Weather: Sunshine, occasional cloud, no wind
Air temperature: +12°C
The sound of the bow thrusters woke us at about 7.30am. I went out on deck to watch our arrival alongside at Puerto Chacabuco. This usually wet and windy region showed a benign face today; despite the weather forecast for rain, the day dawned dry and the sun shone on us most of the morning – to our delight. Once the Chilean authorities had given us clearance, we walked down the gangway of the Prince Albert II and on to our waiting buses. Our ride to the Aiken del Sur Private Park took us 15 minutes and passed through exceptionally beautiful scenery, which was a good start to the day.
Upon arrival at the park, we all went into the Visitors’ Center to orient ourselves from maps and sign boards. Here, we were divided into groups of 20 or fewer. An intrepid few chose to walk a difficult 2km trail, ascending to 2,030m through swamp and severe gradients on a narrow trail. Most of the rest of us, however, decided on an easier 4km walk through the temperate rain forest. We were escorted by local guides, who stopped often for photos and by explanatory boards so that we could learn about the trees, plants, flowers, mosses and ferns surrounding us. Plants of note were the arrayan (one of the most commonly seen trees here, living up to 400 years), quila bamboo, Chilean fire bush (in bright red bloom), Chilean rhubarb (dramatic leaves and shoots) and Calafate flowers. We could also hear and see a variety of bird life – nearly everyone got good views of the chucao tapaculo, with its beautiful red breast. These birds were not at all shy, but escorted us along the trail, tantalizing us with regular glimpses. I was lucky enough to see a black-throated huet-huet too, scuttling through the undergrowth.
For much of the way we were walking along the banks of a babbling stream and the focal point of the walk was in fact a 22m high waterfall. We even saw a humming bird on our way to the viewing platform! Both groups then combined at the Quincho, where I enjoyed gazing at two soaring Andean condors and where we were rewarded with a choice of drinks (pisco sour being first and foremost, as always in Chile) and delicious snacks, both savoury and sweet. We were entertained by a local music group and dancing and most of us headed back to the buses at 1pm feeling very mellow. The views from the Quincho were magnificent too – all in all, a very satisfactory morning.
Our buses whisked us back to the Prince Albert II in no time. We enjoyed a late lunch on board and looked forward to a quiet afternoon. About 2.45pm we passed the spot that was the epicenter of the 2007 Chilean earthquake, clearly and impressively visible in the rock scars.
At 5pm, I headed for The Theatre to hear our Archaeologist, Claire Allum, give a talk on “The Original Conquerors of the New World”. She took us back some thousands of years and explained who first colonized the Americas, how and when; although there are many things we cannot know about these first peoples, through modern scientific techniques we can discover a surprising amount about their weapons, shelters, foods and life style.
Then it was time for evening cocktails and we gathered again for Recap & Briefing at 6.45pm. Victoria kicked off the session with some images and words on active volcanoes in Chile; Hans-Peter gave us a run-down on today’s plants; Chris did the same for birds and Claire covered the natives of Patagonia. Finally, Robin briefed us about our route overnight and tomorrow through the fjords, giving us information on expected weather and sea conditions. Tomorrow is a sea day, so an opportunity for rest and recuperation and a chance to attend a few lectures too!
The day ended with a good dinner in good company and “Name That Tune” with Perry, our Pianist, in the Panorama Lounge.
von Brigitte Fugger, Ornithologie, Meeresbiologie
Mittagsposition: 45° 28’ 05” S, 072° 49’ 09” W
Wetter: wechselnd bewölkt
Lufttemperatur: 11,7 °C
Wind: 12 km/h
Am späteren Nachmittag, gut erholt von unseren morgendlichen Aktivitäten, treffen wir uns in der Observation Lounge zum Hans-Peter Rheintalers Vortrag: „Flora von Chile – der grüne Süden“. Kenntnisreich wie immer spricht er über die „Valdivianischen Regenwälder“ und ihre wichtigsten Baumarten. Anschließend wirft er noch einen Blick voraus auf die Flora des Nationalparks Torres del Paine, den wir ja bald besuchen werden.
Um 18.45 Uhr kommen wir dann nochmals zu Vor- und Rückschau zusammen. Diesmal mache ich den Anfang mit näheren Informationen zu unserem Rotkehl-Tapakulu und zu Kolibris allgemein. Diese „fliegenden Juwelen der Neuen Welt“ vereinigen so viele Rekorde auf sich, dass sie eigentlich gleich mehrere Einträge im berühmten Guiness-Buch verdient hätten. Anschließend gibt Historikerin Victoria Salem einen Rückblick auf die Geschichte der Chiloe-Insel, den ich übersetzte, und Hans-Peter nimmt sich nochmals der Pflanzen des heutigen Tages an. Den Abschluss bildet wir immer die Vorschau auf den morgigen Tag, den wir ganz in den chilenischen Fjorden verbringen werden….