CRUISING PIO XI GLACIER
Within Bernardo O’Higgins National Park the Pio XI Glacier (also known as Brüggen Glacier after the German geologist Johannes Brüggen) is found at the terminus of the 23 nautical miles long Eyre Fjord, one of the fjords coming from the northeast and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The fjord and its shores were formerly used by the nomadic Kaweskar to hunt, while the glacier was one of their sacred sites. Pio XI Glacier is the largest western outflow of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and is South America’s longest glacier and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere outside of Antarctica. One of the few advancing glaciers, its front has a width of 4.5 kilometers, a height of approximately 80 meters and shows several central moraines, indicating that Greve Glacier and Occidental Glacier to the north once joined the glacial tongue. Approaching the glacier by ship and by Zodiac safe distances will be maintained, as the glacier shows extensive mudflats on its southeastern side leading to Exmouth Fjord and calvings can always occur. The rocky shore shows signs of Nothofagus trees and the temperate Magellanic rain forest where the extremely rare and endangered South Andean deer, locally known as the huemul, has been sighted. Chilean and Peale’s dolphins and the endangered southern river otters have been recorded, and South American sea lions can be seen. Among the birds expected are Imperial Shags, South American Terns, Brown-hooded Gulls, Kelp Gulls, Kelp Geese, and Fuegian Steamer Ducks.