After leaving Punta Arenas, we continued our intrepid voyage through the Straights, just like Magellan did close to 500 years ago. Okay, maybe “intrepid” is a big strong… and it only took us 2 days to hit the Pacific Ocean, not 36. But, it was quite chilly in the evening, and I was forced to wear a jacket over my evening gown while strolling along the promenade deck with a glass of champagne. Does that qualify as a hardship? I think so. Yes.
When we reached the Pacific Ocean however, we were not met with a placid body of water like Magellan. We went from smooth to massive rolling waves in seconds. I raced to get Dramamine for Steve before his head told his stomach what was happening. If Magellan met the Pacific today, he would given it a very different name, and not a nice one.
We headed North and thrashed around overnight before heading back East into the serene waters of the Fjords at daybreak. This is it. The Chilean Fjords. This had been on my bucket list forever. Fjords are long inlets from the sea that have been carved out by glaciers. They are usually very deep, and surrounded by steep cliffs. The only way to get to this pristine part of the world is by boat. No one lives here, and most of the area we traveled through is part of the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, which covers 13,614 square miles.
Here are some maps, so you can see where we are…
We had 2 close encounters with glaciers in the Fjords. Before I tell you more about them, here are some icy facts you may enjoy…
- Glaciers cover approximately 10 percent of the earth.
- They store about 69% of the fresh water supply on the planet.
- They are found in 47 countries.
- If every glacier in the world suddenly melted, global sea levels would rise by 260 feet.
- Glacial ice looks so blue, because the dense compacted ice absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue, so blue is what we see.
- If you put a glacial ice cube in a glass or water, it would take several hours to melt, compared to a regular ice cube. But… the pressured air bubbles rush out so fast that they might make the glass explode. Don’t try this at home!
- Glaciers are very slow moving rivers. The average speed is about 50 feet a day.
The first glacier we met is Amalia. It is about one mile wide, 13 miles long, and 130 feet high. This glacier has retreated 4 miles over the past 50 years, which is a dramatic loss of ice. It partially surrounds the Reclus volcano and erodes it’s northern flank.
The Bruggen (PIO XI) glacier is significantly larger, and unlike most glaciers in the world, has advanced 4 miles over the past 50 years. It is currently 2.5 miles wide, about 40 miles long, and 225 feet high. It is the largest glacier in the southern hemisphere, outside of Antartica.
The rest of our time in the Fjords was spent ogling the amazing views. It was hard to leave the deck for even one second. I will include more photos in a separate entry soon.
Next stop after leaving the Fjords, Valparaiso, Chile.