Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

We left Chile last night, and we left Argentina tonight – but we’ll be coming back. In the meantime, if you’re trying to find us, we’re cruising the Atlantic, en route to the Falkland Islands. But more of that later. Right now, it’s time for some more brilliant photos, and Wayne’s turn for some more impressions of Punta Arenas and Ushuaia …

Two days ago we found ourselves in the Strait of Magellan (Chile) – a 560km passage from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean. (Editor’s note: this Strait is not straight, by any stretch of the imagination; it’s twisty-turny and easy to get lost in; so don’t try this in your own boat.) On arrival at Punta Arenas (poon-ta uh-RAY-nus) we boarded a small bus and headed out through some vast sheep farms bordering Otway Bay. A brisk walk to some viewing platforms and we got to see our first penguins – plump, well-fed Magellan (jackass) penguins, with a character all of their own.

We also spotted a red breasted sturnelle. And, while driving to our next destination, Fitzroy Farm, we also snapped shots of upland geese (caiquen) … crested caracaras … nandus (a small native ostrich)… black necked swans … and a black chested buzzard eagle.

We saw the odd gaucho (cowboy) on his horse checking the fences, but they don’t count as wildlife.

At Fitroy Farm (located on an island which we accessed via car ferry, flat tyre included) we were greeted with the wafting smells of a lamb barbeque … eyeballed a grumpy mountain lion … checked out a family chapel and a shearing-shed-cum-museum … and a scattered collection of old farm machinery.

Somewhat weary (phew, this is tough work!) we shook-rattled-&-rolled our way back to the ship …

Today, we woke to the glorious sight of more mountains, fjords, and frozen icy rivers. We were in Chile’s famous Glacier Alley – spectacular stuff! I lost count of the glaciers after 10, all of them spilling over from the massive ice-sheet that covers this region, some of them emptying out into the cold green water in front of our eyes.

We docked early afternoon at the Argentinian port city of Ushuaia – the southernmost city in the world (pop. 65,000). It was a perfect day, and the city looked gorgeous with its backdrop of high mountain ranges.

We joined the throngs off other cruise-ships, and drove out into the Tierra del Fuego National Park where more wilderness and wildlife awaited us: several stunning lakes (very like NZ’s alpine regions), a red fox, and a variety of hawks. (John was hanging out for a sighting of the Red Woodpeckers that are found here, but this wasn’t his lucky day.) At a well-placed Info Centre we got a chance for more food and drink – plus some background on the indigenous Yahgan & Alacalufes Indians (Canoe Indians), who despite the inclement weather (down to a windswept minus-15 degrees in winter) wore little or no clothing, relying on fires to keep them warm.

(John and I were tempted to put a challenge to Brian and Judy at that point, but felt it inappropriate with so many other tourist groups around. We had the Kiwi reputation to uphold ya know!)

Our return trip to Ushuaia and the ms Veendam was aboard a large catamaran, with photo stops at several large rocks smothered in seal-lions, cormorants and seals.

Another fantastic day in paradise? You bet!


PEOPLE NEWS: Nominations continue to be received for our hotly-contested quacky yellow ducks:

  • Julian takes home the ‘Border Control Award’ – for forgetting to hand in his Chilean customs declaration form and risking an early arrest.
  • Julie gets the ‘Harley Davidson Award’ – for joining Wayne on an antique motorcycle (Fitzroy Farm) and demanding that they ride away into the sunset (photo to come).
  • Bruce wins the ‘Greedy Liqueur Award’ – for emptying a bottle of Kahlua (the last one on the ship) all over his ice-cream, and causing 1200 other passengers to miss out, much to their disgust.

TOMORROW: We’re off again – not around Cape Horn (weather and wind spoiled those plans) but to the tough yet beautiful, rugged yet full of character, Falklands – on the edge of the known universe. So don’t change channels!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this page, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.

This entry was posted in 2013 South America by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

2 thoughts on “WILDERNESS & WILDLIFE

  1. Please do not send any more ad’s to me. I don’t have that sort of money and I wouldn’t go on a pleasure trip if I had the money.

  2. Looks like Mr Archibald doesn’t know how to use the “unscubscribe” button!!!
    Kyarla came 1st in freestyle & 2nd in breastroke – so off to the Franklin swim sports. Great eh?
    Shame about Cape Horn, but hey, it’s nothing fancy!!! So don’t fret too much. The Falklands are a much better coup. xx to the lovely Cooney men, Also big hellos to Clare, Dave, Bev, Julie, Bruce, Neil, Vijaya.& any one else I’ve travelled with and forgotten about. 🙂

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