Thursday, 12 September 2019

Hidden Marvels of Chilean Tierra del Fuego

Faro Cabo Espiritu Santo in Chilean Tierra del Fuego
Cabo Espíritu Santo Lighthouse
There were rumours and there were even official brochures that mentioned them but...there was not a single photo nor the directions to an exact place...the caves apparently below the Cabo Espíritu Santo Lighthouse.



Visiting the area during my winter exploration of Chilean Tierra del Fuego, I chatted to Rodrigo (the Naval lighthouse keeper) and asked about these caves that are said to be below the lighthouse. He had obviously also seen and heard the rumours but to date did not know of any caves here. Mission established, we agreed to go out the next day, take rope and abseil down the cliffs at a reasonably stable and low spot, and go see what we can find. It was also important that we went during or just before low tide as the high tide comes right up against the cliffs.
The cliffs of Cabo Espíritu Santo
The cliffs of Cabo Espíritu Santo

The Hunt

Under the lighthouse, right into Argentine territory, there were no caves to be found but a lot of rockfalls which would've blocked and closed any caves if there had been any. Following the cliffs, at least 5m+ from them due to being hugely unstable, we walked the low tide beach northwards. The tidal differences here are massive with an average difference of 5-7m which over here below the lighthouse means the water bares the beach almost a kilometre.

An indication of the extent of the tidal differences - Low Tide! 
Reaching some parts of the cliff where the lower third of the cliff-face was solid rock, it looked like there were some openings/gaps in the rockface. Getting closer, after checking the upper parts of the cliff was reasonably safe to walk under, we went into the first opening.

Huge cave opening in northern Chilean Tierra del Fuego
Entrance to another world OR earth exit?
We just stared and looked at each other with big eyes...and speechless! It was like we had just walked onto another planet!! The colours of the algae on the walls and roof were surreal, and with the sun shining into the entrance, the colour contrasts were even more striking! Taking photos like nutters and kids in a candy store, we went into the next cave, then the next...until we just backed away and looked at the cliffs from a distance that gave no hint of the marvels they protected within.

Colourful algae in the newly found caves in northern Chilean Tierra del Fuego
Spectacular! Other adjectives for this still escape me!
There were 4-5 caves, one not being overly deep but a decent overhang makes it a sort of "open" cave. Everything was wet though, right up to the roof, meaning that the high tide filled up these caves so access would only be during low tide for a short time. Under the algae in the one cave, we found some initials scratched out but completely overgrown with dense algae, somebody estimated afterwards that it would date back probably at least 10 years. Was that the last time somebody had been here? What stories did these mysterious caves have to tell?

"Patio" of the one cave
So, in the end, we proved the rumours of caves under the lighthouse, unfounded; but, we found other caves that just left us speechless with their incredible colour and texture contrasts. Publishing some of these photos online, we were told that these were very likely the first photos of the caves. It appears so too from what Rodrigo and I could find i.e. that there are no photos, online anyway, of these caves.

This is absolutely what Tierra del Fuego - Patagonia does everytime...just when you think you've seen it all, it pulls back the curtain on yet another spectacular marvel!
Another of the colourful caves.








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1 comment:

  1. 😅👌📸🤗💕💕 Fantastic and stunningly beautiful.. What an exciting trek and find fir the lighthouse keeper. 😅👏👏📸 An amazing expedition, Marcell.😆👌❤️😘❤️

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