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Christmas & New Years Cruise South America Style

Author: Amelia Hesson (More Trip Reviews by Amelia Hesson)
Date of Trip: December 2012



Next we headed for Llanquihue Lake at the base of the Osorno Volcano. Locals claim Mt. Fuji looks exactly like Osorno, I have to take their word for it because it was clouded over for the most part, with brief moments of clearing that revealed parts of the lower snow cover. Although the day started out In rain, we had only a few moments of hard rain which passed quickly. We stopped at a resort on the lake for a bathroom run for me and got to see lots of Llamas, cows, and deers. Later, on the way back we stopped again and got to get up close and personal with the Llamas. There was one with a French name that escapes me now but he let us pet him and we took a lot of pictures. Very cool.

Next we headed for Petrohue rapids (falls) and met up with a slew of tour buses from all the ships. These falls are in the magnificent Vincente Perez Rosales NP, the oldest park here. We headed on an easy hike, crossing several bridges over beautiful green/blue rivers with the runoff from the Volcano. Along the path were several places to get coffee and snacks, as well as several shops that were very reasonably priced. If you see something you like here, buy it because the prices allowed this area are the best I've seen in Chile. Anyway at the end of the path are the falls, it's very windy here so dress appropriately because you can't miss this. The falls come from another lake called Todos Los Santos, which is a glacial lake at the base of the Volcano. As we headed back to the van we bumped into pals Gloria and Lew and all laughed about bumping into each other on our small group tours! When there are 3 ships in port it's impossible to avoid the crowds no matter where you go. I suggest getting your shopping done early since most ship tours save that for last as our guide did and it was a zoo. Anyway we continued up a road covered in black volcanic earth to the end where we found another slew of buses all on a catamaran trip so no people here at all. The end of the road was so windy we didn't want to get out of the van but our guide ran out and collected pumice stones, the remains of a pyroclastic flow from eruptions past. We all got rocks but I suggested we not carry them home since I know it's bad luck to carry volcanic rocks away from their origins. Everybody quickly threw the rocks back! What the heck, who needs bad luck.

Next we headed to a beautiful green lagoon that was also in the National Park. We hiked a handicapped accessible path to an incredible place and got pictures of the volcano’s reflection in the lagoon. We went off the path to see some flora including the "cold tree" named by the indigenous people because if you hug it you get very cold. I guess that means it gets warm here, although not today. It was another interesting and easy hike with only a few people on it.

Next we went to a restaurant on the shores of one of the lakes, it was a German buffet with lots of goopy salads, fried breads, lots of Salmon salads, and a meat roasting section serving beef, chicken, port ribs, fish, and more. There was also a bunch of desserts. It cost an additional $20 pp and didn't look good for me since I am somewhat picky so I passed on it but the rest of my group ate and enjoyed it. I can't remember the name but if I find it ill pass it on. For me we spent way too much time here and I would have preferred a quick light lunch.

After lunch we headed to Puerto Varas, another cute German town that was so crowded with buses and people it was truly a bummer. It took so long to make our way through town, we only had a half hour to walk and shop on own. Still, I managed to find a pretty, soft Baby Alpaca sweater for $25. This would have cost me over $200 in the states. This is definitely the place to buy these sorts of items, as I said they had the best prices we have seen. We missed a nice artesian market that I heard was very nice.

We headed back to the port trying to find a supermarket, our guide said this was an unusual request. Really? He managed to find us a place to buy some fine Chilean wine at the fish market, and we had a few more minutes to shop. We bought these cute kitchen witches, something unique to this German/Spanish town.

We made it to the port with minutes to spare, missed the cheese market because of the loooooong tender lines that ultimately ran pretty fast. There were some classic fights at the line up as people lost their manners and their patience, which was totally uncalled for because everybody eventually got back to their respective ships. We did leave an hour late because of course the captain waited for all passengers to come aboard. We took off at 6 pm, slowly making our way through the inside passage. Sunset was at 10:30 and the sunset was great. In fact earlier in the morning the sunrise was just spectacular, I got some great pictures.

Our guide was 'Manuel’ and we hired him through Denis Purtov whose email is denis.purtov@gmail.com his cell phone is 0056 (9) 76665557 and the cost was $93 for six people. One couple in our group was ill and could not take the tour so he sent us with his payment but we negotiated a better price of $120 per person and saved our friends some money. All in all it was a fantastic day, certainly a place not to miss! Today's tour in Puerto Montt was one of the best so far, we all agreed it was pleasant because we were touring with a small group, all great people I met on our Cruise Critic roll call. This is the best way to go. We are never squished in a van and we can slip in and out of places easier, so we are never waiting for "that person" who didn't pay attention to our meeting time because they had to go shopping!

12/25/12--Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! Today my friend Gloria and I had a productive morning. We were invited to attend the most traveled luncheon, my first time ever, and that will happen tomorrow. We were so excited about this.

Santa was on the ship after a long night of deliveries; many kids lined up for their presents, water bottles or teddy bears with the Princess logos on them. We decided we wanted to sit on Santa's lap together and got a big laugh about that, especially when we blocked his face on the Santa! LOL, we moved so Santa's face was visible and they took our picture and filmed us for the video! We hope Santa's legs recover!

We had a special scholarship@sea lecture entitled "Magellan Circumcises the World with a good cutter" and we couldn’t stop laughing about that one. JJ says he did that on purpose but who knows for sure, he makes a lot of mistakes! Back to the merrymaking!

12/26/12--Amalia Glacier

I woke early to beautiful scenery as we glide through the straits of Magellan on our way to the Amalia Glacier. Wow, wow,wow. The water is so blue and I can almost reach out and touch the canyon walls. The weather is cloudy but clearing as I type, it looks like we will have good views of the Glacier. I turned to the morning show, which has been such a disappointment because JJ lacks panache and the show is basically a boring sales pitch, and once again he is talking about the 3 hour sale today. Nothing about the glacier. Yuck.

Anyway it's time to go outside! Joe May begins to narrate, as we turn starboard into the Amalia sound. We are surrounded by Chilean Fjords, and the snow level is low. It's 42 degrees Fahrenheit as the ship begins to wake up and people are bundled up and out on their balconies. It's show time!

The glacier is amazing, its glacial blue colors are visible because it’s cloudy out. The sun is peaking out from the clouds occasionally with the promise of better weather as we sail out of the Amalia sound and back through the straits of Magellan to the Pacific Ocean again. I am reminded that as we look at the Glacier, we are only seeing approximately 10% of it with the remaining 90% not visible, as it is deep under water.

This glacier is in the straits of Magellan right now and tomorrow morning at 8am to 10 am we will be passing 5 glaciers and the one the captain likes the best, we will stop and do a 360 so all sides of the ship can see, otherwise all the glaciers will be visible only from the Port side, which we have. I will keep you all posted on the situation; I know how you all feel about us making the ports! Sounds promising, I hope I can give you all good news

12/27/12--Punta Arenas, Chile

We pulled into Punta Arenas early and by 6:30 the tenders were up and running. It was a magnificent day, sunshine with few clouds in the sky and the water was as smooth as glass. This area of South America has a thinner Ozone layer and it’s very important to use a strong sunscreen, especially in the sunshine. It was very chilly; we dressed in layers and never peeled off anything so dress warmly.

We met at 8:45 in Vines to tender off, we had to get to Soloexpeditions by 10 and wanted time to walk and scope out the shopping for later. The tender took about 30 minutes, I don't know why but it might have been because we were sharing the dock with Celebrity. We got to the dock, took the requisite pictures of us with the city sign, and off we went to walk the 5 short blocks to the meeting place. It was an easy walk and we used the map on the port guide. Once we got there we paid, used the bathrooms, and everybody used their free Internet to download and make Skype calls. Don't forget to bring your phones and bring some plastic ziplocks to store them in one the boat just in case.

We stayed at the office for a long time, waiting for a bus to take us to the dock they use. Next store I found a organic bulk food store and bought 100 grams each of almonds, walnuts, dried Kiwi, golden raisins, dried strawberries, and dried coconuts in case I didn't like the lunch we were supposed to get. That turned out to be fortunate because we never got lunch, only coffee and a cookie. I fed my pals.

We finally got to the dock, waited way too long, and boarded one of two boats by 11:30 so be prepared to wait! Off we went, the seas were not as calm by this time and it was a bumpy ride but we spotted dolphins and they rode with us for a while. We were all delighted. We went to Magdalena island first and disembarked to Natural Monument Los Pinguinos where hundreds of thousands of Magellanic Penguins made their summer home. There were only 50 of us and plenty of room to roam. The penguins were incredible, while there was a roped off path for us to follow up to the lighthouse and bathroom, the penguins were free to cross the path and interact with us. We were warned not to talk loud and scare them, and of course not to approach them and most of us followed that rule (but not all) honoring their habitat. I cannot stress how awesome this experience was. My friends took a princess tour to the Otway sound where hundreds of people pushed and shoved to see penguins and their experience was not nearly as magnificent as ours!



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