The M/N Skorpios III, sets sail every Sunday
at dawn from Puerto Natales, located 247 km to the north of Punta
Arenas, on a five day cruise through the channels and fjords that
border the Southern Ice Field, in the Chilean Patagonia, which is
considered to be the third largest reserve of fresh water on the planet
and crib of the biggest and most spectacular glaciers in the southern
hemisphere. There are two options to reach the region of the
Magallanes: flying Punta Arenas or of going overland from Argentina.
From this city, passengers must be transferred to the Skorpios Terminal
in Puerto Natales. The maritime route commences through the Kirke
Narrows, moving towards the north through the Morla Vicuña, Unión
Inlet, Collingwood, Sarmiento, Concepción and Wide channels,to anchor
in a beautiful area known as the Eyre Inlet.
Monday, along with the early light of dawn, the cruise ship Skorpios
III approaches the Glacier Pío XI, the largest in South America with
total surface area of 1,263 km2, which is located in the Bernardo
O'Higgins National Park. Around 12:30 the return trip is initiated
through the Eyre Inlet, Grappler channel, and Paso del Indio. Debarking
in Puerto Eden, which is located some 400 km's to the north of Puerto
Natales. Situated on the Isle Wellington, its first inhabitants
correspond to the native tribes of the region, the Kaweskar and
Alacalufes. Currently there are still some living members of these
ethnic groups, tribes that are now on the point of extinction.
Sailing through these Channels and Fjords, we become enthralled with
scenery of impressionable contrasts of light and shadows, where the
mountains run into the sea which is dotted with multiple Isles, Fjords,
Channels, Water Falls, in a labyrinth of beauty that has no equal.
These are Channels that were explored by such legendary discoverers as,
amongst many others, Ladrillero, Darwin and Fitz Roy. The natural
beauty is manifested through an immense variety of flora and fauna.
Lilly Ducks, Mud Hens, dolphins, cormorants, cypress and lenga trees,
hardwood trees, and gigantic ferns, etc., all of which amaze those who
love ecology. Sailing through the Paso del Abismo and Wide Channel we
reach the Amalia Glacier, which is located in the central zone of the
Southern Ice Field. Its white silhouette appears to hang precariously
from the craggy mountains so as to deposit its ice in the waters of the
Glacier Pio XI
The Pío XI is located in the northern part of the Southern Ice Field,
at the end of the Eyre Inlet. This is the largest glacier in the
Southern Hemisphere, with a total surface of 1,243 km2 (more than the
land surface of Santiago, the Capitol of Chile). Its humongous size
transforms it into a truly colossus of ice, it has a frontal face of
approximately 6 kms, towering higher than 75 mts, with an overall
length of 64 kms.
This is one of the few glaciers that is found in its maximum
neo-glacial position, registering advances towards the sea of up to 10
kms in recent years. The age of the Pío XI Glacier is millenarian; it
is one of the 48 glaciers that are born of the Southern Ice Field,
which has a surface of 13,000 km2 and a length of more than 350 kms
over the Andes Mountains.
Here, the M/N Skorpios III sails close to the Glacier to navigate
amongst icebergs of different sizes and shapes, of varying colors,
light blue and white, an impressive sight for the passengers.