ABOUT US

DIEGO PUNTA FERNANDEZ – Director & Author

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Diego is an active naturalist and professional photographer. After traveling during many years through Latin America and Europe, getting to know each diverse culture and landscape, he finally chose Patagonia as the place where to develop his interests in constant touch with nature. As an enthusiastic member of Aves Argentinas (local partner of BirdLife International), he is co-founder of the El Chaltén Birdwatchers Club and he spends many days in assorted trips in search of birds, all over Argentina and other destinations. The daily practice of mountaineering and photography, frame this concern about conservation with a very deep knowledge of the area. Licensed Trekking Guide and certified Wilderness First Responder, he has developed and he participates on many conservation projects in Santa Cruz Province and in the local community as well. He also teaches birdwatching courses all along South Patagonia. Since 1998, Diego lives in El Chaltén, at the foot of Mt. Fitz Roy, leading trekking, birding, and photographic trips all through South Patagonia, Antarctica and Svalbard. Diego founded 49southphoto, and he is author of many of their publications.

MARIA CECILIA COSTA – Author

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Maria Cecilia is a professional photographer and birder from Argentina; she has studied math education, as well as natural sciences and professional photography. She is a licensed trekking guide, certified first responder and co-founder of the El Chaltén Birdwatchers Club. As an enthusiastic member of Aves Argentinas, Cecilia has traveled all over Argentina and to other destinations. Since 1998, she has made her home in El Chaltén—located at the foot of Mt. Fitzroy—and leads trekking, birding and photography tours all over southern Patagonia and throughout Latin America. Cecilia is co-founder of 49southphoto, and she is author of some of their publications.

MARIA LAURA IRIBARREN – Author

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María Laura Iribarren “Mela” is an enthusiastic naturalist. Since 2003 she lives in the mountain village of El Chaltén. She is part of the park rangers staff in Los Glaciares National Park. She has carried out exhaustive surveys of the high Andean flora in the mountains in this National Park and other areas of the Patagonian Andes. Her training in tourism and her profession as park ranger have guided her to travel and work in many natural areas in Argentina as well as in Australia. Mela has made excellent didactical material about mountain environment conservation and she has been involved in the development of many natural interpretation trails. Mela has also coordinated the research, design and start of the visitor’s centers in the National Park office in El Chaltén. She is co-funder of COA (bird’s watcher club) and an active member of this institution. Mela shares her passion for nature through many environmental educational programs for local children.

ROLANDO GARIBOTTI – Author

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Rolando first visited El Chaltén at age 15 to climb Aguja Guillaumet, when the town had a solitary, empty house. Since then he has climbed in the surrounding peaks relentlessly, accomplishing the first complete ascent of the north face of Fitz Roy in 1996, the first ascent of Cerro Torre from the north in 2005, and the first ascent of the Torre Traverse in 2008. He is an avid photographer and writer, having published in publications such as Le Monde (France), The Observer (UK), Gazetta dello Sport (Italy), National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Outside Magazine, as well as climbing magazines from around the world. He works as a mountain guide, practicing that profession from Antarctica to Alaska and from the Alps to Vietnam. He is the author of Patagonia Vertical, a climbing guidebook to the Chalten Massif.

SANTIAGO IMBERTI – Author

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An ornithologist, photographer and writer, Santiago was born and raised in southern Patagonia, Argentina. He obtained a degree in tourism and later in ornithology, which allowed him to combine his love for nature and the outdoors with his work as a bird watcher, naturalist, fly fisher and mountain guide. He has been guiding trips in Patagonia, the Antarctic and Arctic for over 20 years.
However, his main passion is conservation and research therefore in the off-season Santiago does field work on birds, mostly in southern Patagonia and is the Director of Conservation for Asociación Ambiente Sur; an NGO that seeks to protect the environment and educate the new generations on a sustainable way of life in southern Patagonia. Since 2009 he coordinates the project to save the now Critically Endangered and Patagonian endemic, Hooded Grebe; and also the creation of Patagonia National Park, a massive protected area that aims to save the grebe and some of the least know habitats in South America.
His many articles and stories have been published in scientific journals and popular travel magazines. In the last years, three of his books on birds and Antarctica have been published, he has become a certified wilderness first aid responder and, since his singing abilities are rather poor, he has produced a couple cds of the beautiful bird sounds of South America, Patagonia and Antarctica.

LUCIANO BERNACCHI – Author

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Luciano “Luqui” lives & works in the beautiful mountains & glaciers of Patagonia for the last 20 years. He has a wealth of experience in adventure travel and eco-tourism; leading groups, guiding and lecturing. From expeditions across the Patagonian Ice-Field and Ice Walks on the Perito Moreno Glacier to treks in Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego, Luciano has been working as a mountain guide, ski guide, tour leader, naturalist guide, and birding guide across Argentina and in many other countries throughout the past 20 years.
Birding and glaciers are his two main passions, a keen birder since a very early age, and many years of experience working around, on, under, and close to glaciers. Luciano is based in Los Glaciers National Park, Patagonia, Argentina and works as Director and board member of Glaciarium/Museo del HieloPatagonico – the largest and one of the very few Glacier museums in the world.
Luqui as most people call him, has been working in both Polar regions extensively, sharing his passion for ice, glaciers & wildlife. Luciano has been certified in a variety of specialties: as Ski Patrol with extensive training in skiing, snow safety, avalanche awareness and first aid; as a Birding Guide by Argentina’s National Ornithological Society, as a Mountain Guide and Climbing Instructor (Rock & Ice) by the Argentina Mountain Guide Association and Buenos Aires Alpine Club respectively; also by Argentina’s Coast Guard to operate sailboats, and small vessels. Luciano’s diverse jobs and interests have taken him to many destinations and wilderness areas around the world.

KARA WELLER – Author

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Kara has always had two major passions – for travel and for the biology of the natural world. Growing up in the woods of central Alaska her interest in nature became stimulated by visits of ravens and moose to the neighborhood and by sightings of the Aurora borealis overhead.
With a B.S. and M.S. degree in wildlife biology, Kara’s research experiences range from studying whales in the Bering Sea, eiders on the Arctic coast, river otters in central Europe, and raptors in central Alaska, to mouflon sheep in Eastern Europe. She worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as well as the National Park Service, and some private organizations such as the Alaska Bird Observatory.
For the last 18 years her focus has been on the nature travel industry, and she has become an expert ecologist working mostly in the polar regions. Her work has taken her as both expedition leader and lecturer on board passenger ships to the Arctic, Alaska, British Columbia, eastern Russia, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic, South America and the South Pacific, Antarctica and even the North Pole itself.