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elberko Jan 28th, 2015 09:44 AM

NatGeo Patagonia trip
As a present to myself for one of those birthdays with a zero in it, I took a NatGeo trip to Patagonia. It could not have been more fun! We had exceptionally good weather, except for a rainy day in Buenos Aires.

I have never done an escorted tour before, and wasn't crazy about the idea of the cruise part of this trip, but decided this was the only way I could do this. I do not reqret the decision: we had lots of opportunity to chose how we spent our days, and spent minimal time being bussed around.

We spent very little time in cities, but had a a taste of Buenos Aires at the beginning, and Santiago at the end. I was welcomed to BA at a GTG dinner with avrooster & MarnieWDC. How nice to meet you both, and spend an enjoyable evening!

After BA, we flew to Ushuaia, and spent the day seeing Tierra del Fuego National Park before boarding our ship.

We were incredibly lucky that the weather allowed us to do all the scheduled disembarkments, and I'd have a hard time deciding which was best: Cape Horn, Aguila glacier, or Magdalena Island (180,000 penguins!) I'm not really a water person, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Zodiac rides to shore. Food on board was good if not great, and they made me a birthday cake to share with the group.

After leaving the ship, we traveled to Torres del Paine NP by bus--5 hours, the last hour or so on gravel roads (as were ALL the roads within the park). Worth every minute and bump in the road, awesome, awesome place. While we were there, there was no wind. This is apparently very rare in Patagonia, as are mountains unobscured by clouds.

We were given choices every evening for half day or whole day excursions in the park the following day, in 9-person vans with a guide, most of which met in the hotel lobby at 9 am, very civilized. Viewed condors, rheas, guanacos, glaciers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, fossils...very enjoyable.

After we left TdP, we bussed back to Punta Arenas for a flight to Santiago, and a tour of the city and vineyard before returning home.

I really can't say enough good things about this tour. The guides went out of their way to make sure things went smoothly, and there was always a plan B, if there was a reason Plan A wasn't possible. Would happily travel with them again.

yestravel Jan 28th, 2015 10:14 AM

A beautiful area and what sounds like a gret tour. Glad you got to meet Marnie and AV.

semiramis Jan 28th, 2015 11:09 AM

It sounds like an amazing trip!

jubilada Jan 28th, 2015 11:15 AM

What a great present to yourself elberko!

panecott Jan 28th, 2015 01:18 PM

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Patagonia is on my short list of places to visit soon.

Glad you had a great time.

inspiredexplorer Jan 28th, 2015 03:24 PM

Sounds like a fantastic birthday trip! I will definitely be checking this itinerary as I plan my own trip to Patagonia + Atacama in Nov/Dec.

TDudette Jan 29th, 2015 06:34 AM

Sounds wonderful, Liz!

In the small world category, was there a speaker about Antarctica aboard?

elberko Jan 29th, 2015 06:50 AM

TDudette, no, we had no Antarctica talks on the ship, or elsewhere on this trip.

Dianedancer Jan 29th, 2015 07:21 AM

How long was the trip?

elberko Jan 29th, 2015 07:27 AM

13 days

colduphere Jan 29th, 2015 11:18 AM

I am extremely jealous.

elberko Jan 29th, 2015 11:43 AM

Thank you, colduphere.

If you can't make fellow travelers jealous then really, what's the point?

olesouthernbelle Jan 29th, 2015 12:24 PM

So glad you enjoyed this trip!

Challiman Jan 29th, 2015 03:53 PM

The trip sounds just wonderful! I am so glad you enjoyed it so much. What an adventure!
The FB photos are amazing!

Toucan2 Jan 29th, 2015 05:24 PM

Bookmarking for weekend reading!

Toucan2 Feb 7th, 2015 07:09 PM

That's so great that you had such good weather luck,and got to see everything. It sounds like the tour was really well managed too. So glad you got to go on this trip.

elberko Feb 8th, 2015 06:15 AM

Toucan2, one of our guides is a biologist, and has a specific interest in birds. We had running commentary on birds during excursions. No warblers, though.

Toucan2 Feb 8th, 2015 07:59 AM

Very cool elberko. It's so nice to have knowledgeable people like that around.

I double-checked, and warblers don't go that far south. They might get an occasional vagrant, but Brazil is about as far as that particular family goes. I'm sure they have other small birds that are similar.

I imagine the shorebirds and waterfowl were pretty amazing. It just sounds like such a great trip.

elberko Feb 8th, 2015 08:59 AM

It really was! The experts weren't just knowledgeable, they were also personable and entertaining. Not always the case with guides.

mlgb Feb 10th, 2015 10:09 AM

Did the company contract with Fantastico Sur (Las Torres lodges)in Torres del Paine? At the time I went, Fantastico Sur had the bird experts, I even bought their little guide (no warblers). I took one guided trip out of the Las Torres Lodge, because it was the least expensive way to get to Glacier Grey. Their guide was very good and very handsome!

They have a related company, FSExpeditions, that you can book directly for wildlife and photography expeditions.

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