Cerro Benitez

Tags: Cerro Benitez, Chile

Date: November 14, 2022

During our stay in Puerto Natales we spent some of the time hiking on the nearby mountains. One of the first days, we went on a short hike to Cerro Benitez at the shore of lake Sofia. Here, we're looking towards the top:

Once we left the lakeshore we entered a wooded area composed exclusively of "Antarctic beech" trees, many of them heavily parasitized by a mistletoe-like plant called "farolito chino". Both plants are native to the central and Southern Andes:

Félicie in front of one of the larger Antarctic beeches. It's mostly dead byt still have a few living, leaf-covered branches in the top:

November i Chile is the springtime, so there were quite a few plants in bloom on the mountain. Here are two lovely "lady's slipper"s:

View over the wooded area with lake Sofia at the bottom and snow-covered higher mountains in the background:

Right as we were at the top of Cerro Benitez, we saw our first condor sitting on the ledge:

The Andean condor is a species of vulture and with its 100-130 cm body length and up to 3 m wingspan considered the world's largest bird of prey. This condor is a male judged by the large white patches on its wings, the wattle on the neck and the dark red caruncle on the crown of its head:

We ended up seeing 3-4 condors during the Cerro Benitez hike and were quite excited to be so lucky on our first hike in Chile. These were the only condors we saw up close during the whole of our stay in Puerto Natales.

The Chilean firetree can reach up to 15 m and the flowers are usually deep red but may also be paler, like the one on this photo:

Close to the top of Cerro Benitez, the Antarctic beeches were rather small:

Félicie standing under a ledge next to a firebush:

A view over lake Sofia from the top: