Archive | January, 2012

Photo Essay: The Glacier and The Lagoon (Chile)

Arrival at Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, Chile

After surrounding Cape Horn and hiking up Wulaia Bay to soak up it’s beautiful and unspoiled landscape, we embarked our expedition cruise towards the Agostini Sound, in the heart of the Cordillera Darwin, in Tierra del Fuego. The region is famous for its numerous glaciers that, in some cases, reach all the way down to the sea.

In the afternoon, we got on our zodiacs to get a closer look to one of the most fascinating glaciers, the Aguila Glacier.

Aguila Glacier, Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, Chile

Aguila Glacier, Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, Chile

The Aguila Glacier is situated at the end of a tranquil lagoon and surrounded by mountains. The easy walk from the beach where we disembarked to the glacier itself took less than 15 minutes, and once I stood in front of it, I couldn’t help but taking more than 70 shots of it.

Aguila Glacier, Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, Chile

Aguila Glacier, Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, Chile

I was fascinated by the bright blue cracks, the way sun light illuminated the whites, the water reflections of the lagoon… there’s no doubt about it – Glaciar Aguila is ideal for any landscape photography enthusiast like me.

Picture This: A View Over Wulaia Bay, Chile

A View over Wulaia Bay, Chile

Wulaia Bay used to be the region’s largest Yamana aboriginal settlements and is nowadays known for its incredible beauty. As we disembarked and hiked uphill, through a forest of Coihues and Lengas towards the look-out point from which I took the photograph, I realized how much I had been missing this – the peaceful sound of wind brushing the leaves and constant waves playing in the background.

I stood there for some time, in complete silence, sketching this panoramic view over the bay deep into my memory – right before rushing back down to avoid being drenched by the rain.

Photo Essay: Cape Horn, Chile (Seamen’s Dream and Nightmare)

“One sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril and death.”
Charles Darwin, 1834

Arriving at Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn has been for centuries the nightmare of all seamen, as well as the dream of adventurous travelers. The waters that surround this sinister rock are some of the roughest and unruly ones Worldwide. Its waves can often reach heights of over 20 meters, crashing violently against the rocks. Wind blows in all directions with enough speed and force to through you overboard and every second day of the year, it’s likely to get caught in a storm. The Cape Horn route is, in fact, one of the most dangerous nautical passages in the World.

Before the construction of the Panama Canal, the only nautical route to cross between the Atlantic and the Pacific was to dare the southern route bypassing Cape Horn. There are an estimated 800 shipwrecks near this black rock!

Planning Our Arrival to Cape Horn, Chile

On our first evening on the Stella Australis, the expedition cruise that would take us from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, we were warned about the possibility of experiencing significant shakes and unrest when approaching the cape. Crew members advised that, as weather changes radically, we might even not be able to disembark on Cape Horn. We would only by the next morning.

At 6:00am we woke up to a grey sky but a surprisingly calm sea. It was time to get ready to get on our zodiacs to explore the cape!

Arriving at Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

Once on Cape Horn, I realized how sinister and dramatic it landscape is. Besides for the Albatross statue (pictured above on the left side of the picture), which is a monument to the many sailors who have lost their lives surrounding the rock, the cape houses a lighthouse. A lighthouse that shelters a seaman from the chilean Navy together with his supporting family, living in this harsh climate and isolated from civilization for a whole year.

Chilean Flag on Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

On our way back to the cruise, we were surprised that our zodiac gave a sudden turn to follow the coastline… to watch a colony of sea lions!

Cape Horn, Chile

Sea Lions in Cape Horn, Chile

Picture This: Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina

The name Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) derives from Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first European to visit the land in 1520. As he approached shore, he was amazed by the size of the fires created by the aborigines to cook and keep warm. I can hardly imagine how anyone could survive to these extreme weather conditions without modern inventions. This shows that the aborigines’ skins, exposed to wind, cold and ice, developed in a completely different way from ours.

As we walked along the shore of Lake Fagnano, admiring the profoundly beautiful and diverse scenery, I couldn’t stop but wonder what else lies behind these high mountains and inside the dark forests. However, from its over 630km2 of land, only a small part of it is open to public.

This leaves a lot of space for my imagination…

Ushuaia: The Southernmost City of the World

Ushuaia, Argentina

Before visiting Tierra del Fuego, I imagines an isolated and remote scenery with deep beauty – el Fin del Mundo. When I arrived at Ushuaia, I was surprised by the amount of shops and restaurant selection. This is no wonder, given that Ushuaia lives now heavily from tourism – most of them staying only for 2-3 days before embarking in one of the expedition cruises. However, it wasn’t always like this, as Ushuaia started on being Argentina’s penal colony for the most fearsome criminals of Argentina.

Ushuaia declares itself the southernmost city of the World, at 54º 49′ South. When we arrived, summer had just officially started. For me, this meant certain warmth and clear skies. However, locals soon advised us that its location provides Tierra del Fuego with a very diverse weather: one can get snow, rain and sun in one day! Even though summer had just started in the southern hemisphere, the usual weather was chilly mornings and rainy afternoons.

I didn’t really mind - Clouds and rain make for great photo sets!

Cloudy Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Forrest in Ushuaia, Argentina

Despite from what one might think, winter isn’t so much colder. Tierra del Fuego has a mild climate and during winter, temperatures usually don’t drop under -5ºC!

Another fact that caught my attention were the long hours of sun light. During our stay, the sun set at about 23:30 and raised again at about 3:30, which sums up to a 20 hours of light! I took the below picture at about 22:30 at night from a restaurant next to the harbor.

Ushuaia, Argentina

The long hours of light make summer the best time to visit Tierra del Fuego – there is just so much to see that every extra hour is appreciated… I even became an early morning person waking up at 6-7am every day (ok, that’s not super early, but it’s early for being on holidays, isn’t it?).

Have you been to Tierra del Fuego? If so, what surprised you most? If not: would you choose going to a destination where summer is almost like winter?

2011: A Year in Review

While I work my way through the over a thousand pictures I took during my trip to Argentina and Chile, I thought it to be a good time to take a look at what 2011 brought me.

2011 was a year of changes, not only here on 100 Miles Highway – It was the year I learned to appreciate winter, got promoted, moved to London and traveled solo for the first time.

January

Sunset from the Empire State, New York

I kicked off last year in a steampunk themed underground party wearing a corset and threatening people of being vaporized, in London. After many years of resentment, I revisited Paris and remembered what made me fall in love with the city (and parisians!) the first time. At the end of the month, I saw one of the most beautiful urban sunsets from the top of the Empire State and experienced -17ºC, I swear: I had never felt that cold in my life!

February

February was a busy month at work – I traveled to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and attended a week of cocktails in London. Besides for gaining at least 2 kilos from dunking anything possible into a massive chocolate fountain, I drank champagne at London’s Natural History Museum and had dinner at the city’s oldest restaurant!

March

Edinburgh, Scotland

After living a year and a half in Switze