Blogs from Chile, South America


South America » Chile » Santiago Region January 21st 2024

The last few days of the cruise were relatively uneventful - as we headed north among the fjords on the Chilean coast, the weather steadily warmed to a comfortable 20C which allowed everyone to lounge outside in the sun and fresh air. The sea conditions were somewhat rough with some large swells but by now we were used to it. The one change due to the higher than usual waves was that we could not port at San Antonio and, instead, headed for Valparaiso. I will start with a short review of the cruise itself. The boat itself, the Sapphire Princess, is a large and fairly modern ship. The rooms were relatively large compared to other cruise ships and comfortable. We did not have a balcony, however, it was really not necessary. We were only one ... read more

South America » Chile » O Higgins » Santa Cruz January 20th 2024

We say goodbye to Chile today and head back to Argentina. Breakfast in in our hotel then we load our bags onto the bus to head to Calafate. We change busses, bus drivers and local guide at the Argentine boarder. Out in the middle of nowhere we stop at a sheep ranch called Chali Aike. The owner of the ranch gives us a tour of the ranch. Our lunch bbq lamb is cooking over a wood fire. He tells us how this ranch has been in his family since his great grandfather bought the property. His great grandmother stayed on the ranch while his great grandfather traveled to buy sheep. It took his grandfather two years to travel to buy the sheep and herd them to the ranch. Sheep wool has been the main money earner ... read more
Visitor Center in El Calafate
Owners nephew hold lamb
Our lunch cooking over a fire

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine January 19th 2024

I feel better today but not 100%. I join our group on a hike to a waterfall. We have a buffet breakfast in the hotel then head out for our hike. We try to drive to the trail head but it is so windy the rangers have closed the road to the trail head. Our bus parks and we decide to walk to the trail head. It is an easy (except for the wind) slight uphill hike. The waterfall is beautiful. There is a lot of water in the park, glaciers, rivers and lakes. There is no swimming allowed in the park, which is not a problem because it is summer now and too cold to swim. We were given box lunches and after our morning hike our bus takes us back to our hotel. Those ... read more
Hike to waterfall
Waterfall flows to lake

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine January 17th 2024

I was sick with stomach issues all last night. No sleep so today I will rest. Unfortunately it is a travel day, we are heading to Torres del Paine National Park. The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. This beautiful wilderness park is popular with backpackers and mountain climbers. They have cabins where hikers can sleep and eat. They are shared cabins not individual cabins. There are campsites also. No camping without reservations and no campfires are allowed in the park. It is very windy here and a campfire could burn the park down which did happen when a camper burned his toilet paper and the flame flew away. Our first stop is a ranch where our group will learn about how gauchos live. A one hour horse back ride followed ... read more
Hike in the park
We made it the park
Horse back riding

South America » Chile January 16th 2024

We wake up this morning with our fingers crossed. Today if the weather cooperates we will go to Cape Horn. We are told that 40% of the time the waters are too rough for us to land on Cape Horn. Cape Horn is located on Hornos Island in Chile. It is surrounded by wild seas where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet. There are powerful currents, frequent storms and narrow passage makes it a dangerous route. A memorial on the island commemorates the 800 ships that sank and 10,000 lives of seamen who died trying to sail around Cape Horn. The weather looks good and we are told to get ready to go. I wear long underwear top and bottom, travel pants (designed to keep pickpockets out of your pants), rain paints, hiking thick socks and ... read more
Wulaia Bay
On the zodiac boat
Mark at Cape Horn

South America » Chile January 16th 2024

This morning we visit Pia Glacier. We suite up and spend an hour or more looking at the Pia Glacier. The glacier flows from the Darwin Mountains into the sea. The glacier is melting fast due to climate change. Many small icebergs can be seen floating in the water in front of the glacier. Our zodiac driver picked up a small piece of ice float in the water. It is beautiful and looks like glass. After lunch we head to Porter Glacier. Today’s hike is uphill and more demanding so some people stay on the ship. Our guide points out the plants and birds. It is a beautiful day and we are lucky the weather is nice. After a nice dinner we head to bed.... read more
Ice from the water
Pia Glacier

South America » Chile January 16th 2024

Last night we hit rough seas as we passed thru the Strait of Magellan. Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who let a Spanish expedition looking for a trade route around South America. In 1519 they found a bay which led them to a strait now called the Strait of Magellan which allowed them passage to the Pacific. A hike is on the agenda for this morning. We ride our zodiac boats around the lagoon and go for a hike. It is a beautiful day and we leave our life jackets on the beach. In the afternoon we take the zodiacs to Condor Glacier. We see a couple of Andean Condors which is appropriate given we are at Condor Glacier. We spot birds nesting on the cliffs. Tonight is the Captain’s Farewell Dinner so our cruise ... read more
Hike around Aguila Glacier
It is cold and windy here but flowers still grow
Land on the beach for our hike around Aguila Glacier

South America » Chile January 16th 2024

Today is penquin day. We have all been hoping the weather would allow us to land on Magdalena Island to view some of the 120,000 Magellanic penguins. We are in luck our weather has held and we suit up to go to Magdalena Island. We will keep our life jackets on because it is windy and they will blow away. We are told if the ship blasts its horn we must evacuate the island. Weather changes fast in this part of the world. We spend an hour walking on the pathways enjoying watching the penguins and their babies as well as the sea gulls and their babies. The male penguins sing like a penquin chorus. The females find their mate by listening for their mates song. Some penguins looked like they were fighting maybe trying to ... read more
Marks new friend follows him
I made it to see the penguins
Sea gulls have babies too

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine November 23rd 2023

We premedicated with ibuprofen Wed night after the big hike, so we were actually not too sore on Thurs. We weren't sure how we'd feel though, so we had booked a horseback trail ride. It left at 9:15 am. We didn't know at the time of booking, but it left from the same place that we started the big Mirador hike. So we got to make that drive twice, but this time we got to sleep in an extra hour. We left the Airbnb at 7am, all packed up again, and started back on the same long empty drive to the park. We made pretty good time and didn't have long to wait when we got to the Hotel Las Torres. Our horseback tour had a few other people: an old Australian woman who thought this ... read more
On the trail
On the trail
Nice view from the horse

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine November 22nd 2023

Wednesday was our big hike. Patagonia is known for a few things, but hiking is a big part of it. They have a huge nature preserve in Chile called Torres del Paine national park. There are numerous day hikes you can do and many varieties of camping, but we set our sights on the most famous hike: Mirador Las Torres. We left the Airbnb at 6am (so nice not to have to repack before leaving!) in order to make it to the trailhead by 8. There are a few places you could stay closer, or in the park, but they were extremely expensive. Despite the drive we were happy with our choice to stay in Puerto Natales. We had read that it can be a 6-9 hour hike, so we wanted to start early. We got ... read more
Horses at the Hotel Torres
Beautiful views
Lake Nordenskojld

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