We awoke to the magnificent scenery of Garibaldi Fjord, a narrow fjord that juts into the Darwin Range on Tierra Del Fiego Island in southernmost Chile. The cliffs soared 2000 feet, rising straight up from the gray water of the fjord. The bottom half of the cliffs was covered by beech forests, whereas the top half was bare rock and fresh snow. At the end of the fjord, we found the stunning Garibaldi glacier, with a blue glacier face 200 feet high and full of crevasses.
In the morning, we went on Zodiac cruises in the iceberg-filled fjord. We cruised along the vertical cliffs, admiring striped gneiss rock polished by glacier erosion during the last glacial advance. Waterfalls came down from the cliffs, tumbling through the beech forest. As we cruised in Zodiacs, we could see and touch the thousands of “bergy bits” that fill the end of the fjord. Occasionally, we heard a crash and saw ice falling from the glacier face into the water with a big splash. This phenomenon, called “calving,” created a small tsunami that crossed the fjord, moving icebergs up and down in the waves, and eventually surging up to the base of the cliffs. What an amazing display of nature’s beauty!
In the afternoon, we had our mandatory briefing from IAATO, the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators. This was followed by an IAATO decontamination process, whereby our clothes and bags were vacuumed and our boots inspected, so we did not bring any exotic seeds into the Antarctic ecosystem. Outside, the sun came out, and we saw gorgeous sunlit mountains, glaciers, and fjords as the ship cruised east through the Beagle Channel.
During dinner, we anchored at Puerto Williams to get clearance to leave Chile. Later in the evening, the ship cruised over to and docked in Ushuaia, Argentina. Our last peaceful view was the moon over the snowcapped peaks behind Ushuaia.