Tortel and Puerto Brown, Chile

Oct 13, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


This morning, we visited the tiny village of Tortel (pop. 500) and walked all over the village via its extensive boardwalk system. The village sits on the edge of the vertical walls of the fjord so the only way to get around is to traverse the boardwalks which hang on the rock walls above the water.

In one direction, some of us walked past small inns, restaurants, and a very small market; others walked in the opposite direction, out of town, looking for birds. We were especially fortunate to see six Andean condors soaring overhead, and we met a few very friendly locals out for a boardwalk stroll themselves. This entire, pristine area is protected by the Chilean branch of Oceana, which outlaws salmon farming. The industry is extremely destructive to fjords in Chile, as well as in Scotland and Norway where it is extensively developed.

Over lunch, we re-positioned National Geographic Explorer to an area we sailed past on previous voyages but haven’t yet had time to visit. The area, called Puerto Brown, is the site of spectacular, steep-sided fjords with many small channels that we explored by Zodiac. We drove past a thick forest cover to the fjord walls, past some lovely waterfalls, and some steamer ducks and neotropical cormorants swimming on the still water.

After Zodiac cruises through Puerto Brown, we returned to the ship and sailed toward English Narrows, the first of two passages we will traverse on this voyage through the fjords of southern Chile.

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About the Author

Jim Kelley

Expedition Leader

A native of California, Jim has been going to sea for most of his life. Jim grew up by the ocean in Southern California, did his undergraduate work in geology at Pomona College, and received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Wyoming. In 1966 he joined the faculty of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Washington, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Department of Biomathematics. In 1970-71 he was Fulbright Professor at the University of Athens and Senior Research Scientist at the Democritos Greek Atomic Energy Commission.

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