One of the attractions of taking a cruise from Santiago to Buenos Aires via Antarctica, rather than one from Ushuaia to Antarctica and back, was the chance to sail down the Chilean fjords, some of the largest in the world. I’ve seen plenty of fjords in Fjordland (funny that) in New Zealand, but they seemed tiny in comparison with their Chilean cousins. We literally sailed through them for days on end, hundreds of kilometres of nature at it’s best, including the odd shipwreck, glacier, rainbow and plenty of waterfalls and variable weather.
The first ship wreck we came across was the 1968 wreck of the Captain Leonidas in the middle of the Messier Channel, oddly stranded on a bank in the middle of the channel. It was deliberately grounded as an unsuccessful insurance fraud, and since used for target practice by Chilean navy. We did a full circuit of it, with the weather clearing as we did, sunshine and rain alternate here on a pretty rapid basis.
Further along was the second most impressive glacier I’d seen by then (after the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina), the Tempanos Glacier. I loved the shapes formed in the ice, with the deep blue areas where the pressure is so great that all the air has been squeezed out of the ice. After a briefly amount of sunshine parts of it started breaking off on the glacier face.
All the way along the fjords, unsurprisingly given the amount of rainfall, are endless waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides.
Near the start of the Summer Pass we came across the 1968 wreck (popular year for wrecks!) of the SS Santa Leonor, which was also used as target practice, accounting for it’s numerous holes. This one was an accident, due to communication issues caused by the American merchant navy using right and left for directions, while the rest of the world use starboard and port.
Finally given the amount of rain and sunshine there were fewer rainbows than expected, but the couple I saw were some of the strongest I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few).
5 thoughts on “Chilean fjords, glaciers, waterfalls and shipwrecks”
So pretty! I’d like to do that cruise one day. I’ve taken a flight from Puerto Varas to Chaiten (to get to Futaleufu) and the fjords that we could see (through the tiny little windows of a Cessna) were spectacular!
Sounds spectacular, things often look better from the air. I did that area overland couple of years ago – https://jontynz.com/2016/01/15/further-afield-argentinian-patagonia/
Absolutely stunning! What an incredible place. Those intense blues in the glaciers and the photo near the beginning, shades of earth and whitened sky. Outstanding photos.
Thank you Ellie. It’s a pretty magical place. Saw two other boats in two days of sailing through them!