A postcard from Laguna Nimez Reserve, El Calafate

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We went there to see flamingoes. They stood in a group in the water, long necks curled up, nestling their heads under their wings. Somehow they managed to balance in the strong wind.

The surface of the water sparkled deep blue and rippled in murky green waves. We wrapped our clothes tighter around ourselves and struggled against the wind while the low autumn sun shone in our eyes.

Short stakes in the ground showed us the trail through yellow grass and spiky bushes. Periodically, numbered signs would tell us when to read the corresponding information on our paper map. It flapped wildly every time I tried to open it, just like the rust-coloured tufts of reeds in the shallow water of the lagoon’s edge.

Seeking shelter amongst calafate bushes, we spotted little brown birds bobbing on the boardwalk ahead of us. The illustrated sign told us they were Patagonian Canastero and Band-tailed Eremobius. We couldn’t spot the Scale-throated Earthcreeper, though.

Continuing around the lake, we watched Speckled Teals, or maybe Andean Ruddy Ducks, diving in the water. Red-shovelers flapped their wings at each other amongst sheltering reeds. We huddled down alongside the sand dune that separated the reserve from Lago Argentino. The far bigger body of water on the other side of the fence was covered in choppy white waves; too cold for us to venture to.

We kept walking on the narrow strip between Laguna Nimez and the Lesser Lagoon. Gulls soared above, blown backwards by violent gusts. A bigger shadow passed overhead and we saw an eagle landing in a patch of bushes. A huge white bird stood off in the distance. It’s shape was impossible to tell; round and squat or elegantly curled up against the weather.

Totally exposed between the two lagoons, the wind buffeted us violently as we stepped on squishy ground. There was a small bridge ahead but the path beyond was submerged in murky water shining strangely black. If was impossible to continue because of the periodic flooding caused when the part of the Perito Moreno glacier collapses.

We turned and retraced our steps, saying goodbye to a family of Upland Geese, a grey-white-teal heap honking ever so softly in a sheltered knoll. Our backs felt warm as we walked briskly towards town.

Laguna Nimez Reserve
Cost: A$25

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