On this day in 1810 the colonial governor of Chile was deposed and replaced by a Council of seven, based in Santiago; this was only the beginning of the end of Spanish rule, but it is marked now as the first of two consecutive Fiestas Patrias, effectively Chile's national days. I am very fond of Chile, it having been my introduction to South America. Rather than try to encompass a whole country here, I shall use the opportunity to celebrate Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, surely one of the most spectacular national parks in the world. It centres around the three Torres ('towers') of granite, capped with hard basalt, flanked by the jagged Cuernos ('the horns'). It features major glacier fields and beautiful glacial lakes, and remarkable wildlife, including big herds of Guanacos, rare virtually everywhere else. The mountains are not the Andes, which at this latitude are entering the sea to the west, but a free-standing range.
I am, by nature, a tropical and desert person; I didn't expect to be totally smitten by a wind-swept landscape 700km south of Hobart, at latitude 51 degrees south, but I was. I hope these pictures can give you some idea why - if not (or even if so), we'll be coming back to Torres del Paine in future postings here!
|The Towers from the south|
|The Towers over Lake Nordenskjold|
|The Cuernos from Salto Grande|
|Moon over the Cuernos|
|Iceberg on Lago Grey; it calved from the Grey Glacier at the head of the lake, |
visible in the background 15km away
|Andean Condors over the Torres|
|Darwin's Rhea and chicks|
|Viola maculata (I have some trouble with the concept of a yellow violet!)|
|Porcelain Orchid, Chloraea magellanica|
|Male Guanacos fighting for mating rights.|