During the night, we made our way towards Isla de los Estados, also known as “Staten Island” by Dutch explorers Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten.
The wind abated enough for us to make landfall in the island’s northwest fjord, “San Juan del Salvamento,” made famous as the Lighthouse at the End of the World. The inspiration for Jules Verne’s adventure novel, the scene certainly lived up to the tale. Strong winds gusted from the south while a spritely swell rolled in from the north.
The hike was more than worth the effort. Guests and naturalists navigated a forest of beech trees, their tops spread out low to the ground due to the area’s infamous winds. The trees gave way to a dramatic muskeg that stretched up to the rock covered cliffs and, eventually, to a reproduction of the lighthouse that caught Verne’s attention.
The wind held off just long enough for us to make another landing in Port Cook to the west where we were greeted by a solitary feathered friend. To our surprise and joy, a lone king penguin was waiting for us at the head of the bay! A short hike south followed this fortuitous sighting to the other side of the island, where we experienced the full force of the South Atlantic wind and even some hail.
After some photos and time to admire kelp geese and crested caracaras, it was time to return to Port Cook and the waiting Zodiacs that brought us back to the ship. Tonight, we pull anchor to test the Le Maire Strait and the continuing storm as we head to Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean fjords to the west.