DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels

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.

Seba de Vizcachas

Sebastian Alvarez flying his Niviuk Artik 2 paraglider over Las Vizcachas, Santiago de Chile, ChileSebastian is a new and dedicated pilot in Santiago. An Argentinean living in Chile. He is a great friend and a fun person to fly with. We spent most of the summer flying together in Las Vizcachas. Our highlight flight we had was a competition race to Chacabuco way past Colina. He wanted a photo session wearing his new and beloved Artik 2. Judge yourself how well he looks in it. See it here.

Photo: Sebastian Alvarez flying his Niviuk Artik 2 paraglider over Las Vizcachas, Santiago de Chile, 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.

Incidental summer

Niviuk paraglider flying over Las Vizcachas, Santiago de Chile, ChileIt was supposed to be a short stop in Santiago on the way toward Patagonia. Then the universe conspired and I stayed two months. There was lots of flying, lots of asados, lots of friends and our laughs. And of course lots of photos. Endless saludos for all my friends in the air an on the ground for the great time I had in Santiago. My summer would not be the same without you gals and guys. Special thanks to Carlos and Mathias. And yes, for some cool photos click here.

Photo: Niviuk paraglider flying over Las Vizcachas, Santiago de Chile, 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.

From desert to jungle

Carlos Curi flying his Niviuk Artik 2 paraglider over Loma Bola, Aconquija Range, Tucuman, ArgentinaOn one side of the Andes there is the desert, on the other side the jungle – Yungas. In summer it rains there every day. These landscapes are so different that it is hard to believe that the mountains can have such a great effect on environment. On my way south toward Patagonia I stopped in the jungle to recharge my depleted green batteries. Once the summer is over I will not see anything green for the rest of the year. So I flew over misty mountains of Tucuman and enjoyed grassy takeoff and landing.

Photo: Carlos Curi flying his Niviuk Artik 2 paraglider over Loma Bola, Aconquija Range, Tucuman, Argentina.

On assignment with BBC Top Gear Bolivia Special

BBC Filming crew and presenter Jeremy Clarkson on the slopes of Guallatiri Volcano shooting BBC Top Gear Bolivia Special, Altiplano, ChileI had great time in October working with BBC Top Gear team on the upcoming Chile Bolivia Special as the location manager. I was glad to share with them all my local knowledge of the Andean Altiplano and the Atacama Desert. It is going to be a road movie about three cars and their drivers starting their journey deep in the Bolivian Amazon jungle, crossing the high Andes and Altiplano, driving trough the driest of all deserts and finishing at Chilean Pacific coast. The show is going to air tomorrow (December 27th, 2009) around the world for millions of avid watchers!

Photo: BBC Filming crew and presenter Jeremy Clarkson on the slopes of Guallatiri Volcano shooting BBC Top Gear Bolivia Special, Altiplano, Chile.

Big old man Sajama

Nevado Sajama volcano (6542m), Sajama National Park, Altiplano, BoliviaEvery time I look at Sajama I think about an old big man. I do not know why. It rises to over 6500m from a wind swept eastern side of Andean backbone. This is where the highest forest on Earth grows. Trees of this forest – Queñua trees – look like old people, too. Do llamas look old? Noooo…!

Photo: Nevado Sajama volcano (6542m), Sajama National Park, Altiplano, Bolivia.

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.

Acclimatization

Cerro Milagro, Putre, Altiplano, ChileThe highest part of Andean Precordillera and the opening gates to Altiplano. A remote mountain range dividing two worlds. On one side the driest desert on our planet and on the other side a volcanic plateau where air is thinner than humans can breath. And above all Cerro Milagro is a visual feast and a gorgeous outback camping spot – just how I like it.

Photo: Cerro Milagro, Putre, Altiplano, Chile.

Dreamscape

Sunset paragliding over The Barefoot Dunes, Cerro Oyarvide range, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, ChileDreams do come true. I dreamed about flying above The Barefoot Dunes since the moment I discovered them. It seamed virtually impossible because they are too high above the permanent inversion layer, too deep into the desert from the coast, and too remote. Then this perfect day happens with all ingredients just right, like never before. And I am just there, right at that time, right at that moment. And the moment was at the sunset. And yes, I was screaming from joy and happiness. Did the universe help me?

Photo: Sunset paragliding over The Barefoot Dunes, Cerro Oyarvide range, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Bliss

This place is like a box of chocolates. Every time I go there I get something new, something great. This time after a pioneering XC flight toward Camarones we flew above the clouds for over two hours. Then the glide kilometers into the sea and landing close to the crashing waves of Pacific way after the sunset with landing zone lighted up by a huge bonfire. Then a BBQ on a deserted beach. Then sleeping under starry southern skies looking for the southern cross. All of this laughing with friends and loved ones. Can it get any better? Another day to remember. Another day in the life of the happiest guy on Earth.

Movie: Paragliding above clouds in Tiliviche Canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile. (http://www.vimeo.com/7555250)

Racing

Jarek Wieczorek racing cars in his paraglider, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, ChileAll the local pilots from Iquique are warming up for the big date. Some got brand new fast wings, some fly every day, some spend hours planing tactics. Speed bars see lots of use these days. Iquique Open 2009 starts in a couple of weeks. Will a local or an alien win?

Photo: Jarek Wieczorek racing cars in his paraglider, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile. Photo by Leo Andrade.

The window is open

Paragliding over the platou above Punta Piedras North of Iquique, The Atacama Desert, ChileLast weekend we opened the XC season in Iquique with flights to Punta Piedras and a double run from Patillos to Cavancha. The austral spring has come and the famous super consistent Iquique paragliding conditions are on. I am really looking forward to this flying season. Let’s make some memorable flights.

Photo: Leo Andrade flying his paraglider over the platou above Punta Piedras North of Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Iruya

Iruya village in the mountains of Sierra de Zenta, Salta Province, ArgentinaIruya is an old village lost in the mountains of Sierra de Zenta and perched on a cliff. It has this relaxing “end of the road” feeling. From here many Indian trails start going even deeper into the mountains toward small settlements and high pastures.

Photo: Iruya village in the mountains of Sierra de Zenta, Salta Province, Argentina

Hornocal

Serranía de Hornocal (Hornocal Mountain Range), Jujuy Province, ArgentinaSometimes when I do my research before a trip I find a remote place which seems to be interesting but there is not much info about it because it is too hard to get to, too remote, or simply nobody took interest in it before. And then sometimes I come to the place and there is nothing else to do but just stare for hours with your mouth open. No, it was not me who painted the colors with Photoshop. It was nature.

Photo: Serranía de Hornocal (Hornocal Mountain Range), Jujuy Province, Argentina

Fly Atacama Tour 2009 Iquique, Chile

Leonardo Laserna paragliding Junin cliffs north of Iquique, ChileAfter the great sucess of last year’s tour we are doing it again. We are coming back to Iquique this year for more – more flying, more XC distance, more remote desert sites, more sun, more Pacific beaches, more great paragliding. Join us and experience our top-notch logistics, stunning flying locations, in-depth local knowledge, and luxury beachfront hotel. Last year participants logged countless hours in the air and had the best flights of their lives. Will you be part of it this year? The dates are 10 – 17 and 17 – 24 November 2009. More here.

Photo: Leonardo Laserna paragliding Junin cliffs north of Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Miranda

Cuesta de Miranda, La Rioja, ArgentinaAll the colors of the Argentinian countryside in front of my eyes. My annual Argentinian winter trip took me this year farther South than usual but winter this year is surprisingly warm. As far as central Argentina temperatures of 32°C were recorded. Now call it winter! Back home in Europe we call it hot summer.

Photo: Cuesta de Miranda, La Rioja, Argentina

Best of Atacama Flying 2008

Warren Stadler from USA paragliding at the Tiliviche Canyon, Pisagua, Atacama Desert, ChileI added to the gallery some cool photos taken while paragliding in the Atacama Desert last year. You can see them here.

Photo: Warren Stadler from USA paragliding at the Tiliviche Canyon, Pisagua, Atacama Desert, Chile

My private flying site

Carlos Curi paragliding at Caleta Colorada, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, ChileWhile Europe flying sites are overcrowded with pilots subjected to strict regulations. While in USA land ownership and government policies make paragliding confined to few locations. In Chilean Atacama Desert it is all for you to take (or fly). I have my private flying site here. It is thirty kilometers North of Iquique accessible only by 4×4 off-roading. Tall rainbow colored coastal mountains sliced by riverbeds which did not see water for two hundred thousands years and endless Pacific beach far below. Can your home flying site beat mine Caleta Colorada?

Photo: Carlos Curi paragliding at Caleta Colorada, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Going offshore

Leo Andrade paragliding far off the shore of Iquique, Atacama Desert, ChileWhere else in the world can you take a shore thermal straight up to the cloudbase and then glide kilometers out over the sea, fly back, join vultures for another thermal ride up to the cloudbase, go out over the sea, come back, fly over desert mountains, sea, cloudbase, beach, cloudbase, dunes, cloudbase, mountains, cloudbase, desert, cloudbase, ….? I love Iquique.

Photo: Leo Andrade paragliding far off the shore of Iquique, Atacama Desert, 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

Never-ending summer

Leo Andrade flying his tandem paraglider over Iquique's coast toward Cavancha beach, Iquique, Atacama Desert, ChileIt is good to be back in IQQ where summer never ends. Where flying never ends! Conditions are surprisingly good for this time of year with high cloud base and not so strong western winds. Perfect for relaxing XC.

Photo: Leo Andrade flying his tandem paraglider over Iquique’s coast toward Cavancha beach, Iquique, Atacama Desert, 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

Flying inland

Leo Andrade on his Niviuk Icepeak paraglider during the final glide toward Playa Brava after a successful flight over inland mountain ranges, Iquique, Atacama Desert, ChileTogether with Leo Andrade – one of the best local Iquique pilots – I have been playing with the idea of leaving the known safety of the Pacific facing megacliff and flying inland toward many dune covered mountain ranges. We determined a bunch interesting areas: the big mountain range of Cerro Oyarvide North of the Airport, a small hills North of Alto Hospicio, and plains of Cuesta Arenal near Pisagua. Let’s see if the next paragliding season in Iquique brings new flying zones.

Photo: Leo Andrade on his Niviuk Icepeak paraglider during the final glide toward Playa Brava after a successful flight over inland mountain ranges, Iquique, Atacama Desert, 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

Desert Wings 2009 – Paragliding poster calendar

Desert Wings 2009 - paragliding poster calendar“Desert Wings 2009″ wall calendar, featuring 12 striking images of paragliders in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. Great souvenir for pilots who have visited Iquique and flown the Northern Chile desert. Simple, elegant column-format calendar makes each month’s poster-size image easy to frame. Large A3 format (30cm × 42cm / 12in × 16in). Available from Antofaya Expeditions and Jarek Wieczorek. US$29 plus shipping. Contact Jarek.

The Vulture Ridge

Paraglider pilot Niki from Italy having fun at The Vulture Ridge, Tiliviche, Pisagua, Iquique, ChileAfter over two weeks of hard work we went for a weekend of play and fun. We flew for fun, we had a big campfire on a deserted beach for fun, we made tasty BBQ for fun, we drank good Chilean wine for fun, we laughed with friends from all over the world for fun, and we slept under stars for fun. We had lots of fun at The Vulture Ridge.

Photo: Paraglider pilot Niki from Italy having fun at The Vulture Ridge, Tiliviche, Pisagua, Iquique, Chile

Winter lagunas

Laguna Helada and Cerro Curutu, Pampa Loyoques, Puna de Atacama, ChileI really did not think that we would beat last’s year record of night camping temperature. But we did. It was -21°C near volcano Cerro Granada. But days were relatively warm, which gives daily temperature amplitudes of well over 30°C. And many of the remote lakes of Puna de Lipez we visited were not frozen at all due to their very high salinity and the hot springs which constantly feed them.

Photo: Laguna Helada and Cerro Curutu, Pampa Loyoques, Puna de Atacama, Chile

Camanchaca

Paraglider soaring inland mountain dunes covered by incoming camanchaca mist, Atacama Desert, ChileIt never rains in Atacama desert but sometimes evenings are misty. Dense cloud banks form in front of the coastal mountain range and then move inland.

Photo: Paraglider soaring inland mountain dunes covered by incoming camanchaca mist, Atacama Desert, Chile by Rianna Riegelman

Altazor travels in a paraglider

Paragliding over desert plateau near Patillos launch during Copa Altazor 2008, Atacama Desert, Iquique, ChileWe just have had a fun paragliding competition in Iquique – Copa Altazor. Good flying conditions drew to Iquique over sixty thermal hungry pilots for a weekend of desert flying – pilots of all skills from beginners to experienced competition pilots. The weather did not disappoint and we had two tasks: one from Patillos and another flying above the city. How much good fun was it? Everybody wished they could stay longer.

Photo: Pilot Mike Christiansen flying his paraglider over desert plateau near Patillos launch 60km south of Iquique during Copa Altazor 2008 competition, Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile

Hot in the water (I wish I was)

Hot springs of Termas Geometricas, Conaripe, ChileSo it is winter in Iquique. It means it is around 15 degrees Celsius during a day. Nevertheless I dream about hot springs full of vapor. Especially after my recent expedition to the land of cold where marrow of my bones froze – well almost. More about it later.

Photo: Hot springs of Termas Geometricas, Conaripe, Chile

My friends of air

Parglider pilot flying his wing at Vizcachas site in Cajon del Maipo near Santiago, Chile“My name is Jarek and I am a paraglider pilot.” – A magic phrase with power only other pilots are aware of. It opens hearts and makes instant friends. Sometimes high in the clouds in your radio you hear a voice of somebody you have never met giving you courage. sometimes when you land an unknown person comes and hands you a beer. I have thousands of friends who would go an extra mile for me and I do not even know their names. Saludos for all my friends in Santiago de Chile. It was great summer I spent with you. See you in Iquique … My name is Jarek and I am a paraglider pilot.

Photo: Parglider pilot flying his wing at Vizcachas site in Cajon del Maipo near Santiago, Chile

Dirty job

Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 front axle Birfield CV jointAfter tens of thousands of kilometers on South American gravel roads and off-road tracks my truck needed some tender loving care. It got a front axle service. Which means grease, oil, bearings, rubber seals, bolts and nuts. If you ever venture this way have a big 54mm socket ready.

Photo: Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 front axle Birfield CV joint

Faces in the Sand

Desert driver, Jebel Arkenu, Sahara, Libyan Desert, LibyaI sit by a warm fire in a wooden house while Patagonian autumn brings more and more rain. I sit by a warm fire in Chaiten and try to recall my memories from lands I have visited a long time ago. Memories full of Faces in the Sand.

Photo: Desert driver, Jebel Arkenu, the Sahara, Libyan Desert, Libya

Scouting the land of flamingos

Flamingos over Salar de Pedernales, Cordillera de Domeyko, Atacama Desert, ChileOn my way from the desert town of Iquique to the glaciers of Patagonia thousands of kilometers south I could not resist scouting Southern Atacama Desert and Altiplano around Nevados Tres Cruces, Ojos del Salado, and Lastarria volcanoes. It is a spectacular area I must come back to, but my agenda for a few lifetimes is already full. So what do I do now? Should I start planning expeditions for my grandchildren? I will let them see these pictures first.

Photo: Flamingos over Salar de Pedernales, Cordillera de Domeyko, Atacama Desert, Chile

Packrafting in Patagonia

Packrafting in Patagonia, Glacier Gualas, Northern Patagonian Icefield, Patagonia, Aysen, Chile34 days, 2 people, 1-person tent, 294km paddling and hiking, 60kg of equipment, 6kg body weight lost, no food drop, no logistical support. Three beautiful glaciers, unlimited icebergs, stormy fiords, peaceful lakes, deep valleys, whitewater rivers, wind, rain, subzero temperatures, mud, impenetrable forest, marshlands, gigantic salmon, playful dolphins, wild ferrets, leeches, vultures, campfires, isolation, tranquility, places without human footprints … Patagonia.

Photo: Packrafting in front of Glacier Gualas, Northern Patagonian Icefield, Patagonia, Aysen, Chile

Fly Atacama Desert Paragliding Adventure Tours 2008 Iquique, Chile

Cross country paragliding near Punta Batuco, Iquique, ChileFor November 2008 I am planing a great adventure for every paraglider pilot. I teamed up with rewarded USHPA instructor Ken Hudonjorgensen and US paragliding champion Bill Belcourt to organize a pilgrimage to paragliding mecca every pilot should do at least once in their lifetime. To the famous Atacama desert flying location – Iquique, Chile. Come and join us and have lots of fun. More information about the tour here.

Photo: Cross country paragliding near Punta Batuco, Iquique, Chile

Day 11 – Expedition Explorers

GoogleEarth screenshot of San Quintin Glacier, Istmo Ofqui, Northern Patagonian Icefield, Patagonia, ChileWe are up to some ass kicking stuff this austral summer. Destination: Northern Patagonian Icefield with twelve calving glaciers, deep uncharted fiords, wild mountain rivers, places without names untouched by human presence, no trails, crazy Patagonian peaks, one month of hiking and paddling. We have adventurous plans and plenty of brand new equipment. I already want to be there. Check out our planed camping spot on day 11.

Photo: GoogleEarth screenshot of San Quintin Glacier, Istmo Ofqui, Northern Patagonian Icefield, Patagonia, Chile

High altitude December

Vizcacha, Las Cuevas, Lauca National Park, Parinacota, Altiplano, ChileI spent almost whole December on gravel roads of Altiplano, contemplating views of ice covered volcanoes, and soaking my but at hot springs while watching star filled sky. December is a good time to go there. Just before rains start. It is warm and days are long giving you lot of time every day for exploration and photography. Have a look at new Altiplano photos here.

Chipana

Paragliding at Playa Chipana between Tocopilla and Iquique, Atacama, ChileA big white sand dune climbs high on a mountain. It is your takeoff. It is tricky. You need to wait for a tiny thermal or a bit of sea breeze to take you up the first couple of hundred meters up. Sometimes you wait very long watching huge deserted beach three kilometers in front of you. If you timing is wrong there is a long, steep, and hard trek with your paraglider on your back in front of you. But if your timing is right and once you get high up, Iquique one hundred and twenty kilometers away is your destination and you will see a lot of Atacama desert broken by maze of dry river beds. Just get high and enjoy.

Photo: Sand dune of Playa Chipana between Tocopilla and Iquique, Atacama Desert, Chile

The happiest guy in the world

Cono de Arita, Salar Arizaro, Tolar Grande, Puna, ArgentinaIt is December. Time to sum up the year. This year was simply the best year of my life. Why? Just look at the previous pictures below. And it is just the tip of the iceberg called “Year 2007 in life of the happiest guy in the world”. Yes, I am a lucky guy who lives his dream. It will be hard to beat this next year but I am planing to do so. On my plate for year 2008 you can find:
- Expedition Explorers – Patagonian Northern Icefield circumnavigation along rivers, fiords, glaciers, virgin forests and mountains,
- Argentinian Puna III expedition – volcano Antofalla here we come,
- Southern Chilean Altiplano expedition – more volcanoes and salars,
- Great Bolivian salt flats,
- more Atacama desert exploration,
- flying my paraglider wherever it is possible or not,
- Atacama-Patagonia overland trip.
So now, once I disclosed my plans, I will have to do all of it. Otherwise people will think I am a poser.

Photo: Cono de Arita, Salar Arizaro, Tolar Grande, Puna, Argentina by Rianna Riegelman

Backyard

Cerro Dragon dune, Iquique, ChileIn my search for a perfect dune I actually started to live on one. It is my backyard and my landing zone.

Photo: Cerro Dragon, Iquique, Atacama Desert, Chile

Pisagua – Don’t drink it

Paragliding Tiliviche Canyon, Pisagua, ChileTiliviche canyon has already a permanent place at Project Caleta Colorada. It is a beautiful afternoon flying site at the mouth of a steep desert canyon with Palo Buque style take-off, endless deserted beach in front, high cliffs of the coastal range at the back, space for exploration, and perfect Pacific sunset every evening.

Photo: Paragliding in Quebrada Tiliviche, Pisagua, Atacama, Chile

Altiplano air

Volcanos Parinacota and Pomerape above Lagunas Cotacotani, Altiplano, ChileDoes anyone actually know what is hidden in the extreme North-East corner of Chile? High above 4500m there is a plateau of vistas not from this world. And you need to take it slowly, slowly meter of altitude by meter or your head will explode. Gods made it on purpose this way so if you do not crawl there on your knees they punish you for lack of respect for the great beauty.

More photos from Altiplano here.

Photo: Volcanos Parinacota and Pomerape, Lagunas de Cotacotani, Parinacota, Altiplano, Chile

Tiliviche sunset session

Tiviliche paragliding sunset session, Pisagua, ChileFour pilots, four gliders, will to explore uncharted areas. It is a recipe for great rewards: pristine beaches, deep canyon, desert mountains seen from above, and smiles which last for days. And lots of great photos. View them at Tiliviche sunset session gallery.

SAT team at Palo Buque

SAT acro paragliding team at Palo Buque, Iquique, ChileAcro paragliding world champion Raul Rodriguez with his court and groupies came to Iquique and occupied dunes of Palo Buque for a week. They fly small heavily loaded dynamic wings. No good for cross country but great for radical maneuvers.

Altitude record

Paragliding Altitude Record at Patillos, Iquique, ChileUnusually high cloud base and the coastal range south of Iquique disappears below me and big cumulus clouds far away in Altilano appear. Higher I go better views I have. Higher I go more relax I feel. Higher I go more fun I have. For me paragliding is seeing world from above. It is a spectacle nature prepared especially just for me.

Rivers of Atacama

Lifeless, sterile and beautiful – absolute desert. Last time these dry riverbeds of the costal range north of Iquique saw water was 120.000 years ago. Since then no rain at all. It is the driest place on Earth. Many ask me how I can live in a place totally devoted of vegetation and green color. Either they are blind and cannot see the great beauty or I am mad.

Project Caleta Colorada

Objective: discover new flying zones of Northern Chile and fly where nobody flew before. It is an essence of adventure. It is not true that everything was already discovered and that there is no more space left for pioneering.

Northern wind

They say that when it blows from the North flying sucks in Iquique. I do not know who has come with this idea but he definitely was wrong. Last Sunday was so cool and sweet. Like flying a totally new place. Filete! Check out McRivur coming to landing at Cavancha beach.

Photo: Paragliding over Playa Cavancha, Iquique, Atacama, Chile

Copa Altazor 2007

Day first – Patillos to Los Verdes, very difficult conditions, low cloud base, nobody made to the goal. Day two – 25km over Iquique, beautiful weather, sun and breeze. Summary – lots of pilots, great flying, laughing, asados, fun, fun, fun.

Quebrada de Tiviliche

The canyon is 1200m deep at its mouth. Yes, it is a long way down. Nobody has flown there before. That is until we got there. And to get there we spent a whole day of off-road driving with our faces glued to my GPS. Then a warm night spent high above clouds and some serious paragliding fun next day. Try to spot a paraglider on the picture. That is Nick – the first man who has ever flown Tiviliche.

Bad Judgment Tour Pisagua 2007

With every stone which falls from under the tires into the void below I grew a single gray hair. I used to have dark blond hair. Now it is all gray. There is a road from Pisagua to a ghost port of Junin. Nobody dares to drive this road. My nightmares have a location now.

Ten Days of Solstice

Flying under midnight sun. Yes you can fly for 24h per day if you wish. Just head to Alaska in summer. I found these pictures by pure coincidence in my archives. Enjoy more photos at Paragliding Alaska…

Reprise

For those who wonder: I am still kicking! I just have come back from a month long expedition to Argentinean Puna. Trip summary: the lowest temperature around -20C, the highest altitude above 5000m, a ripped tire, no other humans for days, a sand storm, snow shoveling at mountain passes, marvels of unaccessible Southern Salar Antofalla, a crashed wreck of a military jet at Salar Tolillar, pink flamingos at frozen Laguna Purulla, constant GPS navigation, endless salt flats and plenty of +6km mountains, volcanoes and lava flows, and above all – colors – colors like nowhere else, colors of Puna.

Patillos de Atacama

It is not even top flying season here but as always desert flying from Patillos to Iquique rocks. Flying panoramas and experiences like nowhere else in the world. Flying is great. Flying in Atacama desert is even better. I would never exchange it for a steady office job and endless mortgage payments. And you? Do you really think you will get a second life to enjoy your time on Earth? No? So why aren’t you here with me?!

Local knowledge

“You cross three cattle rails and after several kilometers the road climbs. You can camp there. Do not miss the turn it is marked with a small stick. On your way back tomorrow give us a shout so we know you are all right. You know we do not see many people here.”

Private property

“Bon dia!” “Do you know that this is a private property? Aaaa, a foreign tourist? What are you doing here? Do you need help? No? Be careful nobody lives here in hundreds kilometers range. Well then…buen viaje.”

Last Hope

Thousands of uninhabited islands, hundreds of glaciers, millions of not climbed peeks, wild and uncharted lands – fiords of Patagonia. Grand playground for antisocial oddballs. I’m in!

Make them pay

So this is the famous Chilean Patagonia’s treasure, right? Oh it is beautiful and swarm with American tourists. There must have been Torres del Paine commercial on Fox television recently.

La Ultima Estancia

All right boys and girls, I am making a big U turn and starting to head North. Do not look like this at me, the bridge to Antarctic is not ready yet.

Fuegian red

All the news I am interested in I get from weather reports. And they said that autumn is comming to Tierra del Fuego and brings warm colors to this cold land. So enjoy while you can.

Sauerkraut but no prozac

What they left out is that while surveying waters at the end of the world Beagle’s captain Pringle Stokes fell into depression, locked himself in for days and finally shot himself and died a few days later. He was buried on shore on the Straits of Magellan at Port Famine.

Nothofagus

If only my car’s door could adapt to crazy winds of Tierra del Fuego as well as flag trees…

Straits of Magellan

Beyond this there is Tierra del Fuego and then Cape Horn and then Drake Passage and then Antarctic. All those names sound like from a fairytale and turn on my imagination – lands and seas at the end of the world. I wish I had a sailboat to explore all of them. Well, I must buy one then.

Desolate Place

Pali-Aike volcanic field is the least visited national park in Chile. Chances are you will be the only human visitor there.

Pingus

So you think penguins are cute. The one thing you cannot see in TV or cinema about them is that their colonies stink. At Monte Leon you’d better be upwind from thousands of these little buggers.

Ice machine for giants

Exercises in physics. Sound travels much slower than light. First you see a ten story tall block of ice falling into water then you hear it, long and deep thunder. Then again, and again.

Scream of Stone

The most difficult mountain on Earth – Cerro Torre. Since I started hiking and climbing I have always dreamed about seeing and touching it. And here it is. Can I have an unattainable dream, please. My life is boring – a long string of fulfilled dreams.

Pampa 40

How does one run a road in pampa? One takes a map and a straight ruler. That is it. No Ph.D. in civil engineering required. The mother of all gravel roads – Ruta 40. Never ending pampa, never ending road, 120km/h with cruise control on on this gravel road. That’s an experience!

Cypress Hill

No streets, only wooden walkways between houses build on stilts. Everything made of cypress wood. A road came here only two years ago. Caleta Tortel is emerging from isolation in the hart of Patagonia. Still if you want world to forget about you move here.

Big fish

Do you want to see the bigest salmon in the world? – he asked. Sure – I smiled. And there they were. And he caught a small one to give it a hug.

Carretera austral

This must be the nicest road of all. This loose gravel road goes for thousend kilometers where no other roads go. Steep mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers. Place to test your and your car’s offroad and survival abilities. This is Patagonia. Crusing and enjoying. This is great.

Explorers

Valley of Explorers. This is a proper name for this place. Glaciers everywhere, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Next season I am taking a sea kayak here to go down the river and then paddle to great glacier at Laguna San Rafael. Nobody did it so far. Nobody even comes here.

I want chiken, pleeeeeease!

They eat nothing but seafood here. My belly already hates this rainy island of Chiloe. Brothers and sisters, let’s prey for chicken for dinner tonight.

Osorno-san

I spent last weekend in Japan. Not really. But Fuji has his brother in Chile. Perfect cone. And for climbers – dangerous, very dangerous.

Across the border with gauchos

All gauchos from the area came to Junin de los Andes to party and show off their skills. I have not seen that many horses and riders in a single place in my life. I guess Argentinian pampa is big enough for all of them. They put me on a horse and invited to live with them. My brother would love it.

Manuel

What do you do with dozens of three and a half meters logs? You build a Swiss cross shaped house. That’s patriotic! Will it be painted red and white?

Job opening

I am addicted to good food. And lots of it. Cook for me and I will be your slave. I am announcing a job opening: Jarek’s Personal Chef. Email me your resume. The job comes with a full package of benefits which includes…. Well, we can discuss it in private during the initial interview.

Paragliding Santiago photographs

Fruits from my camera. Photographs taken during my flying in Santiago. There is a high chance you will recognize your wing on one of the pictures. Plenty of great models in Parabeer club. Are you sure you are not wasting your talents? See the Paragliding Santiago gallery.

Central America gallery


Finally, Central America pictures are ready. Easy countryside living helped here a lot. With increased processing speed the remaining backlog of pictures should be ready in…a couple of years. Check out the Central America gallery.

Volcano Quetrupillan



Five hours of climbing, getting ready for a pioneering flight, and then… What an experience flying down from a rim of snow covered volcano into lush green valleys far away! I love my life.

More photos at the What’s Cooking? gallery.

Summer in…?

I am living on a farm with horses deep in a countryside. Just like summer in Poland. Well, almost…

Chilian wine

One more glass of wine, please. Or a botle. On the second thought, make it a whole case. In Iquique next to Tercer Ojito there is an anonymous alcoholics club. Just in case.

Goodbyes again


Kisses and hugs to all my great friends in Santiago. It was so much fun here. Hope to see you and fly with you again. But now Patagonia is waiting for me.

Santiago flying


Summer flying in Santiago is soooooo good. Last Saturday I flew 35km from Vizcachas, got to 2700m, landed at 21:15 after almost 4h flight, and was greeted by three cute chicks (unfortunately none of them was legal age). On the other hand the two who came to retrieve me were very doable. Thank you Mona and Poly for the retrieve.

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