Posted by: Celine Cousteau | December 20, 2010

Chile- “Oceano” Part 5- Patagonia

Patagonia, a symbol of nature at it’s greatest and most majestic, has an almost mythical ring to it. And there is just cause for this vision…

Filming another episode of “Oceano: Chile Frente al Mar” we traveled to the Torres del Paine National Park to film flora, fauna, lakes and glaciers. We had previously traveled the channels and fjords of the south, now venturing inland to explore the other side of the mountains from which glaciers cascade into the ocean. From these same mountains, more glaciers ease their way down creating surreal looking vivid blue lakes. The Lago Azul and Lago Sarmiento are just two of such lakes we had a chance to explore underwater, searching for life and stories.

It was odd to think that diving in +6 degrees Celsius glacier lake water was a relief, but considering we were previously diving in -2 degrees Celsius water in Antarctica, it actually was a welcome temperature. In Lake Sarmiento, which to our knowledge had never been filmed before, we found little more than sparse grass and a few fern looking plants, with one tiny fish darting away from us. We concentrated on good shots of the divers going to and fro, hovering just above the silt which when touched, created a cloud from which we emerged. In the Lake Azul, many animal bones were found, all piled on top of each other, a mystery to which we did not get an answer.

On land was a whole other story. This area is full of life: flamencos, guanacos (llama-like mammals), geese, ducks, ñandu (like emus), rabbits, not to mention the plethora of plants, many of them barely a few inches high. But high and above all of this was an encounter I had dreamed of from when I was a little girl; seeing a puma in the wild. It was here that I sat not more than 8 meters from 2 pumas eating their catch, their cautious eyes glancing our way now and again, before returning to their feast. We arrived at 8pm and stayed until just past 10pm, accompanied by a local photographer, Claudio Almarza, who knew these animals well. We inched our way closer as the pumas gained confidence that our presence was not a threat. With my video camera on a monopod, I tried to keep a steady hand while the cold settled in and my body began to shiver. It is an evening I am not likely to forget.

When the filming for the episode was done, I stayed on for a couple more days, and on my day “off” went venturing on an 18km R/T hike to the base of the Torres del Paine themselves, to film close-up shots of the emblematic towers for which this area is named. It was quite an amazing finale to an inspiring journey, with the hope of returning one day.

Spring time brings new life.

Beautiful flowering low lying shrubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning landscapes and surreal blue lakes.

A long climb to the base of the Torres del Paine- well worth the effort.

A puma hiding with her prey (a guanaco) on the ground.

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