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Parque Nacional Monte Leon. 26.2.15

March 2, 2015

‘If you are attacked by a puma: don’t run away, don’t turn your back. try to look bigger, taller. Wave you arms and shake your coat above your head. Throw stones at it and cry very loudly, behave without delay aggressively’

Such is the comforting words in the pamphlet given you when entering this park. I think I would be doing the second to last instruction no matter what. Also have an urge to dirty my dacks. There are many pumas in the Parque Nacional Monte Leon. we hope to see one but perhaps in the safety of the bakkie before leaving.

Monte Leon NP, situated 200kms north of Rio Gallegos, covers over 1% of the Argentinian coast. It was the brain child of a Douglas Tompkins, the founder of brands North Face and Espirit and his wife Kristine Mcdiffert, the ex ceo of the brand Patagonia.  They decided to do something lasting with their millions so started up parks in Chile. However the suspicious Chileans thought they were a CIA conspiracy and/or Zionists looking to start up a new homeland. Off to Argentina they went and this park is the first of their, we hope, many ventures. It is a beautiful coastline with a variety of land types visitors pass through to reach the camp site. Admission is free. The new ablution block has showers, not working yet, toilets with t. paper, a coffee shop that must have been a little too ambitious. It stands empty. Still it is a wonderful place to spend a couple of nights relaxing after a long days drive. There is an island connected to the mainland at low tide that is now the home of thousands of Dominican gulls, skuas, 5 types of cormorants and other sea birds. For almost thirty years up to 1960 the island was mined for guano upsetting the birdlife and sending the numbers plummetng. Since then there has been a steady increase in numbers to such a degree that looking at the island from the nearby cliff top one sees nothing but birds. A sight to hearten the most ardent twitchers heart. There is a sea lion colony and Magellan penguin colony in the park as well.

The Patagonian winds are something to marvel at: yesterday the day had been very calm with little wind. Joan had set the table cloth on the outside table, wine glasses and plates all in place. Edward, a German next door to us on his own, had just complimented Joan on the lady’s touch of table setting compared to his haphazard way. We turned away for a second, enough for a burst of wind to send things awry, smashing a glass in the process. From then it blew non stop up until about 4pm this afternoon. Going along the board walk at Lion Rock Joan had to hold me for dear life: a 30 metre precipice was two metres away and the safety wire looked very thin. I have spent the afternoon trying to wind proof the canvas lift up roof sides a little. Last night I had to lower the roof for the second time. We know it will be getting worse heading south. Ushuia is now less than 800kms away.

From → Patagonia 2015

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