Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Patagonia on the Rocks

For visitors to Patagonia, whisky (whiskey, if you prefer) is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but in southernmost Chile it’s become something of a tradition on excursions and cruises. I’m not much of a whisky drinker – my entire lifetime consumption probably amounts to less than a fifth – but I always look forward to it here.
Recently, it’s happened twice. Just a few days ago I took a two-night, one-day whale-watching trip to the western Strait of Magellan on the M/V Forrest (pictured above), which formerly hauled wool and supplies around the Falkland Islands before being reconditioned as a compact cruise vessel – bunks rather than beds - in Chile. Part of the itinerary involved a Zodiac landing on Isla Santa Inés, where we could take a short hike to the base of a glacier and, on the way back, the guides fetched a floating block of ice that, with the help of a small ice ax, became whisky on the rocks when we returned to the ship.
Almost as soon as I got back to the port of Punta Arenas, I boarded the Vía Australis for a three-day cruise through the fjords of western Tierra del Fuego, where slow-flowing rivers of ice such as the Brookes Glacier are a major attraction. Cruceros Australis also offers whisky on the rocks but, in a twist, they also offer hot chocolate with a shot (pictured below) - the rough equivalent of Irish coffee.
Southernmost Patagonia is not the only option for whisky drinkers. I’ve also enjoyed it in northern Chilean Patagonia’s Aisén region, on the Catamaranes del Sur day trip to the tidewater glacier at Laguna San Rafael, and on the M/N Quetru that visits the O’Higgins glacier from the town of Villa O’Higgins. The practice isn’t quite so common on the Argentine side, but I’ve had it on the trek to the Viedma Glacier (pictured below) near the town of El Chaltén.
A word on language, when the topic of glacial ice comes up: Many native Spanish-speaking guides use the false cognate “millenary” to describe ancient glacial ice. In reality, this has nothing to do with women’s headwear (millenery), but rather derives from the Spanish milenario, meaning a thousand years old. This is an understandable mistake, but one that always sounds awkward to me.

1 comment:

  1. Always a good chice to have some alchool to stay warm

    ReplyDelete

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