San Rafael Glacier

SAN RAFAEL GLACIER

This is a Chilean National Park declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979. It has an area of 1,242,000 hectares of millenary beauty situated at latitude 46° – 45° south in Chilean Patagonia. It was discovered four centuries ago by the Spanish navigator Juan García Teo, and is today one of Chile’s most outstanding internationally-known natural beauties.

The ice of the Glaciar San Rafael are more than 30,000 years old. Its front is 2 km wide and its towers soar to over 70 m and sink 230m under the sea. It is 15 km long and is born in the Nevado San Valentín in the Northern Ice Field, born of the Andes Mountains. Its blue ice and its constant ice falls have made it an international attraction with different coloured ice-floes that are absolutely unique.

There is no other glacier in Patagonia with such large ice-floes of such a shade of blue that makes them the most beautiful glaciers in Patagonia. Cruceros Skorpios has special Hercules vessels to get near to the glaciers; these are huge steel boats that travel easily through the ice masses, reaching unique places that are incredibly close to the massive glacier.

Glaciar San Rafael, as seen from Cruceros Skorpios is really unique.

Quitralco Fjord & Hot Springs

QUITRALCO FJORDS & THERMAL HOT SPRINGS

This is an ancient glacier bed surrounded by mountains, with an exuberant and unique vegetation, located 60 miles north of the Glaciar San Rafael, in insular Aysén. Cruceros Skorpios owns a total of over 1,000 hectares of forest and mountains here, in addition to the Skorpios hot spring installations with pure and warm thermal waters; the site also offers treks through this southernmost rainforest, motor-boat trips to the inner waters of the fjord, fishing and Patagonian cuisine with its outdoor barbecues over traditional fires.

This site was declared a Natural Sanctuary by the Chilean National Monuments Council. Quitralco which means “Waters of Fire”,was a resting place for the canoeing Indian tribes that hunted and gathered in the area.

Skorpios has converted various open—air and covered pools which give passengers the chance to enjoy the thermal spring baths at different temperatures; these waters are especially good for the skin and for relaxation.

Quitralco is one of the Skorpios passenger’s favourite places on the Ruta Chonos. It has attractive paths, a beautiful park and garden with native trees and shrubs, and a docking bay for Skorpios ships. It has a spring that flows down the mountain which is used as source of potable water for Skorpios II.

 

Channels and Fjords

CHANNELS AND FJORDS

Sailing south from Puerto Montt, on the the Chonos Route, you will enter a labyrinth of beautiful channels and fjords. According to scientists, this is where the Andes Mountains sink into the sea, giving birth to numerous islands which, specialists believe, total over 6,000 from this point to Cape Horn. We cross three achipelagos on the Chonos Route: Llanquihue, Chiloé and las Guaitecas. All these channels and fjords have thick forests and a beautiful flora and fauna.

Sailing the channels involves constant movement, routes are short, and we see how islands pass us by, as we enter another channel – there is no time for leisure, and sitting on the open deck makes you feels as if you were sitting in first row stalls in a cinema, watching the best nature and wildlife film. The channels also provide smooth and safe sailing, with our ship close to the coast, with no large waves to threaten our smooth progress.

 

 

 

 

Flora and Fauna

FLORA & FAUNA

The flora and fauna of these latitudes is spectacular Heavy rainfall creates a dense southern forest, rich in a large variety of trees, plants and flowers, which delight the visitor. The most outstanding are the Chilco or fuchsia; the giant ferns; the Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodenrdon Uniferum), whose wood does not rot; the Canelo (drimys winteri), the sacred tree of the Mapuche; Lenga beeches, and the millenary larches, all abound in these latitudes, We also have the nalca or pangue, the Chilean rhubarb (gunnera tinctoria), with its huge leaves which the local indians use as shelter from the rain and for cooking. Ferns and colourful flowers contrast with the evergreen forests.

The Patagonian fauna is very varied: sea lions, dolphins whales, sea leopards, steamer ducks, cormorants, chucaos, seagulls, black necked swans, and belted kingfishers delight Skorpios passengers Large numbers of blue whales have been sighted in the Golfo de Corcovado for the past eight years, and they can be seen from the ship.

Special mention should be made of austral dolphins or toninas, as they are frequently seen swimming close to the ship or the excursion boats.

You must remember that the Patagonian fauna is wild, which means that they do not always show themselves.

 

Twons and Villages

TWONS AND VILLAGES

Ruta Chonos covers the Los Lagos and Aysén regions, where you can visit Puerto Montt, the door to Chilean Patagonia. It was colonized by Germans, and its streets and Angelmó, its beautiful fishing port, will impress you with their colour and beauty.. En route you will also be able to see the villages of Calbuco, Puerto Aguirre, Dalcahue, Chonchi, or Castro, the capital of Chiloé.Getting so see the people, crafts, and cultur of these pioneers and colonists is enormously attractive for the visitor.

Chiloe Castro is the capital of the province of Chiloé, and the third oldest town in Chile. The Spanish Conquistadores took possession of the archipelago in 1567, and the town was founded by Martín Ruiz de Gamboa, who named the river after his surname and called the future town Santiago de Castro in honour of the Apostol Santiago and of the acting Viceroy of Peru, Lope García de Castro. The Chiloé archipelago has 33 islands, all of which are inhabited and farmed by Chilotes. We will see many of them during our Skorpios tour: Quenac, Apiao, Caguache, etc., as they have always been called by their Huilliche and Chono names. Chiloé is a land of myths and legends like the trauco and the ghost ship “Caleuche”; a land of seafood, apple cider and potatoes. It is estimated that there are approximately 100 different varieties of potatoes in the area. The channels of Chiloé are transparently clean and abound in shellfish. Today they are sailed by modern launches that have replaced the old Chilote sailing crafts.

Puerto Aguirre A fishing village, in the very heart of the Archipiélago de las Guaitecas, which was the land of the Chono people. This is a picturesque village; its fishermen settled there in 1940 and began to build their houses and narrow streets, as motor traffic was not an option then. Today, the village has basic utilities, a school, a first aid station, etc.It has a total population of 1,800 inhabitants, most of whom earn their living fishing. Cruceros Skorpios began to visit this village ever since it began operating in the area in 1978, and it was the village children who showed enormous interest in approaching the ship and talking with the tourists, and even acting as their guides. This tradition continues today, and every Sunday morning the dock fills will children waiting for the arrival of Skorpios II.

Puerto Aguirre’s concrete cobbled streets lead us to a mirador; the other possibility is to trek along an Austral forest path, cared for by the National Forestry Office (Conaf) and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding trees and their colours.