December 8, 2013
Many of us had a delightful surprise this morning while we ate breakfast in the Colonnade. Towering above the horizon lay one of the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Andes, Corcovado (elevation: 2,300 meters or 7,546 feet). Fresh fruit, pancakes and bacon with a little sprinkle of sunny skies and beautiful views --- not a bad way to start a day!
The Chilean island of Chiloé and its main city, Castro, was our destination today. As we slowly cruised along the channel toward Castro, we passed green pastured hills, farms as well as white and blue buoys, evidence of Chile’s fairly substantial aquaculture industry. We even had a sighting of killer whales.
Once in Castro, we had a variety of options for excursions. Most of the wooden churches of Chiloé are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of us spent the afternoon touring these amazing churches in Achao, Quinchao and Dalcahue. There was another excursion to the Cacao Chiloé National Park where we walked along the Tepual pathway and had a chance to observe the Valdivian forest of beeches and the endemic alerce tree.
Six of us went horseback riding along the foothills of the Piuchen mountain range. After gathering for a safety briefing, we met our horses and mounted up. Nicole and her gauchos led us along some beautiful trails, past herds of cows and calves, fields of foxglove and buttercups and rambling streams. We stopped halfway for a luscious snack of local mussels and salmon. While we were driving back to the ship, a group of parakeets flew by our van. We were so lucky to be able to drive up through some amazing countryside.
South American Night at the Colonnade --- incredible amounts of tender steak, fried plantains, spicy chicken stew and delightful desserts. More killer whales showed their dorsal fins as we departed Castro. There was a Rock The Boat dance party tonight so the “tunes” were echoing out from the ship long after midnight. We all enjoyed dancing on the stage in the Club. What an end to an amazing day.
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