We have spent an amazing two days cruising the Chilean fiords and visiting a number of spectacular glaciers.
What I found incredible was our ability to get so close but I almost choked in an effort not to laugh out loud when I heard this morning, “I’m so disappointed that we didn’t dock and get to walk on the ice”.
Most glaciers in the world are shrinking but this morning we visited something quite unique. The Pio XI glacier is actually growing. This massive flow of ice is currently over 20 miles long and 6 miles wide – the size of Santiago – growing about half a mile per year. You don’t quite get the perspective when you sail up close but you do see, very clearly, the towering ice formations, the rock being swept down to the water and the incredible colours.
Ice is white, right? Wrong. There are some deep blues and aquamarine colours in there, along with pinks and the grey of the rock which has been carved from the mountains and carried to the sea. I think it needed a better camera than mine to do it justice but I have still managed to capture a little of the majesty.
It would appear that my geographical ignorance knows no bounds, or else I have long forgotten what I was once taught. On the way to yesterday’s viewing of the Amalia glacier, I couldn’t help but notice, with some surprise, we were passing the odd small ice floe or two. Of course glaciers shed ice into the sea, hence icebergs… doh!!! By the time the glacier was in view, we were totally surrounded by small (and some not small at all) ice floes. A boat was launched from the ship – did that mean we needed to worry? Apparently not; it was the ship’s film crew at work making a film of the ship amongst the ice floes and right up against the glacier. That should be worth seeing. Hats off to the Captain and the incredible skills of the navigators who made it possible to almost reach out and touch. I did hear there had been a few bumps along the way and some of the floes are now proudly sporting the ship’s paintwork!
Within the fiords, the weather seems to change constantly, and minute by minute the views also change. The sun breaks through on one side to reveal snow capped mountains from the Andes range, whilst on the other side of the ship the clouds descend and completely obliterate a view which was clear just moments before. The prevailing feature throughout is the intense chill and it is not sensible to stand still on the upper decks for too long. Hot chocolate and hot soup are served on deck during glacier watching and how comforting to wrap icy fingers around a steaming hot mug whilst appreciating the wonders of the world. If you are going to ‘do cold’, how much better to do it in comfort!
Tomorrow, we are out of the fiords and back into the Pacific as we head north for our next stop in Puerto Montt and from there onwards towards warmer climes. In many ways it will be a relief to warm up but what truly awesome spectacles we have seen and, for me, it has been another opportunity to marvel at the beauty and diversity of our planet.