Laguna Esmeralda in Ushuaia: inside a wallpaper
My suspicions were confirmed when I checked the photos on my computer: it seemed that on that day we had been walking in the ideal landscape, like those photos especially selected for the glory of decorating our desktop backgrounds.
The southern end of the American continent holds many surprises that, luckily, have not yet been looted by the more popular travel guides. Among them, in the heart of the Argentinian Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), near Ushuaia, we find what could be just another valley with a pond, one more trek to tick off, a pleasant demonstration of what nature is capable of.
However, those present agreed that this place was actually one of the most beautiful we had ever stepped into. It should be noted that our judgement may be influenced by the crucial fact of having arrived on a day with such perfect weather conditions. Perhaps quite unusual for a region that has a high record of suicides and tragedies strongly linked to the harsh climate.
A picture taken straight from the camera’s memory card, bypassing Photoshop -apart from the watermark. Fresh stuff.
The magic mountain stream that zigzagged down already promised great shots.
And here are the calm waters of Laguna Esmeralda in the evening, with its glacier in the background. Apparently it’s called Ojo del Albino, but I prefer “Dog Face”.
Much of the path leading up to the lake goes along a creek, where the water takes on a shade known as glacier milk, due to the composition of the minerals that it carries.
Skies of crystal for a day with incredible light, like a Flemish painting.
The spell of the Emerald Lagoon definitely took effect after we discovered this dead forest, where the white of the dry trunks contrasts against the stunning Patagonian colors.
Spears of a spectral army in the Land of Fire. Epic.
Beavers are a foreign pest whose dam-building has destroyed the original path of the stream. At the same time, they have created a system of waterfalls which make pictures like this one possible.
Due to the work of these rodents, some sections of the river have become a series of small, interconnected lakes.
The trek also includes a waterfall that has nothing to do with the engineering of the beavers. The water here flows through a corridor carved in the rock.
Nicholas gives us an idea of the size of the Emerald Lagoon.
Another unexpected highlight: peat fields quilting the walk (like the moving pathways you find in some airports, where your feet bounce slightly as you go along them). This is actually a mass of decaying plants, taking a long time to decompose due to weather conditions, creating layers of a kind of soft moss which is a pleasure to tread upon.
A twisted tree joins the performance at one end of the trail, just after crossing a small forest.
It was not an enchanted forest, but we were enchanted with it.