Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996
A new 12-day expedition aboard the Alla Tarasova gives new meaning to the term "weather permitting." The ship's Russian officers will take 94 passengers south from Puerto Montt through the fjords of Chile's seldom-traveled inside passage and the glacier-filled northwest arm of the Beagle Channel. After a glimpse of Cape Horn--known to sailors as the biggest ship graveyard on earth--you'll dock in Ushuaia ($1,990-$3,990; six-day segments, $875-$2,380; trips run November 6-17 and March 10-20; call Quark Expeditions, 800-356-5699).
For a dolphin's-eye view of the fjords, sign on for Mountain Travel-Sobek's new 15-day sea-kayaking odyssey through the islets and beech forests of central Patagonia. The trip starts and ends 250 miles south of Puerto Montt at Puyuhuapi, a luxury hot springs ecolodge accessible only by boat ($2,850 per person; February 24-March 11; 800-227-2384). Go even farther a field on Whitney & Smith's 16-day sea-kayaking expedition down the Río Serrano along the foot of the Patagonian ice cap, and into the remote fjordland of Última Esperanza, where tidewater glaciers edge evergreen forests ($2,750; departures on November 25 and December 16; 403-678-3052). The trip begins with a four-day hike amid the granite spires, Andean condors, and guanaco herds of Torres del Paine National Park, whose turquoise lakes are also the setting for new monthly mountain-bike trips offered by Southwind Adventures ($1,975; 303-9720701). Nantahala Outdoor Center's inaugural two-week sea-kayak trip takes in Paine's Lago Pehoe, the Río Serrano, and Última Esperanza, as well as the iceberg-filled waters of Balmaceda National Park ($2,100; 704-488-2175).
Calmer weather can be found to the north, although the highly technical Class V rapids of the Río Futaleufu are anything but placid. This is the first year Mountain Travel-Sobek is running 14-day raft expeditions on the powerful Futa ($2,875 per person; 800-227-2384), joining Earth River Expeditions, which offers Futaleufu and Río Bío-Bío combo trips ($1,900-$3,000; 800-643-2784).
A Glacial Pace
On a Wing and a Thud