1. Travel

South America Cruise on the Silver Whisper

By

8 of 12

Puerto Chacabuco
Aiken del Sur Private Park near Puerto Chacabuco, Chile

Quiet lake at Aiken del Sur Private Park near Puerto Chacabuco, Chile

Puerto Chacabuco (c) Linda Garrison
After three days on the water, it was nice to set food on land the next day. The Silver Whisper was docked at very small town of Puerto Chacobuco, only 94 nautical miles from our anchorage near Laguna San Rafael. The village is not much, but it is one of the few towns along the Chilean fjords. Looking at the number of homes scattered on the hills around the harbor, it must be only a few hundred residents, most of whom seem to eke out a living by salmon fishing. All goods must be brought in by ship, although there's an airport about 30+ miles inland at Coihaique, another little town that serves as the Aysen region's capital.

I took a tour to the Aiken de Sur Private Park, about a 10-minute bus ride from the dock. Mom didn't go since there was supposed to be (according to the Silver Whisper shore excursion brochure) an "invigorating 40-minute hike" as part of the visit to the park. The invigorating hike turned out to be a 1/3 mile stroll along a flat, easy-walking trail to see a waterfall and a beautifully colored kingfisher. Mom could have easily done it. I think Silversea needs to update some of their tour descriptions in the brochure since this is the second tour I know of that was much easier than advertised.

The park was lovely, and we had a nice folklore (music and dancing) show, accompanied by drinks and traditional Chilean food (empanadas, etc.) before returning to the ship. I just wish we had a more strenuous hike.

I think the best tour was the "Cohaique and Simpson Valley" driving tour of the area on some of the few roads. The participants raved about the gorgeous mountain and river scenery. We didn't sign up for it since we had a similar full-day riding tour scheduled in the last Chilean fjord port--Puerto Montt. The participants in the Deer Valley hiking tour came back to the ship without seeing any deer, but they did have a more invigorating walk than we did.

My tour returned to the ship about noon, and mom and I ate lunch, followed by bridge. While we were playing bridge, the Captain announced that we would have to stay at the dock in Puerto Chacabuco for a while longer because the winds were too high to risk pulling away. We had noticed it was blowing harder outside while playing cards, but guess we were so absorbed in the game, we didn't know it was so bad. The warmish sunny weather was also replaced by clouds, and soon we had light blowing rain. Instead of leaving at 2 pm, it was almost 5:30 by the time we sailed.

Mom and I had reservations at the outdoor grill restaurant, but we got a 6:15 pm call it was going to be closed due to the bad weather. Of course, by 7:30, the wind had calmed down and it was sunny again. They told us that this area can have four seasons in one day, and I believe it.

Since our grill restaurant reservation didn't work out, we just ate in the main dining room, which was delicious (as always). Mother got the grilled scallop appetizer as a main course. I had tomato bisque soup with pine nuts. It was delicious and only 65 calories. Of course, then I had a salad with warm bacon and garlic dressing and a nice filet with gorgonzola butter. Doubt if those 65 calories balanced that meal out!

Byron Johnston, the 33-year old guitarist from the UK, was in the show lounge. Whereas he played classical and flamenco on his guitar in the first concert, this time he played a tribute to the great guitarists of the pop age--with some terrific music for us "boomers". I really liked it better than the first one, although it probably didn't demonstrate his talents as much.

The next day the Silver Whisper was in the last port of call, Puerto Montt.

South America Ports of Call on the Silver Whisper

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.