Is the bottom of the world!
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!
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
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|
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!
SAN RAFAEL GLACIER
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, 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.