.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 2) A Hike in Tierra del Fuego

02a Ainsworth Bay

After a good dinner, an evening of pleasant conversation with our fellow cruisers and a good night’s sleep aboard the Australis, we found ourselves in Ainsworth Bay, in the Tierra del Fuego region of Chile. The area is part of the protected lands of Alberto de Agostini National Park.  Ainsworth Bay is a fjord fed by the meltwater of the nearby Marinelli Glacier, itself part of the larger Darwin Ice Field.

Our route to Ainsworth Bay

Our route to Ainsworth Bay

We boarded the zodiacs and were zipped to shore, where in small groups of about 10-12 we were lead by a guide through a subpolar Patagonian coastal  rainforest. 

The weather was highly changeable.  When we landed it was gently drizzling, but after a while the rain broke and soon the sun poked out briefly.  The landscapes are quite lovely, but daylight changes the atmosphere of the place.

The vegetation was unlike anything I’d seen before, with many interesting plants (the names of which I can’t remember).   We spent several hours exploring the ecosystem.  Among the first stops was a large peat bog where a trickle of water coming down a rockface fed mosses and thick vegetation.  We followed the stream from this rock face onto a clearing, where we had nice views of the mountain, including some with distant waterfalls.

Colorful lichens growing in Tierra del Fueg0

Colorful lichens growing in Tierra del Fueg0

Especially striking was the orange-red growth of lichens on the rocks.  Quite lovely really.  We worked our way back to Ainsworth Bay, enjoying the scenery as we hiked.  Another striking aspect of the landscape was this large open space beside the Bay which had a colorful growth of an orange clover-like wildflower.

Colorful wildflowers adjoining Ainsworth Bay

Colorful wildflowers adjoining Ainsworth Bay

We were told that some groups could encounter wildlife, like beaver and seals, but we didn’t see anything except birds.

I later did a little research on this region and learned that it has a subpolar oceanic climate.  Summers are short and cool and winters are long but relatively mild, the temperature on the coast averaging about 0 °C (32 °F) in winter.  Precipitation averages 300 cm (118 in) along the coast and decreases quickly the further inland you go.  It can snow any time of the year.

Marinelli Glacier, Ainsworth Bay

Marinelli Glacier, Ainsworth Bay

As we departed by Zodiac for the Australis, the weather had cleared  enough so that we could appreciate the view of the Marinelli Glacier.

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

 

 

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