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
We returned a day early to Ushuaia to take refuge at the port before a storm arrived. The storm could have potentially delayed our port call, causing people to miss flights back to the United States. We took full advantage of the extra time in port and explored the beautiful surroundings of Ushuaia. In the morning, we ventured out to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. We went on a few walks through the southern beech forests, saw the post office at the end of the world, and visited the Pan-American Highway, which ends in the national park and begins all the way up in Alaska. In the afternoon, we had another excursion to the opposite end of the town, up through Garibaldi Pass, and ending with a walk down to Lake Escondido. We wrapped up the day with farewell cocktails with the Captain.