Am I the only person who always forgets February is a short month? Despite having less days, the past month was filled with adventure as I was in beautiful Punta Arenas, Chile, at the southernmost point of South America. The small city is located closer to Antarctica than the equator which is crazy to think about seeing as I spent the six months prior right at the equator in Ecuador and Peru.
Coming from New England in the United States and never having been a fan of winters or snow, I was surprised by how much I truly enjoyed the experience despite only seeing temperatures higher than 16C (60F) a couple of days during the month. All I knew prior to my arrival was that it was going to be colder and likely to be beautiful, as Patagonia is known for landscapes seen no where else on Earth.
When I did arrive, I learned that I can go on a whale watch as there are several species always present in the area as the colder waters are abundant in nutrients. I was once again hoping to see Orca in the wild as this is a bucket-list item for me, however the only species seen was humpbacks. Not disappointed in this at all as the whales were much closer than the previous whale watch I took part in back in California. We also went up to the base of a glacier which was a spectacular experience, and saw a lot more wildlife along the way. Shortly after passing by the southernmost point of the continental mainland there was plenty of penguins and sea lions as well as cormorants, gulls and albatross.
The most popular attraction in this part of Chile is a visit to Torres del Paine, and for good reason. This national park in huge and reminded me a mix between Yosemite, Yellowstone, Badlands and Tetons parks all combined. I joined a single day tour and during the 17 hour expedition there were stops at several lakes, a glacier, a waterfall and a cave. The entire time, the prominence of the mountains and the towers for which the park is named are in full view. The park is also home to more unique wildlife including guanaco, foxes, armadillos, geese and more.
Words cannot describe how enjoyable the experience was, and it felt like a good practice before a visit to Antarctica one day. For the month of March, I have changed scenery once again to the opposite extreme and am now in the Atacama dessert, one of the driest places on the planet. I am staying on the coast but will be headed to the interior of the desert plain for several days to explore some insane landscapes, salt flats and hot springs. I cannot wait to tell you all about it!