Over the rainbow,
through Tierra del Fuego,
and up the Chilean Fjords, to find the mysteries at the southern end of the earth!
In Southern Chile, in the Lahuen Nadi National Park, live the second oldest trees in the world, the endangered Alerce Trees. Although previously extensively logged, these gorgeous Alcere’s can live up to 3600 years and reach up to 120 feet in height. They have been protected by the Chilean government since 1976.
I have spent much time amongst the oldest living organisms in the world, the Bristlecone Pines in Northern California, so I had to go and see their southern sisters. Just like the Bristlecones, the Alerce’s presence is not advertised in order to protect the trees, and not many people visit here. Walking amongst them is a thrill worth traveling to the ends of the earth to experience.
This temperate rain forest region in Chile is home to the world-famous Chilean Lake District. Lake Llanquihue pictured here, is the second largest lake in Chile.
The area and the town of Puerto Varas, was settled by German colonists in an incentive program sponsored by the Chilean government from 1846-1914. Approximately 30,000 German colonists set their roots down here. This is why Puerto Varas today looks much like a town in the Swiss Alps!
The German imprint is everywhere,
especially in the beautiful gardens,
and the charming wooden homes,
with their very German interiors.
Cheers to you,
from the ethereal Chilean Lake District~
Chile is full of stunning street art.
Throughout Chile, large and small towns, are decorated with amazing open-air art, that is valued by the country and citizenry.
In Punta Arenas for example, the local government issued a statement saying that street art, “is a cultural manifestation, scenery which makes the walls more attractive and vital.”
The Punta Arenas city council actually financed a 400 metre section of street art.
They actively encourage street art in other parts of this most charming southerly city.
Santiago, Valparaiso, and Puerto Montt, all have a plethora of amazing open-air art.
Post the repressive Pinochet regime,
Chilean citizens exuberantly embrace and exercise their artistic talent and freedom of expression.
Walking amidst these amazing street art displays, is a wonderful experience.
Cheers to you with Chile’s stunning open-air art~
Magellanic Cormorants are sea birds living in the frigid waters of the southern ocean and are found from southern Chile down through the Beagle Channel to Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia Argentina.
I was thrilled to find a colony of nesting birds and settled in for some telephoto shooting.
I don’t believe in disturbing nesting birds, and always watch them from a non-intrusive distance.
And then this happened! These curious humans arrived by boat, got way too close, took photos with their cell phones, and panicked the birds.
All the parents understandably flew off in terror as soon as the humans got so close, exposing incubating eggs and unfledged chicks to the elements.
You can see one very brave parent remained, until even this last hold-out, got frightened by the persistent humans and flew away.
The fledglings scrambled together terrified,
as I watched all this, completely appalled.
I am however, very pleased to report a happy ending to this sad tale. The humans eventually left, the frightened parents cautiously returned, and the colony resumed peaceful functioning. You can see the mother’s settling back on their nests. The chicks were very lucky that hungry giant petrels, skuas or gulls didn’t find them in such a vulnerable state.
So thankfully, it’s cheers to you, from the very frightened birdies (and photographer)~
Southern Giant Petrels (SGP’s) are the largest birds in the pelagic petrel family with wingspans of up to 6.7 feet.
They live in the southern hemisphere and are circumpolar, distributed in the sub-antarctic to Antarctica.
They are bigger than Northern Giant Petrels and are rated one of the ten oddest looking birds in the world due to their unusual stacked bi-valve nostrils joined together on the top of their beaks.
This bivalve, in combination with a saline eliminating gland, helps them eliminate salt from the large quantities of saltwater they consume.
Like pelagic Albatrosses, SGP’s spend the first two to three years of their lives entirely at sea. White phase SGP’s, like the one flying here, are rare, constituting less than 5% of the SGP population.
It is incredible to watch them mid-ocean taking off, catching wind drafts and soaring like kites.
They are aggressive predators and scavengers, and incredibly skillful fliers, navigating the storms, waves and winds of the southern ocean with apparent ballet-like ease.
SGP’s were a vulnerable to near-threatened species for a long time, due mostly to fishing practices, but may be making a comeback.
It is also amazing to see them in the open ocean, resting in their pelagic home.
Cheers to you from the amazing birds of the southern hemisphere~
We keep going back to ‘The End of the World.’
This poppy was as big as a salad plate!
This was our third visit, but this time we were joined by our adult children for the holidays, which made it the best ever.
The city is surrounded by the towering glacier-rich Andes cordillera (spine), which was shrouded with clouds on this visit.
Not too many people come here, but those who do are rewarded with vast tracks of open spaces and pristine nature everywhere.