Today finds us in Puerto Montt in Chile, and I am taking a moment to reflect on this journey thus far and take stock – something I have been unable to do hitherto. The schedule has been full, with meetings, crew drills, induction training, online training, deck time with guests, hosting guests at dinners, Recaps, and of course 6 manic days in Antarctica. In a completely new environment I have found myself “hanging on”, anxious about always being at the right pace, at the right time, correctly turned out.
This has eased somewhat, but a day to reflect today is a tremendous bonus.
All my ship journeys into Antarctica to date have started and ended in either Ushuaia or Buenos Aires, and after 9 years one almost anticipates that being the norm. This fantastic Seabourn itinerary includes Ushuaia as a stop, then proceeds westwards and northwards along the Chilean coastline. Nothing could have prepared me for what I have christened Chilean Fjordland (my own name). If one takes a look at a detailed map, you will find the boundaries of Chile and Argentina at the bottom of South America rather confusing. Be that as it may, take at look at this link https://my.yb.tl/seabournexpeditions for a detailed route map of our trip. Having travelled extensively in Alaska’s Inside Passage, and always been in awe of the grandeur, I would go so far as to say the grandeur and scale here is greater. This region of exquisite natural beauty, and very scarcely inhabited especially in the south, stretches from 43 to 55 degrees South. That is 720 miles or 1150km! There is infinitely more to this than the Beagle Channel, and Strait of Magellan. The maps indicate a labyrinth of channels, many navigable by ship, between towering peaks, covered in forest.
We have had Blue, Fin and Sei Whales feeding on krill right next to the ship. I have stared in open-mouthed wonder, embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of this quite extraordinary place on Earth. Guests taking this 21-day voyage tend to imagine Antarctica as the pinnacle, the remainder as as “add on”. Not so in any way, the bird-watching, scenery and photography from the decks has been spectacular. Sadly, trying to represent the area in a photo from the ship is impossible, one really requires an aerial shot. When one considers the publicity that Fjordland enjoys in New Zealand and Norway, along with the reputation of Alaska/Canada’s Inside Passage, it seems almost unbelievable that a region this magnificent, this vast remains relatively unknown?
Certainly for me, one of Life’s great surprises. May they keep coming!
Soon we disembark these guests, and embark new guests for the reverse itinerary.
What an absolute delight – we get to see this region again, in the other direction, heading back to the great White Continent.