Puerto Natales is the doorway to beautiful natural landscapes. If you visit it by sea you will have an unforgettable experience sailing to the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers, to the seven glaciers located in the mountain channel and the glaciers of the south Patagonia ice fields, where the biggest one in South America is located. This is the Pio XI, in the Bernardo O´Higgins National Park, where the last Alacalufes or Kawesqar people lived in their canoes. In the surroundings, some ranches offer you to take part in their labor tasks and enjoy barbecues and parrilladas, horseback riding and walks. If your goal is trout fishing, the adequate places are the Hollemberg River, the Diana Lagoon and the Balmaceda lake.
TORRES DEL PAINE
The national park Torres del Paine has a surface of 181,414 acres and lays between the Andes Mountains massif and the Patagonia steppe. It is part of the province of Última Esperanza (last hope) of the Torres del Paine commune. Its natural impressive beauty constitutes a unique wonder in the world, reason why it was declared world heritage by the UNESCO. The variety of vegetable and animal species, lakes and lagoons with icebergs and impressive glaciers make up the scenario for one of the most desired destinies of those that enjoy the observation of flora and fauna, walking, horseback riding, boat trips, sports fishing and fascinating adventure like kayak, rafting, trekking and climbing.
One of the main attractions is the massif of Paine. The most representative summits are the horns and the towers of Paine. Both have three peaks, the north, the main and the east horn, and the south, central and north towers.
CHILEAN SOUTHERN ETHNIC GROUPS: CHONOS, KAWESKAR, YAMAN, SELK´NAM AND AONIKENK
Chile’s southern territory can be divided into two great geographical areas with very different characteristics. On one side there is the wet world of the archipelagos and channels that stretch out from the Chiloe Island to Cape Horn. It is an unfriendly land covered with thick forests and rainfall that can reach over 5000mm a year in some cases. That world, essentially aquatic and of a unique beauty, was once inhabited by small hunting-gathering bands that wandered in canoes through the labyrinth of channels in search for their food, composed mainly of sea wolves, birds, fish and seafood.
The people of the southern channels were divided into three ethno-linguistic groups: the chonos, who lived in the islands between the Chiloe archipelago and the Taitao Peninsula, the Kaweskar, between the Gulf of Penas and the Magallanes Strait, and the Yamanas, inhabitants of the islands south of Fireland. With an extremely simple social organization, they survived for hundreds, maybe thousands of years among an exceptionally rough environment. However, contact with the western world radically altered their lifestyle, leading to their extinction. Despite their simple social organization, all people of the southern zone showed deep religious beliefs and rituals of high complexity. In this sense, they were far from being the savages that Europeans intended to see. And that vision was something that in some way contributed to depopulate the cold southern lands.
FLORA AND FAUNA
There are three species of trees that form the Patagonia forests. These are the coigüe, the ñirre and the lenga (fireland cherry), which are the main exponents of the zone. Bushes such as the leñadura, the matanegra, the calafate and the ciruelillo turn this region into a place where a varied range of vegetables can be found. The main one is the coiron in the Patagonia steppe.
When contemplating the vast range of animals in Patagonia, their beauty appears in all majesty when watching the beautiful guanacos, condors, nandus, swans, caiquenes and caranchos, just to name some. The guanaco is a wild animal of thin bones with an approximated height of 1.06mt and 91 kilos of weight. It is covered by a double thick fur that protects him, which is even more scarce that the alpaca. The puma (Felis Concolor), also known as the mountain lion, is a carnivore mammal that belongs to the felid family. It has a small head and a strong body of reddish, brownish-grey color and white cheeks and its length varies from 1.40mt to 2.40mt depending on the different zones.