Whether it’s traveling to the end of the road, or the end of the Earth, the idea of finis terrae captured human imagination as soon as the first humans decided to venture out beyond the campfire light to see what was beyond the valley, over the hills, across the waters and around the bend. In modern times it may be a very different experience than it was centuries ago, but the lure of Patagonia as one of those “ends” has brought us all together now. While relatively speaking it is much easier, modern travel does have its own minor complications; overnight flights, abrupt changes in weather by latitude, “hurry-up to wait” in another queue. Happily, most of us had no problems and assembled in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a brief exploration of this South American megalopolis, then on to Ushuaia, the southernmost city and our jumping off point for a voyage through lands beyond our personal maps and experiences. A quick trip through the city, the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, then a fantastic catamaran tour of Lapataia Bay, through sea lion and cormorant colonies, and amongst breaching humpback whales in the Beagle Channel, brought us back to the city pier in Ushuaia.
This morning gave us time for staff introductions, safety briefings, ship orientation and a bit of time to settle into our new home, National Geographic Endurance, as we sailed westward towards the Garibaldi Fjord. By afternoon we had navigated the narrow channel past towering cliffs to the face of the Garibaldi Glacier, one of the most active glacier fronts, draining ice from the ice field perched high above in the Cordillera Darwin.