Chilean Patagonia. Torres del Paine (Part 1)

The Torres del Paine National Park is located in the Chilean Patagonia, in an area of climatic contrasts that have allowed a great variety of plant and animal species.

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Located in the middle of the Andean range, the Paine massif lends its name to the National Park.  The mountains, with peaks in excess of 3,000 metres, mark a diving line which differentiates two completely different areas.To the west of the range, on the Pacific side, moisture-laden winds collide with the slopes and releases their rain, which hardly ever reaches the other face.  It is a cold and wet side, characterised by rocks, forests and ice.

On the east slope, where rain hardly ever falls, large plains extend as far as the Atlantic, the steppe gradually transforming into quasi-desert.

The entire relief of the Patagonian Andean range  has a pronounced glacial character.

Thaw waters arriving from the Paine massif irrigate both slopes.  There are a multitude of rivers and large glacial lakes are spread throughout the park.

The proximity of the Pacific Ocean and the numerous lakes attract water birds from the Patagonian region, which form into noisy and abundant colonies.  Fakland Islands and imperial cormorants, different species of seagulls and a multitude of anátidas feed and breed in the Park´s  waters and its surroundings.

The black-necked swan is the largest South American water bird. It spends its entire life in the icy waters of the Andean lakes, feeding on algae, insects and an odd fry or two.

From the Huasco Valley, in Atacama, to Tierra del Fuego, the black-necked swan is to be found throughout the southern cone of America, seeking lakes close to the sea.

They reside year-round in Torres del Paine, they can endure the cold perfectly and the low seasonal variations in the region mean that it is not necessary for them to migrate to other latitudes.

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