Return Engagement: Tierra del Fuego & Southern Patagonia

November 4, 2018 § 3 Comments

On this key midterm election day in the USA, I’m so thrilled to be heading back (after voting, of course) to one of my favorite corners of planet Earth, an area of vast and stunning wilderness encompassing the islands, waters, and mountain ranges of the southernmost reaches of the South American continent.IMG_2134.jpeg

We’ll be stopping over for a few days in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, as we board the Stella Australis, a small (150-200 passenger) Chilean-run cruise ship, and set off into the stark and storied landscapes and seascapes of Tierra del Fuego.IMG_4173.jpegIMG_8177.jpeg

We’ll visit the legendary Cape Horn, making a landing if the weather allows, and then follow in the wake of Charles Darwin’s Beagle and use zodiacs to explore various fascinating features, including fjords, tidewater glaciers, a penguin colony, and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and ice, we’ll be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other fascinating bird species.IMG_8086.jpegIMG_4303.jpegIMG_2150.jpeg

Next, we’ll stay in the amazing Tierra Patagonia hotel at the foot of the dramatic granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park. Here we’ll have several full days of hiking and/or horseback riding amidst one of the world’s most striking landscapes, in a part of Chile with some of the lowest human population densities on the planet.IMG_2244.jpeg

This rich and diverse ecosystem is of particular interest to us because it includes an apex predator, the elusive puma, and its primary prey, the charming and highly entertaining guanaco. What a magnificent opportunity!IMG_4623.jpegIMG_2277.jpegIMG_4697.jpeg

This will be my fifth time on this particular National Geographic itinerary, and I’m thrilled to be heading back. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it’s a multi-disciplinary pursuit—and a trip like this provides great material.IMG_2942.jpeg

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I’m a big fan of history, geography, ecology, and biography as disciplines that enrich any travel experience, and it will be my privilege to share some of those wide-ranging interests with the National Geographic group.IMG_2264.jpeg

Talks will focus on the history and geography of the region and the lives of explorers and adventurers who went on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet—and whose early lives were shaped by their journeys to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. My final talk will be more personal in nature, about my parallel careers as a novelist and travel guide, the links between travel, writing, and environmental awareness, and what I call the “geographic imagination.”

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All in all, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. This is a really fantastic part of the world and I highly recommend you get there if you can. I could be convinced, by the way, to organize a custom trip or two if anyone’s interested . . .IMG_2617.jpeg

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National Geographic Expeditions’ new Patagonia video

August 4, 2015 § 2 Comments

Check out this inspiring two-minute video from National Geographic Expeditions’ talented videographer Steve Pickard. It features an interview Steve did with yours truly in my capacity as the featured expert for the Exploring Patagonia program. Warning: it’s going to make you want to go to Tierra del Fuego and southern Patagonia! 

Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

October 30, 2014 § 1 Comment

IMG_4439Getting packed and ready for an adventure in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego with National Geographic Expeditions.  We’ll start off in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins once we reach Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, and board a ship for the onward journey into the Straits of Magellan. We’ll follow in the wake of Darwin’s Beagle and use Zodiacs to land at various locations in and around the fabled Cape Horn and the Agostini Sound, exploring the fjords, tidewater glaciers and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and glaciers. From our debarkation point at Punta Arenas, we’ll head up to the dramatic, glacier-sculpted granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park for several days of hiking through some of the most compelling landscapes and some of the lowest human population densities on the planet. We’ll wrap up with a visit to the Chilean capital, Santiago.

ISlide1n my role as the National Geographic featured expert, I’ve been working hard to prepare a lecture series that I hope will be of interest to my fellow travelers. The lectures have certainly been fascinating to research and compile. I’ll begin with a brief introduction to the history and geography of the places we’ll be visiting. The subsequent lectures will focus on the lives of explorers and adventurers who were shaped by youthful journeys to Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego, and who have gone on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet: Charles Darwin and the voyage of the HMS Beagle; the radical individualist artist Rockwell Kent and his madcap journey to Cape Horn on a tiny refurbished lifeboat; and a pair of dirtbag California climbers, Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard, who packed into a white Ford van and set off on a six month quest to climb Mount FitzRoy in 1968. These dirtbags went on, of course, to become wildly successful entrepreneurs and key contributors to the cause of environmental conservation.

HMS Beagle in Sydney Harbour Ron Scobie 1838For my last lecture I’ll talk about life as a writer in modern America, and specifically the process of researching, writing, and publishing my recently released debut novel, Will Poole’s Island. Very much looking forward to this trip!

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