Última Esperanza: Cruising below the frozen rivers

The Última Esperanza Sound.

The Última Esperanza Sound.

For a very relaxing day to rest our legs after five days of trekking in the Torres del Paine we booked a cruise up the Última Esperanza Sound to two glaciers, the Balmaceda and Serrano. The area looks quite far inland on the map, but is connected all the way out to the pacific by the fiords carved by enormous ice-age glaciers. The landscape reminds a little of Milford in New Zealand, with tall waterfalls crashing down the mountain-sides into the fiord. Snowcapped mountains, waterfalls, rainbows, glaciers – completely stunning! The boat passed sea-lion and cormorant colonies on the way, and gave us a final quick view of the Torres del Paine mountains 60 kilometers away, before arriving below the first glacier. The Balmaceda was running down a steep slope from mountain tops hidden in mist, a frozen river of blue ice that doesn’t quite reach the sea any more – it used to a couple decades ago… The Serrano still does, and we disembarked close to it later to do a short walk on the edge of the Bernhard O’Higgins national park (the biggest protected area in Chile which runs the whole way to the coast and covers some of the biggest ice-fields outside the poles). Walking up close to the glacier we played “which-animal?” games with the oddly shaped ice-blocks floating below – better than ink blots! On the way back to Puerto Natales the boat stopped for some good food by an estancia, a big farm accessible only from the water.

Rainbow over the Última Esperanza Sound.

Rainbow over the Última Esperanza Sound.

View over the Última Esperanza Sound.

View over the Última Esperanza Sound.

Waterfall in the Última Esperanza Sound.

Waterfall in the Última Esperanza Sound.

Blue ice of the Balmaceda glacier.

Blue ice of the Balmaceda glacier.

Blue ice of the Balmaceda glacier.

Blue ice of the Balmaceda glacier.

The top of the Serrano glacier.

The top of the Serrano glacier.

Definitely an elephant!

Definitely an elephant!

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