Our fourth day on the Ventus Australis was Saturday October 26. In the morning we had a tour of the engine room. Here is one of the two Cummins 1600 horsepower engines.
In late morning we boarded a Zodiac and head for the end of the narrow fjord where Cóndor Glacier lays, our guide told us all about the glacier and the natural history of the area.
In the afternoon we went to Águila Glacier, which is set over a calm glacial lake surrounded by forest.
After disembarking from the Zodiac we hiked across the shore of the lake towards the base of the glacier. Our guides described all the birds and plants we saw. We even saw condors gliding in the sky over the mountains.
Prior to our final dinner on board we enjoyed drinks in the lounge.
Dinner was delicious and fun. We have had a great waiter, Juan, for all five days on board. He recommended the local specialty, lamb. It was the best lamb I have ever had.
My video of Day four is available on YouTube by clicking here.
Each time we have gone ashore on this cruise we have seen very different things. Yesterday it was Cape Horn and the historical Wulaia Bay. Today it was glaciers. The moment I opened my eyes and looked out our window this morning I was awed to see a stunning glacier. We sailed through what is called Glacier Alley during the night. We didn’t see all the glaciers because it was dark but this first one of the morning blew me away!
The ship sailed into the Pía Fjord. We again rode in a Zodiac boat to shore and We disembarked in front of the Pía Glacier. Many of our excursions have easy, medium and difficult options available. At Pía Glacier we chose the medium difficulty option and hiked up to a lookout overlooking the front of the glacier.
After hiking back to the landing spot We had hot chocolate and whiskey while we waited for our turn to take a Zodiac back to the ship.
This afternoon the plan was to enter the Garibaldi Fjord and those who wanted to could go ashore and do the strenuous Waterfall excursion. Those of us staying on the ship would cruise further into the fjord and see the Garibaldi Glacier, one of the few in Patagonia that is currently growing in size. As we moved into the fjord it was very windy. The ship stopped at a decision point and the captain decided that it was too dangerous to go further up the fjord. Instead we went back the way we came and got to see the glaciers of glacier alley.
Mid afternoon the boatswain gave an entertaining talk, demonstration and class about knots.
In the evening we heard a lecture about the history of the mapping and navigation of the Straight of Magellan
Here is a link to my day three video on YouTube.
Our ship sailed south from Ushuaia to Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos National Park), the actual southern tip of South America and the point at which the Atlantic Ocean meets the Pacific Ocean. We were lucky and it was unusual that we had almost no wind. The guide told us that it is often too rough to go ashore here. We transferred from the ship to a Zodiac which took us to shore on Hornos Island.
Cape Horn is a rocky promontory with a height of 1,394 feet that dominates the landscape of Drake Passage. The Chilean Navy maintains a permanent lighthouse in the island, inhabited by a navy officer and his family, as well as the small Stella Maris Chapel, and a monument honoring the albatross.
From the beach we climbed to the Cape Horn monument and then hiked to the lighthouse and chapel. It wasn’t hard to imagine clipper ships rounding the island as they sailed from New York to San Francisco.
From Cape Horn the ship went back north to Wulaia Bay. We got to visit the ship’s bridge and see how the ship is steered and navigated.
Our second disembarkation of the day was at Wulaia Bay. It is a sheltered bay that had one of the largest Yaghan settlements in the region. It was described by Darwin and illustrated by Fitz Roy during their journey to the Beagle Channel.
We hiked about a mile up to a lookout overlooking the bay. Our guide talked about the history of the area and the plants and animals.
Beavers were introduced onto the island in the 1940s. The beaver population has exploded and they are doing considerable ecological damage.
Here is a link to the video of days one and two that I loaded to my YouTube channel.
On our last day in Ushuaia we checked out of our hotel at ten and stored our bags. Around two we checked in for our cruise.
The rest of the day we spent wandering around Ushuaia. We checked out the museums.
Duke got a haircut. While he was getting his haircut I hung out in a nearby coffee shop. Argentine Spanish takes some getting used to. I asked for a bottle of water. Bottle is Botella pronounced bote-ay-ya in most of the Spanish speaking world. In Argentina it is a bote-ay-cha. I have to pause and think whenever someone says something to me that has that cha sound for the letters ll.
At six we got on the Ventus Australis. We have a wonderful room with a big 5 ft by 5 ft window. We had dinner on the ship and went to sleep watching the spectacular snow capped mountains slide by our window.
I’m posting this at the end of our cruise now that I have internet again. Here is a link to the video I made for day one and day two of our Ventus Australis cruise.