Co-ordinates: 54°51,00' S, 69°56,55' W
Weather: Overcast skies with intermittent rain showers, sunshine and rainbows.
In the morning, the ship sailed into the 11-mile-long inlet of the Seno Garibaldi Fjord and dropped anchor. High dark mountains topped by white snowcaps surrounded us. A dense forest of Nothofagus species, the Southern beech, covered the lower parts of the mountains.
Zodiacs were launched, and we all looked forward to our first Zodiac cruise. The Garibaldi Glacier stood two miles further up the fjord, but the water surface was covered with chunks of ice.
At first, we saw a number of Imperial cormorants flying close to the water's surface, while others were resting on small ledges in the steep cliffs. Some rock shags were nesting on the edge of the same cliff, and a pair of kelp geese scoured the rounded boulders along the shore for a meal of water algae.
Suddenly, we heard the loud barking and howls of sea lions, and saw three families lying on the rocks. Several females with their offspring surrounded one huge male, whilst two other males had only a few females with cubs. Some youngsters were playing in the water; a wonderful spectacle to behold.
Guests were treated to a nice surprise on the return trip, as the hotel staff had prepared glasses of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries in a floating bar. One of the ship's largest lifeboats was lowered and set up as a refreshment stop; an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
During lunchtime, we weighed anchor and set sail for Punta Arenas. En route, we passed a spectacular landscape highlighted by rough cliffs and hundreds of waterfalls.
In the afternoon, Chris Collins, our ornithologist, gave a lecture about the “Birds of the Chilean Fjords”. He showed us some amazing photographs of the species that we were most likely to see, then explained their behaviour and discussed the wonder of bird migration.
The next lecture, entitled “Geology of Southern Chile”, was given by Dr. Chris Edwards, our geologist. He talked about the geology of the southern part of Chile, and described the nature of tectonic plates and the position of Chile on the Pacific Ring of Fire; a circum-Pacific zone of volcanoes and earthquakes. This was graphically illustrated by the current eruption of Chaitén, a volcano that we may see as we head northward.
In the evening, we changed into our finest clothes and joined Captain Fabian Roche at his Welcome Cocktail Party, followed by the Captain's Dinner. A splendid first full day indeed!