Day 4 |
Feb 27, 2009

Chilean Fjords

By Berenice Charpin

Co-ordinates: 510 55’ 13’’ S, 730 17’ 35’’ W

Air Temperature: 9º C

Pressure: 995hPa

Wind: North at 30 km/h

We awoke this morning expecting to go on a Zodiac tour in Puerto Profundo ('deep port' in Spanish). Unfortunately, the weather was very bad during the night and the strong winds had prevented us from sailing at full speed, so we were unable to arrive at our destination in time.

At around 10 a.m., we commenced our scenic navigation through the shoal and summer fjords. The stunning views were somewhat obscured due to the overcast sky and rainfall. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the steep, high forest-covered slopes around us.

Our Onboard Historian, Peter Damisch, gave his lecture entitled “Magellan, Drake, Anson - European Privatees Attack!” Peter's engaging and humorous dissertation focused on the shipwrecks, mutinies and exploration of the southernmost end of South America during the golden age of sailing and discovery in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The discovery and exploration of Cape Horn was also discussed, along with many other interesting stories.

Following Peter's lecture and some relaxation time, many of us made our way to the Bridge and the Observation Lounge to take pictures as the Prince Albert II was skillfully navigated in and out of the Las Montañas Fjord. En route, we saw a spectacular glacier in a steep valley.

Upon leaving the Las Montañas Fjord, it was time for our daily recap. Our Expedition Team had prepared a briefing on Torres del Paine National Park. After our Expedition Leader, Ignacio, reviewed our day's itinerary, Chris Edwards explained the geology of the famous 'torres' and 'horns' of Paine.

Next, Berenice Charpin reviewed the park's two main biomes; the arid wind-barren Patagonian Steppe and the Southern Beech Forest. Andrew Marshall then informed us about the most emblematic mammals found in the park, including the guanaco (the southernmost South American camelid), the guma and the huemul (an Andean deer that is now an endangered species).

Heidrun Oberg talked about other animals likely to be seen, including the mara, or Patagonian hare, the cuis (a tiny rodent belonging to the same species as the guinea pig) and a variety of lizards.

Finally, Chris Collins discussed the most characteristic birds, including the rhea and the Andean condor. All this made us feel truly excited about our excursion to one of the 'must-see' locales in Patagonia.

During dinner, we watched the navigation through the White Narrow, a breathtaking, narrow passage of water through which our Captain, Fabien Roché, steered the ship en route to Puerto Natales.