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  • Writer's pictureRob Jansen

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

I guess you have been wondering since our last blog: did we see the Darwin’s Fox or Kodkod? The simple answer is no, unfortunately not. But at least we gave it our all! After some dolphin-watching we boarded the boat at 02.00 at night to sail to Chaitén. As we booked this boot especially to see one species of bird, Rob still put his alarm at 05.30 to be on the deck at sunset. Not much to see, except for beautiful landscapes. The next few days we drove south and drove past stunning landscapes and wondered what it would be to live in an isolated place like this every time we passed a solitary little farm many kilometres away from the first village. Where many houses had no cars in front of them, just horses. One morning we had breakfast at one of these houses. A friendly old man, happy to see tourists passing by again, but still only charging 3€ per person for unlimited coffee/tea and fresh-baked bread with homemade marmalade. Some Chileans were coming in for breakfast as well and there we were in a little house. In a ‘dining room’ that would barely be big enough as an entrance hall for ‘Western standard houses’, eating our breakfast with four other people we could barely understand. That’s the culture we like, more than any museum:)

We made a detour close to the border of Argentina as we wanted to spot a Wolffssohn’s Viscacha, an animal looking like the offspring of a big bunny and a fluffy squirrel. Pre-Covid we would have crossed the border here, and drive down south, but the borders were still closed. Spotting this special animal on the Chilean side would save us at least 2x5 hours driving going to the other side of the border we were almost at. Luckily we spotted one animal far away on the rocks after one evening and morning of searching.

The next stop was Patagonia NP where Guanacos where everywhere! So cool to see this animal (where Lamas are the domesticated version of) and to see so many was even more amazing! In the park we hiked a 21 km trail, going up 1250+ meters and obviously just as many down^^ We discovered this day that we enjoy shorter hikes just as much ;)

Driving down south in Chile you will have to cross a border or get a ferry as there is simply no other road through these fjords. As we couldn’t cross a border we took this boat, and we didn’t regret a bit of it! We parked our car on the open-deck boat and they gave us a flat spot so we could sleep in our car as well. The journey from Yungay to Puerto Natales took about 50 hours and took us past some incredible fjords and the village of Puerto Eden (talking about isolated place to live.. look it up on google!). We enjoyed a hot shower, not having to cook for ourselves a few nights and talking to other tourists, for more or less the first time while traveling since Santiago.

When we arrived in Puerto Natales we stocked up on fuel for Forrest and fuel for ourselves and drove straight to the world-famous National Park Torres del Paine. This is another one of those places we looked forward to for a long time, because this was the place to see Pumas (next to stunning landscapes)!! As we drove in the first night it was very (and I mean VERY) windy! At 04.30 we did decide to sleep in as the wind was still strong. Yes, we do sleep in as well, this day even till 06.30. We explored the park and walked a 6,5km trail with again very very strong winds. We both had trouble walking against the wind. While sitting down at the viewpoint we were both suddenly blown to the ground by a wind gust! We even spoke to a guy that had to crawl about 25m to pass a part where the wind blew him to the ground multiple times! These are the walks we love! So much fun, and again, amazing views!

The next days were full focus on Pumas, and that meant waking up around 04.45 to start driving before sunrise and before the first tourist would crowd the park from 08.00 on. Driving a few kilometres Romy suddenly saw something, “I see something! Foxes?!!”. “PUMAS, they’re PUMAS!!!” was Rob’s answer. A mother with two older young was sitting at a kill about 20 meters from the road. They seemed pretty skittish and started walking the other direction. We tried to follow them for a while but then lost them. Just when we wanted to give up on these three pumas and turned the car around, Romy spotted another different Puma. As this one was walking in one direction on the hill, Rob quickly ran and laid down behind a bush. It didn’t take long before the puma passed that spot within about 30m and sat down for a while. She even tried to hunt two Guanacos, but they noticed her too soon unfortunately (yes, we are rooting for the Puma😉). That evening it was Romy again who spotted the 5th Puma near a fresh kill and not much later Romy found the mother with the 2 young back on one of the hills. Rob got caught by while trying to get closer (it’s forbidden to get of the roads) but these animals and photos were all worth it! The next day Rob was the one to spot first 2 and later another 1 Puma. The last morning Romy had Puma-spotting-luck again and found two other solitary animals, one passing our car really closely! If that was not enough a Skunk walked on the road (yes, the stinky animals) and we saw many Foxes while searching for the Pumas.

The time in between searching for Pumas were filled with drinking coffee while watching the mountains and beautiful lakes. We even had a rare moment of no wind giving a nice reflection in the water (when a guide from a tour group starts taking pictures you know it’s rare). We also saw amazing icebergs in a glacial lake. In one word: freaking amazing! (you can’t express this park within one word..;))

Just before writing this blog Romy spotted another much-wanted animal while driving the car: a Large Hairy Armadillo! And that’s how unpredictable nature can be and how the last part of the previous blog is so true!;)

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