13th March: Patagonia (Lago Verde to Lago Grey – Torres del Paine NP)

This is before dawn at Estancia Mirador del Paine. The building in the middle is where some of the workers live and smoke is starting to rise from the chimney.

Google maps link.

.… and this is the dawn.

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Later on in the morning, we set off for Torres del Paine National Park. On the way back along the side road, we tried stalking some guanaco but didn’t get very close.

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Guanaco have natural predators, especially puma. There’s always one keeping watch.

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We also saw some rhea. This one was taken out of the car window (a perk of being the passenger at the time).

Google maps location.

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When we got closer or into the national park, the wildlife were less and less concerned by us and some guanaco simply ignored our car passing very close to them. I was also able to slowly walk up quite close to some.

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We passed by some having a salt bath (though they didn’t hang around long).

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Looking across at a river of ice (probably on Monte Almirante Nieto)

Laho Nordenskjold and mountain with lone guanaco

The scenery got more and more spectacular and the roads more and more rugged.

Google maps location (green arrow, applies to both images, which were taken looking in opposite directions).

Round this time Greg, who was driving, found that there was less and less clutch available. When we finally got to Hosteria Lago Grey, our destination for the night, we discovered that we were almost out of clutch fluid and also that the new battery from El Calafate was floating around unsecured. Fortunately the hosteria had a couple of mechanics (there for the tourist buses) who were able to supply some brake fluid and secure the battery.

12th March: Patagonia (El Calafate to Laguna Verde in Chile)

The battery in our hired 4wd showed signs of weakness the day before and in the morning the engine didn’t turn over. The car wasn’t new and it appeared to be the original battery. We got the hire company to change the battery; just as well it happened in El Calafate rather than in the middle of nowhere.

That sorted out, we took off on the long drive towards Chilé. On the way we saw lots of Guanaco (a kind of llama) and many kinds of birds including some flamingos.

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Flamingos by the roadside

Due to confusion in reading the map, we accidentally took a “short cut”, shorter in distance but longer in driving time though a much more interesting road. Here are some flamingoes and ducks by the roadside, still in Argentina.

Google Maps location (green arrow)

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Here we are well inside Chilé, part of the way along a side road to our destination for the night. In the left background is Monte Almirante Nieto and behind to the left the Torres del Paine (the Towers of Paine)

Google maps location (i.e. arrow shows where I took the photos, looking north-ish)

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We stopped for the night at Hosteria Mirador del Payne at Lago Verde, a working estancia with a spectacular mountain backdrop just outside Torres del Paine National Park.

At the bottom of the image to the right are a couple of gauchos with their horses and dogs, getting in the sheep for the night. (You may need to click on the image to see that).

Below are a couple more views around the estancia.

We had a wonderful meal and it was very quiet and laid-back. We were in fact the only guests.

Google maps location (green arrow).

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