Patagonia, February-March 2016
Patagonia: southern Argentina and southern Chile, stretching not only North-South, but also from the Atlantic across the Andes to the Pacific. Patagonia is one of the most beautiful and varied places on Earth. Clare and I first visited the area in January 2004, spending several days each in the vicinity of Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego. Buenos Aires is vibrant, beautiful, exciting, interesting; it is a place to see gauchos, dancing, art, and birds. Tierra del Fuego (“land of fire”) is magical: beech forests rise to sharp mountains covered with snow and ice. To the southeast is the southernmost town on Earth: Ushuaia, Argentina. To the south small islands lead to Cape Horn and the Drake Passage. To the northwest, across the Strait of Magellan is Punta Arenas, Chile, the southernmost city on Earth.
In January 2009 I took a dozen students to hike and climb in the southern Andes. The weather was clear on both flights between Punta Arenas in Santiago, allowing us to look down on the volcanoes straddling the Chile-Argentina border; these mountains are the sources of the glaciers that made the Chilean fjords, some of the most magnificent scenery you can imagine. In our 2016 trip, we cruised through these fjords on our passage from Punta Arenas to Valparaiso.
Penguins on the Falkland Islands
Our medium-sized Holland America ship, the Zaandam, took us from Buenos Aires south to the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego and then north to Valparaiso. We arrived in Buenos Aires a day early to enjoy that area before boarding the ship and crossing Rio de la Plata to Montevideo, Uruguay. From Valparaiso, Chile we took a bus to the capital Santiago. In 2009 we stayed at a delightful hotel near that pass after backpacking and climbing above the base camp of Aconcagua, at 22,841 feet the highest peak in the southern and western hemispheres. On the 2016 trip, we walked north toward Aconcagua from the pass where Darwin stayed while making the first geologic cross-section of the Andes.
Osorno Volcano and the Petrohue River