Travel – March 14 & 15, Punta Arenas and Amalia Glacier, Chile
Think of our last cruise stop and my encouragement to consult a map. Do that again! Punta Arenas is north of Tierra del Fuego and on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan.
Punta Arenas is the southernmost (large) city on Earth. Situated astride one of the world's historic trade routes, its prosperity has risen and fallen with that trade. Punta Arenas enjoyed its first great boom during the California Gold Rush, when it served as a haven for great clipper ships. Although the port's importance diminished after the opening of the Panama Canal, the city reached even greater prosperity early in this century as the center of Chile's international wool trade. In the 1940’s oil was discovered and has helped to bring back some of the region’s prosperity.
Today, Punto Arenas reflects a great mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, and it remains an utterly fascinating testament to Chile's rich history. Punta Arenas is also the starting point for excursions to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. And this is one of the reasons we stopped here!
This morning as we arrive the sky is grey and the seas are choppy. The ship is anchored off shore and the life boat tenders have been dropped to take tours into town. Once the scheduled tours are shuttled off the ship then those without specific plans are free to shuttle over to town.
Interestingly, Punta Arenas is the capital city of Magellan Province, named for Ferdinand Magellan, whose ship was literally blown through the strait that also bears his name by a series of gales in 1520. Magellan was so happy to see the quite waters around the horn that he called them peaceful, hence this body of water was given its name, the Pacific Ocean.
This day, however, it was anything but peaceful. There were reports of many people getting sea sick on the way to shore. By two o’clock the captain stopped all tenders going ashore. John and I woke up late this morning as we did not have a tour. We had a leisurely breakfast and watched the waves and the bouncing tenders. It didn't take us long to decide that we would stay on board today. Punta Arenas would remain unexplored by us. Pictures were taken from the ship rail using a telephoto lens.
The next day the waters smoothed out considerably, the sky was gray and the temperature outside was freezing. Remember… we are pretty far south. I’m wearing my goose down coat, knit hat and gloves. It is an “at sea” day as we will not get off the ship, but there are beautiful sites to see.
The Amalia Glacier is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field that covered the entirety of southern Chile just 10,000 years ago and helped form the fjords of Southern Chile’s Pacific coast. This really remote and spectacular field of ice is located in the Torres del Paine National Park about 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and buried among hyper-fantasy fjords and thousands of mostly uninhabited islands. The area is universally regarded as one of the most beautiful on Earth. In this case words cannot describe the beauty of the region so I’ll let my pictures do the talking.
The internet is intermittent and my blogs may not be very timely. There are 3,000 paying passengers on this ship. When we all try to communicate via the internet at once it can be very slow and costly. My tales of adventure and discovery continue, although it will be at an internet snail pace. More ports of call are to come. Hope you are enjoying the journey.
Bye for now!