Early in the morning, heavy clouds covered the mountains and fjords when the sun tried to come through, creating an incendiary red-orange-yellow atmosphere. Most of the morning was decidedly wet. Winds from the southwest Pacific, charged with moisture picked up from the ocean, crash against the Andes and discharge all their might. Luxurious forests and glaciers can exist in these latitudes due to the weather systems. We found a number of seabirds and whales during the day as we navigated through one of the first protected marine areas of southern South América. We made our way to Puerto Natales, which will be our port of call for our visit to the world famous Torres del Paine National Park.
National Geographic Endurance
This morning’s destination was Capitan Canepa Bay, located on the southern end of Isla de los Estados. The entrance to the bay is covered with impressive, rugged cliffs. Southern swells have slowly eroded the cliffs, creating several large sea caves. As the ship proceeded to the end of the fiord, it passed several small bays that were later explored via Zodiac. At the end of one bay, a small waterfall spilled its watershed from a hidden lake sitting above the rocky cliffs and out of our sight. As guests explored the small lagoons and hidden caves, seal pups were often found tucked away in the rocky outcroppings by their worried mothers who were far out to sea. Guests returned to the ship for lunch, and we began our transit to Franklin Bay in pursuit of rockhopper penguins. Upon arrival, a few penguins were spotted in the water. We observed at least a dozen invasive red deer in the surrounding hills and valleys. A small herd of feral goats was discovered in the intertidal zone, evidence of poorly understood introductions in the past. After a ship cruise of Franklin Bay, we departed for Ushuaia to arrive in time for guest disembarkation. The evening closed with presentations by the naturalist staff, the guest slideshow, and the captain’s farewell. After an amazing experience in Southern Patagonia, the trip came to a happy ending.