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Two month Journey Through South America Retracing Darwin's Expedition

From early December to early February, I roughly retraced Charles Darwin's route through South America in tandem with a book project.  Traveling throughout the region from 1832-1835, the young naturalist made important scientific discoveries and observations which would later inform his theory of evolution.  I had the unique opportunity of participating in the Darwin 200 Initiative, a scientific expedition on the high seas.  Sailing aboard Dutch tall ship Oosterschelde, I traveled from Patagonia in Argentina to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.  Before meeting up with the Darwin expedition, however, I flew to Montevideo.  From there, I made my way by ferry to Buenos Aires, and then onwards by plane to Puerto Madryn where I embarked on the Oosterschelde.  After participating in the sea voyage, I flew from Stanley to Punta Arenas, Chile and then onwards by plane and overland to Santiago.


Throughout my travels, I sought to assess Darwin's legacy by speaking with a vast array of people ranging from paleontologists to geologists to biologists to environmentalists to indigenous peoples to anthropologists to historians to nature guides and rangers to government and health officials and more.  A man of the Victorian Era, Darwin did not fully recognize the importance of protecting bio-diversity, let alone cultural diversity, and was ambivalent towards the very notion of extinction.  On the other hand, Darwin would undoubtedly be taken aback at the rapid pace of climate change today, as well as the risks posed to both wildife and society as a whole.  Can we adapt fast enough, or will we ultimately face extinction?  As I traveled throughout South America, such questions framed many of the discussions I conducted with participants on the ground. 


Since my return to New York, I have been synthesizing my interviews into a series of articles which will also inform my wider book project (to see my first article in Salon about Chile and forest fires, click here).  In addition to my writing, I have also curated an extensive photo essay which contextualizes many of the issues and underlying concepts relating to my trip.  Broadly speaking, the photo essay is broken down into separate chapters, with the first part dealing with Uruguay and Argentina, the second part dealing with sea travel in the south Atlantic and Falkland Islands, and the third part dealing with Chile.  South America is a large place, and as a result I did not retrace the beginning and end of Darwin's voyage dealing with Brazil and the Galápagos, which will have to wait for further travel.  Below is an index and guide to my photo essay.




For "Montevideo: Indigenous Peoples and Mutinous Black Troops," click here.


For "Darwin's Travels in Uruguay," click here.


For "Darwin's Legacy in Argentina," click here.


For "Traveling South to Patagonia," click here.


For "Patagonia Wildlife Refuge," click here.


For "Gaucho Life," click here.


For "Hunting for Fossils," click here.


For "Voyage to Punta Tombo," click here.




For "Vernet and the Curious Case of Gaucho Rivero," click here.


For "Darwin 200 Initiative in the South Atlantic," click here.


For "From Waddell to Saunders Island," click here.


For "Exploring Carcass Island," click here.


For "Darwin's Legacy in the Falklands," click here.


For "Darwin and the Warrah," click here.


For "English Identity in the Falklands," click here.


For "Legacy of the Falklands War," click here.




For "Darwin's Legacy in Chile," click here.


For "Indigenous Peoples and Megafauna," click here.


For "Ancient Sloth Cave and Torres del Paine National Park," click here.


For "Chile and the Indigenous Past," click here.


For "Puerto Montt and Chiloé," click here.


For "Indigenous Cultures and Food," click here.


For "Darwin's Mount Osorno," click here.


For "Lush Vegetation of Petrohué," click here.


For "Concepción's Natural Disasters," click here.


For "Concepción Natural History Museum," click here.


For "Visit to Santiago National Museum of Natural History," click here.


For "Fossils and Minerals in Santiago," click here.


For "Paleontology Museum," click here.




For "Offbeat Santiago," click here.


For "Vintage Scenes," click here.


For "Historic Trains of South America," click here.

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Argentina, Uruguay and the Romantic Era: A Photo Essay

For Travels in Historic Montevideo, click here.


For Travels in Argentina: From Gauchos to Freemasons and More, click here.


For Retracing Garibaldi's Steps in Uruguay, click here.


For the Romantic Era of Garibaldi in France and Spain, see here.


On a more contemporary note:


For Jews and Anti-Semitism in Buenos Aires, click here.


For Graffiti Lane in Berlin to Graffiti Alley in Buenos Aires, click here.


For Venezuela in the Chávez Era to Buenos Aires to Montevideo click here.

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