I am indebted to a friend who gave me a book to read before our cruise – ‘This Thing of Darkness’ by Harry Thompson tells the stories of Captain Fitzroy and Charles Darwin as they navigate and chart Tierra Del Fuego in the 1830s. It set the tone beautifully for our visit to the region and our exploration of the Beagle Channel. This cruise excursion was the one I had most anticipated and I was not disappointed.
We arrived in Ushuaia, the world’s most southerly city, welcomed by a glorious sunrise.
Taking the chance to come ashore prior to our wildlife cruise we took the opportunity to stroll around town, get some views of our ship, the Star Princess, and remember the Argentinian fallen in the Falklands conflict.
Soon it was time to board our catamaran and take in the views of the natural harbour of Ushuaia. The snow capped mountains rising above the bay reflected the midday sunshine.
Soon our craft began to pull away into the channel, heading some 10km to the Eclaireurs lighthouse. The channel here is wide and conditions were excellent with ligh seas; although the breeze was fresh the sunshine allowed time on deck to take in the wonderful scenery.
En route we stopped at several small islands to view the colonies of imperial cormorants and their smaller cliff living variants.
With their white breasts and larger than usual size, the imperial cormorants can be confused with penguins but our shallow drafted boat allowed us close access to the colonies. The birds shared their islands with colonies of seals and sea lions who seemed quite oblivious to our clamour on board nearby.
Our final approach to the lighthouse afforded wonderful views back down the channel towards Ushuaia; it had been a breathtaking voyage.