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Gathering Storm over French Valley 1
South America

The trail to Valle del Frances, or the French valley climbs mostly below the tree line for most of the way but as the vegatation is mostly stunted, there is no shortage in the view department - right to my left is the highest mountain in the park, Paine Grande with the glacier of the same name cascading down. Two of its peaks are visible here : Cumbre Cental (2730m) and Cumbre Pricipal (3050m).

Despite the clear blue sky behind, there is already a hint of unstable weather heading my way.

Copyright: Arroz Marisco
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 14000x7000
Taken: 16/04/2009
Uploaded: 18/07/2011
Updated: 11/06/2014
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Tags: french valley; valle del frances; cerro paine grande
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South America makes up the southern half of the Americas and a large part of Latin America. It's home to the world's longest mountain range, biggest waterfall and largest river -- even these mammoths pale in comparison to the stunning variety of life forms thriving in the rainforest. To the northwest, off the coast of Ecuador, lie the Galapagos Islands, which are unique for hosting species not found anywhere else on earth. These were the subject of study for Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution, which he himself said will require proof in every single case. The main languages in South America are Spanish and Portugese, which basically tells you which European countries colonized the place. The South American wars of independence took place over two decades in the early 19th century, led by Simon Bolivar of Venezuela and Jose san Martin of Argentina. Following liberation from Portugal and Spain, South America took off into its own development, capitalizing on the rich deposits of oil, gold, copper, silver and tango musicians. Brazil is the largest country in South America and home to one of the world's best parties, Carnaval. Have you heard of samba music? How about bossa nova? Maybe dancing for three days straight? I can't say enough good things about South America. All the world's continents have amazing secrets and treasures laying in wait for your discovery, but in South America... just have a look at our pictures while you're waiting for online confirmation of your plane tickets to hit your inbox.Text by Steve Smith.