Day 1 — Valparaiso, Chile
Embark the Silver Explorer and depart on your exciting Silversea Expedition — “Chilean Fjords”.
Once you have settled in and before Silver Explorer leaves Valparaiso, you will attend a mandatory safety drill. During a special sail away party take in the sights of “The Pearl of the Pacific” –as the city is known in Chile’s literature and music. Valparaiso’s historic hillside settlements (including the still used funiculars) have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and this evening you can enjoy the delights of a specially prepared menu in The Restaurant.
Day 2 — At Sea, cruising the Humboldt Current
Take the first morning to unwind after your travels to join Silver Explorer in Valparaiso. Our experts will present talks in The Theatre to give you an introduction to Chile and the region’s wildlife and nature. Today our lecturers will introduce you to the natural and historical highlights of Valdivia and Chile’s Lake District.
Due to the presence of the very nutrient-rich Humboldt Current, the waters along the Chilean coast are rich in fish life. Today our chefs might introduce you to the world of “ceviche” in its many forms.
Day 3 — Niebla, Chile
During the early morning Silver Explorer will anchor in the Corral Bay halfway between Corral and Niebla. Niebla is a small village on the banks of the Rio Valdivia where Chile’s Corral Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Today Niebla is a beach resort, but in 1671 it was a defensive fortress built by Spanish conquerors to prevent attacks from pirates and corsairs.
This morning you can either drive to the charming river port city of Valdivia, where we will find an interesting blend of influences from the native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants, or take a catamaran on the river. In both cases you will have time to see the town of Valdivia. The first German colonists arrived here in 1849 and worked hard to develop Valdivia into one of southern Chile’s most productive areas and their influence can be felt in every corner of this city. The town was affected by the 1960 earthquake –the worst ever recorded- but rebuilt with a strong German imprint. On our way to Valdivia we can see tracts of land that are still under water as a result of the quake. We will visit the river market and have a look at downtown Valdivia with its mix of old and modern buildings. You will have to choose whether you would like to visit the Fort at Niebla or enjoy fresh fish and crabs in Valdivia.
In the afternoon Silver Explorer will head south, giving our lecturers time to expand on the natural history of Chile’s Lake Region.
Day 4 — Puerto Montt, Chile
Puerto Montt is the starting point for our excursions to the Lake District and specifically Lago Llanquihue.
We will drive along the southern shore of Chile’s second-largest lake and head for the Petrohué waterfalls. These falls ‘connect’ Lago Esmeralda with Lago Llanquihue and we will walk over to the viewing platforms of Chile’s best-known falls. Here we will have an opportunity to see some of the local plants and endemic trees. Later you will have the choice to either visit a typical Chilean farm to learn about the traditions of southern Chile’s food, music, tools and the national sport of rodeo –which is quite different from the North American version- or to have lunch at a local restaurant and to explore the town of Puerto Varas.
If you choose the Fundo Olguita, you will have lunch including empanadas, a tasty barbeque und traditional German desserts –this area was first colonized by Germans in the mid-19th century. You will also have the chance to learn the Chilean national dance, the Cueca.
If you choose Puerto Varas, you will have time to explore the “City of Roses” –as Puerto Varas is known- and to browse the small handicraft village and see some of the wooden buildings for which the town was declared a “Heritage Zone”.
After these excursions take your time to join the bar team for a Pisco Sour evening. Learn more about this iconic drink and why this is both Peru’s and Chile’s national drink.
Day 5 — Castro, Chile
Chiloé Island is home to an amazing collection of 150 Jesuit-built wooden churches, houses raised up on poles out of the water, and more than 400 native plant varieties.
From Castro, we head north to the picturesque village of Dalcahue and a brief ferry ride to the island of Quinchao, passing through Curaco de Velez. This tiny village of approximately 500 inhabitants had its best times around 1850. Today, beautiful houses remain as a testament to those earlier days. Black-necked Swans can sometimes be seen near the here. We then head for Achao, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1743. Achao is a lively town with boats arriving every day from all the surrounding islands.
We will visit the Jesuit’s Achao Church, the oldest wooden structure in Chiloé and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1730, it contains beautiful baroque imagery. Afterwards, we cross Achao’s main square to enjoy a snack and typical local music before returning to Dalcahue. Here we will visit the well-preserved Dalcahue Church with its galvanized iron roof. The details and precision of the imagery carved by Jesuits from locally grown Patagonian cypress, larch and luma trees, are amazing. It was declared a World Heritage site in 2000.
Alternatively, visit three of the 16 UNESCO World Heritage Site churches on the island of Chiloé in Vilupulli, Chonchi and Castro. Apart from the churches, the Museum of Traditions will be visited in Chonchi. This small museum houses artefacts and photos relating to Chiloe and Chonchi and recreates the feeling of Chonchi in the early 20th century. The excursion ends with a visit to Castro’s handicraft market.
In the afternoon Silver Explorer will sail along the eastern shore of Chiloe towards the Guaitecas Archipelago. Spend time on deck looking for Chilean dolphins and Peale’s dolphins –the Guaitecas are considered a hot spot for them.
Day 6 — At Sea
Today Silver Explorer will venture again into the Pacific and will round the Taitao and Tres Montes Peninsulas before entering the Golfo de Penas –where the sea tends to be rough, but the area is known for its whales and dolphins sightings.
Watch for cetaceans or relax in one of the lounges with that book you’ve been meaning to read and meet up with new friends for cocktails. In the evening, Silver Explorer will enter the Messier Channel and will from then on continue Chile’s Inside Passage –and calm waters.
Day 7 — Cruise English Narrows and Pio XI Glacier, Chile
Very early his morning this morning –actually before sunrise- we head towards the English Narrows. Our Captain and the local Chilean Pilots expertly manoeuvre Silver Explorer through the slalom course of islands and channel markers. At the narrowest part it has a width of 80 metres, permitting the passage of only one vessel at a time.
Once we have passed the English Narrows you will have time for a leisurely breakfast and to attend lectures about the Fjords’ natural history or perhaps a seminar. The whole region of the fjords is so inhospitable that only one single settlement exists south of the English Narrows –Puerto Eden.
Birders will want to see what species want to live in this area. The further south we head the better the chance to see Andean Condors majestically soaring above the hills and mountains.
In the afternoon we will visit the Pio XI Glacier. This tidewater glacier sprawled out in front of us is 4.5 km wide and a remarkable shade of brilliant blue. An outlet glacier of the South Patagonian Ice Field, the Pio XI had once extended out into the fjords whose waters we ply today. Conditions permitting, we will board our Zodiacs and dodge brash ice and bergy bits as we approach the glacier at a safe distance. Alert for signs of calving, we may see chunks of ice falling from the glacier front.
Day 8 — Cruise White Narrows and Puerto Natales, Chile
Today Silver Explorer will reach the White Narrows and another spectacular facet of the vast expenses of the Chilean Fjords. On approach through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, the famous White Narrows become evident as mountains loom in on both sides of the fjord with hardy native plants clinging to barren rock. With only approximately 80 meters (260 feet) of clearance from either side of the passage, the sharp turns of the ship, skillfully executed between rocky outcrops, are fascinating to watch from the outer decks. On the transit through the breathtaking White Narrows, it is also possible to see seals and dolphins plying the waters alongside the ship.
Silver Explorer will be in front of Puerto Natales at about dinner time.
Day 9 — Puerto Natales, Chile
From Puerto Natales we will head out to Torres del Paine National Park by bus. This is considered by many to be the most spectacular worldwide Reserve at the end of the world. Covering an area of 242,000 hectares, the park is a fertile combination of lakes, lagoons, waterfalls, glaciers, hills and spectacular peaks and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. On the way to Laguna Sarmiento, the entrance to the park, we will stop for photos of the free roaming guanacos, Andean Condors and other wildlife. There will be opportunities to see the Salto Grande waterfall, the famous Torres del Paine peaks (weather permitting) and Nordenskjold Lake. Lunch will be had at the Serrano River area. Within the park there will be three different options of walks and hikes –depending on your fitness or willingness to exercise.
Day 10 — Puerto Natales, White Narrows and Montañas Fjord, Chile
Leaving Puerto Natales in the morning, Silver Explorer will once again have to pass White Narrows. This will give us another chance to spot wildlife and marvel at the amount of work and time that went into charting these waters.
In the afternoon, Silver Explorer will enter the narrow Canal de las Montañas and will sail parallel to the Cordillera de Sarmiento. Several cascades and seven glaciers come down the steep sides of the mountains and –conditions permitting- we might do a Zodiac cruise or even land for a short hike.
Day 11 — Cruise the Chilean Fjords, Chile
Our course will take us through the vast expense of the Chilean Fjords. We will sail through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, before we head for another famous narrow channel, the western portion of the Strait of Magellan. Mountains loom on both sides of the ship and Silver Explorer will sail through the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, an area humpback whales are known to frequent.
Day 12 —Alberto de Agostini National Park and Ainsworth Bay, Chile
Today Silver Explorer will navigate past Dawson Island –quite infamous in Chile’s modern-day history as a penal settlement for political prisoners- into Almirantazgo Sound, to arrive at Ainsworth Bay. The bay is within Alberto De Agostini National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Depending on conditions, we intend to offer a Zodiac cruise to see the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range. This area will give a good appreciation how the land returns to life after glacial retreat. We also intend to take a walk in the stunning sub-polar Magellanic forest teeming with evergreens and deciduous trees. The bay promises a good chance of sighting Southern elephant seals, while nearby Tucker Island is known to have Magellanic Penguins.
Day 13 —Punta Arenas, Chile
From the capital of the region we will drive to an estancia that was founded by French-Irish immigrants in the early 20th century. Through presentations of sheep herding, sheep shearing and a special demonstration of rodeo techniques (Chilean-style –very much unlike North American rodeos) you will get a glimpse of what life on a Patagonian estancia is. A Pisco Sour, an empanada and a typical Patagonian BBQ lunch will emphasize and highlight this country life.
On the drive to and from the estancia, many photo opportunities will be had to see guanacos, Andean Condors and other wildlife.
Day 14 —Cruise Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier, Chile
Silver Explorer will again sail out into the Pacific Ocean to reach the Beagle Channel, heading for Garibaldi Fjord. This beautiful corner of the Chilean fjords still lies within the Alberto de Agostini National Park, Chile’s third largest national park. This park - with its 14.600 km2 - includes all Chilean islands south of the Magellan Strait, including a portion of Tierra del Fuego.
The Garibaldi is an impressive glacier on the south face of the Cordillera Darwin. During a Zodiac cruise we will see the different shades of blue of the ice -and calving events can make for a very impressive sight. Dozens of waterfalls dot the cliffs and in some cases the wind gusts can be so strong that the water gets blown upwards!
In terms of wildlife we can expect the majestic Andean Condor, a South American sea lion colony, skuas, kingfishers, Flightless Steamer Ducks, Crested Ducks, Kelp Geese, Ashy-headed Geese, caracaras, vultures, and nesting Imperial Shags among others.
Day 15 —Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast disembark Silver Explorer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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