It Is the bottom of the world!
For those of you who want to cruise around South America chances are, at some point, you will sail through the Strait of Magellan to Chile on the West Coast of South America. If so, you will be in Punta Arenas which is also a base for Antarctic expeditions. What follows is a preview of what your cruise might be from Punta Arenas, Chile to Valparaiso, Chile. Relive with me my Silversea Silver Whisper journey as we sailed from the bottom of the earth up!
PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE: Having sailed 535-nautical miles, from The Falklands through the Strait of Magellan, we arrived in Punta Arenas for a 2-day visit, including an overnight aboard the Silver Whisper.
Day one's city tour was highlighted by a visit to the 1906 Braun-Menendez Mansion and a stroll through the meticulously manicured Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery featuring avenues lined with verdant wind-breaking cypress trees and splendid mausoleums. A stop was also made at the Jose Nogueira Hotel for a treat of pisco sours and empanadas.
Day two found us driving 40-miles northwest through the Patagonian countryside, home to guanacos, sheep, and rheas (South American ostriches), to the Otway Penguin Rookery. Here we were delightfully amused by a colony of Magellanic penguins as they waddled from their sandy burrows to the seashore.
OTWAY SOUND PENQUIN ROOKERY
LAGUNA SAN RAFAEL, CHILE: After cruising 785-nautical miles from Punta Arena through the Chilean Fjords, Silver Whisper anchored at Paso Quesahuen where we boarded a chartered catamaran that would sail us (on a complimentary Silversea shore excursion) to one of the most breathtaking sites in South America.
THE TIP OF AN ICEBERG...APPROACHING THE SAN RAFAEL GLACIER
This magical outing to the Laguna San Rafael Glacier, one of the most breathtaking sites in South America, was a kaleidoscope of the stunning artistry of Mother Nature. This awesome wall of ice was a brilliant spectacle played out in hues of blue and white. The thundering chunks of ice that calved into the lake might well have been crystal sculptures by Lalique, or a pate de verre gem executed by Daum Crystal. Magnifico!
LAGUNA SAN RAFAEL GLACIER
PUERTO CHACABUCO, CHILE: The 93-nautical mile sail from Laguna Rafael to Puerto Chacabuco gave us time to relax and contemplate the rare beauty we had just witnessed. A picturesque drive through the Simpson Valley and a stop in the town of Coyhaique was certainly anti-climactic to the sights of the previous day. However Laguna San Rafael Glacier was a hard act to follow. Coyhaique, calling itself "the capital of Patagonia", is said to have more than 50% of the region's population. Coyhaique's population is a whopping 50,000 people.
LOCAL DANCERS PERFORM IN COYHAIQUE
PUERTO MONTT, CHILE: Another 279-nautical miles brought us to Puerto Montt, founded in 1853 by German settlers. After a brief tour of the city, our Silversea shore excursion headed to the town of Puerto Varas where the ship's shopaholics indulged themselves with purchases of lapis lazuli jewelry. Nearby, Lake Llanquihue is the largest natural lake in Chile and the third-largest in South America.
THE SHIP'S SHOHPAHOLICS ENJOYED PUERTO VARAS
On the west side of Lake Llanquihue, we visited Frutillar, a charming German-style village. Here we visited the Colonial Aleman Museum and strolled the lovely town resplendent in its summer hydrangeas and roses. In the old German 'delikatessen' one could assuage one's taste buds with homemade 'kuchen tortas".
VALPARAISO, CHILE: Only 629-nautical miles remained on our fabulous Silver Whisper cruise that was taking us to the Chilean port city of Valparaiso. From there, we were transferred to Santiago. You'll hear about that fabulous city in another blog.
STREET VENDORS IN VALPARAISO
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer, International Travel Consultant, and winner of 40 national Travel Writing Awards.