Daily Expedition Reports
Isla de Los Estados

Victoria Searle, March 2020

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 11 Mar 2020

Isla de Los Estados

  • Aboard the National Geographic Orion
  • Patagonia

There are places on this planet that show us how beautiful Earth can be. Imagine the Andes emerging from the middle of the ocean, fog covering the peaks at sunrise, a primordial space, not to be found in the rest of our world. The first destination of our voyage, Isla de Los Estados, starts out with a bang. During the morning we hiked to the lighthouse at San Juan de Salvamento Bay, known since the 20th century as the lighthouse at the end of the world. Walking through the Lenga forest in an almost windless day, something that does not happen regularly. We enjoyed giant petrels flying around us and the endless view of the Atlantic Ocean.

About 6,000 years ago, the first humans started visiting this place, paddling from Tierra del Fuego in small canoes with no clothes on them. The Yamana people called the Chuanisin, or “place of abundance.” Our photo instructor Michael Nolan gave an interactive presentation on mobile phone photography, and after that we boarded our Zodiacs to explore Hoppner Bay.

The natural wonders and the wildlife around us seem endless. Tall mountains with waterfalls cutting the forest all the way to the sea, seabirds feeding, life represented in every square feet of the landscape. To top it all, Andean Condors were nesting up in the rock wall. We have researchers from Argentina sailing with us, they are going to work on the field setting up camera traps and surveying the introduced species. Since this is not a frequently visited place, nor an easy place to come to, we were a unique opportunity for them. After dinner they shared with us their work and what they expected to achieve.

This is a unique place, and this will be a unique expedition for all of us.

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