Today we woke up to a delightful morning in Punta Arenas, the largest city in Chilean Patagonia. A busy day was planned for our guests.
We left the port around 8:00 a.m. Half of us drove to the Magallanes National Reserve, where we completed a 1.5-hour hike in the native Magellanic forest. We have been admiring the southern beech trees from the water and finally got to experience the interior of this beautiful forest that forms the heart of Patagonia. The Magellanic forest ecology is a delicate one. There are only a few plant species that call these windbeaten lands home. Young trees try to reach their branches as high as possible to compete for light. A thin layer of clay-rich soil is barely enough for the trees to spread their roots. There is something about hiking in these woods that feels magical. As one of our guests observed, “It is like walking in a fairytale forest.” We observed fallen trees, lichens in different shapes and sizes, light penetrating through the trees, and rayaditos frantically flying from branch to branch. The famous Patagonian wind reminded us that winter is fast approaching.
After a wonderful couple of hours, we reluctantly bid farewell to the woods. It was penguin time! After another delicious meal prepared by our executive chef Sarah and her amazing team, we were ready to embark on a small catamaran that took us to Magdalena Island. This small island in the Magellan Strait is home to a colony of 56,000 to 58,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins. We spent about an hour observing the remaining penguins since the majority of the colony has already migrated north. We also had a chance to observe some cormorants and seagulls. Magdalena Island is a preferred nesting spot for the species.
We ended our wonderful day in the Magellan Strait with a delicious dinner prepared by the galley team while sailing towards our next destination.