Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Transit of Chilean Fiords-day one

Day one of our transit of the fiords was blessed with fine weather.  Morning low-lying clouds burned off early to give us unimpeded views of green mountains rising up on either side of the ship.  Some of the passages are quite narrow and exciting.  We were able to go on the bridge to witness the ship operations close up and we spent most of the day on the bridge wing looking for birds we had been told about in a lecture earlier in the morning.  I was particularly thrilled to see albatross flying all around us.  I spent two hours trying to capture them in pictures to no avail as they blended in too well with the waves. 

The ship's course took us for an evening and night into the ocean and as the day wore on we got ever closer to the open Pacific and the winds got stronger as we left the protection of the fiords.  By late afternoon we were in a gale and the ship was tossing around.  There were fewer passengers at supper that evening!!!


At the crack of dawn we bid farewell to Katie and Manuel and to Bariloche as well.  We had arranged to take a trip through the lakes of the lake district and to enter Chile.  It was an exciting opportunity to see the lakes we had admired from various high vantage points on the previous days...but from a different perspective.   We were not disappointed as the scenery was again gorgeous.

We cleared immigration and customs in the middle of the trip in a small village with a population of less than 150.  Once done we transited a lake with emerald green waters and with tremendous views of surrounding volcanoes.

Finally...before we arrived in Puerto Montt (our final destination) we stopped to view waterfalls...some of the most unusual we have ever seen because of the unique rock formations around them...large smooth lava formations.


Having seen the most beautiful views the day before we opted for a change of pace and drove out to visit some caverns outside of town. 
These were interesting, natural formations which had been used by humans as shelter for 8000 years.  One wall painting remains which is very faint. 
Overall the experience was a nice one with a short climb up a hill side giving lovely views of the plains leading up to the Andes.

Cerro Cetederal

As we are in a ski resort there is a ski lift available to take people close to the top of the mountain where we had been told that a short walk would bring us to views of some of the mountains in Chili.  We decided to start off early and attempt this walk.  We had no idea what awaited us but we were interested to see the ski hill and to imagine what it would be like in the winter.  Paul especially could imagine the thrill of skiing down what looked to me like very challenging ski runs...

We took a gondola part of the way up the hill and to our delight we saw some Condors below us in valley.  (The naturalist who took us on our first walk had told us that Condors are sighted around this mountain, but rarely).  We watched them soar through the valley below and felt very lucky to have seen them. 
We took a chairlift further up the mountain and we arrived in a bleak and rocky landscape above the tree line.

After a walk...strenuous for me but not so for the rest of my party...we arrived at the summit and there before us was a breathtaking view of the Andes stretching along the Argentinian/Brazilian border.  The lakes were a beautiful blue colour against the green of the lower mountains with the rocky high crags higher still.  It was remarkable and I had just remarked that the only thing missing was condors flying overhead when more flew by...some in the dist and and others right overhead.  It made for a magical moment.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Puerto Montt

The next leg of our adventure was again on the water as we had arranged passage on a ferry to the south through the Chilean fjords.  We spent the bulk of the day following the boarding procedures.... more complicated as the ferry is a working vessel...not strictly a cruise ship.  Nevertheless we used some of our time exploring the waterfront and having a nice lunch of very fresh fish.
We boarded the ship in the afternoon and found our cabin.  It was small but pleasant...with bunk beds!!!  It had been a very long time since we had been on a ship in bunks...and it brought back many memories as I climbed into the upper bunk and settled down to read for a bit!
We left port in a but of a rain shower on an overcast evening and hoped that this was not a weather omen for the rest of the trip.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Breathtaking views

We decided to take a tour of the Bariloche area and so we rented a car and off we went.  (The traffic here is far less and the traffic circulation much calmer than in the big cities we have visited so far).  With Paul at the wheel we took what is known as the Chico Circuit, which was a tour around the lakes which are between the mountains.  Along the way we came to a lookout which is accessed by a chair lift.  The panoramas were incredible.

We had a special treat of seeing hawks soaring about and landing quite close to us.

And a kitten fell in love with Paul and his yogurt...

After a quick coffee overlooking the scenery below...we were off again. We made a stop at the Llao llao hotel, which is a lot like Montebello, an old log hotel...very posh. The scenery here was also beautiful.

After this we made our way to a short trek through the forest to another vantage point overlooking one of the many huge lakes.  The walk was interesting as the forest is clearly very old with very tall trees and a bamboo-like plant overarching the walkways.

It was a jam-packed day and we returned to our hotel quite tired and made supper and relaxed for the evening.