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Andes - Patagonia untamed
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The Wild Andes

Part 3: Patagonia Untamed

Length: 3 x 50 min 

Format: 4 k

Year: 2018

Director / Producer:

Christian Baumeister


Christian Muñoz-Donoso, Christiaan Muñoz-Salas, Christian Baumeister


Stefan Reiss


Oliver Heuss




WDR, Smithsonian Channel, NDR, Arte, ORF, svt, SRF


The Andes is not just the longest chain of mountains on the planet, it is the most dynamic. Its relatively recent and sudden rise has been like a giant geological shock. Nature has had to respond, and as this spectacular mountain kingdom continues to rise, it pushes animals to ever-extraordinary limits: Monkeys snuggled in thick woolly coats against the lofty cold; scimitar-billed hummingbirds specialized to court and survive in remote, knife-sharp valleys; tiny cousins of the camel that sprint across arid grassland; and the ultimate glider through rarefied air – the Andean condor.


Surrounded by mighty glaciers and fortress-like granite peaks, battered by Antarctic winds and icy rain, a female puma tries to raise its family and tracks its prey across the rugged landscape Condors soar high above this lonely mountain range, and compete with the Puma for food, as does the Patagonian Fox.

Life in the southern Andes has had to pit itself against some of the most brutal conditions on earth. Yet a puma family finds a safe haven in the Torres del Paine National Park, an inhospitable land of rock towers and biting cold. The puma mother needs stealth and strength to provide a kill every other day, and make sure her kittens thrive. Not an easy task given that the weather out here is unpredictable, and strong, swirling winds could betray her sense of scent at any moment. Also, Pumas need cover from which to launch an attack on an unsuspecting guanaco herd – therefor they cover an enormous territory. As does the condor: soaring over this dramatic, glacial landscape, on a three-and-a-half-meter wingspan, it is one of the world’s most iconic birds. When spring melt becomes a thunder of un-dammed water crashing down the valleys, a pair of Torrent Ducks and its chicks stand firm against the waters force. Despite the powerful current, the ducklings must learn to feed for themselves.

But Patagonia also has very different side: Moisturized by Pacific fog, the Valdivian rainforest is bursting with natural treasures. Many of them are named after the man who first discovered them, including Darwin’s mouth-brooding frog and Darwin’s stag beetle one of the largest and, when competing for a mate, one of the most combative beetles in the world. A bit higher up the slopes ancient Araucaria forests thrive. The individual trees can grow 40m tall and 1000 years old. But what is even more astonishing, as a species they have outlasted the dinosaurs and with 200milliion years and their kind is older than the mountains themselves. Whereas stability reigns over the Araucaria trees, the Magellan Forest further south, has come under threat recently. It is being seriously impacted by an animal that shouldn’t even be here: The North American beaver. In 1946, 20 individuals were brought to Tierra del Fuego to create a fur-farming industry. The scheme failed, but the beavers flourished. In their North American homeland, these busy beavers have evolved in tandem with their environment. But in Tierra del Fuego they have become a natural disaster.

Upheaval is a challenge to every creature surviving in Patagonia, explosive change can transform life within minutes. In 2015, the Calbuco volcano, in central Chile, exploded into life. It ejected ash nearly 15 km into the atmosphere. And it’s just one of nearly 500 active volcanoes in Chile alone. These belching giants offer stark reminders of the violent subterranean forces pushing the Andes ever higher. This constant transformation of the landscape urges life to permanently adapt. For it is from this volcanic fire that the spectacular wildlife of the Andes has arisen, in this untamed Patagonia, the land at the end of the world.

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The Wild Andes

Patagonia Untamed



40th News & Documentary EMMY AWARD, USA 2019
*Nomination for Outstanding Cinematography

OMNI Awards, USA, 2018