• WorldView
  • 3 Min Read
  • 7 Apr 2018

Photographer Kike Calvo's Experience on Staten Island, the Island at the End of the World

In his striking book Staten Island: Isla de los Estados, award-winning National Geographic photographer Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) captures the spirit of Tierra del Fuego’s remote and magical island. Here, Kike shares memories of being aboard National Geographic Explorer’s historic, inaugural visit to this pristine wilderness.

National Geographic Explorer in Puerto San Juan del Salvamento.

“It is hard to find places today that stick in your mind, even before you visit them. Staten Island, at the southern tip of South America, is one of those locations—surrounded by a halo of mystery and history.

For years, no one officially visited the place, since it was decreed a natural reserve for fur seals in 1923. So I was fortunate to be the National Geographic photographer on board the National Geographic Explorer when Lindblad Expeditions first landed on the island in 2015. After almost 95 years with the absence of any formal tourism, it was the first time a foreign-flagged vessel sailed into the protected areas and around the island.

Thinking back, I can still picture the excitement in people’s faces when approaching the island. I am sure they felt the same about my own facial expressions. It was hard to believe that such a beautiful yet raw place was hidden from us, travelers.

Giant kelp forest at Staten Island.

I have lively memories of the impenetrable structure of multilayered ever-green beech and winter’s bark forests in Hoppner Bay; the twisted shaped of tree barks in Puerto Cook; the intricate designs of leathery kelps; the rhythmic sounds of the ocean movements in Crossley Bay. It was a constant symphony of colors, shapes, and textures to my eyes. A land teaming with life. A land that had been forgotten by time. A land where nature comes to greet our senses, dressed with a veil of literary magic.

On return, with thousands of images captured during the course of a few days, I began a mission of discovery. I did extensive research just to find that there were no publications out there about this remarkable island. Without hesitation, I embarked on the daunting task of creating a black and white art book. I spent long nights choosing photographs and was committed to putting together a series that reflected my feelings, emotions, and impressions from my visit there.

I invite you to learn more about Staten Island, and the fascinating story behind it. Safe travels and never stop dreaming.”