Awesome... Adventures You Will Never Forget.
Sea Kayaking in Patagonia & Tierra Del Fuego
Victory Adventure Travel
has the facilities to act as a "Mother Ship" for up to 8 Sea Kayakers
for 15 days while they paddle the glaciers and fjords of Tierra Del Fuego
around the Beagle Channel in the Darwin Mountain range area.
Our very ample sailboats give kayakers
a nice warm place to rest, dine and stay aboard a vessel similar to that
which Darwin sailed as they await for their next days adventure of kayaking
at "the ends of the earth"
Kayaking in SOUTH GEORGIA AND THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
A Sea Kayaker's story about paddling Tierra Del Fuego from the New South
Wales Sea Kayaker, No. 15
By Wade Fairley
Christmas day 1991. Light misty rain continued. Rain had become a regular
feature by now, rain for the past 11 days and it would continue, more on
than off for the next month. The glacier stretched out at the end of the
fiord, bright, stark against the heavy lead coloured sky, the dark water
and surrounding mountains. It's halo of reflected light beaming strongly
through the thick weather.
We had found a camp easily the night before. It had been a pleasure to come
across a site so simply after the constant hassles we had been having to
find suitable places to pass the nights. This morning Angus had pulled out
a thick chocolate Christmas cake that he had by some miracle of physics
managed to hide packed below his deck. I had known nothing about it; if
I had on the day we stuffed two months food beneath our decks, I probably
would have insisted that we eat it then, as I couldn't have justified the
weight. But now I was so thankful for the secret Angus had kept.
The fiord's dark still inky surface parted smoothly beneath our bows. Our
boats are empty and they feel so light, easy and pleasant. We had left a
base camp on a small island in the fiord where we will return tonight.
We reach the first ice berg, a little cautious first we just circled it
and kept a distance but the excitement of this new spectacle is too much
and soon we are running our hands over it's glistening cold surface and
Angus paddles between it's pillars while I take pictures.
We paddle on. There are more and more bergs, the older one are polished
by the rain like massive gem stones. We reach the snout of the glacier and
cautiously pick our way through the pack ice. The skin of my folding kayak
is much more durable than Angus's, so I bulldoze floaters aside and propel
off them with my paddle. Angus is more cautious, his thin nylon hull could
be cut by the irregular edges of the floating ice and of course the water
is fatally cold.
We continue towards the glacier snout. It towers over 50 metres above the
water. Blocks of ice the size of mini-vans regularly peel off from the walls
and crash into the water below, and still the granite walls of the peaks
and ice dramatically amplify their impact. We know that we shouldn't get
so close but this incredible place, so wild and new beyond our imaginations
mesmerises us and we can't keep ourselves from manoeuvring our boats just
that bit closer.
I land on a granite slope, drag up my empty boat and climb to get a good
vantage point to take pictures looking down on Angus paddling in the ice
below. He nears the snout, the compressed ice at it's very base is an unbelievable
deep blue colour. I quickly click through a roll, sometimes you know through
the view finder that a shot will be great. This is one of those moments.
Angus pulls up next to a berg the area of a back yard pool. Carefully he
tests his weight on it, then slides out of his boat and stands on it. Nothing
moves and he walks excitedly about, I can hear the ice crunching beneath
the soles of his rubber gum boots.
I put my boat back in the water and when I join him he is also back in his
boat and we paddle towards the ice walls. Waterfalls of ice water pour out
of it's sides and tall precarious sculptures tower at alarming angles. We
pass close, both nervous and engrossed not saying a word, enthralled at
the majesty of this place. We turn away from the wall and head back out
towards the pack ice. We are forty metres away when a loud crack rings out
behind us. We turn to see a block of ice the size of a house crash down.
The sound of the impact hangs in the air. The tallest tower moves. Slowly
this chunk of compacted water-ice the volume of a house topples and collides
into the water with an awesome force. It explodes and rains ice blocks the
volume of bowling balls about us. I scream 'WATCHOUT!' . Maybe Angus does
too but we both hear nothing over the calamity of tonnes of ancient ice
Ice bowling balls rain down about us. One plonks down between us. Miraculously
neither of us is hit. A wave rises up from the displaced water and we both
turn so that we meet it head on. We bob over it's crest easily and the waves
continue unabated out to the pack ice where it clacks the floats together
as if they were applauding the show.
We are both grinning with the adrenalin of a narrow escape and the zeal
of a ring side seat to witness such an event. We paddle quickly heading
away from the ice cliffs.
Falling ice had a fair impact on the historical circumstances of Chile's
coast. Magellan in the 17th century had for months made a southerly course
through the straits that bear his name and separate Tierra del Fuego and
South America. He decided to set about and steer north when he heard what
he presumed was surf on a near shore. He was convinced the sound signified
an open coast and that he had reached a new ocean. Had he not turn then
he would have continued into a hapless dead-end maze of islands, canals
and fiords that may well have destroyed the voyage wasted ships. As it was
he made way through to the Pacific. Where he heard surf, there is no open
shore for hundreds of km. What Magellan must have heard was the rumbling
of ice into water from off the steep walls of Mt Sarmiento.
Two hundred years later a young Charles Darwin rescued the party's long
boat from being dashed on the rocks by a wave sent up by falling ice. If
not, the bones of the world's most celebrated naturalist may still remain
in the ancient bogs. So grateful was Cpt. Fitzroy to Darwin that he named
Tierra del Fuego's principal mountain after him.
Some one hundred years later an incredible event in my personal history
as our own curiosity is nearly our own demise by falling ice. Over the next
three months we came upon many more glaciers. All were incredible, dramatic
and beautiful. But we avoided repeating this experience. Satisfied with
our luck on Christmas day in Fiord Tempano we chose not to push our luck
with falling ice again.
The Straits of Magellan.
March 1992. The weather has been bad for sometime and we have been cautious
to hold a course close to the coast. To the left the last piece of South
American continent is visible through the rain of a thinning squall, ahead
is the island of Tierra del Fuego, Land of Fire. Seems an ironic name for
a place of wind and ice. The country before us is a bleak place, kilometres
of steep bare granite, but it is infinitely beautiful in its harsh rawness.
The wind has dropped and to cross a bay we have drifted off shore a way.
The water is a mirror. We must be in a thick of krill because there is a
concentration of Penguins and other sea birds. Albatross wheel supremely
over head and a 10 meter Southern Right Whale is cruising gently among the
birds. Each time it surfaces it barely makes a ripple. It emerges less than
5 metres from Angus and it's blow hole sounds a tubular note like a church
A shaft of sun projected through a break in the cloud sweeps the steely
granite. A bunch of Fur Seals is frolicking on their backs enjoying the
afternoon calm. They must be an incredibly social animal, gathered in a
circle floating; they seem engrossed in conversation. One casually turns
his head and spies us paddling by. I can see him saying to the others, "Hey
check this out !".
The others all stop and crane their necks to see us, then they dart at speed
swimming straight for us. They leap out of the water, their fins tucked
sleekly against their glistening, shiny, wet fur. They quickly reach us
and swim rapidly about the boats. They are cheeky but cautious too. Stretching
their necks, sculling to get their heads as far as they can above the water
for a better look, but if you catch their eye they quickly duck beneath
the deep, dark water and surface at your back.
A ripple of wind disturbs the surface, not far on our right over to the
west a squall is racing out a deep valley headed this way. In literally
moments the sea has transformed from a mirror to a mash. White caps bristle
in the stout breeze, the birds, seals and whale have all disappeared. The
sea that had just a minute before been so benevolent is now a torment of
freezing waves that break over the bow and fill my eyes with stinging salt.
We push back towards shore.
Majestic mountains dipped
in snow... Crystalline waterways... Whales, seals,
Soaring Andes condors... Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...
SEA KAYAKING IN TIERRA DEL FUEGO, CHILE
Sea Kayaking Adventure
14 Days Santiago-Santiago with 11 days and 10 nights
aboard one of our "Motherboats"
At the southern tip of South America lies the many islands
of Tierra Del Fuego. The big island of Tierra Del Fuego
belongs to both Chile and Argentina, but the best sea
kayaking is on the Chilean side. The hundreds of small
islands have their own names, but still are in the area of
Tierra Del Fuego which goes as far South as Isla Cabo De
Hornos (Cape Horn) and as far west as the Brecknock Channel.
See map. This exiting land
is bordered on the north by the
Straits of Magellan, and on the South by the Beagle Channel
and Cape Horn. Along its southwestern shore lie the very
remote and impressive Charles Darwin Range where we find the
most interesting fjords, channels and glaciers for sea
kayaking. See page on the Beagle Channel.
Rising abruptly from water's edge to heights over 8,000 feet, its many peaks
are encased in ice caps and snow which give rise to the
region's immense glaciers. Approachable only by sea and
sheltered from the infamous Patagonian winds by the granite
canyon walls, the dramatic fjords created by these glaciers
are perfect for exploration by stable sea kayaks. You should
still take care to keep close to shore so as not to get
caught in a a natural phenomenon which sometimes exists in
Tierra Del Fuego called a Williwaw, a strong wind that comes
from a sudden difference in atmospheric pressure . This
voyage offers you the Patagonia of the wild and pristine
past with the comfort of a 19th century schooner replica
sailing in the second millenium. You will be the only ones
besides local King Crab fisherman and an occasional yacht to
visit these magnificent fjords and glaciers. You may observe
the area's rich flora and different expressions of fauna
such as: the world's largest birds; condors and the
albatross, giant petrels, Magellanic penguins, Imperial
cormorants, Antarctic Terns, wild geese and ducks, large
flightless "steamer ducks", red headed woodpeckers, yellow
winged finch, Chilean green parrots, kingfishers, seals, sea
otters, orkas and sporadically whales.
We will navigate glacial etched flat water canals and
Beautiful fjords outlined by exquisite dense green forests.
Tierra Del Fuego is one of the world's most spectacular sea
kayaking destinations. We invite you to journey with us to
this wondrous land at the uttermost part of the world!
Day 1: Santiago to Tierra Del Fuego
Day 2: Beginning of Sea Kayaking in Tierra Del Fuego. Your
reception is at the airport in the Puerto Williams on the
island of Navarino. Then you are transported to the Schooner
VICTORY, moored at the yacht club. You may help
us hoist sails to make a course to Port Navarino, situated
on the west end of the island. In this navigation of the
Beagle Channel, you will find it possible to appreciate the
beauty of the northern coast of Navarino island and the
southern extreme of the island of Tierra del Fuego. Board
our support boat in Puerto Williams.
She will already be loaded with our kayaks and camping supplies.
With good weather, we should be able to see the outline of the
impressive Cordillera Darwin to the West. A great many small
bays unite here with landscapes of unique beauty and cruise
within about 10 miles from the City of Ushuaia, Argentina.
On arriving at Port Navarino, you may disembark and visit
ancient Indian settlements, paddle, hike or fish for salmon
and trout. You will have an overnight stay here.
Day 3: Very early you will continue your adventure
navigating west to Yendegaia harbor. Along this route, every
tree, every grove, it seems, leans eastward. These are
visual reminders of the fierce westerlies that sometimes
rake Tierra Del Fuego. Yendegaia is the sight of a cattle
ranch at the mouth of the Serka river. A 6 hour optional
horseback ride takes you over tundra laden terrain to the
Serka glacier at the head of the river. You may enjoy
paddling on the river or bay, trapping King crab in season,
appreciating old Indian campsites, and hiking. In the
evening you will have a barbecue on the beach of Patagonia
beef, lamb or fish. Overnight stay in Yendegaia Harbor.
Day 4-5: Early in the morning we weigh anchor to sail on our
same course West along the Beagle Channel to the place where
the Beagle Channel divides in two branches to the
picturesque South Seas type Pot harbor (Caleta Holla). This
is located at the foot of the Holland glacier on the Island
of Tierra Del Fuego. You may take an interesting 3 hour hike
up along the river and woods filled with Beaver dams to the
base of this beautiful glacier named after a 19th century
Dutch expedition to the area. This is a very good place to
paddle as we are close to two glaciers and a group of seals
on the Beagle channel. Overnight in this very protected
Days 6-7: We sail early again, continuing West, to the
Marvelous Pia fjord and Glaciers. This is a fjord with
various branches and glaciers planted among the peaks of the
Darwin Mountain Range and is one of the most spectacular of
our voyage. Paddling, Hiking, exploring ice caves, taking
photos of the breathtaking snowcapped peaks and glaciers.
Day 8: We weigh anchor very early again to navigate along
the northwest arm of the Beagle Channel to Garibaldi fjord.
During this trajectory we pass Mount Darwin and one may
appreciate a succession of glaciers located along the Beagle
Channel at close range. These glaciers are named France,
Italy, Germany, and Romanche. We sail north abandoning the
Beagle Channel to reach the Garibaldi glacier at the end of
the fjord. A large quantity of blue and green floating ice
is characteristic of this place. During this trajectory you
will see some of the most marvelous scenery on earth - some
say, even better than Norway or Switzerland. When you go
paddling, it should be done with caution because of huge
chunks of ice which sometimes fall from the glaciers causing
large waves. (Overnight in Garibaldi fjord. )
Days 9-10: We will navigate to the newly opened up and
little explored Southwest branch of the Beagle Channel.
This area of the glaciers and fjords of Hoste Island along the
Southwest branch has not been previously opened to
exploration by the public. It has many unexplored areas and
is included as part of the Beagle Channel tour.
Day 11: Weighing anchor early we sail, if the winds are favorable,
easterly along the Beagle Channel passing by Canasaka on
Hoste island to purchase Magellanic lamb. Then we sail on to
Mejillones harbor and Yagan Cemetary. It is a very old Yagan
Indian settlement. Along the way we pass by some of the
Bridges Islands located in the mouth of the harbor of
Ushuaia, Argentina, which are inhabited by sea lions,
cormorants and Antarctic pigeons. Reverend Thomas Bridges
was an English Anglican missionary who founded Ushuaia in
the last century. You will disembark in Mejillones, which
was an Ancient Indian campground, (mejillones means
shellfish in Spanish) you may hike in the selva-like rain
forests filled with several species of deciduous Beech
trees, finding many types of strange moss and lichens.
You may, visit the Indian graveyard, visit Indian village
remains, admire the beautiful view, explore and paddle the
many small bays which were once the paddling grounds of the
Yagan Canoe Indians. This area will be covered with up to a
meter of snow during winter when the Guanacos come down to
the shoreline to find food. You will have another lovely
barbecue on the Beach. You will stay overnight in the
Day 12: From Mejillones, we sail very early for the
Puerto Williams Yacht Club. You may visit the Puerto
Williams Yagan Indian museum to see Indian artifacts, etc.
and visit other points of interest.
Days 13-14 Return to Punta Arenas/Santiago/Return to U.S. and/or Point of
End of Patagonian Kayaking
Most of the islands in this southern tip of South America are still
as forested as the day Columbus waded ashore the new world.
At about 900 meters, the snow line is a strangely uniform
and defined division separating the islands into two very
distinctive worlds. Above, the slopes abruptly steepen and
sharpen to hundreds of jagged peaks with knife blade ridges
and pinnacles all left from the recently and still
retreating from the last glacial period 10,000 years ago.
Below the tree line is another world; beneath a thick canopy
of forest, there is moss, fungus, along with peace and
The itinerary above is contingent on the weather and may
change according to the discretion of the captain.
DESCRIPTION: 11 days of kayaking, sailing with optional
camping in very isolated locations with emergency and logistical
support provided by the support boat. A 14 day voyage
from Santiago, Chile with transportation round trip to the world's most
Southern town, Puerto Williams, Chile (just 60 miles from Cape Horn).
Costs are with all included; private cabins, four meals,
soft drinks coffee and tea. Our boats are fully crewed with
The boats sail from and returns to Puerto
Puerto Williams is reached on DAP airlines
with an hour flight from Punta Arenas.
We will book this for you
Contact us for costs and availability
We have kayaking to Cape Horn also.
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in
the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it
was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act on their dream with open eyes, to make it
VICTORY Adventure Travel
Box 70, Puerto Williams, Tierra Del Fuego, Chile
Kayaking The "Uttermost Part Of The Earth":
Cape Horn, Tierra Del Fuego and Antarctica
Ring us direct by Telephone at 5661-621010
for futher information on kayaking expeditions in Patagonia, Antarctica,
South Georgia, Cape Horn, and Tierra Del Fuego, please
Email me at CaptainBen@victory-cruises.com
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