On this voyage you will find:
Majestic mountains dipped in snow...
Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...
You may cry because of its majesty:
Upon seeing the glaciers outlined below the peaks
of the Darwin mountains, Adele looked
at me with tears in her eyes and said;
"It's unbelievably beautiful"
Tierra del Fuego is also part of Patagonia, the land of wind
This remotest termination of the American
and snow and of majestic glaciers and mountain ranges
continent hides one ofthe last unexploited
and almost unknown territories.
The southernmost region of the world has fascinating history
and one of the world's most beautiful landscapes.
Before the construction of the Panama canal, visiting ships
would linger here braving some of the world's worst weather
in order to explore the region.
Tierra del Fuego's most famous explorer was
Charles Darwin, who made a survey of the land
and people in his 19th century Voyage of HMS Beagle.
Tierra del Fuego's Beagle Channel was named
after Darwin's ship.
Following are some Commentaries of Charles Darwin at 23
years of age which he made during his Voyage in Tierra Del
Fuego aboard the "Beagle" in the Summer of1832:
The Yagan Indians "The next day (the
January) [Summer in the Southern Hemisphere] we smoothly
glided onwards in our little fleet, and came to a more
inhabited district. Few if any of these natives could ever
have seen a white man; certainly nothing could exceed their
astonishment at the apparition of the four boats.
Fires were lighted on every point (hence the name of Tierra
del Fuego, or the land of fire), both to attract our
attention and to spread far and wide the news.
Some of the men ran for miles along the shore. I shall never
forget how wild and savage one group appeared: suddenly four
or five men came to the edge of an overhanging cliff; they
were absolutely naked, and their long hair streamed about
their faces; they held rugged staffs in their hands, and,
springing from the ground, they waved their arms round their
heads, and sent forth the most hideous yells.
At dinner-time we landed among a party of Fuegians. At first
they were not inclined to be friendly; for until the Captain
pulled in ahead of the other boats, they kept their slings
in their hands. We soon, however, delighted them by trifling
presents, such as tying red tape round their heads.
They liked our biscuit: but one of the savages touched with
his finger some of the meat preserved in tin cases which I
was eating, and feeling it soft and cold, showed as much
disgust at it, as I should have done at putrid blubber.
Tierra Del Fuego Weather
We were detained here several days by the bad weather. The
climate is certainly wretched: the summer solstice was now
passed, yet every day snow fell on the hills, and in the valleys there
was rain, accompanied by sleet. The thermometer generally
stood about 45 degs., but in the night fell to 38 or 40 degs.
From the damp and boisterous state of the atmosphere, not
cheered by a gleam of sunshine, one fancied the climate even
worse than it really was.
While going one day on shore near Wollaston Island, we
pulled alongside a canoe with six Fuegians. These were the
most abject and miserable creatures I anywhere beheld.
On the east coast the natives, as we have seen, have guanaco
cloaks, and on the west they possess seal-skins.
Amongst these central tribes the men generally have an
otter-skin, or some small scrap about as large as a
pocket-handkerchief, which is barely sufficient to
cover their backs as low down as their loins.
It is laced across the breast by strings, and according as
the wind blows, it is shifted from side to side. But these
Fuegians in the canoe were quite naked, and even one
full-grown woman was absolutely so.
It was raining heavily, and the fresh water, together with
the spray, trickled down her body. In another harbour
not far distant, a woman, who was suckling a recently-born
child, came one day alongside the vessel, and remained
there out of mere curiosity, whilst the sleet fell and
thawed on her naked bosom,
and on the skin of her naked baby!
Their Living Habits:
"At night, five or six human beings, naked and scarcely
protected from the wind and rain of this tempestuous
climate, sleep on the wet ground coiled up like animals.
Whenever it is low water, winter or summer, night or day,
they must rise to pick shellfish from the rocks; and the
women either dive to collect sea-eggs, or sit patiently in
their canoes, and with a baited hair-line without any hook,
jerk out little fish. If a seal is killed, or the floating
carcass of a putrid whale is discovered, it is a feast; and
such miserable food is assisted by a few tasteless berries
They often suffer from famine: I heard Mr. Low, a
sealing-master intimately acquainted with the natives of
this country, give a curious account of the state of a party
of one hundred and fifty natives on the west coast, who were
very thin and in great distress. A succession of gales
prevented the women from getting shell-fish on the rocks,
and they could not go out in their canoes to catch seal.
A small party of these men one morning set out, and the
other Indians explained to him, that they were going a four
days' journey for food: on their return, Low went to meet
them,and he found them excessively tired, each man carrying
a great square piece of putrid whale's-blubber with a hole
in the middle, through which they put their heads, like the
Gauchos do through their ponchos or cloaks. As soon as the
blubber was brought into a wigwam, an old man cut off thin
slices, and muttering over them, broiled them for a minute,
and distributed them to the famished party, who during this
time preserved a profound silence. "
On Guanacos: December 20th:
"A ridge connected this hill
with another, distant some miles, and more lofty, so that
patches of snow were lying on it. As the day was not far
advanced, I determined to walk there and collect plants
along the road. It would have been very hard work, had it
not been for a well-beaten and straight path made by the
Guanacos; for these animals, like sheep, always follow the
When we reached the hill we found it the highest in the
immediate neighbourhood, and the waters flowed to the sea in
opposite directions. We obtained a wide view over the
surrounding country: to the north a swampy moorland
extended, but to the south we had a scene of savage
magnificence, well becoming Tierra del Fuego. There was a
degree of mysterious grandeur in mountain behind mountain,
with the deep intervening valleys, all covered by one thick,
dusky mass of forest. The atmosphere, likewise, in this
climate, where gale succeeds gale, with rain, hail, and
sleet, seems blacker than anywhere else."
On the Woods of Tierra Del Fuego:
December 18th: "The next
day I attempted to penetrate some way into the country.
Tierra del Fuego may be described as a mountainous land,
partly submerged in the sea, so that deep inlets and bays
occupythe place where valleys should exist. The mountain
sides, except on the exposed western coast, are covered from
the water's edge upwards by one great forest.
The trees reach to an elevation of between 1000 and 1500
feet, and are succeeded by a band of peat, with minute
alpine plants; and this again is succeeded by the line of
perpetual snow, which, according to Captain King, in the
Strait of Magellan descends to between 3000 and 4000 feet.
To find an acre of level land in any part of the country is
most rare. I recollect only one little flat piece near Port
Famine, and another of rather larger extent near Goeree
Road. In both places, and everywhere else, the surface is
covered by a thick bed of swampy peat. Even within the
forest, the ground is concealed by a mass of slowly
putrefying vegetable matter, which, from being soaked with
water, yields to the foot.
Finding it nearly hopeless to push my way through the wood,
I followed the course of a mountain torrent. At first, from
the waterfalls and number of dead trees, I could hardly
crawl along; but the bed of the stream soon became a little
more open, from the floods having swept the sides.
I continued slowly to advance for an hour along the broken
and rocky banks, and was amply repaid by the grandeur of the
scene. The gloomy depth of the ravine well accorded with the
universal signs of violence. On every side were lying
irregular masses of rock and torn-up trees; other trees,
though still erect, were decayed to the heart and ready to
The entangled mass of the thriving and the fallen reminded
me of the forests within the tropics -- yet there was a
difference: for in these still solitudes, Death, instead of
Life, seemed the predominant spirit. I followed the
watercourse till I came to a spot where a great slip had
cleared a straight space down the mountain side. By this
road I ascended to a considerable elevation, and obtained a
good view of the surrounding woods.
The trees all belong to one kind, the Fagus betuloides; for
the number of the other species of Fagus and of the Winter's
Bark, is quite inconsiderable. This beech keeps its leaves
throughout the year; but its foliage is of a peculiar
brownish-green colour, with a tinge of yellow. As the whole
landscape is thus coloured, it has a sombre, dull
appearance; nor is it often enlivened by the rays of the
On Whales: "Captain Fitz Roy determined to send the yawl
and one whale-boat back to the ship; and to proceed with the
two other boats, one under his own command (in which he most
kindly allowed me to accompany him), and one under Mr.
Hammond, to survey the western parts of the Beagle Channel,
and afterwards to return and visit the settlement.
The day to our astonishment was overpoweringly hot, so that
our skins were scorched: with this beautiful weather, the
view in the middle of the Beagle Channel was very
remarkable. Looking towards either hand, no object
intercepted the vanishing points of this long canal between
the mountains. The circumstance of its being an arm of the
sea was rendered very evident by several huge whales *
spouting in different directions.
On one occasion I saw two of these monsters, probably male
and female, slowly swimming one after the other, within less
than a stone's throw of the shore, over which the beech-tree
extended its branches. We sailed on till it was dark, and
then pitched our tents in a quiet creek.
The greatest luxury was to find for our beds a beach of
pebbles, for they were dry and yielded to the body. Peaty
soil is damp; rock is uneven and hard; sand gets into one's
meat, when cooked and eaten boat-fashion; but when lying in
our blanket-bags, on a good bed of smooth pebbles, we passed
most comfortable nights.* One day, off the East coast of
Tierra del Fuego, we saw a grand sight in several spermaceti
whales jumping upright quite out of the water, with the
exception of their tail-fins. As they fell down sideways,
they splashed the water high up, and the sound reverberated
like a distant broadside.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10 of Charles
Darwin's book, "The Voyage Of The Beagle" written in the
Summer of 1832 January 20th. -- "Early in the morning we
arrived at the point where the Beagle Channel divides into
two arms; and we entered the northern one. The scenery here
becomes even grander than before.The lofty mountains on the
north side compose the granitic axis, or backbone of the
country and boldly rise to a height of between three and
four thousand feet, with one peak above six thousand feet.
They are covered by a wide mantle of perpetual snow, and
numerous cascades pour their waters, through the woods, into
the narrow channel below. In many parts, magnificent
glaciers extend from the mountain side to the water's edge.
It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful
than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially
as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of
The fragments which had fallen from the glacier into the
water were floating away, and the channel with its icebergs
presented, for the space of a mile, a miniature likeness of
the Polar Sea.
(This is a usual sight at the Italy Glacier on the Beagle Channel)
The boats being hauled on shore at our
dinner-hour, we were admiring from the distance of half a
mile a perpendicular cliff of ice, and were wishing that
some more fragments would fall.
At last, down the mass came with a roaring noise and
immediately we saw the smooth outline of a wave travelling
towards us. The men ran down as quickly as they could to the
boats; for the chance of their being dashed to pieces was
evident. One of the seamen just caught hold of the bows,
as the curling breaker reached it: he was knocked over and
over, but not hurt, and the boats though thrice lifted on
high and let fall again, received no damage.
This was most fortunate for us, for we were a hundred miles
distant from the ship, and we should have been left without
provisions or fire-arms. I had previously observed that some
large fragments of rock on the beach had been lately
displaced; but until seeing this wave, I did not understand
One side of the creek was formed by a spur of mica-slate;
the head by a cliff of ice about forty feet high; and the
other side by a promontory fifty feet high, built up of huge
rounded fragments of granite and mica-slate, out of which
old trees were growing. This promontory was evidently a
moraine, heaped up at a period when the glacier had greater
One of our passengers enjoying the Beagle Channel
rare copies of original 1832 and 1834
navegation chartsof Tierra Del Fuego
made by Captain Fitz Roy of the
HMS BEAGLE (235K)
Tierra Del Fuego Trout
Back to Contents
Your Cook With a Magellanic
King Crab Lunch
The predominant Westerly
Click for larger images of Wind
winds, the"Furious Fifties",
bend the trees to the East.
Bent Beech and the Beech Forest
A Beech Tree Forest
VICTORY ADVENTURE TRAVEL
takes the pleasure to:
Invite you to
come aboard the Tall Ship
VICTORY and live the adventures
which are offered!
Give you the opportunity
of sailing the
Beagle Channel to the Darwin Cordillera
glaciers and fjords in this craggy geography
that time and nature have made at the
"confines of the earth."
Begin your tour
in Puerto Williams,
Capital of the Chilean Territory of Antarctica
and the Ancient Camp Ground for the now
almost extinct Yagan Canoe Indians.
Escort you to the
in the world at the very tip of South America
located at 54 deg; 56' South latitude
and 67 deg; 37' West longitude.
Let you check out
Tierra Del Fuego maps and info (80K)
Allow you to visit
the famous Yagan museum
located only 60 miles as the crow flies from Cape
Horn and 600 miles from Antartica.
This voyage is for adventurers only.
There may be narrower bunks than you
are used to; wind, cold and other disfavorable
weather conditions. While the "Victory"
is a VERY comfortble boat, she is NOT
the Queen Mary.
Fuego links and references,
travel links and discount travel links :
Back to Contents
Letter of recommendation:
Captain Ben Garrett
P.O. Box 70
Tierra Del Fuego, Chile
13 June 1998
Subject: Voyage Planning
I want to thank you for your personalized and
professional assistance in making my voyage
around Cape Horn a success. I was very
impressed with your prompt and thorough
responses to my many questions. Your
extensive knowledge of Tierra del Fuego and
the boats available for charter allowed me to
arrange the trip effortlessly and quickly.
There were other members of the crew who had
made their arrangements through highly
regarded travel companies in the U.S. and
Europe and their experiences were not as
positive as those I had working with you.
Your knowledge of the weather, terrain and
local history was impressive and extremely
useful. Your personal familiarity with the
boats and skippers gave me unique insights
that the other members of the crew did not
The level of detailed support you provided,
including making arrangements to have me met
and cared for upon my arrival in Ushuaia,
made it clear that you were committed to
making my visit as pleasant as possible. You
even offered me the hospitality of your boat
and home. What travel company would do
I appreciated your making me feel that my
trip was as important to you as it was to me,
and I would recommend you highly to anyone
contemplating a visit to Tierra del Fuego.
Regards, Bob Gates Another later message from
Bob: It was a great trip and fulfilled a
promise I made to myself when I was a
youngster and I'm awfully glad I did it.
Some of my crewmates said we would be
receiving certificates, and if this is true I
have a place of honor already picked out for
Ben, a special note of thanks for your
assistance and attention to details.
The other Americans worked through a travel
agent in California and were amazed that we
were able to arrange my charter flawlessly
via Email between Puerto Williams and
Manhattan Beach, California.
I was happy to meet you in person, and maybe
we'll do it again sometime.
All the best to you and your family.
Some passenger's comments
~ Climbed a 1200 meter summit of an unnamed
peak, Andean Condors gliding overhead. What
was it I need to go back home for?
~ Incredible country - 4000 meter mountains
rising straight out of the fjords. The area
looks much like New Zealand. Chile is
generally more beautiful.
~ We're eating the local fare - King crab and
roast lamb. Wonderful seabirds - albatross,
Cape petrel, Skuas, Penguins. It's all very
new, even the stars. This is the life - puts
it all in perspective.
~ The Horn was great, But I really like the
Beagle Channel: Snow covered mountains and
glaciers. A few bergs were clear ice - just
like glass - that is very old ice. Then some
had a beautiful blue color
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