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  • Writer's pictureRomy Jansen

It's a Wild Life! - The End of the World

We really didn’t want to leave Torres del Paine, because the Pumas were so awesome. But our visa was going to expire on the 8th of January and we wanted to explore some more places in the south before we would be (hopefully) heading off to Argentina. Therefore we left Torres del Paine and went back to Puerto Natales, to spend Christmas in a hostel. But the hostel was closed and we are sooooo not city-people. We decided to drive further south, towards Punta Arenas and sleep in our car. That was a great decision. We slept in the middle of nowhere, no houses, no cars passing by, no Christmas trees or presents. Just the two of us, being really thankful that we are travelling and see all the beauty of God’s nature. That’s a Christmas present we will never forget 😊

The next day we drove a dirt road to search for some of my favourite birds: Rufous-chested Dotterel, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Two-banded Plover. Although the wind was incredibly strong again, the birds didn’t mind to pose for Robs camera. Yes that’s sounds easy, but Rob was exercising that morning. Every few minutes we saw some birds, and Rob stepped out of the comfortable warm car, crawled on the dirty ground, laid down on the vegetation full with thorns and then waited till the bird was coming closer. When he was done (or blown away😉), he pulled all the thorns out of his pants and arms and came back in the car. And this a hundred times on repeat. The result: really cool pictures and awesome sightings of the plovers 😊. So indeed, it takes a lot of effort to make such incredible pictures.

Maybe you are wondering what I do when we drive such a road? I really love to search for birds and it feels awesome if I find a new species. When Rob is making photos, I am enjoying seeing the birds up close via my binoculars. All those details, like feathers and colours, are just amazing, but also the behaviour is really fun to watch. The smallest bird can sing really loud or move so fast. Or how they search for food under leaves with their claws or in trees with their beak. I can look at it for hours. But I also search for other birds or mammals while Rob is making pictures. So that we don’t miss a puma 😉. Besides all that I think it is also really fun to see your husband putting so much effort in his passion. The happy look on his face when the picture turned out the way he wished for, that look I love the most.

We knew the wind could be incredibly strong in Patagonia, but sometimes it was (almost literally) mind blowing. We got really exhausted by the wind, because we were non-stop outside in nature. To escape the wind, Rob found a nice cabaña with a sea view to spend some days inside with some more living space than our car. We got a warm welcome from the Chilean owners. They brought us a plate full of Patagonian grilled meat. Maybe we looked really starved and exhausted or they are just really kind. In any way: it was really sweet and delicious. Overall, the timing was perfect, it was raining outside for the next days. We baked brownies, ate cheese fondue and washed all our stuff.

After those days, we were looking forward to drive further with Forrest and also to sleep inside the car again at beautiful places. We really hoped to go to Ushuaia in Argentina because we wanted to go to the south of the world. However, the borders were still closed. Luckily Tierra del Fuego is partly Chilean and offers some great bird and mammal watching. Firstly, you have the opportunity to see Commerson’s dolphins during the ferry crossing. One of the most beautiful dolphins on earth in our opinion 😊 (definitely look at the last picture in the gallery below if you don’t know the species 😊). We saw them jumping out of the water and swimming next to the boat. Really cool to see! Secondly, there is a colony of king Penguins breeding on the shore at Reserva Natural Pingüino Rey. We think this is one of the most awesome birds. Normally, they live on remote islands and you can only see them with a cruise towards the Falkland Islands. So this colony is really unique. Because of Covid, you have to reserve an one-hour time slot for visiting the colony. We went as early on the day as we could and were the only people. So we had the penguins for ourselves. If you think penguins are just black and white, you are right about a lot of penguin species, but not these King Penguins! They are really colourful: orange, yellow, black, white, grey and even a little bit red. It’s incredible! So if you ever go to Tierra del Fuego, don’t forget about these penguins. Besides these two reasons, we couldn’t find more reasons to stay on the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego. So we decided to go back with the ferry to search for other birds.

The 31st of December we drove to Pale Aike National Park, but it was closed. We drove further and started to get hungry, but it was so windy that we wanted to find a sheltered place to cook. Well, that was almost impossible. This part of Chile is really flat, without any trees. After driving for hours, Rob found a farm in the middle of nowhere. On the land there was a patch with some trees, we thought thát could be our cooking spot. We asked the farmer if it would be ok if we cook on his land and he was totally fine with it. He let us follow his car and he opened a few fences to get us to the sheltered place to cook and camp between the trees. How wonderful to find kind people all over the world! Rob cooked some amazing hamburgers with cheese, egg and toasted breads and, instead of fireworks, we saw a beautiful sunset. That was a great end of the year at the end of the world.

Happy New Year! If the 1st of January is an example of how 2022 is going to be, then it’s going to be a Wild Life Year! We started with two Skunks playing together next to the road. Later, we found two young South-American Grey Foxes with their mother. They were not shy at all and were curiously looking at Rob while he was making pictures. So adorable! Next, again 4 Foxes and a few kilometres further another one. At the end of the day, we parked our car near a canyon. In the evening we walked a small round to search for Skunks and Armadillos. And because it was our lucky day, we saw another 4 Skunks and 2 Armadillos. The Armadillo was totally not shy and came towards us to smell our shoes and even scratched them. What an amazing day! In total we found more than a 100 Guanacos, 14 Foxes, 6 Skunks and 2 Armadillos on the 1st of January. That’s indeed a Happy New Year!


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