Early start for a transfer to our boat for the day – the May 21st III. This will be our vessel for the day that will take us to one of the national parks that is not accessible by road and you must arrive via the water – Bernard O’Higgins National Park, which is the largest of the protected areas in Chile (named after the first head of state of Republican Chile).
Beautiful journey up the glacial fjord during which we saw non penguin penguins (Cormorants), one large sea lion (posing nicely on the side of the fjord), a high glacier up in the mountains before docking at a point which a river discharges into he fjord.
From here we do a 30 minute walk up to the base of another glacier, called Serrano – not as large as the one near El Calafate but still impressive and far steeper slope. This means that it behaves like the majority of the worlds glaciers (and Wayne Rooney’s hairline pre op!) and is receding each year.
Gorgeous views of the icebergs that have dropped off the front. You can tell the age of them from their colour – an almost artificial blue at first before fading to white and eventually translucent like an ice cube. Due to the high winds in the area over recent days they are mostly all caught on the sides of the river. Which means we could a able down to the shore for close inspection and even pick the small ones up.
Back on the boat we are served our second whiskey with glacier ice older than the drink (not complaining though) and we head for lunch at a traditional Estancia.
A sheep dip style follows – with a not unpleasant but decidedly average meal served out to tables like a school meal, a table at a time. The setting however is spectacular so cannot complain too much.
We are on a table of French people and we (mainly Nik) converses well with them over lunch and there is some exitement when we discover that “vidangeur” is a specific word in French. On the way back I fall asleep on the boat and Niki continues to develop her S.American Spanish by chatting in French 😉
Another home cooked meal and chatting with other guests at the Hostal, a couple of Dutch girls who are back from a day in Punta
Arenas (out next stop) and on the way to Buenos Aires. A brief exchange of recommendations ensues – they seem particularly interested in the details of the 2CV trip!
We then watch in awe as the owners takeaway food is delivered (Jacqueline’s Chilean husband has returned from guiding a 9 day trek) – a huge tray of chips, pieces of chicken breast, chorizo sausage, pickles, boiled egg and vegetables (the latter either a token gesture or to attempt to reduce the risk of an immediate heart attack) – it is called Pichanga and is available hot or cold!
We have already eaten but the Dutch girls are also impressed and order one too so we decide to head out for a pudding – delicious crepes!