Ushuaia to El Chaten, Argentina Road Trip Report: Day #1 = Torres Del Paine, Chile | Pink Flamingos & Mummified Guanacos…

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Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

Report of 18/11/22

After returning from ski guiding in Antarctica on November 15, 2022, we had no idea what to do with the 11 days before our next ski trip to Antarctica…

As we glided through the Beagle Channel on the way back to Ushuaia, I had been making a plan in the first sun for a while on the back deck of the Ocean Adventurer.

Road trip day #1: Ushuaia, Argentina to Torres Del Paine, Chile.
  • Skiing 2 days in Ushuaia
  • Drive 1000 km to Torres Del Paine, Chile and see the towers
  • Drive another 500 km to El Chalten, Argentina to see the Fitzroy and Cerro Torre towers and go skiing
  • Drive 1000 km directly to Ushuaia
  • A big loop…
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

Gabe Monroe, owner of Pulseline Adventures (Valdez, AK heliskiing) was up for the adventure and honestly it was his idea to drive…

I was just going to do the 1h20 flight.

On November 18, 2022, we left Ushuaia on a windy and cloudy day.

Ushuaia. image: snow brains

The mountains of Ushuaia were beautiful with dense, green forests below and spaghetti snow above.

We soon reached the apartments of La Isla Grande de Tierra Del Fuego.

The trees were covered in hanging moss and guanacos (llamas) were everywhere.

Chile. image: snow brains

As we approached the ferry to cross the Strait of Magellan, we couldn’t believe the number of sheep there.

Lambs everywhere.

Crossing the Strait of Magellan by ferry was very cool.

Miles crossing the Strait of Magellan. image: snow brains

Something I’ve always wanted to do given its heavy history.

The Strait of Magellan (Spanish: Estrecho de Magallanes), also called the Strait of Magellanis a navigable southern sea route Chile separating the continent South America to the north and Land of Fire South. The strait is considered the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Peaceful oceans. It was discovered and crossed for the first time by the Spanish shipment of Ferdinand MAGELLAN in 1520, after whom it is named. Previously, the strait had been navigated by canoeing indigenous peoples, including Kawesqar.

Magellan’s original name for the strait was Estrecho de Todos los Santos (“Strait of All Saints”). The King of Spain, Emperor Charles Quintwho sponsored the Magellan Elcano expedition, changed the name of the Strait of Magellan in honor of Magellan.[1]

The route is difficult to navigate due to the frequent shrinks itself and unpredictable winds and currents. Marine Pilotage is now mandatory. The strait is shorter and more sheltered than the Drake Crossingthe often stormy high seas road around Cape Hornwhich is plagued by frequent large wind– strong winds and icebergs.[2] With the Beagle Channelthe strait was one of the few maritime routes between the Atlantic and the Pacific before the construction of the Panama Canal.

Magalan. image: snow brains

Once through the strait, we crossed the border into Chile.

More sheep, more guanacos.

Approaching Torres del Paine, the landscape changed.

Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

Rolling hills, jagged mountains in the distance, bright green grass with granite boulders and wind bent trees.

The scenery was beautiful and we were almost out of gas…

We passed in front of a petrol station at 3/4 of the tank – error.

Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

There was no gas anywhere.

It looked like we would have just enough gas, maybe, to get to Puerto Natales.

It was a nail biter and we ended up tailgating a big truck to get a draft for the last hour or so.

Moss covered trees hanging over Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. image: snow brains

We stopped empty at the gas station in Puerto Natales, Chile, with the dashboard showing that we had 0 km left.

It was great to leave Natales with a full tank of gas and drive north to Torres del Paine National Park.

Then we started seeing flamingos…

Flamingos in Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

We just didn’t expect this…

We were blown away and after driving up to the Torres del Paine towers we came across 27 flamingos in a lake overlooking the towers.

We talked to check them out and found 2 mummified guanacos on the shore.

Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

They must have drowned in the alkaline lake and been preserved?

This was all happening during a piercing sunset and we couldn’t believe our luck.

We chilled by the flamingos for about an hour watching them fight the fierce winds and listening to them scream.

Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

We were silent, we were amazed.

The towers lacerated by the wind, the lake rolled in the wind and the pink flamingos bent in the wind.

We were mere observers sheltered from life, death and the elemental battle that unfolded before us.

Respect.

Respect is what I felt.

Respect and reverie.

Mt. Olivia leaving Ushuaia, Argentia. image: snow brains
El Castor ski resort in Ushuaia, Argentina. image: snow brains
Strait of Magellan Ferry. image: snow brains
Puerto Natales, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Miles, guanaco, flamingos and Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains
Sunset in Torres del Paine, Chile. image: snow brains

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