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Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 7) Wulaia Bay

00 Bahia Wulaia

Our final stop before the Australis headed to port in Ushuaia was at historic Wulaia Bay, a pretty spot visited by many navigators over the centuries.

The area around Wulaia Bay has long been settled by man, with archaeological studies showing evidence of human habitation for more than 10,000 years, these being the nomadic Yahgan aboriginal people.  The Yaghan population was strong 150 years ago but today has been largely decimated; less than 2000 individuals remain.

Journey to Wulaia Bay

Journey to Wulaia Bay

The famous British exploration vessel, HMS Beagle, visited the area twice.  The first time was during her 1826 – 1830 voyage wherein Captain Fitzroy charted many of the channels in the Patagonian fjords, making for safer sailing of the region.  The return journey lasted from 1831 – 1836.  Sir Charles Darwin landed in Wulaia in 1833, during the second voyage to the Beagle, and encountered the Yaghan people here.  Markers of these visits are found on the shores of Wulaia.

Wulaia Bay

Wulaia Bay

Our excursion to Wulaia Bay involved another zodiac journey to another picturesque spot.  Some of the scenes of the Bay were just lovely to taken in!

Yaghan mask, Wulaia Bay

Yaghan mask, Wulaia Bay

When we disembarked I walked around part of the bay and ended my visit at a Visitor Center built in a former radio station.  The radio station had been constructed by the Chilean Navy in the early 20th century and functioned until the 1950’s.  It was converted to a museum which has nice exhibits on the Yaghan people, including of the long facial masks, and of the early Europeans who lived in the region.

Mail drop-off barrel, Wulaia Bay

Mail drop-off barrel, Wulaia Bay

The Visitor Center has revived an old mariner tradition, featuring a wooden mail barrel inside.  Per tradition, you drop your letter into the barrel, sort through what’s in it and take someone else’s letter to the destination your heading to (if that’s possible).  Hopefully someone else will take your letter to your destination, and so it goes.

It was a nice stop after a rocky stormy morning and a good way to end our explorations on the Australis.

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

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