The dry season is the best time to visit
The Everglades has two very distinct seasons – the dry season which runs from November to April and the wet season which lasts from May to November. It was the last weekend in February and a cold front was predicted to push through the peninsula bringing cooler drier air. I wanted to take advantage of the improved hiking conditions so I decided to explore the Everglades National Park. The dry season down here attracts many birds. The wet season brings out the insects. Believe me when I say it is not a lot of fun to go out fishing or hiking with bugs all around you. Insects can be present all the time. Even during the dry season visitors to the park should be prepared for mosquitoes and a variety of biting flies.
The 3rd largest national park in the lower 48 states, behind Yellowstone National Park and Death Valley National Park
The Everglades spans across 1.5 million acres that stretch over the southern part of Florida. The park has three main areas. We entered through the Homestead visitor center to get maps and trail information. The park ranger informed us that high water levels had scattered the birds and wildlife throughout the park. Visiting the Everglades lets you explore a vast diversity of eco-systems. There is a lot of area to explore and I can see myself spending a week here but I only had 2 days. Some of the trails that we explored were the Eco Pond trail, the Anhinga trail, the Gumbo Limbo trail, the Pahayokee overlook, and the Mahogany Hammock trail. Looks like another visit will happen soon. Here are some images from my visit.
The anhinga is a large bird that likes to dry out its feathers in the sun
The northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is renowned for its mimicking ability
The Ecopond trail was full of butterflies. Here is a Junonia evarete
A female northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). The male was not far behind.
Brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) forage on the forest floor for insects
There are many options for hiking in Torres Del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park is located in southern Chile around 300 km north of Punta Arenas. It is a popular hiking destination. Access to the Park is not exactly easy but the Park still receives a lot of visitors every year. To reach the Park you will first take a 3 and 1/2 hour flight from Santiago into Punta Arenas. From there you can transfer into Puerto Natales via a 4 hour bus. From Puerto Natales it is another 100 km into the Park. The Park is open year round but Spring and Summer are the best times to visit. I know of a photographer who prefers visiting during the Winter as he is searching for extreme weather and better light. We visited in late November and had great weather conditions. Be aware of the extremely windy conditions. I have never seen a plane come to a full stop so soon when landing. I guess pilots don’t need to apply brakes when landing into these headwinds. A visitor in another group got hurt when a wind gust took him down. I really enjoyed a 7 km hike along the eastern edge of the Park. The trail is known as the wildlife trail and it included a climb to a hill with a cave with indigenous cave paintings. The hike was easy with not much climbing. In the Spring, you will see all sorts of wildlife with their offspring. We saw Foxes, Guanacos, and Ñandús on this trail.
Pueden ver mucha vida durante una visita en la Primavera
El Parque Nacional de Torres del Paine se encuentra en el sur de Chile alrededor de 300 km al norte de Punta Arenas. Es un destino muy popular para senderismo. A pesar de que el acceso al Parque no es muy fácil, muchos turistas lo visitan todos los años. Para llegar al Parque tendrán que tomar un vuelo de 3 horas y media desde Santiago a Punta Arenas. Seguido tienen que transferirse a Puerto Natales. Esto les tomará unas 4 horas más. Desde Puerto Natales son unos 100 km adicionales para entrar al Parque. El Parque permanece abierto todo el año pero Primavera y Verano son la mejor época del año para visitar. Conozco a un fotógrafo que prefiere visitar durante el Invierno ya que busca mejor luz y condiciones atmosféricas extremas. Nosotros visitamos al final de Noviembre y tuvimos un clima perfecto. Tengan cuidado con el viento. Es muy fuerte y una ráfaga les puede tumbar como le pasó a un turista en otro grupo. Nunca he visto un avión detenerse tan rápido al aterrizar. Me imagino que frenar no es muy necesario cuando se aterriza con estos vientos de frente. La mejor caminata para mi fue una caminata corta de 7 km en el borde este del parque. Este sendero se conoce como el sendero de vida silvestre e incluye una subida a un monte que tiene una cueva con pinturas rupestres. El sendero no es muy difícil y se puede tomar muchas fotos. En la Primavera se ven toda clase de animales con sus crías. Zorras, Guanacos, y Ñandús se cruzaban caminando frente a nosotros en este sendero.
View of the Rio Serrano and the Park
Short hike around Lake Nordenskjold on the way to the Mirador de Los Cuernos
Salto Grande at the western end of Lake Nordenskjöld
Hiking with the Guanacos along the wildlife trail
Cave paintings are found here inside this rocky outcrop
Cave painting of a Puma
Cave painting of a human – the Puma head on the right is very accurate
Cave painting of a Condor
Looking West from the top of the hill – lots of good hiking here