Puerto Natales is the closest hub of civilization and it’s 80 km to the national park. From our hostel we passed the town’s pride, a massive Milodon sculpture, and later on the cave of the Milodon. I wasn’t even really sure what a Milodon was, but knew it was big, kinda had the body of a bear and the face of a llama, and it was really old. Yeah, like 5,000 years old.
But the landscape looked exactly like a place where dinosaurs, Milodons, and cave men probably ran around.
There’s just something that doesn’t couple about sliding around in a ragged out truck rocking out to Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” under rainbows and rock towers, watching a wild stallion chase off it’s challenger, observing sea-green lakes of glacier melt, all while wondering, “If we end up on our backs will this rusted-out roll bar hold up?” We passed burnt out vehicles decaying in ditches. There wasn’t a radio station for hundreds of miles. But our bad taste in ITunes music was made up for by deciding to traverse Torres Del Paine National Park on our own, leaving the tour buses in the dust. I couldn’t believe I was there.
“Pull over, it’s a guanaco!”
That happened about 15 times.
We hiked a rocky beach and faced wind that could blow you away like a kite to see Glacier Grey and it’s floating ice-burgs.
“Pull over, guanaco!”
We watched National Geographic unfold before our eyes.
Guanacos live in herds with a dominate guanaco king. We observed the king playing “pushie-shove” with bachelor intruders. He lowered his head and ran into battle. Any head lowering signaled that it was ABOUT. TO. GO. DOWN. “Pushie-shove quickly turned into “kicky-bite” and “let’s slam each-other with our necks. “We even saw a male with his bottom lip bit off.
We rolled the windows down and listened to them whinny and grunt.
Baby guanacos followed dad around and got excited when he won. They mimicked the fighting amongst each other. The fact that they were eccentric and charismatic in their behavior made the chulengo babies all the more adorable. They skipped about while mothers looked on unamused.
Several days into the trip we began questioning our sanity. “Is that really another guanaco?” we mumbled with a tinge of annoyance. Their numbers were incredible. It seemed that every hill in Patagonia had a guanaco scout.
Enjoyed seeing these wildlife picture and obsessed with mountains? Me too. Stay tuned for my upcoming Chronicles of Patagonia post III.