Saturday, December 21, 2019

February 16, 2019 - Puerto Chacabuco, Chile - Partly Cloudy - 60s

A very nice day in the Aysen Region of Chilean Patagonia.

Our port is Puerto Chacabuco and we will be tendering to shore.  We were here years ago but could not stop because there was a labor strike of some kind and the access bridge from the port to the town was blocked.

The view of the harbor from the ship was amazing.

We have pretty much an all day tour today - "Simpson Valley and Coyhaique City Acquaintance".  The day is a little complicated in that I've been scheduled for a lecture just before the ship departs at 5:00 PM,  I checked with Russ and Sasha about the scheduling with the concern being that the tour might get back late and delay the start of the talk.  I suggested not going and they said that it should work out OK.

Puerto Chacabuco is a tender port and we decided to tender ahead of our group and meet them later.  This would give us a chance to look around the port in case we get back here again.  The views from the tender were just as amazing.

The tender port isn't much - a shop or two and not much else.  I did, however, from my vantage point at the port, get a nice of Symphony out in the harbor.

We met up with our tour group and our very capable guide, Claudia.  We boarded our comfortable bus and drove eastward toward Coyhaique, which will be our final destination.  Coyhaique has a population of about 54,000 people and is the capitol of the Region.  The map below shows the area we will be seeing.

Our scenic route takes us through valleys and hillsides to the Rio Simpson National Reserve.  The Simpson Valley is quite impressive

including some nice shots of the Simpson River.  The picture below also showcases the glaciers in the area.

We also stopped briefly to see the Lago Fantama 0r Phantom Lake (below).  I guess this lake comes and goes - the guide was not totally clear on the origin of the name.

The Rio Simpson Reserve will be our first rest stop and a chance to take in the various natural wonders of the Reserve.  Of course, the main attraction here would be the Rio Simpson.  We carefully made our way through the trees and over the stony terrain to get a look at the River.

We returned to the Visitors  Center but did not go in - we settled for a shot of the exterior.  The Center is quite modern and looks new.

We drove on to one of the many waterfalls in the Reserve.  One waterfall is called the "Virgin's Waterfall (Salto de la Virgen). There is a shrine here, as well - "The Virgin of the Waterfall Shrine". 

After leaving the waterfall, our next stop would be a combination rest stop and snack at the Listo Restaurant.  The route continued to be scenic but the main geographical feature was a volcanic structure called the "English Cupcake".  

The rest stop was rustic - there was a little house where we got something to drink and had a chance to chat with the guests.  Ellen actually chatted at some length with a member of the family that owns Crystal Cruises (we were told she was on our excursion). 

Surrounding the rest area were dramatic volcanic structures.

There was an interesting totem pole on the grounds as well. Claudia did not explain what the totem was about.

Before we left, I captured a panoramic shot of the Listo Restaurant and environs.

We left Listo for Coyhaique.  After a few minutes, we could see the town in the distance on a flat area surrounded by mountains.

The town of Coyhaique seemed like any typical village we have run across in Central and South America.  This town seemed a little more topical with nice restaurants and shops.  The bus pulled alongside the Central Park and the passengers got some free time to shop.

Ellen and I want through the park, which was filled with numerous statues of what I assumed to be local and national heroes.  I did recognize one of the statues as Bernard O'Higgins, namesake of one of Santiago's major boulevards.

We didn't buy anything in the town, not even a magnet.  Then it was time to gather up all of the guests.  Since Ellen was the official escort, I was able to sit back in the bus and see her to her magic.

We didn't lose anyone and we started our trip back to the port.  The scenery on the way home was spectacular featuring mountains (the Andes) and some glaciers.

We got back to the port just about on time but the line for the tender was long and I got back to the ship a little late.  I got dressed as fast as I could but when I got to the Starlite Lounge, the audience was there along with Russ.  I started right up and hurried a bit because they needed the room after me.  So the timing did not work out and I would have been better off not going today.  I will know for next time.

A nice dinner and some quiet time rounded out this nice day in Chile.

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