Fourteen hours from LAX, plus a two-hour bus ride, found us ready to
embark on the Royal Princess from Valparaiso, Chile, to Buenos Aires
by sailing around Cape Horn. The itinerary showed seven days at sea
and an extensive guided tour at every port -- at several of those we
would have to drop anchor and take tenders to shore, which made it
even more exciting.
Our first stop was Puerto Montt, gateway to the Lake District. It
lies in what is known as Forest Chile and comprises eight large lakes
and scores of smaller ones nestled in rolling Andean foothills in a
patchwork of forest and farmland. Our tour was by boat and included
lunch at a lakeside restaurant where we were entertained by a local
folk dance group of beautiful children.
The following three days were spent at sea, where we observed the
Pio XI Glacier, the Seno Europa Glacier and the Amalia Glacier, which
is the largest in the world -- absolutely awesome. It never thaws but
instead constantly builds because of the harsh winter.
Our second stop was Punta Arenas, which lies atop rolling hills,
looking out over the middle of the Strait of Magellan. In the days
before the Panama Canal, this was a major port. It remains a
prosperous city today and is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.
Our tour was mainly by bus, which met us at the pier and traveled
through the city on our way to a penguin reserve. Once there, we
followed a trail through the grasslands to the sea -- the wind was
blowing up a gale to the point where it made you feel that when you
took one step forward, it pushed you back two steps. It was bitterly
cold and we were thankful to finally find the warmth of a tiny cafe
where hot chocolate had never tasted better.
Ushuaia, Argentina, was our next destination. A former whaling
station and prisoner colony, it is the capital of Tierra del Fuego
and is famous for being the southernmost city on Earth. The tour bus
took us on a winding road high up in the mountains to a national park
where we could overlook the Beagle Channel and see for miles.
Finally, at 7:35 a.m. the next day, we came abeam to the portside
of Cape Horn at a distance of 1.11 nautical miles. Dark and
mysterious under cloudy skies, its rocky terrain rises to a height of
1,391 feet and makes a formidable landmark for those navigating
around it. Known for its prevalent winds, heavy seas and strong
currents, the naturalist lecturer on board said "this is where the
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, was our next anchor and tender
operations began under a Force 8 wind, which is considered gale
force. The tender lurched and rolled as the bosun fought the wheel
and several passengers returned back up the gangplank before it was
fully loaded and able to leave the ship. It turned out to be a cute
little seaside village with one main street and quaint shops, but so
cold and windy that after lunch at the local pub, everyone as glad to
return to the ship. We sailed at 6:35 p.m. on rough seas.
The gale continued and, at 4:20 a.m., the wind speed was recorded
by the vessel anemometer at 92 knots or 106 mph. During the day, we
were forced to heave-to owing to the heavy swell conditions and
hurricane force winds and reduce speed to 3 knots. In order to
maintain our schedule, we did not call at Puerto Madryn, but
proceeded through the South Atlantic to Port Stanley and Montevideo,
In Montevideo, we experienced our finest tour called "A Day at the
Farm," and that's exactly what it was. La Rabida, a 3,458-acre ranch
45 minutes from Montevideo, where we were welcomed personally by the
owner and family. Hay rides, buggy rides, horse show and mini-rodeo;
a wonderful barbecue luncheon and complete touring of the farm itself
-- such gracious people.
We disembarked in Buenos Aires, spent the night at the Claridge
Hotel, which included a marvelous tango show at the local nightclub,
and the next morning flew to Iguacu National Park, Argentina. From
there, we crossed the border into Brazil to the Cataratas Resort, the
only hotel inside the park and within walking distance of Iguacu
Falls. The next day was spent on catwalks and hiking trails to view
the splendor of the falls -- all 287 of them. We had saved this for
last and were not disappointed.
* TRAVEL TALES runs on Sundays. Have you, or someone you know,
gone on an interesting vacation recently? Tell us about your
adventures in about 400 words, accompanied by a couple of photos to
choose from that do not have the Daily Pilot in them, and send them
to Travel Tales, 330 W. Bay St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627; or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax to (949) 646-4170.
* PAULA GODFREY is a Newport Beach resident who also serves on the
city's Civil Service Commission.