The Real Patagonia

The South American sun sets on Punta Los Lobos–Point of the Wolves.  The breakers start here and travel a mile in to shore where they crash on the beach at the tiny surfing town of Pichilemu, Chile.

 

La Araucaria, or the Monkey Puzzle–half cactus, half pine tree.  My guess, even a monkey couldn’t figure out how to climb one.  These giants towered over the trail while trekking in Sanctuario El Cañi, outside of Pucon, Chile.

 

A weathered fishing boat lays on the beach waiting for the tide to come in.  Just one of the many colorful crafts that dot the shore of Puerto Natales, Chile.

Entering the Torres Del Paine, where the most dramatic mountains I have ever seen rise out of the plains.  A trekking mecca, they draw thousands of adventurers every season to the ‘W’ circuit that weaves and winds past the spectacular scenery.

 

A guanaco grazes in Torres Del Paine.  These creatures are the wild ancestors of the llamas and alpacas that are herded in the Andes.  With all their natural predators gone, they flourish.  Too many guanacos, too few pumas–or at least indians.

 

The other side of Torres, where icebergs break off the glacier and float down the lake upon the waves–the elemental contrast of rock and ice at work.

 

The Fitz-Roy is the real-life inspiration for the Patagonia brand’s label.  It towers outside of the trekking village El Chaltén, Argentina.  At  49˚ south, it’s beyond the tip of New Zealand and damn near the end of the world.