Friday, 12 February 2010

A brief diversion...

This is a Magellanic penguin, who lives (with 159,999 or so of his/her mates) on Isla Magdalena, a bare windswept island in the Magellan Straits. They aren't very big, but are inquisitive and incredibly cute. They were one of the highlights of our recent Patagonian adventure.

Patagonia straddles both Chile and Argentina and is an enormous, empty region with huge skies (below is a shot of the Argentinian steppe. If you turn through 180 degrees, it looks pretty much the same!) It looks (and felt) utterly desolate, scoured by a chilling wind, but there are sheep up here)...

The mountains are stunning. I'm almost tempted to rate the Andes as more photogenic than the Himalayas. These are the Torres del Paine, in Chile. The black 'cap' of rock is ancient volcanic magma that forced its way up through the ochre sedimentary rock and spread out on top of it like chocolate icing on a sponge cake. Erosion by ice and wind did the rest.

It is also home to awesome glaciers. This is the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina. The ice towers up 60m from the water - and extends to 120m below it. This giant river of ice is continually grinding its way to the lake; deep, explosive cracking sounds reverberate through the valley and great slabs of ice fall off and plunge into the lake with a great roar and huge splash. We waited for ages, but only saw one little bit break off - but that was impressive enough.

The lake below is not steaming...

This phenomenon is caused by the wind. It is so strong, it blasts onto the water, and atomises the surface into droplets which are then driven by the wind. The sunlight on the droplets creates rainbows which span the lake. It was an extraordinary site - but the gusts made it so hard to walk in. We were forever being flung off balance.

I wouldn't want you to get the idea that we had wall to wall sunshine. Our visit to the Fitzroy massif in Argentina didn't have quite the scenic majesty we would have wished. This is a viewpoint for the hugely impressive range...

An hour's further trekking took us higher and nearer...
We finished our trip by visiting Tierra del Fuego. This was a fantastic place, with the clearest, purest air I've ever breathed and stunning scenery. A real highlight were our trips on the Beagle Channel - named after Darwin's ship.

Back to running for the next blog...


  1. wow.truly magnificent.can see why you went.
    do they have an ultra we could do down there?

  2. Okay, you have posted some of the most beautiful pictures:) Ultra Collie is right, it is truly magnificent!! Thanks for sharing:)

  3. Hi Hayfella, what spectular pictures, it looks like a trip of a lifetime. Though I always think when I take pics that they never quite capture the experience of those wondrous sights unfolding in front of you. Have you considered relocating and setting up a running retreat for your blogger friends? ;) Really lovely, majestic pics. RB.

  4. looks absolutely stunning. maybe you could try for a job at national geographic ;) i'd love to go there someday, very jealous.