Chilean Fjords

For most of us from up north, the southern end of South America would probably be referred to as the “bottom of the world.” Yesterday evening we boarded the Endeavour and cast the lines in Ushuaia. Soon we were sailing in to the Beagle Channel.

We are now exploring the area of Tierra del Fuego and the surroundings, which still stand as one of the more remote destinations in the world. The number of islands and the myriads and labyrinth of twisting deep fjords are endless and perfect for exploration.

As we woke up this morning, we were near the deep fjord Seno Chico. Together with our Chilean pilots, the Captain took us almost up to the glacier front. Even though the rain was slowly drizzling, the scenery was pounding over us. A small and narrow fjord, which ends with a large and actively calving glacier, all together surrounded by high mountains, cliff slopes bright green of notofagus trees, mosses and grass. A perfect setting.

This is also an area where the place name of almost every island is tied to some early exploration. Cape Horn is named after the Dutch town Horn, Magellan Strait named after the first worldwide circumnavigation. Of course, the master of all navigators also visited this part of the world, as James Cook on his first voyage came through with the Endeavour and named some of the islands.

Still the main reason why a lot of English place names dominate for the many islands is, of course, to do with the ship Beagle, who made much of the mapping of the area. Captain FitzRoy was the man who, twice in the earlier part of 19th century, ventured the area. On the last voyage, a young man was onboard who later came to have a major impact on the society. We sailed today nearby Cordillera Darwin.

In the afternoon we entered a sheltered fjord, Seno Hyatt, and it was time for more adventure. Now we dropped our Zodiac fleet. Two large glaciers drop down into the fjord. It was still drizzling, but calving ice, sea lions and a few birds unique to the area made this wet outing a great experience. The evening ended with Captain’s Welcome cocktails and dinner.