Cruising to the End of the World: The Cockburn Channel, Beagle Channel and Glacier Alley
Mum and I were on our way to the end of the world… Well at least the most southern tip of land on the planet… On a luxury cruise ship. But it was still pretty darn exciting.
The end of the world – also known as Ushuaia (or perhaps Punta Arenas if you ask a Chilean), is not some great cliff edge that leads into endless abyss – it is actually a very nice touristy town known as THE GATEWAY TO ANTARCTICA… But more on that icy wasteland later – for now I must reminisce upon a few days of scenic cruising. Sailing through the Southern seas. With only espresso martinis and endless buffets to get us through the long scenic days – sounds tough right?
We set sail from Punta Arenas and headed towards the Cockburn Channel – the land of explorers and adventurers and where the panoramic views are the prime show on 24/7. These waters are a key transit route between the thousands of islands. The ships navigate the intricate system of Chilean Fjords within what’s known as Glacier Alley where we admired the truly magnificent wild, natural environment.
We cruised through Glacier Alley where we witnessed some of the most magical seascapes on the planet. Patagonian tidewater glaciers unfolded one by one between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia at the tip of South America. This journey through the rugged Chilean fjords allowed us to take in all nature has to offer up for all our senses. We watched in awe as we witnessed imposing sheer granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, ancient floating ice, whales, all in one southern hemisphere surprises galore. The weather was grey but the rainbows that escaped through the sky shone colourfully side-by-side the striking blue glaciers.
And then there was the Beagle Channel – where Darwin and his ship the Beagle made the crossing to Antarctica. Although Darwin probably wasn’t enjoying an espresso martini on deck admiring the view – we shared the same breathtaking sights of wilderness as the famous explorer would have set eyes on. From the modern day comfort of The Zaandam it was hard to believe this channel running between Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and myriad other islands was once a dreaded journey. The majestic, mountain-fringed sea passage of the south gave us the opportunity for some pretty great wildlife and wilderness viewing. And before we knew it we were at the end of the world…