Driving through the pampas in the foothills of the Andes, we were greeted by beautiful views of the snow-covered mountain peaks and the flowing river of the valley below. We spotted many different species of birds on our bus ride, including turkey vulture, striated caracara, and Chilean flamingos. Arriving at the Coyhaique National Reserve, we led several hikes which gave us the opportunity to experience the transition in landscape from the temperate rainforest we saw earlier in the trip to the beginning of Patagonia’s high desert steppe region. After working up an appetite we were rewarded with a meal of carne asada, an amazing Patagonian lamb barbecue, which was accompanied by plenty food, local drinks, and wonderful music.
National Geographic Explorer
Waking in the protected harbor of San Juan de Salvamento, we began our operations for the day in true Patagonia weather: a bit cloudy with strong winds. We took our Zodiacs to the landing to visit the “Lighthouse at the End of the World.” After a winding hike through low southern beech trees, we crested the top and were treated to a view of the cliffs below and an ever-present fog hanging just above our heads. After lunch, we sailed back to pick up a few researchers we had dropped off in Isla de los Estados a few days prior. The conditions looked favorable, so we were able to make a short Zodiac cruise to see steep cliffs with nesting rockhopper penguins.