karohemd: (Photo)
Not the best (it's a very tight crop from a compact) but it shows me in wildlife photographer mode. Just above the lens hood you can see a couple of Magellanic penguins in the background.

Bigger )
karohemd: (Photo)

Click on the large photos to open the flickr page which will have more info. Enjoy.

 
  
 


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karohemd: (Photo)

It was another interesting start of the day. I woke up at 6am looked out of the window and we were already in Puerto Williams in beautiful weather. I quickly threw on a jacket and a pair of trousers and went on deck to snap a few pics.
After breakfast I took part in the walk to the beech forest (the southernmost forest in the world) but was soon fed up with all those people, especially the noisy Americans so I just waited for a while and took photos of flowers and beeches and mosses etc.
One of the Austrians came back from the big group and then pointed to the left so we investigated and found a big tree infested with a "golfball fungus", also called "Indian Bread" as the previous inhabitants used to eat them. I didn't, though. Although they look nice (bright orange), I wasn't too keen on trying. I ate some calafates, though, a local berry, similar to the cranberries in Europe. Not quite ripe yet but I can imagine the marmalade is very nice.

Best bit of today was when I had waited until all the others had already gone back or were still in the back and it was quiet and I was the only one on the road. Suddenly, the birds came back and I managed to snap a beautiful songbird with a bright yellow chest. I'll find out later what it was. We also saw some ducks (Steamer Ducks, I think) with chicks.

We just set off 15 minutes ago and are on our way through the Beagle Channel and then South to Cape Horn!
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)

Words can't adequately describe what or even how I feel right now. It was like being live in a nature documentary by David Attenborough, only the voice-over was missing.

In the early morning we were shipped out on a local tender and then got onto a bus which took us to the National Park.

Before even entering the park proper, we spotted a condor sitting in the pampa by the side of the road, no more than 30 metres away. It minded its own business and then took off very gracefully for a creature of that size (wingspan of 3.2m).

On we went for a few minutes only to spot a whole group of condors sitting on a rocky bit further away.

There were some Nandus, too but we had seen those more clearly and closer on the way to the Otway Sound penguin colony so they weren't that interesting anymore.

And then, the highlight: a whole herd (flock? I'm not sure what the collective word is) of Guanacos, right there beside the road, the closest not further than 15m away or even closer. There were at least 30 animals, maybe even 50, including a large number of young one who couldn't have been older than maybe a week. A wonderful and utterly awesome sight. We spent at least 15 minutes there and I got a number of brilliant shots, including a sequence of one male (assumingly the dominant one) chasing another (impostor?) across the hill and back again.

All the while a condor was circling over the herd on the lookout for any weak or sick ones. As one of the lecturers told me, they will finish off a still living animal that's fallen and can't get up again or is sick etc. so they won't just go purely for things that are already completely dead.

On went the journey into the park proper where we spotted a grey fox at one of the vantage points. The weather was clearing up more and more the further we went in and we soon had bright sunshine, just the very top of the mountains were still in clouds, including the landmark of the region, the Torres themselves. They wouldn't come out later, either but all those animal sightings more than made up for it.

There was lunch at the Hospitales by Lago Grey, in which icebergs from the glacier drift along lazily and then the long drive back with various stops on the way when more animals were sighted. We also saw several Karakaras (large birds of prey who also feed on carrion), Magellan and Koroskovia Geese and finally, back in Punta Arenas, black necked swans who look similar to our swans, just as if they'd dunked their heads and necks into a pot of ink...

Ferried back to the ship, it was time to relax a bit and watch the anchor being weighed.

We are now on our way to Porto Williams, our next destination, again passing the Kirk Narrows on the way, which I won't miss this time!

I really wish I could upload those photos...
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Dancing)

We arrived in Puerto Natales ahead of schedule and received permission to land from the port authorities sowhoever wanted could go down to Deck 2 to be shipped out on one of the small Polarcirkel boats, each having room for eight passengers (four along each side) and a driver (the big ship couldn't dock at the pier). They're quite slick boats with a powerful outboard engine and the drivers really know how to control them. On the way over there the sea was very calm so getting on from the ship (over a small gangway) and off at the pier wasn't a problem at all.
I wandered around the town for a while, first along the harbour and then criss-crossing through town, taking a few pictures on the way until I found what I had been looking for, a small, cosy bodega where I joined two of my shipmates for a meal of wonderful, fresh and tasty king crab, the local specialty and afterwards a round of Pisco Sour, the national drink/cocktail.

The ride back in the little boat was much more exciting as the weather had turned so the sea was quite choppy which didn't perturb the driver at all and he skimmed over the waves at full speed. Much more fun and everyone said "Again! Again!".

Now I'm going to get stuff ready for tomorrow and turn in as it's an early (breakfast at 6am) start for a day tour to the Torres del Paine National Park. Let's hope the weather holds.

Update on the day tomorrow night.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Casual me)
How more appropriate can you get? ;o)

After the awesomeness that was Tucker Island we cruised various fjords and "sounds" (Agostini, Serrano and Hyatt) flanked by steep mountains and glaciers. Wonderful sights and very reasonable weather to boot, we even had some sunshine.
Also managed to see a leopard seal but couldn't get a shot of it. :o(

Now we're going back the way we came and going further Northwest towards the Magellan Strait. I've taken this opportunity to update as most people seem to be at the first dinner sitting. Mine is in an hour and 15 minutes. The rest of the evening will be spent relaxing a bit more, maybe watching the film about Chile and getting a long night's sleep.

Have already a rather cool collection of photos and if the weather doesn't completely turn, it should be awesome indeed.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)

The internet cafe wasn't open last night so I couldn't update. Sorry about that.
I also can't upload photos which is a pity as I have some awesome shots already...

Brief update: Yesterday we flew to Punta Arenas and then took a bus to the Otway Sound with its colony of Magellanic Penguins. Awesome, just utterly awesome. The pengs don't really care about the humans walking around the wooden bridge/path or they actually know that they're being watched and pose for the camera. I've got a number of really cool photos. The light was OK (cloudy but not raining) so good enough to take reasonable photos. The only pity was that we only had an hour and a bit there while I could easily have spent a whole day.
Also seen: a fricking huge condor (from afar, no photo), several Karakaras, male Nandus and their offspring, Grey Eagles and various other birds big and small.
Back to Punto Arenas and check in at the ship, i.e. more queuing and waiting. Have a wonderful and comfy cabin, the food is good and plentiful (I'm not going to lose weight on this trip...) and the weather has been quiet so far.

Today, we first came up to Tucker Island where Magellanic Penguins and (King) Kormorans nest. Was very lucky to get a cool shot of a Kormoran in flight. *smug* Also seen: Dolfins, Skua and other sea birds.
Later, we went through the St. Gabriel Channel, with the Violetta Glacier (blue ice on top, rock with many many waterfalls beneath, Southern Beech woods at the bottom). It was very windy but not too cold and the sea is nice and calm.

More tonight.

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