On the great island of Tierra del Fuego, we found Karukinka Natural Park in the Magallanes Region. The remote, 300,000 hectares park was donated to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) for preservation, conservation, research, and education regarding Tierra del Fuego’s biodiversity, culture, and history.
We had an outstanding expedition on our first day! In the morning, we went ashore to visit Karukinka Natural Park. We walked along the beach, hiked up to a waterfall, and met fascinating elephant seals.
Southern elephant seals are the biggest pinnipeds in the world. They spend 80% of their life at sea. Once a year, they come ashore to give birth, breed, and molt. Adult males are called bulls, and they are true giants of the seas. They can reach 5.8 m and 3000 kg. Females are considerably smaller, reaching 3 m and 600 kg. The beach masters keep harems of up to 50 females and ferociously fight other males for dominance. Some encounters are extremely violent, bloody battles. This is the perfect time of year to meet these amazing creatures, especially because we had the chance to see the young weaners.
In the afternoon, we went to the bay on the south side of Almirante Sound to explore the forest. North American beavers have been changing the ecosystem since 1946 when they were introduced to the area, and they have made an impact. Conservation efforts are taking place in Tierra del Fuego. The native forest is almost like a magical forest from a fairytale. We took a lovely hike, following a rustic boardwalk on a journey through the spectacular Magellanic forest. Fabulous lichens, rich moss, and a huge variety of green tones surrounded us. We observed spectacular landscapes, including the fjord, mountains, and glaciers. This was a great first day!