A Travellerspoint blog

At sea - Saturday, 7 March 2015

One month today since we flew from Sydney to Rio, via Santiago.

Awoke this morning to calm waters - THANK HEAVENS!!  Didn't get too much sleep last night so looking forward to spending a lazy day in the cabin, as we will be at sea all day, but at least we are in protected waters and it is quite calm.

I realise I should be eating, but it is really hard to force feed yourself when you have an upset tummy.  Ate a bit of breakfast, very slowly.

Rikus, our Scenic Tours Cruise Director, called in to see how I was.  He is such a sweetie and looks after his group so well.  He stayed chatting for a couple of hours and we had a coffee together.  We travelled through Africa with him for a month in 2010 and count him as a very special friend.

Had a nice lunch in our cabin of chicken noodle soup and roast beef.

Now it's time for afternoon naps!  The sea is reasonably calm but has its moments!

Had our group daily meeting with Rikus in the theatre at 7.25 pm and then Shirley and Alec from Tamworth came and had dinner with us in our room.  They were great fun and the conversation flowed all night.  It was about 20 to 11 when they left but we had all had a great evening.  I felt a bit sorry for Baptiste because goodness knows what time he got to bed.

Took some nice sunset shots.


Posted by gaddingabout 16:53 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Tortel, Chile - Friday, 6 March 2015

Visit this small Patagonian village with its curious architecture, houses on stilts linked by a maze of piers, walkways and endless stairs which make up the roads, clings to a hillside in total isolation amidst the glaciers, lakes, forests and mountains.

One month today since we left home.  It seems like ages.  We have done so much!

Lot of action in the cabin early this morning.  Phil phoning Baptiste to say don't bring breakfast early because we don't have any cabin lights.  Phil phoning Rikus about reception saying they couldn't fix our lights last night.  Electrician coming to change the light bulbs.


We have anchored alongside in Caleta Tortel.  Tortel is a coastal village in Chile.  It is the administrative centre of the commune of Tortel and is located between the mouth of the Baker River and the Baker Channel.  The surrounding geography is rugged, formed by a number of islands, fjords, channels and estuaries.  The village was founded in 1955 to exploit the cypress wood that was abundant in the area.  The timber business accounts for most of the economy in Tortel to this day.  For most of its history, the village had only boat and air access; the road was only constructed in 2003.  Caleta Tortel consists mainly of stilt houses, typical of Chilota architecture, built along the coast for several kilometres.  There are no conventional streets, justvwooden walkways.   This gives the village its distinctive look.  There is one school in Caleta Tortel.  Called La Escuela Comandante Luis Bravo Bravo, it runs up to 8th grade and has about 90 students.


Tortel was like a ghost town.  We followed the path and walked up and up, past houses and shops that were all closed and looked like no one lived there at all.  We passed several police/soldiers that would hardly seem necessary in a quiet place like this.  It is the most unique town but I don't know how anyone could live there.  There is absolutely nothing to do.  And no one calls in while driving past.  It is in a very remote area.  Big ships can't get in to the harbour, only ships our size and we only come once a year.


The locals put on a cultural show for us in the bandstand in the centre of the village - singing and dancing - and then we were all back on board for lunch and now we are sailing through the Marteniz Channel, heading for the Pacific Ocean.


I finished my Agatha Christie book a couple of days ago and started to read "Three Weeks" by Elinor Glyn, 1864-1943.  It is wonderfully descriptive and only short but I am enjoying it very much.

At 4.00 pm I went to the theatre to hear Francesco's lecture on the History of Chile.  It was very interesting.  We then had a whale sighting but not a very close one.

At 6.00 pm, the Scenic Tours group of 21 had a private Cocktail Party on Observation Deck 6 with the Captain and crew.  We are now in the open sea and it is getting quite rough.  It will be like this until 6.00 am tomorrow.  I stayed at the cocktail party for about 45 minutes and then had to go to the cabin and lie down.  Not feeling fab!  I have my wrist bands on and have taken a sea sick pill but don't have any more patches.

Phil went down to dinner with the group but Peter, Merlene and me were cabin bound with sea sickness.  Baptiste gave me some boiled rice and ginger for dinner.  It was really hard to eat but everyone, including the doctor says you are better to have something in your stomach.

At one stage, it got so rough that a bottle of water fell over and knocked a wine glass on to the floor.  It smashed and poor Baptiste had to vacuum the floor to make sure all the glass was picked up.

I felt really bad and when Phil came back, I had a quick little shower and hopped into bed.  Didn't get to sleep for hours.  Unfortunately this will be my first and last cruise.  I can't stand it!!!!!!


Posted by gaddingabout 15:33 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Cruising the Chilean Fjords - Thursday, 5 March 2015

Breakfast at 6.45 am because we were going ashore at 9.00 am on the zodiac to see the Pie XI Glacier.

Not feeling fantastic this morning and didn't eat much breakfast at all.

The French went off at 8.00 am in sunshine and by the time we were due to go, it was raining.  But the weather changes very quickly in this part of the world and the rain stopped and off we went.  We stopped along the shore to look at the vegetation and then went close to the glacier.  It is huge.  On the way back to the ship, it started to rain and the sea got very choppy and waves were swamping the boat.  Everyone got soaked but we were okay because we had out Antarctic wet weather gear on but we miss the gum boots.  Phil got wet feet but I was okay, but our wet weather gear was sopping.


Pie XI Glacier is in southern Chile and is the largest western outflow from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.  Now about 64 km in length, it is the longest glacier in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica and is still growing.   Unlike most glaciers worldwide, it advanced significently from 1945 to 1976, 5km across the Eyre Fjord, reaching the western shore by 1962 and cutting off Lake Greve from the sea.  The glacier continued advancing both northward and southward in the fjord to near its present position before stabilizing.  The growth covers a distance of more than 10km north to south, adding nearly 60 square kilometres of ice.


Great views of the Pie XI Glacier as we set sail for Tortel, Chile.

We went through a narrow passage where there was a statue of the Virgin Mary.  Tradition says that if you throw in a coin when passing, then it will bring you good luck.  We through in a coin for us and Baptiste.


As we are making good time, the Captain called into a bay for us to view another glacier.  It was very nice and the lichen on the rocks was lovely. 


There was a house on the shore, the first sign of life we have seen for weeks.  Two rangers live there and are recording the wild life.


We had our daily meeting with Rikus and then went into dinner with Alec and Shirley, Greg and Jan and Kate and Donald.  I was still feeling a bit funny in the tummy, so just ordered soup and a hamburger.  The hamburger was disgusting.  It had a huge hunk of foir gras in it.  I hate that stuff.  It is goose or duck liver and the French love it.  I had to eat it at the Captain's welcome dinner because I was sitting next to him!

We came back to the cabin and the lights went out and Phil phoned reception and the girl said that everyone was asleep and it would be fixed in the morning.  Not good enough.  We had to contact Baptiste and tell him not to bring our breakfast in the dark.

Posted by gaddingabout 15:02 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Puerto Natales, Chile - Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tour Torres del Paine National Park, stopping at Sarmiento Lake, the emerald green Nordenskjold Lake and then walk to see the Salto Grande waterfall

Breakfast at 6.00 am this morning as we have to be down on Deck 3 ready to depart at 7.40 am.  The wind is blowing a gale and the sea is very rough and there is a big Spanish ship tied up alongside in Puerto Natales which has limited the area where our tender can unload passengers.

Because the conditions were so bad, we had to wait an hour before it was safe to take the tender across to Puerto Natales.  It was quite dangerous getting off onto the wharf, but there were a lot of staff there to help us and make sure we didn't get hurt.

The wind was furious.  I have never experienced wind so fierce.  How people can live wih this wind all the time is beyond me.


Boarded the bus for the two hour ride to Torres del Paine National Park.  The landscape is very stark with huge bare mountains and barren plains.  Nothing much grows here.  Sheep and cattle do well.  We stopped for several photo opportunities.  The scenes are quite stunning.


We came across this herd of Guanacos (pronounced wanacoe).  They are from the same family of camels and are related to llamas and alpacas.  They are very cute.


We could see Monte Almirante Nieto always in the distance with the granite spires of the Torres del Paine.  The photos are stunning.  Every time we got off the bus, the wind was horrific.  Just imagine the worst wind you have ever experienced and multiply it by a million!  It was incredible.

We had lunch at a hotel with the most magnificent views of the mountains.  The lunch was buffet and was one of the most tastiest I have had since we have been away.  It was delicious.  We also had a complimentary Pisco Sour which is a local alcohol drink, made from grapes, with sugar and citrus added for the sour bit.  It was really nice.  Chileans drink it all the time.


After lunch, on our way back to Puerto Natales, we stopped for a group photo, and sheltered from the wind next to the bus.  You can see from the photo that the wind was still blowing furiously.  We were planning a 400m walk to the Salto Grande waterfall, but Rikus decided that the wind was too strong and it was too dangerous.  Another bus load of tourists tried to visit the waterfall, and as a Scottish lady got out of the bus, a gust of wind threw her off balance and she broke her wrist and now she and her husband are on their way home.  It's that easy in these horrific winds.


At one stage the wind was so furious that it blew a shower of rocks at the bus.  The driver had to stop until it had passed.  It was that gust of wind that broke the lady's wrist.


We all slept on the bus on the way back and had a stop at a "half horse" town, as opposed to a "one horse" town, Cerro Castillo.  There was a settlement of quite new houses and an impressive statue of a horse and a very busy general store and not much else.  Why anyone would live here, with the wind blowing furiously all the time, I just cannot imagine.


About eight of us got off the bus in Puerto Natales with Rikus and walked through the town and the main square, went into a souvenir shop and bought a small penguin that was heaps cheaper than Ushuaia and then walked down to the dock to get the tender back to the ship.


Puerto Natales is a very nice town with quite a lot happening.  But the wind!  It just never stops.  At least the tender ride back to the ship was a lot calmer than this morning.

Baptiste our butler was waiting in our cabin for us on our return and had the table all set up for dinner, so we ate in.  He made me a very nice pick me up cocktail, an Expresso Martini.


I had a very relaxing bath and into bed to read for a while.  Phil was watching a crazy sci fi movie called Lucy, but went to sleep before it finished and couldn't tell me how it finished!


Posted by gaddingabout 14:27 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

The Patagonian Fjords - Monday, 2 March 2015

Slept fantastically last night and didn't feel any of the rough bits.

Awoke to a nice sunny day but that changed dramatically and now it's foggy, raining and blowing a gale.  It's just as well we are spending all day on board and possibly getting off tonight in Puerto Natales.

Finished reading "The Rosie Project" by Don Tillman today.  It was quite a good read and easy to follow.

Invited Pete and Deb to have lunch with us.


After lunch at about 3.30 pm, the ship manoeuvred itself through the Kirke Passage.  The zodiacs waited for the tide to be right and then let the Captain know it was safe to sail through.  The passengers were out on deck to watch.  It was freezing!  The wind was blowing a gale and it was raining.  I thought it would be a lot tighter than it was, but we did go pretty close to an island on the port side.  Phil slept all afternoon and missed it.


We decided not to go ashore in Puerto Natales as it would be dark by the time we got there.  We'll stay in town tomorrow after we come back from Torres del Paine.


I have started reading a new book by Agatha Christie called "After the Funeral".  It's quite good.

Posted by gaddingabout 14:02 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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