Patagonia Advice

Discussion in 'Nature' started by louie, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. I'm headed for Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares in January, and I
    was hoping to get some advice.

    I had hoped to do the full circuit for Torres del Paine, but time
    constraints and physical conditioning (or lack thereof) may relegate
    me to doing the "W" route instead. I have heard that the "W" hits the
    most scenic parts. Am I missing much by not doing the full circuit?

    Any tips for Los Glaciares? I was basically going to follow the route
    recommended in Lonely Planet.

    Lastly, lens choices. I'm taking my 10D and my 17-40mm/f4. I'm
    thinking of taking my 28-135mm IS, but I could instead purchase a 70-
    200/f4, which would give me quite a bit more reach. The 28-135 would
    give me 200mm at the long end on my 10D, so I'm thinking that should
    be enough for my main purposes. I expect to do mainly landscapes, but
    I imagine there will be opportunities with Guanacos and birds.
    However, I am given to understand that the Guanacos are very
    approachable, and a long lens probably isn't necessary. I've owned
    the 70-200/f4 previously, and know its capabilities. I'm more
    concerned about adding more weight to my pack. (I'm hitting 45 lbs.
    as it is - 25 lbs. of camping gear, 10 lbs. of food/water, and 10
    lbs. of camera gear.)

    So, can anybody with experience comment on the utility of the 70-200
    (effectively a 100-300mm lens on my 10D) versus my 28-135
    (effectively a 44-216mm lens)at Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares

    Any other tips or comments on the locations I'm visiting would also
    be welcome.
  2. I have spent a little (not enough) time in Torres del Paine. The guanacos are quite
    approachable (at least in a vehicle). The foxes can be pretty accommodating, also.
    But if you're seriously interested in birds, a 70-200 may not be enough, even with the
    1.6X 'gain' of the 10D's small sensor. Have you thought of a 300 f4 IS? A bit heavier
    and quite a bit more expensive than the 70-200 f4l, and has stabilization. Another
    alternative if you have the money (and the strength) is the 100-400 IS.

    If you really don't care that much about frame-filling bird pics and want to
    concentrate mostly on landscapes, I'd HIGHLY recommend the 70-200 f4. Small,
    light, and optically excellent, and from my experience you will probably want
    something a bit bigger than 135mm. The 17-40 is very nice, also, but when I use it
    with my 10D I often miss the much bigger view that is possible on a full-frame
    camera with this lens.

    Whatever you take, Torres is a fabulous place. If you're interested in wildlife and have
    a day in Punta Arenas, try to get to the Magellanic penguin colony a few miles out of
  3. Mark,

    I already own the 100-400 IS, but as you note, it's quite heavy and I wasn't even
    considering bringing it along. I'm not much of a birder, so I don't expect to do too
    much of that type of photography. I am leaning heavily towards getting the 70-200/
    f4 since it's only 6 ozs. heavier (nearly half a pound). Hmm, maybe if I just eat less...

    I am taking my Elan 7e (or perhaps my Rebel 2K) and some film as a back up. I was
    gonna leave it behind at a hostel while I went hiking and only get it if I needed it.
    However, it would allow me to go full frame with my 17-40mm. So, I dunno. I'm
    trying to get my pack weight down as much as possible.

    How long does it take to get out to the penguin colonies? Are their buses that go out
    there? My flight out of Punta Arenas doesn't leave until the evening, so I might have
    time to run out there.
  4. Louie: I haven't been there for a few years, but the penguin colony is a side trip from
    the road between Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales (nice little town), and Torres del Paine.
    When I visited, a few of us asked around and found a taxi driver who knew the way.
    Maybe things are more organized now. It's not that far out of PA (maybe a half-hour
    or 45 min, if I recall).

    Be prepared for foggy or rainy weather...

    URLs for a few pictures from that area (sorry, no scenics...):
  5. Louie:

    I´ve been to Torres del Paine 5 times and once to Los Glaciares in
    Argentina. I live in Santiago, Chile.

    Torres del Paine: Lenses: 17-35, 28-70, 70-200 for landscape , and
    35mm film use. 28-70 the most widely used. Guanacos will be in the
    200-400 range ( the longer end for the babies " chulengos" and
    scenes of fighting and mating guanacos which will be further away
    than grazing guanacos). Foxes, if you find helpful ones will be in
    the 200-300 range for frame filling shots.
    Scenic Tips: Icebergs massing at the shoreline of Lago Grey, sunrise
    and sunset shots of the Cuernos del Paine from the small cliff right
    behind Hosteria Pehoe which sits on an island in the middle of the lake Pehoe, and sunrise at the base (glaciar morraine) of the Torres
    del Paine. This latter involves a 4 hr. hike which is covered by both the W and full circuit treks. I would camp overnight at the
    base camp and do the last hour trek up before sunrise.
    General comment: Be prepared for very windy weather, and long days with sunrise around 6AM and sunset around 9-10PM because of latitude
    and time of the year.

    Los Glaciares: For Mt. FitzRoy and Cerro Torre you want to make sure
    you are at the right spot for sunrise and sunset which are impressive
    alpenglow displays. My recomendation: 2 nights camping at the base of Mt. Fitzroy (laguna Capri basecamp) which is a 3 hour hike from
    the town of El Chalten, then move at mid-day to Cerro Torre basecamp
    which is a 3 hour hike from laguna Capri, and spend 2 more nights cam-
    ping there. Then back to El Chalten ( 3 hour hike). At Fitz Roy look
    for a pretty waterfall, at Cerro Torre take a walk into the ice formations. On the way back to El Chalten from Cerro Torre look for reflection ponds along the way with beautiful reflections of Cerro Torre. Hope you get the weather to collaborate. Same landscape lenses

    Perito Moreno Glacier. This is a must, and it is reached via a 1 hour
    drive from the town of Calafate. This town is halfway between Puerto
    Natales and El Chalten. With good weather 1 day should be enough for
    the glacier. A must. Same landscape lenses recommended.

    General Comment: All sunrise and sunset shots will require at least
    a 2 stop Neutral Density filter. Additionaly, a circular polarizer,
    preferably warming type, is strongly recommended.

    Have a great trip

    Alex Furman
  6. Since it appears that we have in this forum some very experienced Patagonia hands let me share my Patagonia quandaries with the hope that one of them may have some sage advice for me;

    I expect (am still just planning) to go to Patagonia for 10 days in early February and visit Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares (Fitzroy) for day hiking and of course, photographic purposes. I expect to take my Nikon D100 (1.5 focal length magnification factor) and expect to be taking landscapes as well as other typical tourist photos. I am not expecting to be shooting birds (or the like) or to be doing macro work.

    My questions are about lenses and what to carry? I own a 24-85 and have considered buying the 12-24. While I also own a 70-300, it is heavier and keeping my pack light (it will already have 3 liters of water, a tripod and other hiking gear in it) is my preference. I also am considering bringing the Galen Rowell type graduated ND filters. My sages, what are your thoughts about focal length and related needs for landscapes?

    Here are some other non-photographic questions (so as not to “pollute” this forum with non-photographic issues please feel free to respond to me directly at;

    1. I was thinking of renting a cellphone for use in both Chile and Argentina but I gather that coverage is very spotty. Is this true? What can I expect in coverage and is it worth renting a cellphone at all or should I be looking at satellite phone rentals?

    2. Any suggestions for rental car agencies that rent cars that can be taken across the border (Chile/Argentina) legally?

    3. Any suggestions for where to stay (nicer places)?

    4. Personal safety / scams; Is theft a big worry here? (I am a native New Yorker).

    Thank you ahead of time for any advice offered.
  7. Michael: From my somewhat limited experience (Torres del Paine only), I think the
    focal length and filter advice from Alejandro is spot-on, but with the D100 I would
    highly recommend the 12-24 lens. You are likely to find some sweeping landscapes
    that (I think) beg for a 20 mm lens (full-frame equivalent).

    I haven't visited recently enough to give good advice on your other questions.
  8. If weight becomes prohibitive, Louie, you may want to consider the just announced new
    Olympus SP-550 UZ Ultra Zoom. With 18x (yes! 18 times!) optical zoom lens (28-504mm
    equivalent in 35mm), macro (as close as 1cm), and RAW, and Dual Image Stabilization. All
    in one package. No dust issues. Half the weight of a dSLR system. Seems perfect for hiking
    in places like Torres del Paine.

    Never forget at what altitude you are!

    Have fun!

Share This Page