Two Glaciers and a Chilean Ranch

We took an early breakfast and then walked into town to the travel agent’s office. From there we joined a busload of fellow travellers and were bussed out to Puerto Bories. Here we boarded our boat for the day. It wasn’t the most modern but had plenty of tables with seats. We sat down with four others. Pretty soon we were off and travelling up the Señoret Channel, which is part of the Ultima Esperanza Fjord. We had views of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park from the water. The landscape was rugged but quite bleak and the vegetation low growing.

Along the way we were able to observe colonies of cormorants perched on the rocky crevices of the coast at one stage.Cloud shrouded mountains could be seen in the distance.Occasionally there were waterfalls tumbling down the rocky escarpments at the edge of the fjord.After about an hour and a half we came to a larger waterfall and decided to venture outside and have a closer look as the boat had come to a halt. As you can see it was the usual windy Patagonian weather. Just over two hours after our trip had started we were in range of Balmaceda Glacier which we could see from the boat but there was nowhere to actually land and take a closer look.As the boat edged closer we could see the glacier in more detail.It was clearly melting before our very eyes and runoff was cascading into the fjordLess than half an hour later the boat had arrived at a small wharf at Puerto Toro. It joined a couple of others. (Ours is 21 De Mayo III.)

Our guide lead us past a welcome signand along a path towards the Serrano Glacier. We had been told over the boat’s PA that it would take us about thirty minutes to walk to the glacier. However within five minutes we had our first glimpse.A further twenty minute walk on the banks of the Tempano Lagoon, through a native deciduous forest of coigües, ñirres and ciruelillos, saw us arrive at the viewpoint for the Serrano glacier.

I was pleased I had a camera with a zoom lens so I could capture the spectacular detail on the pale blue crevasses and their peaks.We moved closer to the end of the ‘mirador area’ for some more photos.

Eventually having our own photo snapped by a fellow passenger and returning the favour.Given we had a time limit we began our return walk along the trail.Occasionally we stopped and looked back at this spectacular natural feature.

The other end of the trail diverted to where the water flowing off the glaciers spilled down into the fjord.Back on board we were offered a whisky. You could take it neat or ‘with millenary ice from the glacier’. (Fact or fiction?)

Our trip continued along the fjord for about an hour longer. By this time we were wishing we had brought some snacks with us. However we finally arrived at Estancia Perales, our destination for lunch.After disembarking we were shown bathroom facilities and then joined a queue in the restaurant section. We were shown to tables of ten. One lady from Sydney joined us but otherwise they were complete strangers from the boat. We soon discovered we were the only non Spanish speakers but we were able to communicate well enough to let the wait staff know Karen and one other lady were vegetarian. Their meal – a vegetarian pasta dish – was brought separately. For the carnivores in the group large platters of barbecued meat and potatoes plus large salad bowls were placed in the centre of the table from which we served ourselves.Amid much laughter and conversation we enjoyed our meal. Dessert was brought next. After that we were free to wander  around the ranch and the surrounding countryside.Karen even took up the opportunity to pat one of the horses.

All that remained was for us to reboard the boat for the return trip to Puerto Natales. We returned to the same table on the boat and managed to break down the Spanish/English barriers we felt had inhibited conversation earlier in the day. It turned out two of the ladies were mother and daughter. The daughter bashfully revealing to us she was studying to be an English teacher. She felt her English wasn’t very good but was clearly superior to our handful of Spanish words and phrases. The other single older man and single lady joined in too. It was an enjoyable time as we passed the brooding landscape.

Back in Puerto Natales we returned briefly to our accommodation for a shower and a rest. We walked back into town for dinner and ate at the Grey Dog Burger Shop. Definitely not typical Chilean food but nice for a change. Back at the Singing Lamb I posed for one last photo with this model of an indigenous man as he would have been in former ceremonial times.The next day we checked out and took the bus south to Punta Arenas airport. Our late afternoon flight back to Santiago on budget airline Sky went without a hitch. Our South American adventure was at an end. Hopefully in the future we will return to see Argentine Patagonia.

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