Traveler’s Journal: South Georgia Island/Patagonia

Traveler’s Journal

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16

Where: Sequim High School library, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Cost: Suggested $5 donation (adults); 18 and younger, free

Presenters: Bob and Enid Phreaner

Presentation: “South Georgia Island/Patagonia”

Fin del Mundo … the end of the world!

Patagonia — Tierra del Fuego, specifically — has long been referred to as the end of the world. But many geologists believe that the Andes continue another 1,300 miles beneath the ocean to resurface as South Georgia Island (SGI).

It isn’t easy to travel to the end of the world, so what would entice us to go? The reasons are many. Most importantly, these destinations offer fantastic animal viewing, stunning scenery and an opportunity to literally walk in the footsteps of Darwin and Shackleton.

Our adventure began in Punta Arenas, the southernmost large city in South America; and after 30 hours of travel, it felt like we had reached the end of the world! But our efforts were rewarded.

Along with seven other travelers, we enjoyed a week exploring the wildlife-rich area in and around Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and probably the most spectacular of all the national parks in Patagonia.

Each day provided amazing experiences. One day we hiked high enough that we could look down on soaring Andean condors; and it was so quiet we could hear the wind whistle through their feathers. Another day we walked along the shores of Lago Grey which were cluttered with brilliant blue icebergs.

Wildlife watching was superb and included guanacos, flamingos, rheas, many bird species and puma cubs. All the time we were surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring scenery anywhere.

We would have loved to have stayed longer, but more adventures awaited us on South Georgia Island.

A three-hour flight from Punta Arenas brought us to the Falkland Islands, where an ominous forecast prompted an urgent departure of our expedition ship Ortelius. After three days on the open seas, with waves approaching 30 feet at times, we finally arrived at South Georgia Island. The 72 passengers and guides immediately boarded zodiacs for the first of our 13 landings.

SGI is probably most famous for the role it played in the rescue of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance. Shackleton is now buried on SGI and visiting his grave and retracing the final leg of his journey into Stromness were highlights for the history buffs on-board.

But SGI also is known as both the “Galapagos of the Antarctic” and the “Serengeti of the Southern Ocean” due to the biodiversity and incredible density of penguins, seabirds and mammals that breed here, including about 4 million penguin pairs and 95 percent of the world’s population of fur seals.

The extreme concentration of wildlife makes for an incredibly noisy and smelly beach but an animal photographer’s dream.

We enjoyed many hours walking and observing the penguins, seals and sea lions; and when we sat quietly, we had the awesome experience of them approaching and observing us.

Our return voyage took us all the way back to Ushuaia, Argentina, where we enjoyed touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before making our way back home from the Fin del Mundo!

About the presenters

Bob and Enid Phreaner were both born with insatiable curiosity about nature and the world around them. During their working careers, they had little time to travel, so they hiked and backpacked near their home in Pennsylvania.

After Bob retired in 2006, they searched for a retirement Shangri-La. The pursuit included Enid working as a traveling speech therapist, which brought them to the Olympic Peninsula.

Eventually, they stored an old 4Runner and camping gear on the West Coast, returning to it every couple of months so they could explore the West. When not on the road in the U.S., they rented apartments in various European villages.

In 2012, they chose Sequim as their Shangri-La and made the big move across the country. Since settling here, they have traveled less frequently, but to more distant destinations in Africa and South America.

When at home, they enjoy hiking, volunteering, pursuing a newfound hobby of birding and being entertained by their dog Charlie Rose.

About the presentations

Traveler’s Journal is a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food for volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail projects.

Shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sequim High School Library at 601 N. Sequim Ave. Bring a cushion if you like.

Suggested donation is $5 for adults; those 18 years old and younger are free.

One selected photo enlargement will be given away each week as a door prize.

For more information, email Arvo Johnson at