Tuesday morning we left Quellón at the south end of Chiloé and headed north. We stopped in Castro, the Capital of Chiloé. Right on the central square there is a beautiful, big yellow and lavender church, Iglesias de San Francisco. I think the all wood interior is gorgeous.
Just north of Castro we headed east and then took a short car ferry ride to the island of Quinchao, one of the 41 islands in the Chiloé archipelago. We are staying just out side of the town of Achao. In town we walked around a bit and visited the wooden Iglesias de Santa Maria de Loreto. It was built on 1730 and is the oldest house of worship in Chili. I especially liked the floors that still have the axe marks from when they were cut.
The hotel where we stayed is on a hill overlooking the harbor. The building appeared to be relatively new. It had pretty rough wood paneling throughout. Our room had a nice big window and expansive view. The building wasn’t heated but our room was warm because we had an electric heater. The whole place was a bit strange. We were the only people in the building besides the owner, there was no internet, and the bottom sheet on the squeaky bed had no elastic so it only covered the mattress when we first went to bed!
Today we hiked in Parque Tantauco. We were lucky that the weather was much better than yesterday. It rained some but there was also a bit of sunshine. We drove for more than an hour on a bumpy dirt road to get to the park. Below is a picture of the bridge right before the park entrance. It had a five ton limit!
We hiked about two miles on the Rio Yaldad Trail and then walked on the dirt road back to the park headquarters. The trail was beautiful and extremely well built, signed and maintained.
There were also uneven, steep and muddy parts.
The first part of the trail which coincided with the Darwin Nature Trail had some great animal information.
We also saw a live Darwin Fox right outside the visitor center.
Today was rainy, wet, and cool but we still saw a lot of Chiloé. This morning we visited the San Miguel de Agüi Fort. It was originally built in 1779 and was the last outpost of the Spanish in the Americas until it became a part of Chili in 1826.
The fort is directly across the harbor from where we stayed last night but because of the fog and rain we couldn’t see across the harbor.
Next we went out to the Corona lighthouse.
For lunch we stopped overlooking the shore and ate our leftover fish from last night. The seagulls were picking up shells and flying up to drop them over and over until the shell opened so the gulls could eat what was inside.
In the afternoon we drove 100 miles south to Quellón where we are tonight. Quellón is the southern terminus of the Pam American Highway and is close to the southern end of Chiloé Island.
We arrived in Puerto Montt first thing in the morning on the ferry Evangelista. We had to wait for the lower deck of trucks to be unloaded but eventually we got off the ferry and picked up our rental car. We headed for Chiloé Island. Getting to the island requires taking a 30 minute car ferry. We plan to stay on Chiloé and explore for four nights.
On Chiloé our first stop was Ostras (oysters) Caulin (highly recommended by Fodor’s). The oysters come from the coast in front of the restaurant.
Our hotel is in Ancud, a town on the north end of the island. We took it easy for the rest of the afternoon and ate dinner near the center of town at a fabulous place called Club Social Baquedano. We had locally made beer with our seafood. Duke had squid and I had fish with four different sauces. It was a total surprise when mine arrived and it had 15 fish fillets. We couldn’t finish them all but oh my were they good! The platter wouldn’t fit on the table so they brought a stool to set it on.
The atmosphere was great too. The wood stove in the picture below warmed us and there were children playing with toys in a play area in the back. The building originally was the Ancud social club.
We boarded the ferry Evangelista at 9 pm Tuesday October 29. The ferry’s primarily purpose is to carry trucks and cargo through the Chilean Fjords 700 miles. We took the ferry from Puerto Natales to Puerto Mont. the ferry also carries passengers. There were twenty eight passengers total. Seven young backpackers, four older couples like us, ten truck drivers and a woman with two boys who got off half way through the journey in Port Eden. Bxov
Accommodations and food were very basic but it was a fun trip.
Navimag the ferry company describes the journey as “for people who are not looking for luxuries, but rather an authentic journey for slow travelers and backpackers who want to enjoy the romanticism of traveling in a vessel from the 70’s”. That is a good description of the experience. Yoga classes were offered and we had a couple of lectures about what we were seeing.
There was a movie night.
A classical guitar concert
A class on the culture and drinking of maté.
The scenery was spectacular.
We saw a shipwreck from the sixties.
And stopped briefly at the only settlement an the route, Port Eden. Port Eden has a population of about 170 and no road access.
This morning Saturday November 2 we arrived in Puerto Montt.
On Tuesday we checked in mid afternoon for the ferry we were taking north. We couldn’t actually board until 9 pm so we walked back through town to our hotel.
We visited the excellent Puerto Natales historical museum. They had both English and Spanish explanations of the displays. The displays were about all the people who lived in the area from the earliest to the present.
We stopped in at a yarn store.
We hung out and ate dinner at our hotel before boarding the ferry that we would be on for the next four nights.
This morning we walked to the bus station in Punto Arenas and got on a bus for a three hour bus ride north to Puerto Natales.
The trip was very interesting. The terrain was flat, desolate and wind blown. We saw lots of sheep and guanacos. We also saw Rheas the Rhea is a large flightless South American. bird. We didn’t get any pictures from the bus but there is a picture of one on the wall of our hotel room.
We are staying at a lovely hotel in Puerto Natales overlooking the water, the Weskar Patagonian Lodge. After checking in we walked along the water into the town. We were going to visit the historical museum but it was closed.
We ate dinner at our hotel and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Over Saturday night we crossed Magdalena Channel and this morning stopped at Magdalena Island. The island has a lighthouse built in 1902 and a big colony of Magdalena Penguins. We disembarked at 7 am by zodiac and took a path around the island. In addition to lots of penguins we saw lots of gulls and geese.
We got back on board and had breakfast while we headed for Punta Arenas where we went through Chilean Customs and walked to our hotel. Our Australis cruise was a fantastic experience. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys being active and exploring nature. The mountain and glaciers of the Darwin Range are like nothing I have seen anywhere else.
In Puenta Arenas we went for a walk this afternoon.
And we stopped for coffee.
We ate dinner at Cafe Sarmiento with a view overlooking Punta Arenas. Our Ventus Australis waiter used to work there. He recommended it. We had scallop stew and spider crab stew. It was delicious.
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.