Part II: Balmaceda and Serrano Glacier
This is a continuation from my previous blog where I described about our trip to Torres del Paine National Park. In this blog, I will be describing a trip to Balmaceda and Sorrano Glacier.
Day 3, November 15, 2015 – Boat ride to Sorrano and Balmaceda Glacier
Patagonia is home to Southern Patagonian Ice Field which is the world’s second largest contiguous extra polar ice field. Off course, a trip to Patagonia is incomplete without visiting these gorgeous glaciers.The best way to access these glaciers is by boat.. Our trip began from the port of Puerto Bories in Puerto Natales. Luckily It was a bright and sunny day and when we boarded the boat we were greeted by extremely friendly staff. Although it was a clear, beautiful day, it was extremely cold and windy. We were all bundled up and were ready to explore these glaciers. Our boat left the dock at 7:30 am and we cruised through the picturesque Ultima Esperanza Fiord which means “Last hope”. Make sure you bring along at least a 300mm zoom lens as you will get too variety of wildlife on the way which includes condors, cormorants, sea lions, dolphins and ibis.
Finally after about 2 hours of cruise we saw the spectacular Monte Balmaceda and the glacier on its eastern slopes. This mountain peak reaches a height of about 6677 feet (2035 meters). Unfortunately like other glaciers in the world, this glacier is shrinking at a rapid pace and our guide told us that 1981 the glacier touched the sea level! This glacier can only be seen from a boat.
We then headed to see Serrano glacier. Unlike Balmaceda glacier, we could actually got off the boat at the Puerto Toro dock located in the Parque Nacional “Bernardo O’Higgins”. There we started our 30 minutes hike (about 1 kilometer), through a narrow mountain trail. The trail was not that strenuous but was slippery in some areas. Make sure you have good hiking boots. We saw quite a few people slipping and falling on the hard rock which was needless to say quite painful. The trail to the glacier is absolutely spectacular. While on the left side there was the woody, mountainous area, on the right side was a glacier lake full of large floating ice blocks which fell from the glacier. You can get quite close to the glacier and the view of the blue glacier is just majestic. There are quite view vantage locations for capturing the entire vista. Make sure to take a wide angle lens preferably between 11 and 20 mm. Dress in layers! Overall the journey was a surreal experience and it is highly recommended. Contact Visit Chile for details.
After an eventful stay there where we got took zillions of photos of the glaciers, we headed back to Puerto Natales. On the way back we docked for a lamb bar-be-queue lunch in a spectacular location surrounded by mountain peaks and crystal clear water.
We returned back to Puerto Natales around 4:00 pm. It is worth mentioning that there is an old dock in Puerto Natales which is a great location for taking long exposure shots of the dock. I took the following shot around 5 pm
Overall, if you are staying in Puerto Natales for a couple of days make sure you take this trip to the glaciers. You will remember it forever.