An adventure of my life time!

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

413. SA Trip (13): Birds around Lago Argentino


I love taking pictures of birds. It’s not easy—one needs to be at the right time, right place, right lighting. Sometimes it’s frustrating, like trying to take a picture of this flock of Chilean Flamingos. They must party very late last night and just kept on sleeping. I waited over half an hour. Only one of them moved briefly, not long enough for me to take a good shot.

It’s fun, though, especially when I get lucky and capture something unexpected. One nice picture can keep me beaming for hours.

(Black-faced Ibis)

(Coscoroba Swan)

(Yellow-billed Pintail)

(Southern Wigeon)

(Chilean Flamingo)

(Southern Lapwing)


412. SA Trip (12): A Boat Trip to See Glaciers

Recommended by the host of my hostel, I booked a cruise to see glaciers. The tour isn’t cheap, about $150. Most likely I’ll never come back here, so I booked it.

It was as lovely as the lady suggested. A boat took us through the Fjord of Ultima Esperanza. We saw a cormorant colony, a sea-lion colony, many waterfalls, and the majestic Monte Balmaceda Glacier (the mountain is 2035 meter high, and there are only a few cases of its ascent).

After 3.5 hours of sailing, we stopped at Puerto Toro and walked a short distance to the base of the Serrano Glacier. Both Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers are in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park.

On our way back, we cocked at a ranch and had lunch there. The food was delicious. This boat trip reminded me of a similar cruise I took in Alaska.


411. SA Trip (11): A Day in Birds’ Paradise

Formerly a fishing port, Puerto Natales is a city in Chile’s southern Patagonia. It’s the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park and the Patagonian fjords.

There are a lot of birds along the shoreline. I spent more than half a day taking pictures there.

(Crested duck)


408. SA Trip (8): A 13.5-hour Bus Ride

I prefer to travel by bus to flight. In this way, I could see a lot along the way.

It’s about 390 miles from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile. According to the website, the drive takes 11 hours. I thought they over-estimated the time. How long would 400 miles take? Thirteen and a half hours, actually.

The immigration took over 2 hours. Lunch for another half an hour. Ferry for about an hour (A fox showed up near the ferry terminal, which made the time flew by.)

Twenty minutes after we got on the bus again in Chile, an Argentinian tour guide for a large group talked to the bus driver, stopped the bus, flagged down a car, and went back with the car. I was sitting in the first row and saw the whole thing. But I had no idea what happened. Did he leave someone behind?

No, he left his teacup behind! It is a special cup for Mate tea. But this is public transportation, not even a tour bus. And no one explained to us what happened while we waited for him for more than half an hour. The bus driver doesn’t speak a word in English. Later I learned the truth from a couple from England who can speak some Spanish. I was quite amazed. I was in South America, not in the US anymore. 🙂

Before the trip, I printed out the maps from all the bus stations to the hotels/hostels. Some of the distances are so short that I decided to walk. Well, if they stopped at the right bus station!

We finally arrived in Punta Arenas around 9:30pm. I took out the map and checked the street signs. I couldn’t find anything familiar. So I went into a little room with a small counter and pointed to the place I needed to go to. The man was really nice. He tried to explain to me, but I didn’t understand a word he said. He took my cell phone and signed in to wifi. The magic of Google map took me to the hostel. It’s about 15min walk. The night was still young and bright enough. Thank God!


407. SA Trip (7): Beagle Channel Cruise

(Rock Cormorant)

(Upland Goose)

(Southern Crested Caracara)

(Southern Giant Petrel)








406. SA Trip (6): Tierra del Fuego National Park

Spent a full day in the national park hiking (Costera Tril) and kayaking.

(Black-necked Swan)

(A family of Kelp Goose)


404. SA Trip (4): Amazing Laguna Esmeralda

Unable to speak Spanish is very inconvenient. Most people don’t speak English, even the people in the tourist business. The Google Translate works for simple phrases but doesn’t work well for conversation.

I booked a tour bus ticket to Laguna Esmeralda (starting 10:30am and ending 4pm) via the hotel. There is one lady who speaks English. Later, another lady came by and tried to talk to me. After struggling for a while, I understood that the bus wouldn’t come until 12. By coming back at 4pm, how could I finish a hike that requires at least 4 hours? Via Google translate, she told me something like I could communicate with the driver to set the return time (now I know this is what she said, but at the time, it wasn’t clear). I was so frustrated that I canceled the ticket and walked to the bus station, hoping someone there could explain clearly.

No, the lady selling the ticket doesn’t speak English either. She tried to tell me the same thing that I could communicate with the driver to set the return time. If I had so much trouble understanding them, how could it be easier to talk to the driver? I imagined the bus left me and I was stranded at the trailhead. It was cold and windy at daytime (around 45F, but felt chilly). How cold it would be at night?

As I struggled with the decision if I should go and take the chance, a young couple showed up. The girl can speak English, and they were going to the same place! I was elated. I asked her the questions, and she promised to keep me informed. There was another couple from Canada who couldn’t speak Spanish. We did part of the hike together.

Laguna Esmeralda is prettier than the pictures I’ve seen. And the weather was really nice. I loved it.

By the time we returned to the parking lot, the young couple wanted to take another hike in the area. It takes about 1.5 hours, and the bus would pick us up at 7pm (they called the driver). It was 5:20pm. Well, no big deal. We started hiking. Up and up it went a steep hill. In an hour, we were so much higher than the other trail that we could see Laguna Esmeralda in the distance.

The trail became so muddy and wet that my shoes were completely soaked through. But we made it back at 7pm. And the bus showed up just in time.

Without the young couple, I wouldn’t have this adventure. Certainly I wouldn’t be at ease and enjoyed the whole time.

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