The western edge of Patagonia merges into the Pacific ocean in a most spectacular way. Shifting glaciers and tectonic movement have created a fragmented and dramatic landscape that would tempt any explorer. While the main sea channels bear the names of past expeditions, smaller routes remain uncharted, making the region one of the most remote sailing destinations.
Taking a more established route through the Chilean fjords was an offline experience of breathtaking beauty. As we draw a close to a week of posts on the wonders of Patagonia, here's a Chilean fjords top 5:
5) The remoteness of it all:
4) The sea lions that accompanied the boat:
3) The spectacular sunrises:
2) The glaciers that rippled down the mountainsides:
1) The minke whales that surrounded the boat as we headed out to open waters:
Despite being exploited the beavers thought this idea was a splendid one. With no native predators and forests aplenty the population swelled to an estimated 100,000 individuals in the early 2000s. Sadly, Argentinian and Chilean beech forests did not come off well during this period. North American beavers have the illustrious title of being an ecosystem engineer, and they quickly began to alter the morphology and hydrology of the area by felling trees and damming the numerous waterways. While the North American forests had co-evolved with the beavers habits, the south American forests did not have the ability to regenerate and the beavers soon became an unwelcome guest.
As yet the jury is out as to whether the project is successful, however the evidence of the beavers throughout Tierra del Fuego is not difficult to find, In fact it’s more difficult to find a waterway that does not have evidence of beavers. The dams, large lodges and numerous felled trees indicate that the beaver has well and truly planted the flag to stake a claim over 7 million hectares of prime Patagonian real estate.
And, it’s due to their successful colonisation that we ended up having dinner with a North American beaver on the southernmost tip of Argentina: