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Sailing to Lake San Rafael

Mónica PonsMarcelo Sola

We made ourselves comfortable inside one of the vessel’s lounge areas and enjoyed the tour around the fjords, channels and islands until we came to the glaciers and experienced the constant calving of their icy walls from a close distance.

Navigation towards Lake San Rafael and the San Rafael Glacier

Laguna San Rafael National Park is one of the most spectacular sites in southern Chile and it is reached by large vessels that visit the Northern Ice Field and Lake San Rafael.

We gathered very early in the morning at Port Chacabuco, where we boarded a catamaran. We found a nice spot in front of the large windows so as not to miss anything. We set sail as the guide told us about the course of the voyage. The ship headed for Aysén Fjord, which features whimsical forms and stunning snow-capped mountains. We were inside the territory of Chono, Alacalufe and Yagan natives.

Navigation towards Lake San Rafael and the San Rafael Glacier

We sailed along Costa Channel and Elefantes Estuary surrounded by islands with green vegetation. We were looking forward to getting to the ice phenomenon that has been changing its structure for over 18,000 years. As we entered the Témpanos River, we knew we were getting close. As it is quite shallow, we could appreciate the ice floes which had broken off the snowdrift and gone adrift.

As we entered Lake San Rafael, we were in front of the glacier wall bearing the same name and spanning several kilometers. We stayed there for a while, beholding that wonder while listening to interesting data about the last glaciation period, which shaped Patagonia, on the loudspeakers. The national park was declared world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1979.

Navigation towards Lake San Rafael and the San Rafael Glacier

We felt thrilled to see the luminosity produced by the glacier. It seemed to detached it from the lake waters. Then the time came to land and walk towards the 40-meter-high white and blue ice mass that succeeded in captivating us. We took all the pictures we could as we were certain this was a one-in-a-lifetime experience.

We would have liked to stay there longer but the cold temperature made us go back to the catamaran. Once on board, we remained on the top deck to keep the glacier in sight. It looked even closer than before and its incredible formations were magnificent.

Navigation towards Lake San Rafael and the San Rafael Glacier

The ample and comfortable lounge inside the catamaran compensated for the temperature outside. We relished the comfort armchairs and good large windows during the rest of the voyage. We tasted delicious and hearty dishes served by the buffet service.

We made a toast with a glass of whisky and ice from the glacier the guides had picked up to bid farewell to these southern lands. It was a special moment.

Returning to Puerto Chacabuco was amusing and our conversations with the other passengers were quite pleasant. We were all feeling satisfied to have shared such an adventure and agreed we had enjoyed the glacier to the utmost. Good music and even dancing were present before we landed.

Navigation towards Lake San Rafael and the San Rafael Glacier

Contact

Catamaranes del Sur

José Miguel Carreras 50 - P. Chacabuco, (6008102) , Puerto Aysén, XI Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Tel: +56 67-2351112

Patagonia Connection

Juan José Latorre 87 - P. Chacabuco, (6008102) , Puerto Aysén, XI Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Tel: +56 67-2351208
Welcome Chile - Outings in Coyhaique
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Location

Caracteristics

Duration

all day

Difficulty

low

Tour type

contemplative

Useful Data

How to get there

Puerto Chacabuco, the boarding point, lies 82 kilometers south of Coyhaique.

Opening hours

Arranged by the operators.

Bear in mind

Agencies offer various voyage programs and some of them even organize flights over the glacier.

Contact

Catamaranes del Sur

José Miguel Carreras 50 - P. Chacabuco
(6008102)
Puerto Aysén
XI Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Tel: +56 67-2351112

Patagonia Connection

Juan José Latorre 87 - P. Chacabuco
(6008102)
Puerto Aysén
XI Región Aisén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Tel: +56 67-2351208


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