Chile -- the first leg of our South American trip

We had a wonderful trip to South America! Almost three weeks!

March 11 - 19, 2015

Chile: Overview

Santiago -- two nights.

Patagonia -- three nights at EcoCamp Patagonia.

Ship MV Australis: Tierra del Fuego -- four nights on the ship, sailing around Tierra del Fuego, through the Beagle Channel, to Cape Horn, and then north to the very southern-most port town in the Americas: Ushuaia, Argentina.

(After Tierra del Feugo, we continued on to Argentina, for the second leg of our trip. Which is detailed on a separate web page.)

First stop in Chile: Santiago...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Santiago, Chile

Arrived early in Santiago after a red-eye from home (and transfer in Miami). Met our Road Scholar compatriots, our guide Horacio, and our guide-in-Santiago, Jean-Albert -- an amazing font of knowledge about everything (culture, geography, history, art, food, wine...). Able to check in early to Hotel Toremayor - Lyon, which was good!

Santiago is huge, BTW! (5.3 Million.) Also a bit smoggy this time of the year. (The city is in a bit of a "bowl" between the Andes and the Central Coastal Range.) But, our hotel was in a good location for exploring. And the fall weather ("equivalent" to early September in the northern hemisphere) was great (except for the smog, of course)!

After lunch in Barrio Bellavista (Santiago's "hip" quarter), our first adventure was a trip up the 500 meter, 45-degree incline funicular. to the top of San Cristóbal Hill.

The funicular to the top of San Cristóbal Hill, Santiago, Chile

The tracks split at the half-way point.

The funicular to the top of San Cristóbal Hill, Santiago, Chile

One tiny "slice" of the city from the top of

A little bit of Buenos Aires, from the top of San Cristóbal Hill

A little bit of Buenos Aires, from the top of San Cristóbal Hill

In the afternoon we explored on our own, visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Interior of the Metropolitan Cathedral, Santiago, Chile

In the late afternoon, we met back up with our group for a visit to the Pre-Columbian Museum. A beautiful space, with amazing artifacts. This is just one of many that caught my eye. (We didn't have long here; it would have been easy to spend hours exploring the exhibits and artifacts.) As always in Santiago, it was great having our local guide, Jean-Albert, providing context and insights.

Artifact in the Pre-Columbian Museum, Santiago, Chile

Chemamulles. "These remarkable wooden statues were placed on top of tombs in ancient Mapuche cemeteries. They reflect the spirit (om) of those buried there and are intended to assist them in their journey to the afterlife. Chiefs and great warriors were sent to the East after death, to roam among the volcanoes of Kalfumapu, the'blue land.' All others went to the West, to eat bitter potatoes beyond the sea." (Quoted from the placard in the museum.)

Chemamulles, Pre-Columbian Museum, Santiago, Chile

The Presidential Palace.

Presidential Palace, Santiago, Chile

Thursday, March 12, 2013

Santiago, Chile

Nothing special here, but this intersection is a block north of our hotel, which was in a pleasant, leafy neighborhood.

Street scene, Santiago, Chile

In the late morning, we headed south for a tour of the Santa Rita winery. And wine tastings -- the best part! (It's a bit south of Santiago -- the blue icon on this map.)

Grapes at the Santa Rita Winery, south of Santiago, Chile

Our guide to the winery, and one of our fellow travelers.

A view inside the Santa Rita Winery, Chile

A view inside the Santa Rita Winery, Chile

It's fun trying to take photos in next-to-no light, without a tripod! This is one of their historic cellars.

A historic cellar, Santa Rita Winery, Chile

And this is one of the original cellars (even older, I believe). The casks are empty -- the cellar is preserved as "history." (Note the reconstructed arch to the left.)

A historic cellar, Santa Rita Winery, Chile

Stacked bottles, Santa Rita Winery, Chile

Not so historic.

Wine processing equipment at the Santa Rita Winery, Chile

The tasting. (Can't imagine why the woman in the foreground is not finishing her pour!)

Wine tasting after the tour at the Santa Rita Winery, Chile

The view from the patio overlooking the gardens, where we continued our tastings.

Gardens at the Santa Rita Winery, Chile

Back in Santiago after lunch at the winery, and exploring a bit on my own.

Family, Santiago, Chile

A rush hour view.

On the bus, rush hour, Santiago, Chile

A view of the channelized Mapocho River, a few blocks north of our hotel.

The channelized Mapocho River, Santiago, Chile

We had dinner in the Lastarria neighborhood of Santiago, at Mulato Cochina de Mercado. Tapas-style tastings.

Took the subway back to the hotel, and walked by this beautiful church in Lastarria.

Church in the Lastarria neighborhood of Santiago, Chile

Friday, March 13, 2015

Patagonia, Chile

A travelling day. A flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas.

Then a drive north to our home for a few days -- the very cool EcoCamp Patagonia, a 6.5-or-so hour drive from Punta Arenas.

And located here, nestled right up "under" the Torres del Paine, which are poking up into the clouds in this from-the-bus photo.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

During a stop in Puerto Natales at the EcoCamp offices (and for lunch), we also picked up one of our two local guides for our stay in Patagonia, Sarah, a transplant from the States. She was full of info about the local culture, geology, and fauna -- and a pleasure to be with during our Patagonia adventure!

Features in Patagoia are rather sparsely labeled on Google Maps. So this scanned topo map is quite helpful for finding things.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Patagonia, Chile

The plan for the day was to travel from the EcoCamp to "Drive across Torres del Paine National Parkenjoying views of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, as well as Los Cuernos – the famous mountain with black granite horn-like spires. Walk along the shores of stunning Lake Pehoe and visit the furious Salto Grande Falls which pour the waters of Lake Nordenskjold into Pehoe." (Quoted from the trip description.) We got started, but....

Patagonian mountain view, Chile

... the Patagonian winds had other ideas. Winds of perhaps 80 mph (a guess, but a reasonable guess, I think) were kicking up spray on Lago Nordenskjöld -- in the distance in the photo below. And right about where I took this photo, they kicked up a small rock (the bluestone you can see on the road, I think), that broke the bus window, right next to the driver!! Quite understandably, it was back to the EcoCamp so a new plastic and duct tape "window" could be fashioned for the bus.

Windy Lago Nordenskjöld, Patagonia, Chile

A through-the-bus-window photo, on the way back to EcoCamp.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

A nice, short hike from the camp, and saw this fellow with his pack horses.

Horses near the EcoCamp, Patagonia, Chile

With the bus window "fixed," back out for more adventures. We walked down to these flats (here on Google Maps), at the south end of Lago Grey.

Lago Grey, Patagonia, Chile

This photo was taken looking south along Rio Paine, on the beautiful drive back from Lago Grey, probably about here.

Rio Paine, Patagonia, Chile

And looking north along Rio Paine.

Rio Paine and Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

We saw lenticular clouds like ths quite a few times. (A through-the-bus-window photo.)

Lenticular clouds, Patagonia, Chile

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Patagonia, Chile

It was great seeing flamingos along the shore of Laguna Amarga. Our other local guide, Flash (great name!) encouraged us to creep up slowly and quietly. A treat to see! (Like Sarah, he was full of information to share.)

Flamingo at Laguna Amarga, Patagonia, Chile

Flamingo at Laguna Amarga, Patagonia, Chile

And Andean condors cruising overhead. Up to 10.5-foot wingspans!

Andean Condor in flight, Patagonia, Chile

Andean Condor in flight, Patagonia, Chile

Andean Condor in flight, Patagonia, Chile

Sara and Flash also told our group about the lake's thrombolites, which are a "microbial carbonate" (very primitive animals) along the shore of the lake. (Nicely described, with photos, in this blog post.)

Road Scholar tour group at Laguna Amarga, Patagonia, Chile

Then on to delicious barbeque -- prepared by a Chilean asadore (grill master), at an EcoCamp-owned spot here. Delicious!

One of the many guanacos we saw in Patagonia. This one seen during a pleasant hike. (There have been a number of fires in this area, and it looks like the Google Maps image of this area was taken before the fire, the effects of which you can see here.)

Guanaco, Patagonia, Chile

Cascada Paine, on Rio Paine -- looking to the west. (Here on Google Maps.)

Cascada Paine, on Rio Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Monday, March 16, 2015

MV Australis (Tierra del Fuego, Chile)

Time to leave EcoCamp, for the next phase of our adventure. This photo, taken here, on our way out of the park.

A glorious sunrise, Patagonia, Chile

Next stop was the Milodon Cave, here, a bit north of Puerto Natales. The milodon is an extinct genus of the ground sloth, which lived in the Patagonia region until about 10,000 years ago -- and resembling a large bear. One was found in this cave, with its fur preserved and intact.

"The discovery of fresh looking samples of skin and dung sparked a small wave of expeditions during the early 20th century to search for a living example of the animal.  The samples have since been found to be around 10,000 years old, although they look fresh because of the extreme cold and stable conditions in the caves in which they were found." (From Wikipedia.)

The Milodon Cave, Patagonia, Chile

In the early afternoon we boarded ship MV Australis in Punta Arenas. The ship set sail, and then dinner on board.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MV Australis (Tierra del Fuego, Chile)

Our first full day on the ship. The Australis website shows our route -- although it was adjusted somewhat along the way.

Here's the area on Google Maps.

One of many wonderful sights.

A ray of light -- Tierra del Fuego, Chile

One of the Zodiacs being lowered into the water, for the first of quite a few on-the-water excursions we enjoyed during the cruise.

Zodiac being lowered off the MV Australis, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

And some views from our Zodiac, with MV Australis in the distance

A glacier view, from here, looking west. Two other Zodiacs in the distance.

The happy couple, with goofy hats!

Steve & Elizabeth, among the glaciers, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

"Back on the bus": two other Zodiacs.

Zodiacs returning to the MV Australis, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MV Australis (Tierra del Fuego, Chile)

This was our day to travel along the Beagle Channel and its "Glacier Alley" (more of a marketing term, I think, than an official geographic designation). But a treat, regardless of its name!

One of our fellow travelers noticed this little waterfall that didn't make it all the way down.

One of many glacier views.

Our first sighting of magellanic penguins. So cute! Most had evidently already left the area to head north for the winter, but every now and then we saw a few. (This site says the can travel as far north as Peru and Brazil.)

Magellanic penguins, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

And a cavorting seal.

Cavorting seal,  Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Cavorting seal,  Tierra del Fuego, Chile

More penguins.

Magellanic penguin, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Magellanic penguins, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Another Zodiac excursion -- this time to land, here. A view of Pia Glacier, plus a short hike.

Pia Glacier, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Pia Glacier, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Pia Glacier, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Some mossy details. A lovely spot!

A mossy rock with Pia Glacier in the background, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

A few to the southwest, back towards Beagle Channel (which is about 4 miles away, and out of sight in this view).

From "the top" (of our short hike). The rain started, and I had no luck in keeping water off my lens. But the blurry drops sort of capture the "feel" of the day, I think.

A lichen detail, on the walk back down from the hill.

Lichen detail

Back on the ship, through the Beagle Channel's "Glacier Alley."



Two of the "Glacier Alley" glaciers.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

MV Australis (Tierra del Fuego, Chile)

We visited Bahia Wulaia, here on Google Maps. An interesting and complex history, well presented in the 19th century building in this image -- now a museum. This area was a settlement of the Yaghan peoples 10,000 years ago. The Europeans discovered the Yaghans here in the 19th century. (Charles Darwin and Vice-Admiral Fitz-Roy visited here -- encountering the Yaghan in 1831.) However, in 1858, the Yaghan massacred a British ship's crew that had settled here.

In 1871, an Anglican missionary established a mission here (the building in the image below) and raised a family. However, ultimately the missionaries failed (a consistent historical theme...) to "convert" the Yaghans.

Bahia Wulaia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Bahia Wulaia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Bahia Wulaia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Rocks and brighly colored lichens, Bahia Wulaia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Returning to the ship after our excursion.

The stern of MV Australis, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

On to Cape Horn.

From Wikipedia: "The southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island. Although not the most southerly point of South America (which are the Diego Ramírez Islands), Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage."

Rather calm weather (for Cape Horn)!

Cape Horn, Chile

And an iPhone shot, processed with Snapseed.

Cape Horn, Chile

And luckily, calm enough that we could take a Zodiac excursion to the island.

A very southern antenna -- iPhone + Snapseed

An old antenna on Cape Horn, Chile

And here's a view of the walkway to the monument (in the distance) which was recently ripped apart by the winds.

Walkway to the (damaged) monument, Cape Horn, Chile

A view of the ship, just before the sleet (which we enjoyed durning our Zodiac ride back from the island).

MV Australis at dusk, off Cape Horn Chile

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ushuaia, Argentina

Continues on the next page....