Santiago (Valparaiso), ChileEmbark the Silver Explorer and depart on your exciting 12-day expedition – “Patagonia & Chilean Fjords”. This evening, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and enjoy the first of many delightful dinners in The Restaurant.
Day at SeaToday cruise southward along the Chilean coast. Meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found onboard the Silver Explorer. Attend informative lectures led by your onboard naturalists or guest specialists that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the many possible unscheduled adventures that lie ahead. Or, in the comfort of your own accommodations, enjoy a movie on the in-suite interactive television.
Niebla is a small village on the banks of the Rio Valdivia where Chile’s Corral Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Today Niebla is a beach resort, but in 1671 was a defensive fortress built by Spanish conquerors to prevent attacks from pirates and corsairs. Today drive to the charming river port city of Valdivia, where you’ll find an interesting blend of influences from the native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants. Stopping for a visit at the Mercado Fluvial, see fishermen selling their catch as nearby pelicans and sea lions stay alert for hand-outs.
Your next destination is the Maurice Van der Maele Historical and Anthropological Museum that houses a collection of Mapuche artefacts and jewellery, as well as important pieces from Hispanic and German periods. As the first colonists, Germans diligently worked to develop the area and their influence can be felt in every corner of this city. Your next stop is the Kunstmann Brewery where beer is brewed according to the purity edict of 1516, which sustains that true beer must be brewed naturally, with first-quality ingredients: barley, malt, hops, and crystal-clear water. Valdivia is blessed with an abundance of pure water, and the city has become something of a standard-bearer for Chilean beers. A tour of the small museum will be conducted prior to a tasting of ten beers. Following the visit, return to Niebla to re-join the ship.
Puerto Montt, ChileThe one-time German colony of Puerto Montt is your gateway to Chile’s Lake Region – a spectacular area with dozens of active volcanoes and picturesque lakes that number in the hundreds. Your tour follows a route taken by the German, Swiss and Austrian pioneers in 1850, looking for a way to reach Argentina from Chile. Your scenic drive takes you past charming wooden houses and churches, pristine farmland, and lush green forest. Stop at a nearby forest of ancient Alerce trees. Your drive continues to the majestic Osorno volcano, where you will climb to the Ski and Mountain Center, 4,200 feet above sea level. When reaching the area called “La Burbuja” (The Bubble), located at approximately 1,200 meters above sea level, have time to admire the magnificent view and can take pictures of the summit of Osorno and Calbuco with their snow-covered peaks, and of Lake Llanquihue. Following lunch at a local restaurant, head to Chile’s famous Petrohué Rapids. The mighty Petrohué is a marvel of inky-green waters crashing through lava channels formed after the eruption of the Osorno in 1850. Today’s excursion concludes with your return to the Silver Explorer in the late afternoon.
Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile
Chiloé Island is home to an amazing collection of 150 Jesuit-carved wooden churches, houses raised up on poles out of the water, and more than 400 native plant varieties. Drop anchor and go ashore via the Zodiacs. From Castro,head south to the picturesque village of Dalcahue. On the way, glimpse the colorful hamlet of Llaullao with houses roofed with tejuelas.
After a brief ferry ride to Quinchao, pass through Curaco de Velez. This is tiny village of approximately 500 inhabitants had its best times around 1850 when cattle raisers and whalers lived here. Today, beautiful houses remain as a testament to these better times. Another highlight of this village is the coastal avenue where it is sometimes possible to see black-necked swans. Just ahead, arrive in Achao, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1743 and now has almost 2,500 inhabitants. Achao is a lively town with boats arriving every day from all the surrounding islands. While here, visit the Jesuit’s Achao Church, the oldest wooden structure in Chiloé and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1730, it contains beautiful baroque imagery. Afterwards, cross Achao’s main square to enjoy a snack and typical local music before returning to Dalcahue. Here visit the well-preserved Dalcahue Church with its galvanized iron roof. Carved by Jesuits from locally grown Patagonian cypress, larch and luma trees, the detailing and precision are amazing. It was founded in 1849, and declared a World Heritage site in 2000.
Alternatively, visit Chiloé National Park, located on the western coast of Chiloé Island. It encompasses an area of 430.57 km² and includes dunes, temperate rain forests, swamps, and peat bogs. The park’s warm and humid climate contributes to the existence of the evergreen forest, which is made up mostly of terebinth shrubs, coigüe, luma, myrtle, tepu and larch. The fauna includes fox, sea lion, mountain monkey, sea otter, opossum, pudú, finch, and patagonian woodpecker. Some of these species are endemic, due to the insular nature of this island. Your walk takes you along the El Tepual Trail through evergreen tepú forest.
Puerto Chacabuco, Chile
This small but busy port lies at the eastern end of a narrow fjord, and serves as a jumping-off point for adventures amidst the splendid natural beauty and wildlife of western Patagonia. Your intended destination for today is the naturally beautiful Aysén District and the impressive landscapes of Aikén del Sur Private Park. On your guided walk see a 22-meter-high waterfall; the placid, transparent blue waters of Riesco Lake; indigenous perennial forests with humid variety ferns, moss and lichen; and endless prairies of myrtle, wild fuschia and calafate shrubbery as well as mallines or swamps.
During your morning visit you can choose whether you prefer a moderate or a more challenging trail. One group will take the moderately difficult River Trail traversing through prairies and the humid forest that characterises this part of the world, to the impressive Old Man’s Beard at the end of the trail. This group will return along the Waterfall Trail. The second group will take a trail with a higher degree of difficulty amongst indigenous trees for a wilder Patagonian nature experience. Your naturalist guide will point out the outstanding trees indigenous of this area. Your outing concludes with a snack at the quincho before returning to the ship.
Chilean Fjords CruisingA voyage through Chile’s fjords is an exhilarating experience. It offers the traveller extraordinary sights of untamed natural beauty as well as an interesting history. After a morning at sea, arrive at the stunningly beautiful Caletta Tortel, a remote Chilean village built on the shores of the Baker River. As there are no roads in the town, a series of boardwalks connect the community. Use your Zodiacs to explore the mouth of the Baker River, navigating the small channels, and landing at the Isla de las Muertos, where 135 graves tell a sad story of exploration and exploitation.
Pio XI Glacier, Chile
Early this morning, be out on deck to watch as you head towards the English Narrows. Your Captain and local Chilean Pilots expertly manoeuvres the Silver Explorer through the slalom course of islands and channel markers. During this time, you may spot Magellanic diving petrels and steamer ducks, and if you are very lucky, the endemic Chilean dolphin. Shy of ships, this small dolphin enjoys spending its time in narrow channels with heavy tidal rips.
In the afternoon, visit the Pio XI Glacier. This tidewater glacier sprawled out is 4.5 km wide and a remarkable shade of brilliant blue. An outlet glacier of the South Patagonian Ice Field, the Pio XI had once extended out into the fjords whose waters we ply today. Conditions permitting, climb into Zodiacs and dodge brash ice and bergy bits as you approach the glacier at a safe distance. Alert for signs of calving, you may see small chunks of ice falling from the glacier front.
At SeaAttend informative lectures led by your Expedition Leader and guest specialists that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the many possible unscheduled adventures that lie ahead. Relax on deck or peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library. Before turning in, take a stroll on deck and enjoy the solitude and splendor of a vast velvet sky strewn with shimmering stars.
Punta Arenas, Chile
Located on the western side of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas is a bustling base for fishing boats and Antarctic research vessels. Today plan to leave the busy port town for a visit to a traditional Patagonian homestead. The estancia Olga Teresa was founded in the early 20th century by French-Irish immigrants who established themselves as sheep farmers in the middle of the vast Patagonian pampas. Today, the estancia has opened its doors to a limited number of visitors to demonstrate the traditional farming lifestyle that is still observed here to this day. Situated 50 miles north of Punta Arenas, the estancia is reached in less than 2 hours by coach. The farm is located by the slopes of the Palomares Mountains and has an impressive colony of condors nesting in caves on the upper part of the mountain.
Upon arrival at the farm, be welcomed by the hospitable English-speaking family and taken to see the different farm activities. Chilean cowboys, or huasos, on horseback will show their skills in rounding up young cows. Then enjoy a traditional luncheon of barbecued Patagonian lamb that has been slow-grilled for hours on poles surrounding the fire.
Garibaldi Fjord and GlacierThis afternoon, the Silver Explorer will enter the Garibaldi Fjord, a narrow passage strewn with floating ice in shades of blue and green. Ribbons of waterfalls snake down the steep mountainsides. At the head of this picturesque fjord, take in the quiet splendour of the retreating Garibaldi Glacier.
Ushuaia, ArgentinaThe Silver Explorer will arrive at Ushuaia in the morning. Following breakfast, disembark the Silver Explorer and transfer to the airport for your charter flight to Buenos Aires.