EcoCamp Patagonia - Torres del Paine Field Guide

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Information about EcoCamp Patagonia - Torres del Paine Field Guide

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: cascada_travel


Welcome to EcoCamp Patagonia! Our mission is to enrich people’s lives through their discovery of the exquisite flora & fauna and the wonderfully varied geographical landscapes at the end of the world in Torres del Paine National Park. We have designed this guide to help you identify the park’s mountains, glaciers, vegetation and wildlife and take a closer look at the native flowers, birds and mammals. With our NEW Micro Safari we invite you on an interpretative trail through the miniature world of flora, giving you the chance to slow down and delve into the rich vegetation surrounding Ecocamp on a short trail. Introduction 2 UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 3 Heritage 5 Mountains 7 Mammals 9 This Field Guide is by no means a substitute for a specialist guide book, we simply wish to give you an educational mini guide to the park’s wildlife highlights. All species are marked with their scientific name and common name in English and Spanish. Species seen on the Micro Safari Trail are marked with Warmest greetings, Birds 11 Flora 17 (EcoCamp Manager) Astronomy 25 Glaciers 26 Location Interpretative Trail Mountaineering 27 Responsible travel at EcoCamp 29

In 1970 the 242,242 hectare park was given the name Torres del Paine National Park and in 1978 it was declared a Biosphere reserve by UNESCO owing to its unique ecology. The park is administered by Chile’s National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), who run its visitor information centres. The park encompasses ancient forests, glaciers, lakes and rivers, 26 species of mammal and 118 species of bird.

The history of inhabitants in Torres del Paine dates back to over a thousand years ago, when the first indigenous groups arrived in the region. The Tehuelche (Aonikenk) were nomadic hunter-gatherers and as they migrated north through Patagonia they saw the silhouette of a incredible rock formation in the distance and called it ‘Paine’, meaning ‘blue’ in their language (the predominant colour they saw in the distance). Other ancient indigenous inhabitants include the nomadic hunters Selk’nam (Ona) and the Yaghan The first tourist to come to Torres del Paine was British Aristocrat Lady Florence Dixie, (Yamana) people, who canoed between islands to collect food. who arrived with her group in 1879. Led by Baqueanos, Lady Dixie explored the park and The Kaweskars (Alacalufes) were another group of nomadic Patagonian inhabitants published a book in 1880 called ‘Across Patagonia’, detailing her adventures in the region. whose presence in Torres del Paine was to have a very special legacy over 500 years later Following Lady Dixie’s publication, a steady flow of explorers and scientists came to the at EcoCamp Patagonia. They arrived by canoe in the 15th century and made no demands region, interested in its geography and geology. This era also saw the arrival of missionaries on natural resources as they travelled from place to in the region such as the Italian Alberto Maria de Agostini, a passionate explorer and place, setting up and dismantling their semi-circular huts mountaineer who had a very good relationship with the native Patagonians.the 1920’s. built from simple materials, leaving no trace behind. To keep warm they lit fires inside the The European settling marked the end of the indigenous era and the start of Chilean domes. EcoCamp’s domes are a tribute to the Kaweskar’s way of life in the park. ‘Baqueano’ exploration. One of the most famous Baqueanos (Cowboys from southern Chile) was Santiago Zamora, from central Chile, who arrived in Punta Arenas in 1868 and Their first contact with European explorers integrated with colonists in the region. He spent his life exploring the region north of Punta came in the 16th century and by 1880 Europeans had settled Arenas, including Torres del Paine, acting as a guide for travellers and explorers. in Patagonia in their quest for gold, furs and wool and had displaced, slaughtered and brought disease to the Kaweskars who became almost completely extinct by the 1920’s. The first tourist to come to Torres del Paine was British Aristocrat Lady Florence Dixie, who arrived with her group in 1879. Led by Baqueanos, The European settling marked the end of the indigenous era and the start of Chilean Lady Dixie explored the park and published a book in 1880 called ‘Across ‘Baqueano’ exploration. One of the most famous Baqueanos (Cowboys from southern Chile) was Santiago Zamora, from central Chile, who arrived in Punta Arenas in 1868 and Patagonia’, detailing her adventures in the region. Following Lady Dixie’s integrated with colonists in the region. He spent his life exploring the region north of Punta interested in its geography and geology. This era also saw the arrival Arenas, including Torres del Paine, acting as a guide for travellers and explorers. of missionaries in the region such as the Italian Alberto Maria de publication, a steady flow of explorers and scientists came to the region, Agostini, a passionate explorer and mountaineer who had a very good relationship with the native Patagonians. Lady Florence Dixie

The 3 Torres are granite monoliths eroded by glacial ice, leaving such a The Paine Massif is a striking mountain group with magnificent peaks crowning the park’s heartland. Los Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns) sit in front of of Lake Nordenskjold and are easily identifiable with their dark sedimentary rock atop lighter granite, dominating the view from the southern sector of the park. foot of the Torres, with a spectacular view of the granite spires, at the start of the Towers Base Trek leading up to the famous look-out point. Cerro Paine Grande has the park’s highest peak while French Valley is home to some of the massif’s most beautiful Torres del Paine Cuerno Cuerno Norte Principal (2.400 mts.) (2.600 mts.) Bariloche Peak (2.600 mts.) FRENCH after them. EcoCamp is located at the rock formations. French valley Los Cuernos Central Peak (2.730 mts.) distinct shape that the park was named Paine Grande main peak (3.050 mts.) Tronco Blanco (2.197 mts.) Aleta del Tiburón (2.197 mts.) Torre Sur (2.850 mts.) VALLEY Cerro Cabeza del Indio (2.230 mts.) Cuerno Oriental (2.200 mts.) Torre Central (2.800 mts.) Bader Valley Cerro Almirante Nieto (2.640 mts.)

There are 26 species of mammal in Torres del Paine National Park. The most widely- Puma known are the Guanaco, the Puma and the South Andean Deer. The abundant guanaco, Also known as the cougar, panther or mountain lion. Golden-coated, lives solitary life, is rarely seen and hunts at night. Grows up to 270cm, males weigh up to 90kg, females 60kg. - Puma concolor patagonico whose population ranges between 2600 and 2900, is not camera shy and visitors have ample opportunity to observe the herds who roam across the steppe. The puma, Chile’s largest carnivore, is rarely sighted but is still very characteristic of the park and a big topic of conversation among tourists. Mostly seen at night, EcoCamp guests have occassionally been rewarded with a sighting on EcoCamp turf. The endangered South Andean deer, Huemul, is the national symbol of Chile and receives special protection within the park. Red fox (Zorro Culpeo) - Lycalopex culpaeus Largest fox in Chile, leads a solitary life, hunts at night. Grows up to 120cm, including tail, weighs up to 12kg. Guanaco South Andean Deer (Huemul) - Lama guanicoe - Hippocamelus bisulcus Friendly camelid native to South America. Migrates through northeastern sector of park in large groups, 120cm in height, 110-120kg in weight and spits when feeling threatened. On Chile’s national coat of arms. Lives in small groups in high mountain forests, near Grey Lake. Reaches 85cm tall and weighs up to 100kg. Currently listed as an endangered specie, just 100 remain in the park. Patagonian Skunk (Chingue) - Conepatus humboldtii Dwarf Armadillo (Piche peludo patagónico) - Zaedyus pichiy Small dark brown armadillo with strong claws and thick shell, measuring just 30cm long with a 120mm tail. Solitary nocturnal animal, with extended snout and strong nails. Lives in open grassy areas and, like all other skunks, is famous for the odor it emits when feeling threatened.

Magellanic Horned Owl (Tucúquere) - Bubo magellanicus Gray fox (Zorro Chilla) - Lycalopex griseus Smaller than the Great Horned Owl, with grey and brown feathers and two ear tufts. Smaller than the Red Fox, the Gray Fox measures between 8090cm, weighs up to 4kg. Female Yellow-nosed Field Mouse (Laucha de nariz amarilla) Male - Abrothrix xanthorhinus Long-haired grey and brown mouse with small ears. Lives in the Patagonian steppe. Andean Condor (Cóndor Andino) - Vultur gryphus Wingspan of up to 3.2m, flies at altitudes over 4,500m at speeds of up to 56kph. Nests in high mountain rocks and circles overhead looking for carrion. Females are smaller than males, both are black and males have a red or black crest. Torres del Paine is home to 118 types of different bird species. Wading birds, such as the Chilean Flamingo, live in the numeros lakes and lagoons across the park. There are 15 species of birds of prey, including the Andean Condor which lives high up in mountain rock cavities. South America’s largest bird, the flightless Rhea (similar to an ostrich) lives down on the Patagonian Steppe. Lesser Rhea (Ñandú) Black-necked Swan (Cisne de cuello negro) - Cygnus melanocoryphus Measures up to 140cm, white body, black neck and grey bill with some red. In winter migrates north to warmer climates. Rhea pennata Flightless bird, similar to an ostrich, spreads out wings when running. Those living on the Patagonian Steppe are known as Lesser Rhea.

Patagonian Sierra Finch (Cometocino Patagónico) - Phrygilus patagonicus Black-chested Buzzard Eagle Bright yellow & grey, builds nests in thorny Calafate bushes in forest areas to protect offspring from predators. (Águila Mora) - Geranoaetus melanoleucus Powerful build, long broad wings, lives at high altitudes in mountain ranges. Rufous-collared Sparrow (Chincol) - Zonotrichia capensis Found across Latin America, from Mexico to Torres del Paine. Grey & black with red breast and white throat. Austral Pygmy Owl (Chuncho) - Glaucidium nanum Grey and brown body with white patches, short beak and large yellow eyes. University of Chile’s mascot. Chilean Swallow (Golondrina Chilena) - Tachycineta meyeni Chilean Flamingo Glossy blue and grey outer feathers with white underside and forked tail. Lives in abundance throughout Chile. (Flamenco Chileno) - Phoenicopterus chilensis Different from the two Phoenicoparrus flamingo species found in northern Chile. Has grey legs with pink knees and a largely black beak. Black Faced Ibis (Bandurria) - Theristicus caudatus Buff coloured neck, black feathers, white patch on wing and red bill & legs. Magellanic Woodpecker (Carpintero Negro) - Campephilus magellanicus One of the world’s largest woodpeckers. Males and females both largely black & males have red crest.

South American Snipe (Becasina) Chilean Flicker (Pitio) - Gallinago paraguaiae - Colaptes pitius Small wading bird, breeds in most of South America and migrates north during winter. Long straight bill, short legs & buff coloured feathers. Dark brown and white with distinctive feather pattern and wide face. Lives in Nothofagus forests. Male Upland Goose (Caiquén común) Red-gartered Coot - Chloephaga picta (Tagua común) - Fulica armillata Wild Magellanic goose. Nests near water and sleeps in lakes safe from predators. Males white, females brown. Large species of coot, 55cm in length. Black with red garter separating yellow beak and yellow forehead shield. Female Yellow-billed Pintail (Pato jergón grande) - Anas georgica Common Diuca Finch (Diuca) - Diuca diuca Brown head, long yellow bill, light brown body with darker brown outer feather. Subspecie Chilean Pintail also exists. Lives in shrubland, sometimes at high altitude. Plump grey body, white throat & white patch on its tail feathers. Great Grebe (Huala) - Podiceps major Spectacled duck (Pato Anteojillo) - Anas specularis Dabbling duck with bronze speculum feathers. Sole member of its genus Speculanas. Biggest grebe specie reaching up to 80cm in length and 2kg in weight. Red neck, grey face, black back and white underside.

Prickly heath (Chaura) - Gaultheria mucronata Evergreen shrub growing near Southern Beech (Nothofagus) forests with edible plum-like fruit. Torres del Paine has 4 different types of habitat: »» Pre-Andean Scrubland »» Magellanic Forest »» Patagonian Steppe »» Andean Desert Flora is listed under the habitat in which it is found. Pre-Andean Scrubland Holly-lead barberry (Michay) This type of vegetation is found on river banks and lake edges, particularly in the - Berberis ilicifolia Yellowy-orange flowers, dark shiny green leaves and dark purple berries. Sarmiento lake and Salto Grande (Great Falls) area and at the Nordenskjold viewpoint. The plants housed in pre-Andean scrubland have adapted to save water and survive the fierce Patagonian wind. Chilean Firebush (Notro) Dwarf barberry (Calafatlillo) Small evergreen tree, blooms every spring with deep red flowers. Yellowy-orange flowers, fleshier lighter leaves than Holly-lead and dark purple berries. - Embothrium coccineum Box-leaf Barberry (Calafate) - Berberis mycrophila Symbol of Patagonia with yellow flowers and small bittersweet blueberries used for jam & liquor. - Berberis empetrifolia Crimson Spire (Siete Camisas) - Escalonia rubra Evergreen shrub with white & pink flowers and long fruit capsules.

Evergreen Beech (Coihue) - Nothofagus betuloides Evergreen tree reaching 25m, with glossy leaves. Grows in humid areas. Porcelain Orchid (Orquide Porcelana) - Chloraea magellanica Fleshy green stem, white flowers with green veins and fruit in late summer. Southern Beech (Ñirre) - Nothofagus antártica Deciduous tree, growing up to 20m (stunted growth in Andean desert). Native to southern Chile and Argentina and is one of the southernmost trees on earth. Muddy shrub (Mata Barrosa) - Mullinum spinosum Shrub with hard branches, sharp leaves and clusters of yellow flowers. Southern Beech (Lenga) - Nothofagus pumilio Christmas Bush (Mozaiquillo) - Baccharis Magellanica Leafy shrub with white florets, reaching up to 40cm in height. Magellanic Deciduous forest Deciduous forest lining the park’s gorges and hillsides, receiving over 600 mm of rain per year. Found in the Grey lake and Grey glacier area, Laguna Azul, Laguna Amarga and French Valley. Home to different Southern Beech tree species (nothofagus), namely Lenga (Nothofagus pumilio), Coihue (Nothofagus betuloides) and Ñirre (Nothofagus antártica). Reaches up to 30m in height (stunted growth in Andean desert). Grows in abundance in southern Chile and its wood is used for construction due to its strength and durability. Dog Orchid (Palomita) - Condonorchis Lessonii Herb with erect stems and three white leaves arranged in a whorl with white inner petals dotted with purple.

Old Man’s Beard (Barba de Viejo) Winter Bark (Canelo) A specie of Lichen which grows on bark and branches on Southern Beeches (Nothofagus). Sacred tree of the Mapuche, Chile’s indigenous population. Reaches up to 20m with shiny green leaves. - Drimys Winteri - Usnea barbata Chinese Lantern (Farolito Chino) Patagonian steppe Grows as mistletoe on various species of Southern Beeches (Nothofagus). Colour changes from green to yellow to reddish brown throughout its life cycle. The flora in the Patagonian Steppe includes desert shrubs and tuft grasses (Coirón) - Misodendrum punctulatum resistant to harsh winds & weather and bent-over bushes in pastureland. The steppe is mainly in the Eastern sector of the park in areas where there are no trees due to the poor humidity and harsh winds. Black Shrub (Mata Negra) - Junellia Tridens Darwin’s fungus (Pan de Indio) Forms dense communities in wet areas in the steppe. Petals are white-pink and fruit is capsular. - Cyttaria Darwinii Parasite which appear on Southern Beech (Nothofagus) branches and can lead to the breaking of branches or stems in strong wind. Certain species of Cyttaria are used in gastronomy. Fachine (Mata Verde) - Chiliotrichum diffusum Fuchsia (Chilco) - Fuchsia magellanica Shrub with narrow branches and pendant-shaped red flowers with purple petals. Has white petals with yellow disc and its flowers were used medicinally by the Patagonian natives due to their antiseptic properties.

Guanaco Bush (Neneo Macho) - Anarthrophyllum Desideratum Cushion-like shrub in rocky soils in the steppe with red-orange flowers. Lady’s slipper (Capachito) - Calceolaria biflora Herb with leaves in rosette and distinctive yellow slippershaped flowers. Andean Desert Streaked Maiden (Campanilla) - Olsynium Biflorum Species in the Andean high desert are tolerant to low temperatures and high Herb with flowering stems and white flowers with small yellow fruit capsule. precipitation but vegetation is very underdeveloped due to harsh weather conditions. Very stunted trees and shrubs growing on rocks are characteristic of the landscape and vegetation decreases with altitude due to the adverse weather conditions. Cushion Plant (Llaretilla) Paramela (Paramela) - Adesmia boronioides Shrub with bright yellow flowers growing in arid and exposed areas of the steppe. Purple-spored Puffball (Hongo de polvera) - Calvatia Ciathiformis Fleshy texture and cracked surface. Edible when young, smooth and purple, but matures to become pear shaped and darker in colour. - Azorella Trifurcata Herb with dense shrubs and yellow flowers, found in a wide range of habitats including at high altitude. The Devil’s Strawberry (Frutilla del Diablo) - Gunnera Magellanica Found on hillsides at over 600m above sea level, with petialated leaves and bright red fruit.

On a cloudless night, Torres del Paine visitors can enjoy a spectacular array of Torres del Paine is home to many large glaciers, including the tip of the immense stars in the Patagonian night sky. In particular the Southern Cross (the brightest Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the second largest ice field in the world at 16,800 constellation in the southern hemisphere) and Orion are visible from the park and km² in size. This Ice Field is the southern section of the Patagonian Ice Sheet which can be admired through EcoCamp dome ceilings before falling asleep. covered all of southern Chile during the last glacial period tens of thousands of years ago. 350km in length, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field covers approximately 14,000 km² in Chile and 2,500 km² in Argentina. Glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field 1 Viedma – Located in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Flows into Lake Viedma. 1 2 Upsala – Located in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. In very fast retreat. to South 3 Perito Moreno – Located in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Spectacular ruptures every 4/5 years. 2 Orion Southern Cross (Crux) The Cruz forms a distinctive cross shape and is seen from the southern hemisphere all year round. Visible from the southern hemisphere in the summer months, Rigel, its brightest star, is known as the hunter and the 3 stars across its middle are known as Orion’s belt 4 Dickson – Located in Torres del Paine on the northern side of the massif. 71 km² in size. 5 Grey – Located in Torres del Paine. 270 km² in size, calves into Grey Lake. 6 Tyndall/Geike – Located in Torres del Paine. 331 km² in size. 3 4 7 8 9 5 Torres del Paine National Park 6 Glaciers in the Paine Massif: 7 Los Perros – Located on the northern side of the Paine massif, visible on the Paine Circuit 8 Olguín – Located on Cerro Catedral, connected to Los Perros glaciar 9 French Glacier – On the backside of Cerro Paine Grande, visible from French Valley

The Ultimate Adventure Traversing the 3 towers in 51 hours Torres del Paine has been the scene of many important Steve Schneider, a 42 year old mountaineer from Oakland California famous for his El mountaineering feats. In 2011 the first Chilean group Capitain records in the Yosemite Valley, set out to break the ultimate world record: Climb (María Paz Ibarra, Camilo Rada & Sebastián Irarrázaval) all the three Paine towers in one go, in the minimum time possible, alone! With 3 failed made it to the 3,050m peak of Cerro Paine Grande, the attempts under his belt he began his 4th try at 2am on February 16th 2002 - this would be park’s highest peak, in a difficult technical assent. Only two his last try. groups had previously reached the summit – an Italian group in December 1957 led by Count Guido Monzino and Apart from an immense physical condition and solid years of a French-Argentine duo in 2000 (Rolando Garibotti & experience, a crucial factor was the weather. Steve was lucky enough Bruno Sourzac). to be accompanied by clear skies as he scaled the North Tower via the The three Torres del Paine provide big climbing challenges. The 2260m Torre Norte (North Monzino route and the Central Tower via the Bonington-Whillans route in just 15 hours. He began his descent and at 10.30pm finally lay Tower) summit was first reached by Italian Guido Monzino and his team in January 1958. down for some rest after more than 21 hours on his feet. British Chris Bonington and Don Whillans reached the 2460m peak of the Central Tower in 1963, narrowly beating The finale was yet to come - the most difficult climb up the South Tower. Using the Aste Italian Armando Aste and his team to the summit. Aste route he made it up to the summit after just 9 hours! Quick as ever Steve began his decent wasn’t about to lose the race again and made sure he beat after just a 15 minute rest at the top and arrived back at basecamp at 6am the following the British to the 2500m South Tower summit later that year. morning. Exhilarated but exhausted he fell asleep, 51 hours after he’d headed off to In 1968 a British team led by Gordon Hibberd reached the complete the world’s first traverse of the Torres del Paine Towers! 3000m summit of Fort Hill in French Valley, in the biggest mountaineering feat since the Towers’ conquest. More recent triumphs include Californian Dave Turner’s 34 day ascent of Cerro Escudo (Shield Hill) in 2008 and a Guido Monzino Belgian-American trio’s (Nico Favresse, Seán Villanueva & Ben Ditto) 13 day free ascent of Torre Central (Central Tower) in 2011 via the South African Route.

EcoCamp works to conserve the virgin wilderness of the park, taking care of its diverse vegetation and protecting fauna through the design and construction of its eco-friendly domes. Skylight Windows - Allows guests to follow natural light patterns; - Star gazing potential at night; - Utilize natural light, saving electricity; Thick, Insulated Walls - Outer PVC waterproof layer and thick polyester insulation cushion; - Organic fibre fire-treated interior walls; - Galvanized iron geodesic structure to withstand wind stress; Energy source - EcoCamp uses Solar panels to obtain 40% of its energy and a micro-hydro turbine to obtain 60%; - In summer Patagonia receives up to 17 hours of sunlight making solar energy a powerful source; Semi-spherical structure - Minimizes external surface area and temperature exchange through walls; - Ensures uniform distribution of wind stress; - Maximum internal space for given outer surface area; Wood stove - Prevents use of diesel fuels and recycles fallen wood; Harmonious exterior - Green exterior to blend into environment; - Limited height to ensure natural fusion; Propane Heater - Used for heating shower water - Used to keep the bathroom warm on cold nights Raised Platform & open Walkways - Minimizes foundations and excavations and further terrain disruption; - Animals can roam around freely and walk underneath; - Winds circulate underneath clearing humidity; - Guests exposed to the elements as they walk between domes; Recycling - Separation at the source: organic, metals, paper, glass and dangerous or toxic materials; - Removal of all non-organic materials; - Organic material fed to neighbouring pig farm; Composting Chamber - World’s southern-most composting device, and the first in the hotel industry in the whole of Patagonia and Chile; - Heated to ensure bacteria remains active; - Liquids and solids separated, and solid waste composted; Renewable Materials - Pinewood from plantations; - Furniture made of wicker; - All ben linen, rugs and curtains made from natural fibres; Sketch By EcoCamp Founder Javier Lopez

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