Another constant companion is the Patagonian Goose. Instead of living in gregarious flocks like Cormorants, Terns, Ibis or other geese, these are almost always seen in pairs.

Back in Buenos Aires, we saw some more warm weather birds.

The gregarious, festidious green parrot could be seen, and heard, whilst foraging or socializing in the parks around the city.

But we saw some other creatures that are notable!

One of a pair of iguanas that scampered across our path...

We also witnessed some iguanas being chased by parent birds defending their nest.

And, down in Tierra del Fuego, there is an invasive species, famaliar to Oregonians. Yes, Beavers were introduced, and they have wreaked havoc on the environment down there.

But, they are interesting, I guess. Like the cormorants, these fellows never stop working overtime!





Hiking the Torres del Paine “W”

7 01 2012

A Lenticular Cloud over the towers!

Awakening at O’Dark Hundred, it’s pitch black and the Southern Cross is sparkling. We’re up early because Saskia wants us hitting the trail at 7:00 a.m.! Little did we know, but this was a brilliant decision for hiking Torres Del Paine.

We force down some more dry bread, orange colored water and cheese at the refugio-cafeteria. Today we could pre-order a “trail box lunch,” and this time a tuna sandwich was a choice – I picked tuna over the standard dry ham and cheese!

All suited up and booted and ready to to, we were all set. Almost. You see, our Refugio had an outdoors “boot storage box.” Inside, we were to walk in our stocking feet. We were to leave boots outside in the box. Being that we are in the Andes, low nighttime temperatures could be at freezing. I knew from past experience to NEVER allow boots to be stored outside if it is that cold. That means putting on COLD boots in the morning, and who wants that? So I took off my boots and brought them into my bedroom for the night. I was just fine. But some of my peers didn’t take such precautions, in particular Angelique! Hmmm, we’ll be hearing from Angelique today…Angelique did not pack hiking boots. Rather, she had Dr. Martens-calf-high boot style. She’ll find out if those work on the trail!

Our luck holds as it’s not windy, and the sun is out. Locals say it can blow a constant 4o mph around here! It’s cold but the athletic effort will no doubt have us losing layers before long.

We embark, hiking at a brisk pace along the flat plain below the towers to the trailhead. We come across bridge over a river, and like yesterday, there is a limit on how many can cross at once. Rickety for sure, but it’s kind of like Disneyland! What would a hike down here be without a rickety walk over a skinny bridge? It’s not too long past this bridge where the real trail begins, which will end at the base of the world-famous pinnacles of Torres del Paine!

The hike should challenging. It’s about 12 miles round trip, and 3,000 ft elevation gain. The beginning has a steep climb. The middle is up and down. The end is a 40-minute scramble up a boulder field, to a spectacular view of the towers. The climax will be a view of 9,000 ft vertical towers, with a glacial lake underneath! In 2011 I have done so much kayaking for work, and been so busy with outdoor recreation / kayaking work that I have not done much hiking. But I know how to hike efficiently. And, I am so much looking forward to being outside and the workout!

My strategy is to start at my own pace, slowly, let my body warm up, and once the trail reaches the rolling section, take off like a madman, like a workout. Let the legs run on the downhills. Then, at the scramble at the end, have enough energy to make a push to get there in a respectable time! I’m the only American, so I can’t allow myself to look like a slug. I’ll make a respectable hike for myself and for America…how patriotic…silly.

I take my time on the initial part. I can see Eray and Elwin moving on up ahead, and out front there is a group trailing Saskia, pushing out at this first part of the hike. Partly I want to hang back so I do not perspire too much. I’m kind of hoping if I relax a bit, I will not sweat and won’t have to change layers. That thought doesn’t work out. As the trail climbs I’m inevitably swamped with my own sweat and must do away with layers! At about this time Behrend walks past me going down, and he says he is seeking his girlfriend who’s behind.

But this strategy works. As the temperature rises and the physical effort builds, the layers peel off. I started with gloves and a hat, which are gone. Then the gore tex jacket. I’m warming up, I’m perspiring, I’m totally immersed in the physical element! I LOVE the physical aspects of hiking. Especially since we have spent so much time on the road! Breathing. In, out, in, out, my legs and torso warming up.

The ascent leads beyond the dry steppe and into an alpine forest. It winds along the slope of a valley, with a river cutting through. Every so often I can see the towers.

Up and down, I chug up and then fly down. I’m one hundred percent in this moment, breathing in the air, taking in the scenery, feeling the blood flowing, marveling at the views unfolding. I catch up and pass my peers Flores, Ivo, Stephanie, Ed…and on a bend there is another bridge with a trailside rest stop/lunch spot, which I pass by. Filled with endorphins, I just concentrate on my pace and breath…and I catch a glimpse of Angelique up ahead! More and more, backpacker couples pass me by coming down. I hear Ola! Cheers! G’Day! Gutte Morgun! It’s clear Torres Del Paine is a global magnet for outdoors enthusiasts. Further, I am struck by how many young couples are backpacking. This is a romantic Mecca!

Some of the woods reminds me of the movie “The Lord of the Rings,” and I can’t help myself.

When I catch up to Angelique, I’m so excited I have trouble containing myself. I say, “WOW, isn’t this fantastic! I’m so in my element, FINALLY! Wow, hiking in Patagonia!” Angelique retorts, “I hate it! I cannot stand it! My feet are blistered because I put on cold boots this morning, and I never thought it would be so long!” With my elation it was hard to understand. But I’m an experienced outdoors enthusiast and Angelique was not in her element. Yet she continued on. I asked, “Who’s up ahead?” “Behrend, Saskia, and Elwin” was the response. So passed all the other people? Wow! They must have paused at the rest stop. So, somehow Behrend passed me going down, and passed me going up but I missed that. How? Either way, that’s impressive!

Angelique: OUCH!

We keep going, and Angelique keeps up a good pace! All along this hike I encounter backpackers going this way and that.

The report on this trail says the end steepens. This is borne out as we are still in the woods, yet the trail’s upward trajectory becomes ever higher. Then the trees disappear and we’re in broad daylight.

The trail winds through a boulder field, and the Torres Del Paine towers begin to come into full view.

Rather than fall victim to the ever steepening burden of the trail, Angelique and I double our efforts. The “trail” begins to fade, and the way to the top is only found by carefully watching red blazes on rocks up above.

Here, we’re truly scrambling. A sign says, “30 minutes” meaning we have to scramble for 30 minutes! Well, at least we know.

That sign means one thing to me! We are NEARING the summit! It stokes my adrenaline, powering me up. Right then, Eghbert suddenly shows up. He’s also on the attack! He’s half my age. I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got to keep my position!

Somewhere along this flight to the finish, I move way ahead and Angelique gets lost amongst the boulders. I d0 not know it, but Angelique has lost her way and has gotten panicked, not knowing which way to go.

When I’m near the summit, I grab my camera and film the end in video mode. So here it is, without any further description. Imagine you are there yourself!

What can I say! No wind! Blue sky! WOW HOLY COW! Nothing could surpass this, could it? The fact that we left at 7:00 a.m. was killer! Clouds rolled in as we descended. We SCORED! It was surely a challenge and worth every single step! We take lots of photos. My other compadres make it to the top. Yaap, Ed, Stephanie, Eray, Ed, Christof, and more.

Behrend,Stephanie,Ed,Yaap,Ivo,Angelique,me,Eray…

Everyone savors the view and a bit of calm settles over. But after about half an hour, after we have had a chance to refresh ourselves, it’s time to head back.

Poor Angelique! On the way up she lost her way and practically had a panic attack finding us!

She wasn’t familiar with the markings showing the way. I felt bad that I got so excited I just kept going.

On the way down, I fell victim to the same issue. Before I knew it, I was in “no man’s land,” with no markers and everything unfamiliar. I had to scramble back up and find the trial markers.

Much of the descent, I was with Christof. We made good progress through the forests. At one particular bend in the trail, I glanced to my right, and WOW! I glimpsed a creature so rare, the park rangers want us to report it if we see it. It’s called a Hemuel – an Andes deer!

As Christof, before me, passed, I quietly signaled him to stop! He turned around, and me, without a peep, pointed to my right, and Christof saw the deer! WOW! I can’t believe it. What we are witnessing is one of the rarest creatures in Patagonia.

An endangered Hemuel

And, it has no problem with us. It’s a stout creature, with early season antlers, and losing its winter coat. It totally knew I was watching, but it didn’t mind that I was there.

Another romantic backpacker couple shows up, and I put my index finger to my mouth, signalling “quiet!” and pointed in its direction. Instantly they fell to their knees and watched, slowly bringing their point-and-shoots to capture the scene.

It was priceless!

The hike down was characterized be the day becoming more cloudy, and wind building. I was so thankful Saskia had planned to have us on the trail early. Otherwise, our pictures wouldn’t be as fantastic.

Also, the number of international outdoors addicts built during the day. All during the descent we saw more and more people coming up the trail, signaling how much of a magnet this place is!

I need to mention that about ten of our group gave up and never made the summit. Some actually planned to only hike part of the route. This whole day was a success. On our return, we walked again past the bottom of the plain, and this time we walked through one of the campgrounds at that lie at the base of the trails. These are car campgrounds. I was amazed at the sheer number of campsites. At this early part of the season, I counted less than ten sites occupied. But there are over 100 campsites! If this were December or January, this place would be packed! So we are SO fortunate to be here in early season. We had no idea. I would have to day that November is a great time to be in Patagonia.

At long last we arrive back in our Refugio, where we can get showers. We are to depart today, and tonight we’ll be in El Calafate, another few hours to the north in Patagonia. We are all desperate for the warmth and cleansing of a shower. We find it back in our Refugio. Oh man, it feels FANTASTIC! And we have some time to kill before our transportation shows up.

Eray and I know the best way to spend that time. Which is, to lounge on the grass, with an Austral beer and watching the sun pass over the nearby mountains, right?

At this moment, I don’t know how anything could be improved! We’ve hiked, accomplished, and we are relaxing following an incredible experience.

Well done!

Our drive will take us across the steppe, another lonely highway, and we’ll find ourselves in El Calafate, another magnet town for international outdoor addicts!

We take a minibus across another rickety bridge to a “transfer point,” where we’ll all board bigger buses to take us to El Calafate.

It’s a nice sunny afternoon.

And Angelique’s Dr. Martens, hanging from her bag, stand testimonial to her ordeal today! Check out the dust!

Well, tomorrow is another day. We’ll be face to face with a huge glacier!





Torres del Paine at Last!

3 01 2012

Just to get the scale perspective, see the road by the lake?

Today, the highlights of our trip step up and will just keep on coming!

We drive two hours from Puerto Natales, Chile to Torres Del Paine National Park. Torres Del Paine, which appears on countless calendar photos year after year, just doesn’t disappoint!  This 600,000 acre park is South America’s Number One most visited national park. And for good reason. The Torres Del Paine massif is incredible, the hiking is unparalleled, and it’s got lots of jaw-dropping scenery in a compact area. Contained within its boundaries are 9,000 ft horns and spires, plus innumerable glacial lakes, and even the Grey Glacier, a 40-mile long river of ice wrapping around the west, visible from trail side. And behind it lies the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap. This cap of ice is the largest continental ice sheet outside Antarctica, and feeds no less than 300 glaciers! All of this comes right down to the steppe, which looks like Eastern Oregon. It makes its own weather. It is truly a spectacle bey0nd imagination.

One thing about Patagonian highways that’s got to be said is that they are empty. You can drive for a long time, during which you see the road for miles ahead, and there are no other vehicles around. You see dry desert steppe, and when you do see trees, sometimes entire hillsides have been blown down by the wind. But today, it’s not very windy. We have clouds, though. There are mountains all around, sometimes contorted in unimaginable shapes.

As we near, I keep thinking the mountains we see are the Torres Del Paine massif. They are all magnificent, but when the real thing comes into view, it’s something else. Vertical, 9,000 ft. spires dug out by glaciers, but then to one side, there is something only suitable to the Lord of the Rings – several vertical towers, and below the whole thing, many blue lakes dwarfed by the spires reaching to the sky.

We come by a herd of guanacos; in fact we’ll see a lot of these camel-relatives during our stay here!

We come to a trailhead and we’ve got the afternoon to explore. This trail wends between Lago Pehoe and Lago Nordenskjold. In front of us lies one of the “W” valleys Torres Del Paine is known for. If you think about it, a “W” is how this park is generally laid out. The left is a trail along the Grey Glacier, the middle goes up the horns, which we’ll witness today, and the right of the “W” we’ll be exploring tomorrow! WOW. The park is so popular, it’s got a system of vans which can transport backpackers between the trailheads at the bottom of the “W”.

Well, it’s time to get into the thick of it!

We hike, and bring our picnic lunch along. It’s only about 30 minutes before we come along what can only be described as a jaw dropping scene, one which will be duplicated over and over in the days to come! We lunch by this waterfall. Check out this video:

The lakes all over Patagonia, blue/gray with minerals from glaciers, often drain into each other in this fantabulous fashion.

We watch for what seems an eternity. But we move on, to the trail’s end. Along the way I see lots of special birds, and flowering plants only found here. The view is of Valle del Frances, surrounded by those glacier-topped vertical horns, and Lago Nordenskjold underneath. Glaciers unfold, wrapping and warping over the rocks.

The glacial lakes below the scoured valleys bear witness to timeless geological forces. The tops of these horns are sedimentary rocks heaved up from the ocean bottom, and the grey underneath is solidified granite which intruded from the earth’s liquid mantle. All to be cut down by ice! Wow. Holy cow. When we get back to our transportation, we are shepherded to Refugio Las Torres, which is a hostel at the base of one of the valleys at the right side of the “W.” We travel over bridges so rickety that our van must go over them empty. Everybody has to exit the vehicle as it goes over. The hostel “refuge” is six people to a room. It’s got a central eating “lodge” where we have dinner, and tomorrow, breakfast.

Our place for tonight

A bottle of Malbec costs only $7 here. I’m not complaining. But maybe I ought to complain that we are to hit the trail tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.!

In keeping with the theme in this blog I ought to mention we are here in early season. The park’s campgrounds are only 10% full. Our “refugio” has been open only two weeks. As such, our lodgings need some work when we get there. The heat needs to be turned on. But all is OK. It all works out. We get heat and HOT fantastic showers. We are ready for the assault on the Towers tomorrow!





Puerto Montt Chile: The Cueca Dance

25 12 2011

Puerto Montt, Chile is a city at the top of Chile’s vast fjord system. From Puerto Montt you can take ferries plying a thousand miles of interconnected fjords to Punta Arenas and beyond. Like parts of Alaska, the many islands are only sparsely inhabited. There is a huge salmon farming industry here, and it’s impact on wild fish is criticized. Puerto Montt sits on the sea, with a lovely waterfront, city square, and it’s cloaked in volcanoes all around. It’s no wonder the buses have volcanoes painted on their sides.

We arrive about noon, and Christof and I take a good long walk to the end of town, where there’s a good seafood market.

It is Sunday, so the town is busy with people on their day off. Young couples groping were everywhere. Nobody is shy about showing physical affection in Chile or Argentina!

Along the way we walk through another open air market. It’s not very interesting to me, because what’s for sale looks mostly like souvenirs I have seen everywhere else in the world. But there are some interesting micro restaurants.

We reach the seafood market. It’s pretty busy, and you can get most everything – squid, clams, oysters, mussels, except that the salmon are all farmed!

There were some really interesting looking family micro restaurants and I wanted to return later to check some of them out. On our return, Christof and I pause for refreshment at one of the coffee and dessert micro restaurants. They did a nice job!

YUM

We planned to meet others back at our hotel for dinner, and when we got back we met up with Elwin, Angelique and Eray. We had some time to kill, and as we walked along toward the waterfront we heard some really lively music! We found it in the town square. At one corner of the square there is a gazebo and a band was practicing. People were gathering.

There were some people in costumes, and some in more formal ‘going out’ attire, and I had no idea what was about to happen. As I stood looking at the band, I realized I needed to move off to the side because some of these people were moving out onto the center of the plaza moving to the music.

And here is what we witnessed, it was free, just locals enjoying the national dance! It was such a treat! It is called the Cueca! After a bit, others, including teenagers, were doing it! Well, without further adieu, enjoy!

Here is another couple…

And one last for good measure!

I am so fortunate we just walked into this spectacle. It lasted about 45 minutes and then they disbanded…fun to watch! So what is this dance? It’s actually a representation of a rooster courting a chicken!

sss





Adventure 2011 Argentina / Chile

28 11 2011

I am a decidedly hooked overseas traveler and could not wait to get my fix any longer! I’ve had some tough times these last couple of years, so I’d put off venturing, but nothing would stop me from exploring in 2011! I had over 100,000 frequent flier miles with United Airlines, which were set to expire. Last time I went overseas was in 2008 to Laos / Cambodia, and that was fantastic. I’m in love with SE Asia and the Himalayan region. I was tempted to return, but I’ve been there seven times – and I’ve never been to South America. So this time, I decided to head directly SOUTH. Time to save my soul and escape my world…to Argentina and Chile – to Patagonia!

Because  for me, getting outside my neighborhood, city, state – my country – seeing life from outside, from another perspective – only that refreshes my spirit!

Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of information, but I knew I’d like to experience the Andes, and probably Tierra del Fuego. Timing was important. In 2011, I worked as a sales consultant and guide/instructor at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, and their busy season is summer, winding down with the Lumpy Waters Symposium in October. I inquired with Suzi Elle, one of the owners, about taking vacation and her reply was “anytime after Lumpy!’ So with that in mind, I targeted late October/November for a start time!

It looked like this would be a good time for Argentina and Chile. But it would also be a good time in the Himalayas – prime time is right after monsoon season. Also in the southern hemisphere, I could head to South Africa, or New Zealand. But it seemed the right time for me to see the “other America.” It would be late spring down there. Without a lot of time for research, and wanting to see a lot, I wanted to do an organized trip, so I looked at two companies I’ve worked with, Djoser, out of Amsterdam, and Mountain Travel Sobek, based in San Francisco. I had gone to Thailand with Djoser in 2004 and had a great experience. In 2007 I did an unforgettable 110-mile Himalayan Trek in Bhutan with Sobek. Sobek had a 3-week hiking trip focused on Torres del Paine National Park. I looked into this and really was interested, but I couldn’t get frequent flier flights to match up. So, I looked at Djoser again, and began to realize their agenda might be more an experience I preferred. That is because their three week trip covers much more of Patagonia. They do time in the Fitz Roy Range, and Tierra del Fuego, and even have some days up in the Lakes District, as well as seeing marine life on Peninsula Valdes. It would be more “road time,” but one would get a better overview. Sobek’s trip would be much more in touch with the outback areas of Torres del Paine, away from the throngs of backpackers.

So I inquired at the Djoser USA office in Pennsylvania. They cautioned me that the trip I was looking at was an international group, so I might be the only American. I’d have to be OK with that. I was not worried one bit. Djoser’s groups mostly cater to Dutch, and some other Europeans too. I knew from my experiences with Dutch citizens that they are gregarious, considerate, polite and nearly everybody speaks English. I didn’t worry about any issues. I signed up, and went about calling the frequent flier desk at United. I tried. And tried. “No seats for those dates” was the response for several tries. I began to despair. But one customer service agent took me under her wing, telling me that, “Seats open up, so don’t get discouraged! Keep calling every day!” So I did.

And then it happened. One day I reeled off the same inquiry, dates, times, and the response was, “OK, we have seats on these flights…” I just about hit the ceiling! Hardly containing my delight that I got a FREE flight to South America on the dates matching my itinerary, I booked them on the spot!

I was going! I was going on a trip to Patagonia! We would be seeing penguins, southern right whales, elephant seals, carakaras, guanacos, condors, hike in Torres del Paine, watch tango dancers, bask in the view of the spires of Cerro Fitz Roy, walk on the Viedma Glacier, cruise the Lakes in the Lakes District near Bariloche, and reach the end of the world at Tierra del Fuego!

Here’s a great photo of my comrades on this trip! We were American, Dutch, Belgian and Turkish. A wonderful group…of varied ages and professions!

I was in! So what follows is a story of the trip to the highlights of Patagonia! Stay tuned!