DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels

Back from the land of ice

Back from the land of ice - Packrafting with icebergs in front of Glacier Andree, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Six glacier tongues, never-ending pristine beach with icefields as a background, unpenetrable green jungle, flower covered meadows, hard to cross marshes, Pacific fjords, snow topped Andes, plenty of rivers and lakes, and Patagonian sun and rain. Three weeks in wilderness of one of a kind. The kind very few ever went to. The kind almost none is left on the planet. It was hard and beautiful. It was the seventh expedition I organized in western Patagonia and I already want to go back there.

Photo:Packrafting with icebergs in front of Glacier Andree, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Expedition Explorers VII – START

Expedition Explorers VII - START -  Exploring icebergs of unnamed glacier HPN3 during the very first documented visit to the area, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

We are heading toward Patagonian wilderness. For three weeks we will explore fjords, glaciers, mountains, and rivers of the super remote regions of Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Of course we are taking with us our sturdy packrafts – without them our expedition would not be possible. We are starting this Wednesday. The first task: cross the endless marshes of Ofqui isthmus where the biggest glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field floats out of the Patagonian Andes. Then 35km of the pristine sand beach with huge waves of frequent Antarctic storms, then Kelly fjord, then…. Keep your fingers crossed for us. You can follow our progress at:
https://share.delorme.com/antofaya

Photo: Exploring icebergs of unnamed glacier HPN3 during the very first documented visit to the area, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Packrafting in Hua Hum

Packrafting in Hua Hum gorge, Chile and Argentina border

A little known rafting jewel between Chile and Argentina hidden deep in Valdivian rain forest crosses the main ridge of the Andes in the lowest pass of only 600m. The river shaped a canyon of cliff walls covered in vertical green garden of ferns, moss, red arayan trees. It is hard there to concentrate on paddling trough the river rapids while all you want to do is admire the forest and crystal clear water of Hua Hum river gorge.

Photo: Packrafting in Hua Hum gorge, Chile and Argentina border

Patagonia 2014 Photo Story Part 1

Patagonia 2014 Photo Story Part 1 - Packrafting at Lago Guillermo, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

This year we were lucky to experience beauty of remote glaciers of Northern Patagonian Ice Field. When I look at the photos I took during that trip one moment always comes back to me. It is the evening when we were paddling between icebergs along sky tall cliffs of Lago Guillermo and more than a dozen of Andean condors were circling above us in seemingly motionless dance. Later that evening I found out that there is a big colony of these majestic birds high on those cliffs. Well … just another day in the land of my love. Please see the photo story from this expedition here.

Photo: Packrafting at Lago Guillermo, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

‘da Baker

'da Baker - Rapids of Rio Baker near confluence with Rio Nef, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

The greatest river of Patagonia. Electric turquoise so clear that you can see pebbles at the bottom. Full of salmon and trout that big that fishing here is a dream of every fly fisherman in the world. Waves which can swallow rafts in a second. Lambs grazing at the banks. Fed by melting snow and ice of the Ice Fields makes its way trough canyons and valleys before it reaches Pacific Ocean at the fiords between the Patagonian Andes. The river in danger of disappearing. I see turquoise, galloping horses, snow caped mountains, fish jumping up the rapids, cabins, infinite waterfalls, wooden boats, and gauchos sipping mate. For some in offices of New York and Madrid it is an obscure geographical name from encyclopedia and billion dollars resource extraction investment opportunity. Which side are you on? Will you take your grandson on a float on this mighty river in this land at the end of the world? Or all what will be left are stories of times long gone and old photo books from grandpa’s closet?

Photo: Rapids of Rio Baker near confluence with Rio Nef, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

The curse, the blessing

The curse, the blessing - Packrafting on lake Gillermo in front of glacier Pared Norte, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia Chile

It is a curse, it is a blessing, it is an addiction, it is a berry. Once you try it you will be coming back to Patagonia forever. So consider yourself warned before you pick up a calafate fruit from its thorny bush and put it in your mouth. Nobody warned me. So I find myself again wet, tired, hungry, and mesmerized in front of big walls of ice between wild peaks of Patagonian Andes. Is it curable? I do not know but I am way beyond point of addiction when it can be cured.

Photo: Packrafting on lake Gillermo in front of glacier Pared Norte, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Virgin Patagonia

Virgin Patagonia - Iceberg calved from San Rafael glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

When busy city life gets on my nerves I turn on my photo gallery. It calms me down and serves as a therapy. It is a proof that out there there is a world which makes me happy. Where life is simpler and landscape is gorgeous. No stress, no rush, and every morning you have your breakfast with a view no money can buy. Try it. Dim the lights and watch the photos from our last summer Expedition Explorers V to virgin Patagonia:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/69723152@N03/sets/72157636642358245/

Photo: Iceberg calved from San Rafael glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

Long way home

Long way home - Proglacial lake of unnamed HPN3 (only number) glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field chocked and fully packed with icebergs and pack ice after the glacier tongue disintegration, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

I planed it as the longest unsupported expedition I organized. It was even longer than that – almost 40 days in untouched Patagonian wilderness. Life has different peace during trip like that. We achieved all the planed goals: packrafting long and narrow remote Fiordo Pulpo (Octopus Fjord), the first recorded exploration of the most remote glacier of The Northern Patagonian Ice Field – glacier HPN3, opening a land & water route between Tortel and Laguna San Rafael. We have not seen any humans during the expedition and going trough Patagonian jungle tired us but the prizes were worth all of it: riding packrafts between a group of dolphins, seeing leopard seal leaping into the air at an arm distance, witnessing disintegration of HPN3 glacier tongue, playing with gigantic icebergs, being an explorer. Western Patagonia is still a place where a human is an unknown visitor, where forest stands untouched for thousands of years, where everything obeys nature’s natural laws.

More photos, video and a writeup will follow soon. Stay tuned.

Photo: Proglacial lake of unnamed HPN3 (only number) glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field chocked and fully packed with icebergs and pack ice after the glacier tongue disintegration, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

Sidetracked in Patagonia

Sidetracked in Patagonia - Playa San Quintin, Istmo Ofqui, Patagonia, Chile

Sidetracked magazine publishes a story about Antofaya’s exploration of remote corners of Patagonia.

“Our eyes are not used to this land of contrasts. Standing on a white sand beach in hot summer sun you see snow and ice-covered mountain peaks topped with lenticular clouds. Glaciers that descend from those ice fields do not flow through barren, rugged mountains but instead crash into rain forest—jungle filled with ferns, moss, bamboo and layers of fallen trees and colorful insects, into meadows covered in blankets of flowers.” …. read more

Text by Jarek Wieczorek. Edited by Rianna Riegelman “Patagonian Explorers”
Photo: Hiking along remote Pacific beach, Playa San Quintin, Istmo Ofqui, Patagonia, Chile

Patagonian glaciers photo story

The great San Quintin glacier splits into two creating Ventisquero Andrees and then spreads its huge piedmont lobe into the marshes of Ofqui isthmus. Beyond that are the uncharted fjords of Western Patagonia. Even farther into the Patagonian Andes there are valleys, rivers, lakes and glaciers never visited before. Expedition Explorers IV 2011 took us into this hidden mysterious world. See it for yourself here.

Movie: Expedition Explorers IV 2011 – The Great San Quintin, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile. (http://www.vimeo.com/21908794)

Still daydreaming

Still Daydreaming - Packrafting near one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

How do you come down from the land of your dreams to walk on the solid ground? How do you accept earth after visiting heavens? It has been days since I came back and still I cannot neither talk about it nor think about anything else. I guess this year you will need to wait a bit longer for a story about what happened this austral summer in Patagonia around The Northern Patagonian Ice Field.

Photo: Packrafting near one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile.

Alpacka Packrafts in Chile

Alpacka Packrafts in Chile - Alpacka Packrafts at the proglacial lake of Benito Glacier Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Alpacka rafts got us to places in Patagonia where nobody was able to get before. We love these ultralight and super rugged boats so much that we decided to make them available for all Patagonian adventurers. We sell Alpacka packrafts in Chile and Patagonia. Get them at Antofaya website.

Photo: Alpacka Packrafts at the proglacial lake of Benito Glacier Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

South American Explorers

South American Explorers

South American Explorer Magazine selects Antofaya’s packrafting Expedition Explorers as the feature trip for their edition #93.

“There is a valley in Southern Chile called Valle Exploradores – Valley of the Explorers in English. It is an enticing valley with an inviting name – a fantasyland of dramatic granite peaks, thick green Patagonian rainforest, glacial blue lakes and a milky gray river that joins a wide channel called the Elephant Fjord.” …. read more

Text by Rianna Riegelman “Chile: Packrafting in Patagonia”
Photo: Pakrafting in temperate Patagonian rainforest on Upper Rio Sur, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Los Coihues Navy

A packraft and a kayaker at the put out at Rio Manso de Frontera at the border between Argentina and Chile, Patagonia, Argentina.Now I know why in Barliloche people do not make big eyes like everywhere else in Patagonia when I say “a packraft”. Because they know what it is. I met fellow packrafters here. They have been introducing the sport to Patagonia for a couple of years now, the same way as I have been. They had some amazing adventures with their packrafts, too. And of course once we met we had to go packrafting together – four packrafters and five kayakers. We went to Rio Manso de Frontera. The river gave me all I asked for. I wanted to swim and yes the biggest rapid of the river bit me and I went swimming down some rough whitewater, mostly underwater. As Bicho said “I saw his head spinning down in an eddy”. I guess it was my baptism to be a member of Los Coihues Navy.

Photo: A packraft and a kayaker at the put out at Rio Manso de Frontera at the border between Argentina and Chile, Patagonia, Argentina.

In the gardens of Jeinimeni

Packrafting trough rapids of Jeinimeni river, Aysen, Patagonia, ChileThe very first descent of Jeinimeni river. Yes, we did it! It is sixty kilometers of rock gardens and rapids. There is no time for rest on these turquoise clear white waters of Andes mountains. First we scouted multiple canyons of the river for a few days and then we jumped into our unbeatable packrafts at lake Jeinimeni for three days of exhilarating rafting. The river at its end at lake General Carrera left us aware of every skeletal muscle of our bodies and smiling and happy after a great adventure.

Photo: Packrafting trough rapids of Jeinimeni river, Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.

Patagon Austral

Aladdino Varga and Jarek Wieczorek (the host of this blog) getting warm and dry in a cold Patagonian morning in a settlers' house, Steffen Fjord, Aysen, Patagonia, ChileI am a desert rat. So why do every summer I go to this cold and wet land at the end of the world? Because beauty of Patagonia is beyond any words. Because Patagonia shows everybody what you are made of. Because nothing else smells like Patagonian cypress wood. Because Patagonia shows you what really matters. Because nowhere else rivers are more crystal blue. Because harts of Patagonian people are hotter than anything else. Because no other mountains are sharper than Patagonian Andes. Because in Patagonia you learn more about yourself in a week than you learned earlier in your whole life. Because no fjords are deeper than uncharted fjords of Patagonia. Because Patagonia heals your soul and body. Because once you try Patagonian calafate berry you will always be coming back here. Because Patagonian salmon runs up the creeks like there is no tomorrow. Because Patagonian glaciers still have no names. Because Patagonia is magic.

Photo: Aladdino Varga and Jarek Wieczorek (the host of this blog) getting warm and dry in a cold Patagonian morning in a settlers’ house, Steffen Fjord, Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.

Into the ice

KSZ paddling her packraft into an ice cave created by melting ice of Glacier Steffen - Southernmost glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, ChileThis year I went even farther south. We explored in our packrafts southern end of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Patagonia served us the usual: wild rivers, enormous glaciers, rain and sun, impenetrable forest, clear lakes, lots and lots of ice and icebergs, ancient cypress trees, misty fjords, and a great adventure. Soon I will post more photos and a write-up of the trip. For now I am getting warm by a fireplace and watching boats passing by in the fjord.

Photo: KSZ paddling her packraft into an ice cave created by melting ice of Glacier Steffen – Southernmost glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile.

Kicking

Your host of this blog unloading his packraft on the shores of a proglaciar lake of Steffen glacier, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile. Photo by KSZO yeah! I am still kicking. And kicking well at the end of the world in Patagonia. I have been busy with fun. No time for updates, no Internet at the end of the world and I love it this way. Autumn is coming to my cypress house on the edge of a fjord and we need more and more firewood to keep us warm at nights. Time to head north, toward the desert. Time for the annual migration. Migration from the ice to the sand. To my other house on a dune overlooking Pacific waves. Friends are waiting. In the meantime some slated blog updates will follow.

Photo: Your host of this blog – Jarek Wieczorek – unloading his packraft on the shores of a proglaciar lake of Steffen glacier, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile. Photo by KSZ.

Expedition Explorers III

Packrafting in front of Ventisquero Benito glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, ChileAnd again for the third time for February 2010 Antofaya is preparing an expedition which will find us among the astonishing beauties of southern Chile’s wild lands in the region of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. We will paddle between icebergs, do first rafting descents of rivers, sleep in the shadows of enormous Patagonian mountains and trek in spectacular wilderness and explore enormous San Quintin glacier which eluded earlier attempts of exploration. Visit Antofaya for more info.

Photo: Packrafting in front of Ventisquero Benito glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile.

Return to Ofqui

Rianna Riegelman packrafting between icebergs of the proglaciar lake of Ventisquero San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aysen, Patagonia, ChileThanks to a cozy cottage of Zapato Amarillo it took us much less time this year to prepare a write up about our last expedition to glaciers of Northern Patagonian Ice Field – Expedition Explorers II – Return to Ofqui. And once again Alpacka rafts allowed us to go where it was not possible to go before. It was our biggest adventure yet with first descents of glacial run-off rivers, visits to five very remote glaciers, some visited only by a handful of people and two that may never have been visited by anyone and are yet unnamed. You can read about it here.

Photo: Rianna Riegelman packrafting between icebergs of the proglaciar lake of Ventisquero San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aysen, Patagonia, Chile

Emerged from the wild

Rianna Riegelman looking down on unnamed HPN1 glacier (Ventisquero Hielo Patagonico Norte 1), Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aysen, Patagonia, ChileYes, we did it. We went into the one of the very few remaining true wildernesses on the planet, where no human footprints can be found – Western Patagonia. It is a remote land of ice, rock, and jungle where rivers, mountains, and glaciers still have no names. We endured a 35-day unsupported packrafting expedition of two people into the unexplored areas in the region of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. We reached unnamed HPN1 and HPN2 glaciers, we did the very first descents of a few rivers, we survived three consecutive storms with gale-force winds, we hiked in the Patagonian rain forest, and we paddled between icebergs. We had the adventure of our lives.

Photo: Rianna Riegelman looking down on unnamed HPN1 glacier (Ventisquero Hielo Patagonico Norte 1), Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aysen, Patagonia, Chile

Expedition Explorers 2008 writeup and photos

Shores of Istmo Ofqui and Laguna San Rafael glacial fjord, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Aysen, ChileNot bad. It took us only nine months to publish an account of our exploratory packrafting expedition in the area of Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Rianna Riegelman wrote the text, I threw in some photos and here it is. What I remember the most from that expedition is this great feeling of discovering unknown. It was a great adventure! Read the full story at Antofaya Expeditions website.

Photo: Shores of Istmo Ofqui and Laguna San Rafael glacial fjord, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Aysen, Chile