To think that all this is ‘merely’ the background score to our core quest of finding the largest cat to prowl these parts is admittedly boastful but entirely true.
The puma is a quintessential cat. Although large, it’s more closely related to its smaller cousins. But in appearance and manner, it lives up to its flamboyant alias of ‘mountain lion’ with emphatic vindication.
Of course, not being a part of the elite Panthera club means that it can’t roar, but sporting an expert balance between luxuriant and lithe, it does indeed look like a lion that shrank in size, underwent a nose-and-cheek job, and emigrated to the American mountains.
Secretive everywhere else, this adaptable and most widespread of all cats west of Africa is the most conspicuous in Patagonia. It couldn’t have chosen a more scenic place to be so.
But Patagonia is not all about pumas, guanacos and scenery you can swoon over all day, although we’re sure you’d happily ‘settle’ for that much.
There’s also the Patagonian fox, whose design seems a composite of a fat jackal, a bleached red fox and a fey wolf-impostor; the hog-nosed skunk (literally – no offence meant); and the ‘underworldly’ Megallanic tuco-tuco.
Sky traffic is busy, too, with southern caracaras, austral parakeets, Andean condor, Chilean flamingo, upland goose, and steamer ducks. And if it all gets steamy, there’s the snow, to cool your hours and soothe your eyes.
For you are, after all, in paradise.