If the previous macro shot was all about the tiniest thing I could find, here’s a bigger one !
This fellow is a stinky one, if you bother him too much. Sort of the defence you would expect for such a dull looking insect. But that been said I had a few interaction with him until he would pose appropriately, and did not end up been sprayed. I guess he doesn’t fear me, so I should probably stop considering myself a though guy in the metro…
With a new spring season that was just kicked off a few days ago, and nature starting to blossom all around, I found myself exploring my girlfriend family backyard in search for subject to try the new macro lens she just bought a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to find this tiny creature, enjoying some quiet time on a large camelia leaf, before the season gets busy.
It would also be the second photo of my 52 project, almost too late for this week…
If I won’t be staring at mountains, glaciers, lakes and forests for a while, I can stare at all these people going places, doing stuff, looking busy, completely isolated from one another, even though there was some live music in the street.
Also, and I should probably think twice before announcing it, I think I would like to try a 52 photos challenge, i.e. a photo a week. Hopefully this one will kick off this challenge nicely, and a year for now I can look at a brilliant collection of 52 photos.
To give an idea of how empty can be South Patagonia on the Argentina side (the Chubut and Santa Cruz Province), we are talking of a territory roughly the size of France, with less than 1% if is population, so around 1.5 habitant per square kilometer. So in other words: a desert, with population pushed either on the mountain side (the border with Chili) or the coast side. So what is there to look at ? storms !
I knew Parque Nacional Torres del Paine would be one of the highlight of this journey in South America. Trekking the W circuit was incredible, but left me unsatisfied of not spending more time chilling in the wonder of nature. So I came back for another three days.
Instead of going through a lengthy description, I’ll leave you with the picture I took from various viewpoint (mirador) during this second trip to the park.
I only regret not seeing the other side of this mountain. I should eventually return in a few years to try the O circuit (plus a couple other trek and some kayaking). The good part is that been familiar with this park now, it should be rather easy to plan for it.
Peru, Argentina and Chile have blessed us an amazing and easy to spot wild life. It surely rarefied as we were going south in Patagonia and its desert landscape, but lately the guanaco became our buddy, appearing every now and then.
Here above is one in the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, on top of a hill, sort of keeping an eye on us. I could not resist framing it, with the mountain in the background. It is not a small animal, and yet in this landscape of huge rocks and wide empty spaces, he looks so tiny.
I shall mention that it is also rather tasty when stewed… or cured like the jamon serrano. You can’t say you like nature if you don’t get a taste of it 🙂
The southernmost part of Patagonia, the Region de Magallanes, is to Chile what Ushuaia is to Argentina: the symbol of the struggle to survive in an hostile environment. I would however argue that the splendid views would make it one of the best place to die, if somebody is eating them.
The running joke lately has been to consider that there are two fashion season for winter jacket: winter and summer. If the occasional sunny day bring summer-ish temperatures, the grey days are cold as hell. An effect that wet air emphasizes even more. I managed to keep wearing shorts for a day, to get back to long pants.
But I should not feel bad, for the history of the first settlers in this region has been far more dramatic. Fuente Bulnes, a stronghold built to establish Chilean presence and gain control of the Magallanes Channel, is basically a reminder of the starvations of the first settlers, who had to move north to what is now Punta Arenas, after nearly all of them perished. Shipwrecks along the shore of the channel are more stories about more people perishing into icy cold waters, deeper than the two oceans nearby.
To a point that I start to look forward to move back up north to better climate, for someone has to be specially built to enjoy such a place all year round.
However the landscape and wild life (birds, whales, dolphins and guanacos) is amazing, something everyone should come see before it disappears.
Located in the southernmost part of the world before reaching Antarctica, la Tierra del Fuego, a.k.a. The End of the World, is a land of adventure and cold wet windy weather. Here boats sink, people live in eternal winters, king crab is the best food and the nature rules ! It is also a place where the natives lived almost naked, using fires to keep warm, thus giving the name the place when the first sailors passed by and saw these fire from their boats.
As you drive from Puerto Natales (or Punta Arenas) to Tierra del Fuego, first comes the realisation of all the shipwrecks that built the myth. If most ships are now decomposing on the bottom of the oceans, seas and channels, so are forever part of the littoral. Reaching the ferry later made it clear that the strong currents are not for beginners.
The southern part of the Tierra del Fuego is where the Andes ends. If in Peru the free air freezing zone (or bush line) is above 5000masl, here you only have to climb 700masl to enjoy all year round snow.
If I haven’t enjoyed Ushuaia as much as I should have, according to my traveling partner, the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego was a better surprise, the best chance to observe the vibrant green vegetation and a landscape shaped thousands of years ago by glacier.
Now at that point you may be noticing the grey cloudy sky and wonder if there’s any chance to see something more summer like. In short, yes, but only for a few minutes, for the wind will always end up bringing back these clouds.
If I don’t have a lot of positive stuff to say about Ushuaia, I should write that my opinion is not mainstream. Many enjoy the city more than I did. However, something should be said about the king crab, and that I had the best ones there. So if this is something you are looking for, do not avoid Ushuaia.
The name of the park come from 3 towers, vertical granite peak shapes by almost every form of erosion: glacier, snow and ice, rain and wind.
But even if they are the main reason to visit this park, they are not easy to reach, especially on the last day of a 4 days trek. Indeed we gave up, for my legs and back could not take it anymore, a testimony of my fitness.
But if we couldn’t see the holy grail, we were still blessed by a rather beautiful day, and terrific views in the Valle del Ascencio, such as the one above.
The main mistake is not so much my fitness, but the fact that we didn’t bring day pack for making this strenuous hike easier. So one of us (guess who) had the big multi day pack with all the stuff that couldn’t be left at the camp, and this gave up half way.
Don’t feel bad though, a return visit is already planned and this time only doing the climb to the Torres del Paine in one day. And if i still give up, then I just may stop pretending I like hiking and move to a more sofa oriented lifestyle !
The Torres del Paine is known for its 4 seasons in a day Patagonian weather, but summer also sometimes happen for a full day. Suddenly the color are vibrant, the nature is peaceful and every insects and birds get very busy enjoying this beautiful ecosystem.
Featured above was the highlight of the day, the stop by the Lago Nordenskjöld, a rather cold body of water, so quiet and clear.
As we keep moving east, there was a last chance to glimpse at the Paine Grande, before it would disappear.
Once we reached the Hotel Las Torres (just a kilometer before the campsite), it seems like it was a different park. No more big lakes, glaciers, trees tortured by the wind and alpine like vegetation, but green plaines, pine trees, grass and farm land. The Torres del Paine (not the park but the towers themselves) were now visible, which would be tomorrow highlight, if we make it up there.
Just to show you how clear the sky was on that day, here’s a view of the Cerro Ferrier and Cerro Donoso, so far away and yet very visible.
Now, probably a consequence of been lazy, tired and slighly dehydrated, I did not even realized until looking at my photos at the end that I did not shoot a single photo of the Monte Almirante Niento or the Torres del Paine from the campsite…
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