Category ‘02.20 – Chile’
Our last weeks in South America were spent in the northern part of Patagonia, called the lake district. This area is mountainous, dotted with cone-shaped volcanoes, and as the name suggests, contains many lakes. Our first stop was Pucon in Chile, where we were shook by the 8.8 earthquake our first night. Unfortunately this meant that during our 3 days there, we didn’t get a chance to hike up the active volcano, peer into the crater, and slide back down on a sled. We’ll have to come back.
Ben and I detoured to the extreme south of Chile for two reasons: to catch a flight north, and to see the penguins. Isla Magdalena, an island off the coast of Punta Arenas, is the breeding grounds for over 200,000 penguins. We took a boat ride to the island and had an hour to walk around on a roped off path. In every direction there were hundreds of penguins and holes in the ground where they nest. The penguins were fun to watch and photograph; most of them just stood around, while a few waddled towards the ocean for breakfast, a few couples cleaned each others coats, and one pair got into a fight. Sometimes when we were nearby, they would look at us curiously, even if it involved stretching their neck all the way around to avoid turning to face us.
After the glacier hike in El Calafate, Ben and I crossed over to Chile to visit the famous park Torres del Paine. This place is a backpackers mecca; everyone goes there to hike the “W”, “O” or if you’re really cool, the “Q” circuit. These are multi-day backpacking & camping treks. Ben and I decided to take a shorter route – that we like to call the “J” – which included 2 days of hiking with an overnight in a nice warm Refugio (lodge) with a bed and sheets and bathrooms and showers. For anyone interested, here’s our route:
Note: Map taken and edited from http://www.torres-del-paine.org/map-tdp.html
For everyone else, here’s our photos… (more…)
In case you were worried about us, we’re just fine. We’re currently in Pucón, Chile, about 180 miles from the epicenter – about the same distance as Santiago. The earthquake felt like being on a really small boat in really rough seas for about 3 minutes. Obviously it was pretty scary, especially because it happened in the middle of the night (3:30am local time). Possibly my new least favorite way of being awakened from a deep sleep. After the shaking stopped we started wondering what sort of effect it would have on the giant volcano just out our window. (no effect at all, apparently). The town of Pucon seems to have been spared the worst effects of the earthquake.
Interesting tidbit: you can (and probably will) get seasick from an earthquake. Aside from the seasickness and having to go almost a whole day without internet, the earthquake wasn’t that bad. Obviously conditions are a lot different closer to the epicenter in Concepcion.