We awoke this morning to the embrace of the green harbor of Puerto Chacabuco, Chile. This quaint town is the leading access point to the heart of Patagonia. Staggering views of razor-sharp ridgelines and glistening snowfields give us all a glimpse of what true wilderness lies beyond the safe protection of Puerto Chacabuco.
A tender from Seabourn Quest took us ashore, where many of us boarded a bus for a short transit into the newly opened Aikén del Sur Private Park. We were introduced to our local naturalists from the park before we began our walk through the lush lowlands of Patagonia. Arayans, maquis shrubbery, Chilean fire bush, and many different types of climbing bushes provided us with a fresh and cool canopy during the walk. Calls from the chucao and hueta gave a us all an amazing audible experience. In an opening above the paralleling river we stood in awe, with a clear view of the bright red chest and striking grey & white patterns of the martin pescador. The trail came to an end just below Salto la Barba del Viejo (Old Man’s Beard Waterfall). The 22-meter cascading waterfall rolls off the rocks at over 800 liters/second to the area below, where rainbow and brown trout thrive as an introduced species to the region. We left the waterfall, passing the calafate berries. It is a Chilean myth that if one eats a ripe calafate berry, that person will return to Patagonia (unfortunately the berries were not ripe). From the summit of the walk we had an amazing view of Riesco Lake. Adjacent to the lake was our lunch destination where barbequed lamb and a traditional dance from the local children entertained us.
Another great adventure took place on Deer Island. From a quick motorboat trip, we began a walk through the woods with a naturalist interpreter. The area provided us the opportunity for photographs amongst the elusive red deer, various species of birds, and a stunning view of the fantastic fjords of western Patagonia.
As we work out way along the Chilean coastline to the north, the weather continues to improve, revealing the magnificent views towards the seemingly endless spires towards the interior. Anchor is aweigh before dinner begins and our Seabourn Quest sets sail for Castro. The day is completed with a gorgeous sunset over the islands to the west, creating a myriad of dark colors on the mountains to the east.