Besides the stunning Patagonian landscape, visitors with an eye for wildlife will see plenty at the Torres del Paine National Park. Encounters are so common even close to the dirt roads. On the first day alone, our guide Rafa pointed to one black-chested buzzard eagle which we thought was merely resting. As soon as it became aware of our presence, it flew - along with a dead hare gripped by its mighty talons. What a rare sight that was!
On another day, we even saw more. Quite common are guanacos - a camelid native to South America. Just as the other camelids like alpacas, llamas and vicuñas, guanacos live and socialize in herds. There's the safety factor in numbers I suppose as their main predator in the park is the very elusive puma. It didn't take us long to find a guanaco carcass whose grisly death was the work of a puma, of course.
Darwin's Rhea (also known as Lesser Rhea), is one of the two extant species of Rhea found only in South America. The bird is large and heavy, weighing at a hefty 33-55 lbs. While it is unable to fly, it can ran up to speeds of 37 miles an hour.
It may not be man's best friend but this wild dog is the Andean Fox (also known as Culpeo), common in South America. The Andean Fox appears contented going mostly solo as it hunts for hare, rodents, lizards and birds. I first saw this animal in the Bolivian altiplano during a trip across the Salar de Uyuni three years ago.
Above is a photo of a male Upland Goose (or Magellan Goose), distinguished from its female partner by its white feathers on the head and breast. The female, unfortunately not within the frame, have cinnammon brown plumage. The two mate for life.
Chilean Flamingoes search for food in one of the many lakes around the park. While the name is suggestive of the country, the species actually thrive in much of South America. In terms of pink-ness, Chilean Flamingo is pinker than the more common Greater Flamingo found in various parts of the planet.
There were so many other birds - besides these ones above and the Andean condors from the previous entry - but I could not remember the names now. Anyone who is into birdwatching will certainly have a lot to see as the whole park is abundant with many different species.
As my trip to Torres del Paine National Park winds up, these pictures of that one eagle with the dead hare kept coming back to me. One of the best wildlife encounters I've had!