Patagonia Verde – a refuge for biodiversity

Summer has been never ending down here in the far south. So the last 4 weeks we’ve been continuing our voluntary work for Adventure and Science by exploring dense, endemic Patagonian (rain) forests, forgotten valleys and ridges and packrafted some of its threatened rivers. Some of the areas we’ve been through are luckily protected in private or public parks but huge areas are still designated, unprotected wildlands. Except for the knowledge of locals, there is a great lack of information on these areas. So we’ve been gathering data for the Pacific Biodiversity Institute which will hopefully aid in the eventual conservation of wildlands and biodiversity.

Packrafting Rio Yelcho - Corcovado National Park, Region de los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile

Packrafting Rio Yelcho – Region de los Lagos, Patagonia, Chile

Hiking through a drowned forrest, Reserva Nacional Lago Palena, Chilean Patagonia

Hiking through a drowned forrest, Reserva Nacional Lago Palena, Chilean Patagonia

We mainly lost ourselves in the Valdivian temperate rain forests in, around and on the periphery of protected areas like Vicente Perez Rosales, Corcovado, Lago Palena, Rio Puelo and Lago Puelo. The packraft has been inflated on pristine rivers like the Yelcho and Petrohue but sadly the plan to packraft a part of the threatened Palena has been drowned in pouring rain, which abruptly halted the summer. So we’ll have to come back for that one, later on 🙂

In stead of writing an extensive trip report, we’ll treat you with a selection of pics from our explorations of the last weeks. Hopefully this will inspire you to come over here and hike the Patagonian forrests or float them rivers. Because tourism could be an important step towards conservation…

Rain has been pouring down the last few days, but it’s clearing up again, so time has come to continue feeding our Patagonian dreams.

Extensive, native lenga forrests on the mountains bordering the fjord-like Nahuel Huapi lake, Argentine Patagonia. From the ferry-ride towards the core of the national park, from which we started a 2-week double trans Andean trek into Chile and back into Argentina.

Extensive, native lenga forrests on the mountains bordering the fjord-like Nahuel Huapi lake, Argentine Patagonia. From the ferry-ride towards the core of the national park, from which we started a 2-week double trans Andean trek into Chile and back into Argentina.

Balancing over fallen trees, Virgin Patagonian Lenga Forrest, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina

Balancing over fallen trees, Virgin Patagonian Lenga Forrest, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina

Glaciar Frias, tumbling down from massive, extinct volcano Cerro Tronador (3491m), PN Nahuel Huapi, Argentine Patagonia

Glaciar Frias, tumbling down from massive, extinct volcano Cerro Tronador (3491m), PN Nahuel Huapi, Argentine Patagonia

The mighty Andean Condor (wingspan 3m) flying towards Laguna Frias, Argentine Patagonia

The mighty Andean Condor (wingspan 3m) flying towards Laguna Frias, Argentine Patagonia

Liolaemus lizard in the Valdivian Rain Forrest, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Patagonia, Argentina

Liolaemus lizard in the Valdivian Rain Forrest, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Patagonia, Argentina

A chilean gaucho left his gear hanging to dry. Valle Ensenada, PN Vicente Perez Rosales, Chilena Patagonia

A chilean gaucho left his gear hanging to dry. Valle Ensenada, PN Vicente Perez Rosales, Chilena Patagonia

Alvarado's rancho in the Valle Ensenada with glaciated SW-flanks of might Cerro Tronador towering above. Valle Ensenada. Chilean Patagonia.

Alvarado’s rancho in the Valle Ensenada with glaciated SW-flanks of might Cerro Tronador towering above. Valle Ensenada. Chilean Patagonia.

Gaucho flavours fill the kitchen. A fresh meal at rancho Velazquez. Valle Ensendada. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.

Gaucho flavours fill the kitchen. A fresh meal at rancho Velazquez. Valle Ensendada. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.

Deeply eroded horse trails betray that this now little used trail was once an important trade route over the Andes. Valle Ensenda. Chilean Patagonia.

Deeply eroded horse trails betray that this now little used trail was once an important trade route over the Andes. Valle Ensenda. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc at the Lago Cayutue. Volcan Puntigiado fills the horizon. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc at the Lago Cayutue. Volcan Puntigiado fills the horizon. PN Perez Rosales. Chilean Patagonia.

Rio Ventisquero. Rincon Bonito. Parque Pumalin. Chilean Patagonia.

Rio Ventisquero. Rincon Bonito. Parque Pumalin. Chilean Patagonia.

Asado de Cordero. Roasted lamb. Summarizes the Patagonian kitchen. Rincon Bonito. Chilean Patagonia.

Asado de Cordero. Roasted lamb. Summarizes the Patagonian kitchen. Rincon Bonito. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc at Palma - Alegria rancho where we enjoy endless Patagonian hospitality. Little foreigners penetrate into these valleys so we were invited multiple times with the local farmers and immediatly accepted as if we were family. Valle del Rio Ventisquero. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc at Palma – Alegria rancho where we enjoy endless Patagonian hospitality. Little foreigners penetrate into these valleys so we were invited multiple times with the local farmers and immediatly accepted as if we were family. Valle del Rio Ventisquero. Chilean Patagonia.

Following a creek towards the Rio Petrohue which we were going to float towards the Pacific. Volcan Osorno rising above. Chilean Patagonia.

Following a creek towards the Rio Petrohue which we were going to float towards the Pacific. Volcan Osorno rising above. Chilean Patagonia.

Taking a break along the shores of Rio Petrohue. Region de los Lagos. Chilean Patagonia.

Taking a break along the shores of Rio Petrohue. Region de los Lagos. Chilean Patagonia.

Scouting for fallen trees and rapids in the Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.

Scouting for fallen trees and rapids in the Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc on an gravel bar on an island in the Rio Yelcho. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc on an gravel bar on an island in the Rio Yelcho. Chilean Patagonia.

Packrafting Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.

Packrafting Rio Petrohue. Chilean Patagonia.

Packrafting Rio Yelcho from source to the Pacific. The river borders the Corcovado National Park. Chilean Patagonia.

Packrafting Rio Yelcho from source to the Pacific. The river borders the Corcovado National Park. Chilean Patagonia.

The Patagonian Sky at dusk. Lenticulars betray high winds. Lago Verde. Aysen. Patagonian Chile.

The Patagonian Sky at dusk. Lenticulars betray high winds. Lago Verde. Aysen. Patagonian Chile.

Pioneers who set huge fires ablaze Patagonian valleys in the early 20th Century did not think about ecological consequences. Erosion and huge, dead trunks on higher flanks are the silent witness of human's search for devolpment at any cost.

Pioneers who set huge fires ablaze Patagonian valleys in the early 20th Century did not think about ecological consequences. Erosion and huge, dead trunks on higher flanks are the silent witness of human’s search for devolpment at any cost.

A small opening in the huge, virgin forrests that clad the valleys of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Aysen. Chilean Patagonia.

A small opening in the huge, virgin forrests that clad the valleys of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Aysen. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc in virgin forrests at the shores of pristine Lago Palena. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc in virgin forrests at the shores of pristine Lago Palena. Chilean Patagonia.

Patagonian sky at night from the shores of Laguna Quitro right in the core of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.

Patagonian sky at night from the shores of Laguna Quitro right in the core of the Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc where Rio Quintro drains its namesake lake. Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.

Bivaouc where Rio Quintro drains its namesake lake. Lago Palena National Reserve. Chilean Patagonia.

End of the summer as we know it. Valle Rio Azul. Alto Palena. Chilean Patagonia.

End of the summer as we know it. Valle Rio Azul. Alto Palena. Chilean Patagonia.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o’er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.
The Call of the Wild by Robert W. Service

For more pictures of the last 4 weeks mainly in Chilean Patagonia please click:

Patagonia Verde – Ruta de las Jesuitas
Patagonia Verde – Reserva Nacional Lago Palena
Patagonia Verde – Rio Petrohue and Yelcho

Patagonian dreamers... Crossing Rio Azul at its outlet into Lago Puelo. Argentine Patagonia.

Patagonian dreamers… Crossing Rio Azul at its outlet into Lago Puelo. Argentine Patagonia.

Patagonia – verano está aquí

The Patagonian steppe landscape at the bus window finally gives way to undulating hills and snowcapped peaks at the horizon. X-Mass parties back home followed by a 14 hour flight and 24 hour busride south has left us weary and lazy. But now my heart accelateres and a big smile appears. My face sticks against the bus window with all the colours and shapes around us. A deepblue river snakes its way through a golden, arid landscape while huge lenticulars clad the sky. For the next 4 months we’ll continue our exploration of Patagonia where we left our dreams 3 years ago.

Bahia Lopez beach - Lago Nahuel Huapi - Patagonia, Argentina

Bahia Lopez beach – Lago Nahuel Huapi – Patagonia, Argentina

After a rainy day going through details for custom made maps with our partner geographer Macarena, an unusual heatwave flew into the region and off we were for a week of playing in one of our favorite conservation areas in the world: the Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Looking back towards Rincon Grande canyon, a PR3 white water passage, along the formidable Rio Limay, Patagonia, Argentina

Looking back towards Rincon Grande canyon, a PR3 white water passage, along the formidable Rio Limay, Patagonia, Argentina

We scramble and hike our way through the Lopez-range, where condors soar ahead and the views towards the volcanos on the border with Chile defy all imagination. We enjoy a terrific, 55km packrafting float down the Rio Limay from its source towards Confluencia, roughly a fifth of the river’s total length. A mostly PR2 rated river, it has some very nice PR3 challenges, especially for the 2 in 1 packraft theme 🙂

Climbing up towards Cerro Lopez with terrific view down Brazo Tristeza, a western inlet of the fjord-like Nahuel Huapi Lake

Climbing up towards Cerro Lopez with terrific view down Brazo Tristeza, a western inlet of the fjord-like Nahuel Huapi Lake

View towards Chile-Argentina border from the Cerro Lopz ridge. With extinct volcanos above the deep blue Brazo Tristeza: glaciated Cerro Tronador (left), the conical Osorno across the border in Chile, and the volcan Puntigiado (with blown-off crater).  Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Patagonia, Argentina.

View towards Chile-Argentina border from the Cerro Lopz ridge. With extinct volcanos above the deep blue Brazo Tristeza: glaciated Cerro Tronador (left), the conical Osorno across the border in Chile, and the volcan Puntigiado (with blown-off crater). Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Patagonia, Argentina.

The milky way on a Patagonian summer's night. Bivaouc along Rio Limay. Patagonia, Argentina

The milky way on a Patagonian summer’s night. Bivaouc along Rio Limay. Patagonia, Argentina

Packrafting the Rio Limay. We had the river for ourselves the whole stretch. Not a single soul in this beautiful, trans-steppe landscape.

Packrafting the Rio Limay. We had the river for ourselves the whole stretch. Not a single soul in this beautiful, trans-steppe landscape.

A thick layer of volcaninc ashes cover the borders of Rio Limay, which is in the wind shadow of the Chilean Puyehue volcano, which has been erupting since june 2011.

A thick layer of volcaninc ashes cover the borders of Rio Limay, which is in the wind shadow of the Chilean Puyehue volcano, which has been erupting since june 2011.

Climbing to overview spot at “El Amfiteatro”, scouting for a put-in after the nightly bivaouc. Rio Limay. Patagonia, Argentina.

The current completely dies out at fary-tale alike Valle Encentado, close to our put-out at Confluencia. Rio Limay. Patagonia. Argentina.

The current completely dies out at fary-tale alike Valle Encentado, close to our put-out at Confluencia. Rio Limay. Patagonia. Argentina.

We’re off for a remote trek along the ancient Ruta de los Jesuitas and the Cochamo-valley, which will take us over the Andes 2 times, into Chile and back into Argentina. It will probably take a small 3 weeks.

Ciao!

More pictures from our first 10 days in Patagonia.

Oh yes, if you fancy packrafting, please join the American Packrafting Association by clicking on the logo below. You can join, even if you’re not American 😉

Join the American Packrafting Association

Join the American Packrafting Association