.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 1) The Australis

00 Australis

There’s a fascinating leg of our Patagonian journey which I haven’t shared with you yet.  We took a 4 day cruise into the Fjordlands at the southern end of South America, mostly coastal Chile and a bit of Argentina.  This journey into Tierra del Fuego was a truly memorable adventure!

The cruise began at the Port in the frontier town of Puenta Arenas, Chile.  Here we boarded the Chilean-owned adventure ship, Australis, which was to take us to the “uttermost end of the earth”.  Australis is an expedition cruise company specializing in exploring the waterways of Tierra del Fuego, including the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel.  The Australis is relatively small, carrying only about 200 passengers, which is very much to your advantage as it can enter small fjords that would be difficult for a larger ship to navigate.   The ship is fairly new and is nicely maintained.  Cruises are run in the summer months, from September through April; we took our Patagonian cruise in February.

The Captain on the bridge of the Australis

The Captain on the bridge of the Australis

Zodiac boats allow the crew to zip you onto shore, so that you hike through a Patagonian rain-forest, walk beside monstrous glaciers, and land at some historic sites that were previously visited by Charles Darwin when he traveled these waters on his famous journey with the Beagle.  The smaller size of the ship makes the disembarking and return trips efficient as it keeps waiting times to a minimum.

I’d be remiss in not giving a shout-out to the fine crew of the Australis.  They did a super job keeping us safe and comfortable, and making our land transfers smooth and memorable.  The food was terrific, but more on that later.  Many of the guides are biologists and all spoke English fluently.  We were welcomed onto the bridge and got to see the instrumentation, captain and first mate in action.   I was interested to see that they keep a manual map log of each journey.

View of the misty Patagonian Fjordlands from the bridge of the Australis

View of the misty Patagonian Fjordlands from the bridge of the Australis

Four days later we landed in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.  The coming series of posts will share the stops and experiences from our four days at sea.

I close this post with some of the views through the bridge’s window.  What you see is fairly typical of coastal Patagonia — mostly gray and misty, but that explains why everything is green and lush.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)



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