Spring 2016 – 2017 in Patagonia on the border between Chile and Argentina.

It is about a four-hour drive from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park on a mostly deserted two-lane road.

Driving Through Patagonia

After three hours on the road we reached Puerto Natales, the only city in this part of Chile.  Puerto Natales is located on a finger fjord of the Pacific Ocean, Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound).

Last Hope Sound, Puerto Natales


After a brief rest stop in Puerto Natales, we continued the journey.2016-11-08-07-45-572016-11-08-07-40-10

Guanacos, sheep and cattle roam the countryside.img_2165img_2129

A solitary guanaco pondering its next move.
A friendly shepherd and canine pals patrol the range.  Before it became a park, most of the area was part of an enormous privately owned sheep station.

A guanaco carcass testified to the fact that this is puma (mountain lion) country.  The puma has the greatest range of any large land mammal – other than man – in the western hemisphere.  Puma habitat extends from the Strait of Magellan to the Canadian Yukon.

Cueva del Milodon Monumento Natural

Cave of the Mylodon Natural Monument is a 30-minute drive from Puerto Natales.2016-11-08-07-54-51

The Mylodon was a large ground sloth that roamed much of the Patagonia region before becoming extinct around 8,000 BC.

On his voyage aboard HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin first identified the species from bones found at a site near present day Buenos Aires.

The Mylodon was almost 10 feet tall and weighed over a ton.

Mylodon bones were discovered in this cave in 1896.2016-11-08-08-04-432016-11-08-08-10-192016-11-08-08-10-28

The Mylodon was smart.  It is much warmer inside the cave, and there is no wind.  img_2149


Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine)

From the Cueva del Milodon it is another 50 miles or so to Torres del Paine National Park.

As the sign notes, this entrance is just south of 50 degrees southern latitude.

The park is quite large consisting of numerous mountains, lakes, glaciers and rivers.


Inside the park we first visited a stream (Rio Paine?) and waterfall. img_2210


The park has beautiful lakes with mountain vistas.

Lago Pehoe
Lago Sarmiento


Lago del Toro

Prominent blue-hued rock spires give the park its name.

Torres (towers) del Paine
Cuernos (horns) del Paine, a volcanic formation apparently.


Grey Lake and Grey Glacier

Getting to Grey lake requires a short hike.

Crossing Rio Pingo on the Grey lake Trail
Grey Lake

Grey Glacier, part of the Southern Patagonia Icefield, feeds the lake.

Grey Glacier calves small icebergs into the lake.



The wind here was the strongest I’ve ever experienced.  Standing upright was difficult at times.  Walking against the wind was exhausting.  As an experiment, I tried jumping in the air several times.  Considering that my standing vertical jump at this point in life is no more than a foot, I was amazed that the wind was strong enough to move my body at least three to six inches each time!

Even without the wind, it was much colder here than in other areas of the park.20161108_160236-2_resized-1

A gust ripples a bridge over Rio Pingo

Overall Impression 

Going to Patagonia, the Strait of Magellan, and Punta Arenas was something I’d had in the back of my mind for a few years.  Actually visiting exceeded all expectations.  I plan to return.  The goal of the next trip will be a flight to Antarctica.

Other posts about this trip to Peru and Chile:

LATAM Airlines 767-300 Business Class, Miami, FL (MIA) to Lima, Peru (LIM)

Palacio del Inka, Cusco, Peru – A Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel

Machu Picchu – Trip Report

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) of the Inka- Trip Report

City Tour in 14 Pictures – Cusco, Peru

Hotel Review – La Yegua Loca, Punta Arenas, Chile

Trip Report in 15 Pictures – The Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Chile and Fort Bulnes

Nao Victoria Museo, Estrecho de Magallanes, Chile – Pictorial Trip Report – And New Thoughts on Who Was the First Person to Sail Around the World

LATAM Airlines 787-8 Business Class Lima, Peru (LIM) to Santiago, Chile (SCL)

American Airlines 777-200 First Class – Santiago, Chile (SCL) to Miami, FL (MIA)

First Look – American Airlines Renovated D-15 Admirals Club, Miami International (MIA)