Patagonia

The rise of new world wines that began about 15 years ago has brought an increased influx of wine tourism to Chile and Argentina. But these two countries have a wine industry that stretches back nearly 500 years.

It’s easy to fall in love with Argentina, which seems alive with passion and bursting with beauty. This huge South American country spans the extremes: Fiery deserts sprawl across the north, lush pastures and vineyards rule its center, and the south is a jagged, jaw-dropping land of rock and ice.

When most people think of Patagonia, the first things that come to mind are stunning scenic vistas, dramatic mountain landscapes and mammals such as foxes, guanacos and pumas.

The gem of Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park is part of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Silvestres Protegidas del Estado de Chile (National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile), bordered by Bernardo O'Higgins National Park to the west and Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park to the north.

Though not as popular as the Andean highlands or Torres Del Paine National Park, the Chilean fjords are simply marvelous. In fact, many visitors consider this “edge of the world” location at the southern tip of Patagonia to be one of the most underrated places on the continent.

Patagonia – the sparsely populated region of South America that stretches across Chile and Argentina, from the southern tip of the Andes to deserts, steppes and grasslands in the east– is known for its larger-than-life natural attractions.

patagonia-elephant-sealThe Southern elephant seal is an animal with an amazing number of accolades: Largest pinniped and deepest diving are just two very impressive records established by these incredible creatures. I have been extremely fortunate to observe Southern elephant seals at many haul sites on International Expeditions' Antarctica and Patagonia tours.

kelp goose - claudio vidalAt first glance, it appears that the entire population of Kelp geese is male...but wait, on closer inspection of the rocky shorelines of Patagonia, there is a female kelp goose accompanying every male. The reason for this first glance discrepancy is the sexual dimorphism between males and females of this species.

Camels in the Americas? How crazy is that? Many millions of years ago, camelids (the camel family) were part of the fauna of North America. They existed and gradually evolved from tiny creatures the size of a domestic cat to animals the size of a goat...and eventually even much larger. The camels of North America survived until about 12,000 years ago, when humans crossed the Bering land bridge into North America.

As much of the world turns its attention to Brazil for World Cup 2014, we’re looking at the iconic wildlife of the teams facing off. Our Round 1 match-up pits Chile’s guanaco, a favorite species observed on our Patagonia tours, against Australia’s iconic kangaroo. 


Chile: Guanaco

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