Strait of Magellan

Seno de Agostini, Strait of Magellan

Strait of Magellan

It was on a very comfortable steamer, sailing to Argentina, that Stefan Zweig had the idea of this biographical odyssey. He thought of the appalling conditions of the travels of yore, the scent of salt death that floated on the grunts and heroes, to their loneliness. He thought of Magellan, who on September 20, 1519, at age 39, undertook the first trip around the world.  An exceptional destiny …

Stefan Zweig‘s book, published in 1938, remains certainly the most beautiful text devoted to the adventure of the Portuguese and his companions. Magellan‘s life is a great epic. To find a way linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, he had to face all the dangers, the cold, the mutinies, the navigational errors, the diseases. A masterly adventure that made his expedition the first to complete the world tour.

Stefan Zweig, Magellan, 1938

” The sum of the obstacles that a man overcomes in such a case always gives the true, exact measure of the work and of the one who has accomplished it. “

Expedition Fitz Roy

Almost 500 years later, I had the privilege to navigate in the Strait of Magellan during a week, aboard a small expedition ship, M/V Forrest. Not quite the same adventure the famous navigator had to endure but still a memorable trip for a European! The ship, initially commissioned  by the Government of the Falkland Islands, has an interesting history.

Together with another 10 fellow photographers and the crew, we sailed across the different sections of this navigable sea route, between mainland South America and Cape Froward to the north, and Tierra del Fuego to the south. Entering deep into immaculate fjords, all the way to the foot of glaciers, sometimes in the company of humpback whales and other sea mammals. We could disembark every day, once or twice, using large zodiacs, to capture the wonderful scenery with our cameras sturdily fixed on tripods. From sea level to the peaks of the Darwin mountain range 2,000 meters above, possibilities are endless.

The shores of the Strait are mostly uninhabited and you won’t catch any cellular network.  Hopefully it will stay like this for a long time! Navigation remains a serious business with this geography so complex that it is impossible to describe. You will better understand the immense challenge faced by the Portuguese navigator once you have been there and appreciate the clever scheme he put in place to distinguish passages and dead-ends.

[June 30, 2019]  I just learnt that M/V Forrest will be decommissioned this year, forcing Patagonia PhotoSafaris to stop their cruises after 10 seasons.  Sad news!

Francisco Coloane Marine Park

First marine park created in 2003 in Chile, which includes Carlos III island. This is where we started our navigation and spent two days together with humpback whales who stay every summer in these waters.

Brunswick Peninsula

The southernmost peninsula of continental South America which ends at Cape Froward. Pics have been shot 50 miles south of Punta Arenas.

Seno de Agostini

Named after Alberto Maria de Agostini, an Italian missionary of the Salesians of Don Bosco order as well as a passionate mountaineer, explorer, geographer, ethnographer, photographer and cinematographer.

Seno de Agostini, Strait of Magellan

Aguila Glacier

Canal Gabriel

Glacier, canal Gabriel
Canal Gabriel, Strait of Magellan

Bahia Ainsworth

Ainsworth Bay, Strait of Magellan
Sea elephant, Ainsworth Bay, Strait of Magellan
No Right clicking.