People talk about ‘once in a lifetime’ trips and South America’s pointed tip is often cited as one of them, but once you’ve seen Southern Patagonia, something will probably pull you back. Mountain gazing is addictive. Despite years living in and travelling around Chile, the sheer magnitude of the landscapes still saw photographer and writer Nori Jemil dumbstruck, magnetised by the sight of the crags and peaks. On a whistle-stop visit to Torres del Paine, travelling in a 4WD with local guide Gonzalo, they forded rivers that took them to some of the most out-of-the-way spots, as well as the most famous viewpoints. Here are a few of Nori's favourite pictures of Patagonia from the trip.
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Known for its distinctive bright blue water, Lake Pehoé is one of the most visited lakes in the region. With its cragged mountainous backdrop, it's essentially a poster child of the spectacular views that travellers to this part of the world can expect. It's located in Torres del Paine National Park, and the lake owes its vivid colour to its main water source, the Paine River, via the Nordenskjöld Lake. It's a beautiful place to catch at sunrise, when the mountains, water and sky glow pastel pinks and oranges.
Glaciers are a huge draw when travelling in this region, and are some of the most impressive, jaw-dropping sights. Perito Moreno Glacier - also known as Ventisquero Perito Moreno - may not be the longest or tallest glacier, it is still one of the most dazzling of them when you're in the flesh, standing on the boardwalks that face it. The scale of this beast will impress you on all accounts: the thunderous creaks of the ice, the colours, reminiscent of marble, and even blocks of ice detonating off the side of the glacier, smashing into the water below.
The El Chaltén mountain range belongs to Argentina rather than Chile, and has expanded a lot since it was established in 1985. Plenty of visitors base themselves in the village of El Chaltén, with lots of hiking opportunities nearby and a rather stunning view of Mount Fitzroy looming up in the background.
Located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, Lago Torre is a lake formed from glacial meltwater. It's a popular place for hikers, especially to see the surrounding peaks, like that of the prominent Cerro Torre – accessible from October to April. As it's only 10km west of the village of El Chaltén, it's a frequent stop on many travellers' itineraries.
A guanaco is part of the camel family and closely related to the llama (llamas are just domesticated versions, whereas guanacos are wild), of which there are many in this part of the world. Patagonia is not only a hiker's paradise, but also an animal lover's, with many species to be seen in dramatic landscapes.
Corrals in Patagonia belong to gauchos, or skilled horsemen (mainly thought of as South American cowboys), who have strong bonds with their horses. Work is not as wide-ranging or prevalent as it once used to be, but you can still often see these working horses on your travels through this region.
As well as their deeply historical and cultural roots as gauchos, many also act as tour guides in Patagonia, leading groups on horseback to see the mountains and glaciers. After all, gauchos have been living in this area for a long time and know the land extremely well.
The Laguna Torre trek is one of the must-dos in this region and an absolute classic trek, and will stock your camera full of beautiful pictures of Patagonia. It takes about 7 or 8 hours, is easy as long as you have a good fitness level, and takes you through valleys, forests and some key glaciers and mountains, such as the Torre massif, the Adela range, Mount solo, and their respective glaciers.
Los Cuernos are known as the 'horns' of Torres del Paine National Park - truly bringing the bull image to life. You'll find them located about halfway along the 60km W Trek Circuit, between neighbouring peaks, Los Torres and Paine Grande.
In the Southern Patagonian Icefield lies Glacier Grey, west of the Cordillera del Paine. It's 6km wide and over 30m high.
On the northwest side of the Beagle Channel and in the Darwin Range, Pia Glacier runs down into the waters of Pia Bay. The best way to experience it is to head there by a cruise and then on to a zodiac to get up close and personal.
The rocky cliff-faces of Patagonia are ideal for nesting birds such as king cormorants on the Tucker Islets. Their blue-purple eyes and tufts of feathers on their heads give them a distinctive look.
Wulaia Bay is on the western shore of Isla Navarino, the main island of the Tierra del Fuego. It was once home to the Yamana people, from around 12,000 years ago, who were adept in canoeing from their island to the other neighbouring ones. In the 1830s Charles Darwin came ashore here during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. The island is worth visiting now for its historical connections and the grand scale of natural beauty.