DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Terrain - RIVERS OF THE SOUTHERN CORDILLERA  

 

The western slopes of the Andes of Patagonia in Southern Chile receive one of the highest rainfalls on earth.  With the soaring ranges so close to the Pacific Ocean, the rivers come down large and fast, but often must pause in lakes filling basins gouged out by glaciers in the ice ages.  In northern Chile, we are dealing with the world's driest desert, and rivers seldom reach the sea, ending instead in great salt lakes or pans.  Farther north, the wet hand of the Amazon rain forest, reaches into the western ranges, causing flash floods across the coastal deserts, but the major rivers here drop eastward from the Cordilleras of Peru and Bolivia, into the jungles.

 

Valleys carved by glaciers tend to wind up in a "U" shape, that is steep sides and flat bottoms.  This allows rivers to meander as in this example from southern Chile.   Click to see big picture (417x480 pixels; 80 KB)
At this junction, the Rio Baker (pronounced "Backer"), which drains Chile's largest lake joins the Rio Cochrane, to make Chile's largest river, as it heads south. Click to see big picture (625x419 pixels; 129 KB)
In the rain-shadow on the eastern side of the mountains, rivers past and present have left their meandering scars across the Argentine steppes. Click to see big picture (640x333 pixels; 93 KB)
A few larger rivers cross the pampas heading east, through a drier, but attractive terrain.  This is the Rio Neuquen in the province of that name.

   Click to see big picture (315x480 pixels; 86 KB)

The modern way of crossing the Rio Chubut Click to see big picture (612x382 pixels; 90 KB)
And this is the way that the local gauchos throw a raft together to cross it.   Click to see big picture (366x480 pixels; 70 KB)
But if you are an animal, here is they way you will cross the Rio Chubut. Click to see big picture (640x402 pixels; 82 KB)
This is what the car ferries looked like on the Chilean highway south from the (now destroyed) town of Chaiten, before they got around to building bridges. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 103 KB)
But by comparison, here is a car ferry on a river northeast of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Does it look normal? Click to see big picture (640x444 pixels; 104 KB)
The "ferry" is actually powered by workers wading through the water.  There isn't even a safety cable. Click to see big picture (640x363 pixels; 85 KB)
The beautiful Futuleufu River and Valley, renown for white water rafting, flows out of Argentina into Chile.  At this point, it joins the Rio Azul.  This area  was hard hit by the eruption of the Chaiten Volcano in 2008, well after this photo. Click to see big picture (640x416 pixels; 145 KB)
The mouth of the Puelo River near the north end of the Chilean fjord zone.  A green tint due to a glacial component.
The canyon of the Biobio River, a famous drainage in Chile.  It is actually a big river, so this strange constriction is very deep.    Click to see big picture (301x480 pixels; 73 KB)
The Rio Caunahue forms this canyon as it head for Lago Ranco in the lake district of Chile.    Click to see big picture (363x480 pixels; 87 KB)
The Rio Melado, a typical river in central Chile, and a good one for fishing. Click to see big picture (569x446 pixels; 140 KB)
Witness, a happy fisherman.  Like so many rivers in Chile, the Melado is almost unknown to tourists, indeed to all but a few Chileans.    Click to see big picture (401x480 pixels; 109 KB)
In its upper reaches, the Maule River of Chile cuts a complex volcanic terrain.   Here it has sliced through thick beds of white volcanic ash. Maule River
The Rio Tinguiririca.  It would have been near this site that two of the survivors of an ordeal of over two months, after a Uruguayan airliner crashed on the Argentine border, reached human settlement.  The movie "Alive" portrayed this saga.    Click to see big picture (330x480 pixels; 83 KB)
In the central third of Chile, the rivers are often used for bathing.  Even if near the coast, the ocean waves tend to make it difficult for family water sports. Click to see big picture (640x408 pixels; 106 KB)
On the other hand, in the mountains, rivers are often difficult to cross.  This is the Rio Negro southeast of Santiago.  Glacial silt makes the water opaque. Click to see big picture (635x422 pixels; 107 KB)
Near the border, in the Argentine Province of Mendoza, a hotspring formation has formed a very unusual bridge over the upper Rio Mendoza, known as Puente (bridge) del Inca. Click to see big picture (617x398 pixels; 113 KB)
In the Atacama Desert, the Rio Salado, a river of salt water.  Well, it seems in place in the world's driest desert. Click to see big picture (640x416 pixels; 91 KB)
Valley of the Rio Lluta, northernmost in Chile. Lluta valley
Switching to Peru, north of the center of the Atacama Desert, this what the bridge over the Rio Colca canyon at the town of Chivay looked like in 1966 before being plugged by a dam.    Click to see big picture (313x480 pixels; 75 KB)
The Rio Colca Canyon itself, looked like this. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 123 KB)
The same shot in 2011, behold the mighty Rio Colca, it has been reduced to a piddle. rio colca
The tourist-famous canyon of the Rio Urubamba, as seen from near Machu Pichu, Peru.

   Click to see big picture (323x480 pixels; 74 KB)

The coastal strip of Peru is desert, but subject to flash floods as storms from the Amazon basin strike the Andes from behind. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 126 KB)
And this one tore a hole through the city of Arequipa in Southern Peru.

   Click to see big picture (346x480 pixels; 94 KB)

While on the east side of the Peruvian Andes, a truck does a dangerous crossing of the Huallaga River near Tingo Maria. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 92 KB)
On another Peruvian river, loggers cut and saw timber, then use it to build small rafts and ride their produce to market.