Rumiñawi’s Perch: The Coolest Building in Guayaquil

Inca warrior Rumiñahui - The Museo del Banco Central, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Inca warrior Rumiñahui – The Museo del Banco Central, Guayaquil, Ecuador

This is Rumiñawi, a 16th century Inca warrior who has pride of place on the facade of the Museo Antropológico del Banco Central in Guayaquil. I didn’t see a portrait more confident, fierce and proud in all of Ecuador, warranting this series of five images for today’s Pic du Jour.

Like Atahualpa, the final Incan Emperor, Rumiñawi was also tortured and killed by the Spanish after he led an unsuccessful resistance force against the conquistadors in the northern part of the Inca Empire in 1533.

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13 images from Slovenia’s Iška River Gorge

The Iška River Gorge

The Iška River Gorge

Here are 13 images from Iški vintgar, or the Iška River Gorge, which is located about 21 kilometers south of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital.

Set near the southeastern corner of the Ljubljana Moors, Europe’s southernmost wetlands, the gorge is a popular summertime weekend retreat for Ljubljana-ites yet it generally remains quiet and uncrowded during the spring and autumn months. Even on some summer weekdays I’ve found it practically empty. It’s a 15-20min trip from the city by car; I generally bike it in about an hour.

These were all taken on Saturday afternoon (12-April); I’ve visited several times during each season over the past six years and don’t recall it ever being so saturated in shades of green in the first half of April.

It reaches between 300 and 400 meters at its deepest where it marks the strongest natural border between Slovenia’s Dolenjska (Lower Carniola) and Notranjska (Inner Carniola) regions. It’s a popular hiking spot, with numerous trails heading in several directions, both through the gorge and up hillsides. I hope to cover all of those in the next few months.

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Living up to a Name: Chilean Patagonia’s Enchanted Forest Trail

Chilco, or fuchsia magellanica, at home in the wild

Chilco, or fuchsia magellanica, at home in the wild in Queulat National Park

One way, the Enchanted Forest Trail covers less than two kilometers of southern Chile’s pristine Queulat National Park. But between its trailhead set in a lush dense evergreen forest and its terminus on a cliff above a clear and clean turquoise-tinted glacier-fed lagoon, it packs a lot into those 1.1 miles. Its name fits.

Located 35 kilometers south of Puyuhuapi on the Carretera Austral, Chile’s remote southern Patagonian highway, it’s an easy day trip and worth the effort it’ll take in securing transportation. Even the ride there, across an entertaining and photogenic stretch of gravel road that includes more than thirty hairpin turns that climb and descend through the park’s various altitudinal zones, is memorable for both the bumpy ride and its dynamic scenery.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia | Travel & Stock Image Gallery 1

A winter scene in Ljubljana, Slovenia's central Prešeren Square.

A little bit of snow and slush in Prešeren Square. Ljubljana, 4-Dec-2012. Purchase print here. Or greeting card here.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dates: 2006-2014

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Ljubljana, capital city of Slovenia.

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Abandoned: 21 Photos From Ljubljana’s Oldest Pool

Abandoned Ljubljana Pool 02

This is the Kopališče Kolezija, the oldest swimming pool facility in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. Located southwest of the city center, a public pool has been in this area since at least 1879. It probably hasn’t always been this colorful, making it a fitting inauguration for a new and occasional urban exploration photo series.

The facility underwent several upgrades and renovations, both before and after the second world war, through the early 1970s. An ownership dispute forced its closure in 2000. In 2009 the City of Ljubljana solicited bids from architects for another overhaul. A winning bid was selected but nothing has progressed since, leaving the facilty a popular hangout for skaters, graffiti artists, drunks and junkies.

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The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – La Recoleta, Buenos Aires: A Tour in 32 Photos


Last year a CNN correspondent listed la Recoleta among the world’s 10 most beautiful cemeteries. As pomposity, style and grandeur go, the final resting place for many of Argentina’s most rich and powerful who passed on over the past two centuries is difficult to beat. And it is also beautiful. Here is a gallery of 32 photos to prove my point.

Inaugurated in November 1822, the cemetery since named for the affluent neighborhood in Buenos Aires in which it rests has grown to 5.5 hectares (14 acres) in size and to contain 4,691 vaults, many of them ornately decorated and intricately sculpted.

The main streets are pleasantly tree-lined, evoking a not-so-far away eternal spring, or less ethereally, a relaxing big city park where it’s easy to escape the hubbub that is just outside the walls that seal the cemetery in. I was fortunate to have my two-hour stroll around the grounds interrupted by a refreshing summer rain; there really is no better time to visit with the ivy-bathed marble gods and goddesses in South America’s most famous necropolis. [See a 30-second video of the la Recoleta rains here.]

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Laguna Torre, Glaciares National Park, Argentin

Patagonia’s Laguna Torre and Glaciar Grande – A Seven Image Gallery

Wrapping up this three-post series on a pair of day hikes from El Chalten, Argentina, is this mini-gallery of the Glaciar Grande and the lake it overlooks, Laguna Torre.

Even shrouded in clouds the scene does an admirable job advertising this corner of Los Glaciares National Park as the hiker attraction that it is. It’s also, like the majority of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (wiki|map) that it sits in, a “kind of poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems”.

That’s according to “Ice loss from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, South America, between 2000 and 2012”, a late 2012 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Laguna Torre 6

From an abstract on

Ice fields in southern South America are rapidly losing volume and in most cases thinning at even the highest elevations, contributing to sea-level rise at “substantially higher” rates than observed from the 1970s through the 1990s


The rapid melting, based on satellite observations, suggests the ice field’s contribution to global sea-level rise has increased by half since the end of the 20th century, jumping from 0.04 millimeters per year to about .07 mm, and accounting for 2 percent of annual sea-level rise since 1998.


Warming air temperatures contributed to the thinning throughout the mountain range, [the report ] noted. And the warmer temperatures increased the chances that rain – as opposed to snow – would fall on and around the glaciers. That double threat increases the amount of water under the glaciers, decreasing friction and moving more ice to the oceans.

This ice field, along with its northern neighbor, comprise the largest mass of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.

According to the study, which compared satellite imagery over a 12-year period beginning in 2000, found that glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field thinned by an average of six feet per year.

I left this rocky lake shore with the same contentedly queasy feeling I had after leaving other glaciers, before and since, behind: happy that I made the opportunity to see them while they were still around.

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Here’s a 45-second timelapse of the lake I shot over the span of about 25 minutes with my GoPro. The cool soundtrack is Broken Music Boxes by Ilya Monosov. I chose it because the description for his album Vinyl Document #1 –a record that focuses on sounds derived from broken or otherwise mistreated machines– fits well. Please check out more of his excellent work.

For posterity’s sake, here’s the GoPro at work and below that me, who is always at work. :)

Laguna Torre 5

On the way to Laguna Torre.

On the way to Laguna Torre.

Check out the previous two posts from this series:
~ Hiking Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 1
~ Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail – El Chalten Day Hike 2

And finally, this post is linked up with Travel Photo Monday #34 on Travel Photo Discovery. The direct link is here. Check it out!


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Then subscribe to The Piran Café READER, my website’s companion newsletter. Dispatched three or four times a month, the newsletter presents a brief and convenient digest to help you catch up with posts you may have missed. There are also occasional giveaway drawings and exclusive news and updates available and open to subscribers only. So why not subscribe right now?



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Sendero Fitz Roy 7

Hiking Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 1

Fitz Roy Trail

Trailhead: El Chalten, Argentina
Duration: Approximately four hours to Camp Poincenot, one way; distance about 9.5km (6.mi), one way
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation gain: about 350m (1,148ft)

Whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s quite likely that you’ve seen Mt. Fitz Roy, arguably the most recognized peak in the Andes and the center of one of the world’s most spectacular mountain landscapes. As the focal point of the Patagonia sportswear logo, you may have even worn it.

For mountaineers it’s part of one of the most alluring massifs on the planet. It wasn’t climbed until 1952 and remains, even by today’s standards, among the most technically challenging peaks on earth. For those of us who prefer to do our exploring with both feet firmly planted on the ground, we have the Sendero Fitz Roy, its eponymous hiking trail where you’re afforded enough views of the peak to last a lifetime.

Sendero Fitz Roy 5 Sendero Fitz Roy 6

Sendero Fitz Roy 8

The Tehuelche called the 3,405m (11,171ft) high spire Cerro Chalten, which means ‘smoking mountain’ or ‘peak of fire’. It’s an apt name as most of the time it rests at least partially shrouded by clouds and mist. The indigenous name was dropped in 1877 in favor of Fitz Roy, the captain of Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle who came within 50 kilometers of the range in 1834.

El Chalten to Camp Poincenot via Laguna Capri

The range sits on the Chilean-Argentinean border in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and Los Glaciares National Park. Most hikers exploring the areas start and end the journey in the village of El Chalten, in Argentina’s southern Santa Cruz Province, these days known as the country’s trekking capital. (El Chalten wears its designation well; more on the village next week.)

I got off to a somewhat late start so my initial plan, a roughly 10-hour round trip to Laguna de los Tres, which sits almost at the base of the massif, had to curtailed. I settled for a hike as far as Camp Poincenot, roughly 10 kilometers from town one way.

The trail head is located just to the north of town, where the main Avenida San Martin splits with Ruta Provinicial (RT) 23. The dirt and gravel road to the trail head veers to the left of the split; it’s well marked.

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Fitz Roy Trail trailhead

Sendero Fitz Roy 2 Sendero Fitz Roy 1

The total elevation gain to Laguna Capri is 200m (656ft); most of that is covered in this initial and very windy ascent from town. About 25 minutes into the hike you reach the first of several stunning vistas: this view, below, towards the de las Vueltas River Valley. The winds died down considerably about 10 minutes later.

Sendero Fitz Roy 3 IMG_3656-Mirador Rio de las Vueltas

De las Vueltas River Valley, on the ascent

At a casual clip, you’ll reach Laguna Capri and its campsite after about 90 minutes. The views are sensational, but if you walk just 15 minutes further you’ll reach the Mirador Fitz Roy, where you’ll also be treated to excellent views of both the range and the Piedras Blancas glacier.

Piedras Blancas glacier

Piedras Blancas glacier

Piedras Blancas glacier

Piedras Blancas glacier

From here, Camp Poincenot, named for the granite spire that stands to Fitz Roy’s left and stabs the sky at 3,002m (9,849ft), is another 90 minutes away. Largely flat, it’s a easy walk that leads you over a variety of landscapes where numerous wide-sweeping photo ops will present themselves.

Sendero Fitz Roy 19

And again: the de las Vueltas River Valley in late afternoon

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I was tempted to continue onwards to Laguna de los Tres, but opted instead to head back slowly while ample daylight remained to chase some birds instead. It was a wise decision.

Magellanic Woodpeckers galore

Other highlights? Besides the peaks, it’s the birds with the Magellanic Woodpecker topping the list. At 36 to 45 centimeters (14 to 18 inches) in length, campephilus magellanicus is the largest woodpecker in the Americas and found only in Patagonian forests of southern Argentina and Chile. Fortunately, they’re not as shy as many birds and I was able to get relatively close to leave with a few decent shots. A few more shots, of both the male and female, are in a previous post here.


Here’s a four-minute video notebook of the hike, heavy on Fitz Roy imagery; as the cover shows, he even made a brief cloud-free appearance, for my birthday, no doubt.

And below that, a 17-second time lapse I shot from the Poincenot campground with my GoPro. Fitz Roy, hiding in the cloud throughout, is in the center.


Also See: Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 2



These snaps are this week’s contribution for Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday on twitter) hosted by Nancie on her website, Budget Travelers Sandbox. When you have few minutes to browse, check out Nancie’s photos and those of others who take part. You’ll see some great photos and visit some wonderful places. The direct link for this week’s post is here.



Can’t stop by every day but want to keep in touch?

Then subscribe to The Piran Café READER, my website’s companion newsletter. Dispatched three or four times a month, the newsletter presents a brief and convenient digest to help you catch up with posts you may have missed. There are also occasional giveaway drawings and exclusive news and updates available and open to subscribers only. So why not subscribe right now?


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Waxenstein Mountain, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Waxenstein Mountain, Bavaria (Pic du Jour)

This is a south-facing view of Waxenstein Mountain taken this afternoon from the shore of the Riessersee lake in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Kleiner, or smaller Waxenstein, to the right stands at 2,136m (7,007ft) while Großer Waxenstein reaches 2,277m (7,470ft).

The mountain is part of the compact Wetterstein Range shared between Germany’s Bavaria and Autria’s Tyrol which is dominated by the Zugspitze, at 2,962m (9,717ft) the highest peak in Germany.

Look for a series of posts about Garmisch-Partenkirchen beginning this weekend.

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