The Beagle Channel and Ushuaia

Jan 29, 2020 - National Geographic Orion

The consensus is “It went by too fast!”

We had a trip that stood out for everyone. The weather cooperated in outstanding ways. The landing opportunities provided spectacular views and encounters with wildlife. Today we are happy for the shelter of the Beagle Channel. The Drake Passage was good to us both on our way to the Antarctic and on our way back.

Now the hillsides of Tierra del Fuego flank our ship. Their soft curves speak of the ice that carved them. The trees are a welcome sight after so many days without them. We are saturated in the wilderness. Each and every day, brought new enchantments, new stimuli soaking deeply into our beings.

Outside the black-browed albatross and giant petrels escort us toward Ushuaia. Occasionally we see brown skua and remember the sounds of the penguins when this predator came by.

Our quest for information about the Antarctic was quenched by numerous talks given throughout the day. Jonathan Zaccaria presented a clear explanation of the ozone hole and its future. Later Rich Kirchner filled in all of the details about the cetaceans of the southern ocean. Fun was not overlooked as Shaun Powell tested our retention of trivia with a bit of a contest in the lounge. Our final presentation by yours truly gave us the global view of climate with a specific emphasis on the Antarctic.

One last wildlife opportunity surfaced in the calm waters of the Beagle Channel. Three sei whales lingered with us before continuing their search for food.

The captain’s farewell dinner was another venture in fine dining and a chance for us to say farewell to our new friends. Fair winds, dear friends, until we meet again.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

About the Photographer

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland, along with other destinations. His 33 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

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