Change of plans? We’re used to that onboard National Geographic Endurance! Instead of arriving at Garibaldi Fjord in the afternoon, we cruised up this glacially-carved fjord in the morning. And what a morning it was, with clearing skies, no wind, and fantastic views of the glacial features all around us. Plus, we learned of the discovery of Shackleton’s sunken ship Endurance, the namesake of our ship. In 1915, Shackleton’s ship was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, about 1000 miles away. Several expeditions tried to locate the wreck on the seafloor without success, mainly because of the thickness of the shelf ice and the extreme depth (about 10,000 feet). It was a great honor to be onboard National Geographic Endurance on the day the news announced the discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance. Meanwhile, here in the Chilean fjords, the presence of floating icebergs indicated that a tidewater glacier was close by, this time at the very head of this 20-mile long and 1-mile wide bay. Our ship cruised through the brash ice, and we saw South American sea lions sheltering in a cave. We moved up the fjord and came face-to-face with the Garibaldi Glacier, where we observed several calving episodes. This glacier is one of the few in the world that advanced in the past few decades, but there were indications that it has recently receded. We all admired the glacier, steep cliffs, waterfalls, and the high mountains above. Then we boarded Zodiacs and inspected the nooks and crannies of the fjord. During lunch, we maneuvered out of the bay and arrived back at West Seno (Sound = Fjord) Pía, which we visited on our first day in Patagonia. Here we were able to kayak in a sheltered bay, and we all felt really tiny in the gigantic scenery. On the way out of the fjord, naturalist Santiago Imberti gave a presentation about Karukinka Natural Park and the Wildlife Conservation Society. During happy hour, we enjoyed recap and reflected on a wonderful day in Patagonia as the ship cruised east along Glacier Alley with its spectacular glaciers.
National Geographic Endurance
This morning’s destination was Capitan Canepa Bay, located on the southern end of Isla de los Estados. The entrance to the bay is covered with impressive, rugged cliffs. Southern swells have slowly eroded the cliffs, creating several large sea caves. As the ship proceeded to the end of the fiord, it passed several small bays that were later explored via Zodiac. At the end of one bay, a small waterfall spilled its watershed from a hidden lake sitting above the rocky cliffs and out of our sight. As guests explored the small lagoons and hidden caves, seal pups were often found tucked away in the rocky outcroppings by their worried mothers who were far out to sea. Guests returned to the ship for lunch, and we began our transit to Franklin Bay in pursuit of rockhopper penguins. Upon arrival, a few penguins were spotted in the water. We observed at least a dozen invasive red deer in the surrounding hills and valleys. A small herd of feral goats was discovered in the intertidal zone, evidence of poorly understood introductions in the past. After a ship cruise of Franklin Bay, we departed for Ushuaia to arrive in time for guest disembarkation. The evening closed with presentations by the naturalist staff, the guest slideshow, and the captain’s farewell. After an amazing experience in Southern Patagonia, the trip came to a happy ending.