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Day 5 (Thursday 24
th)

     Walk up Torres del Paine Ascencion Valley


Rio Ascencio walk

The Los Torres Hotel, our accommodation for 2 nights in the Torres del Paine National Park, is situated in an excellent location for walking. It is located to the South-east and directly below the peaks of the mountains, offering hiking both eastwards and westwards, both culminating in a rather long circumnavigation of the peaks. There is also a track leading North-west, taken as a branch 800 metres to the West of the hotel, then heading up to follow the valley of the river cutting through and between the peaks. Much of this is uphill, with a lengthy descent at one point to a handily placed but pricey cafe/kiosk, situated next to a bridge and the stunning fast flowing small mountain river. At this point, the low bushes of the slopes are replaced by forest, which we followed until almost reaching a junction, where a left turn would have scrambled up to a mountain lake. Since we eventually covered 9 miles in the 8 hour outing, we decided against the lake, mainly due to time constraints.

The lower elevations of the walk were mainly low bushes, and scattered trees. As opposed to yesterday when we had constant sunshine, today was more cloudy with occasional light drizzle – perhaps much better conditions for an uphill walk. Rufous-collared Sparrows continued to be the most common bird – by both sight and song. Second in line, and by a long way, were Southern House Wrens and Austral Thrushes closely followed by Patagonian Sierra Finch. The latter continued to be a problem, since many of the males had upper back a lot more olive than the typical bright golden, although the (non) extent of the white on the lower flanks seemed to preclude Grey-hooded. Outside of these, a Black-chested Buzzard Eagle flew over our heads and landed on the distant cliff face, with a couple of Austral Blackbirds and a pair of Black-chinned Siskins for variety.

The real excitement started just before the bridge crossed the river at the café. This is also where the forest began, immediately produced a trio of very active Thorn-tailed Rayaditos in the canopy, just preceded by a pair of Dark-faced Ground Tyrants along the track. After a coffee at the café, we followed the river for about 100 metres, scanning the rapids for Torrent Duck and/or other water specialists, when – a superb male Torrent Duck was spotted. And more – the female was close by with 3 ducklings. They were totally oblivious to our presence, allowing us to watch them tackle the fast flowing water for ages. We ploughed on upwards, unearthing more Thorn-tailed Rayaditos and the occasional White-crested Elaenia, until we decided that to climb to the lake wasn’t time efficient. Great decision! If we hadn’t done that, we might have missed out on the impressive female Magellanic Woodpecker picked up shortly after on the descent. After another stop at the café on the way down (the Torrent Ducks were still there and now under performing!), crossing the bridge turned up a brief Dark-bellied Cinclodes. A couple of Andean Condors had soared overhead, but not as impressive as the four adults just above eye height soaring into the valley.

Almost back to the hotel room, and a quip about the fast flowing river on the last approach looking a likely spot for Torrent Duck . . . . provided yet another pair! They were both resting on a large rock downstream, and had what looked like two ducklings shading under the female. Unbelievable! Two pairs on one walk, with a lifer the day before.

Hotel from Ascencio valley Ascencio Valley Rio Ascencio
Hotel Los Torres from lower Ascencion valley Ascencion valey Rio Ascencion
American Kestrel Andean Condor Austral Blackbird
American Kestrel Andean Condor Austral Blackbird
Torrent Duck male Torrent Duckling Torrent Duck female
Male Torrent Duck Immature Torrent Duck Female Torrent Duck
Dark-faced Ground Tyrant Austral Blackbird Black-chinned Siskin
Dark-faced Ground Tyrant Austral Thrush Black-chinned Siskin
Magellanic Woodpecker Patagonian Sierra Finch White-crested Elaenia
Magellanic Woodpecker Patagonian Sierra Finch White-crested Elaenia

Home

Paintings gallery

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Contact

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

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