The Fjords of Chilean Patagonia

Nov 01, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion departed from Puerto Natales yesterday evening and headed into the maze of spectacularly scenic fjords that characterize southern Patagonia. Puerto Natales, with a population of about 16,000 people, sits about 51.5 degrees south, about as far from the equator as is London, England, in the northern hemisphere. Dinner finished in time for us to gather on deck for dessert and our navigation through White Narrows, a constricted passage that is best transited at slack tide due to exceptional tidal flows at other times during the tidal cycle.

We are on board throughout the day today, as we head to the southeast, through Paseo del Mar and Paseo Froward, eventually turning to the northeast, exploring the waterways, mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls that define this region. Sea conditions are calm and the vistas are magnificent. Weather is typically maritime – overcast, often windy, occasional showers. We pass by Cabo Froward by mid-afternoon. At 53°53′35″S, this is the most southerly point in the continental Americas. The islands of Patagonia extend farther to the south. We plan to visit Cabo Horn later in our voyage. This is the most southerly of the Patagonian islands, at 60°. All the while, our hotel manager Ian, and the hotel, team make sure that we are well cared for. To ensure that we don’t get peckish, in addition to three fabulous meals, we have a hot dog and Bloody Mary surprise on the aft deck in the morning, and afternoon tea with a variety of scrumptious treats.

There is plenty happening throughout the day. The natural history team introduces themselves, we have briefings in preparation of explorations using Zodiacs and kayaks, and our staff presentation series kicks off. Certified photo instructor Eric Guth leads off with “An Introduction to Digital Photography,” followed by “Water Birds of the Southern Tip of South America” by naturalist Mike Greenfelder. Guest presenter Paula Noe’s talk, “The WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) Conservation Journey in Southern Patagonia” provides great background for tomorrow’s visit to Karukinka Nature Reserve.

Even with everything going on, there is ample time for other pursuits. For some, that means relaxing after travels from home. There are many photographs to be sorted through from our memorable visit to Torres del Paine National Park. Our photo team is busy giving one-on-one advice to guests. Our open bridge is a popular spot to observe and to search for wildlife. A variety of birds are sighted, including black-browed albatross, kelp goose, Magellanic penguin, flightless steamer-duck, southern giant-petrel, and the imperial cormorant, to note a few.

Our day ends with Captain Heidi Norling’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party and another fine dinner. We head to our staterooms, excited about what tomorrow may bring.

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About the Author

Larry Prussin

Expedition Leader

Larry has been a naturalist for more than 35 years.  His experience includes extensive work in environmental education in Ohio, Vermont and Yosemite National Park where he was program director for the Yosemite Institute.  He has been a ranger at Mohican State Park, Lehman Caves National Monument, and Glacier Bay National Park where he first met up with Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic in 1990.

About the Photographer

Eric Guth

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Eric began work with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in 2006 as a means to see the world, work with great photographers and engage his environmental studies degree beyond the classroom. His initial years with the company were spent working the waters of Southeast Alaska and Baja California. His move to the National Geographic Explorer in 2008 helped earn him the experience and knowledge needed to establish himself as a trusted boat handler, naturalist and respected photographer in nearly all the environments Lindblad-National Geographic travels.

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