The exhilaration of flying in the front seat of a Bell Jet Ranger 407 is hard to describe—especially one that has comfortable leather seats, a handsome pilot, Arturo, and Elvis Presley (“I want you, I need you, I love you”) piped through the ear phones. We soared in our glass cocoon over tree tops, mountain summits, and the odd glacial pinnacle and then dived into verdant valleys, river beds and landed on a gravel bar.
We are on a “trek” gauged 4 out of 10 by our guide, Felipe, in terms of difficulty (Trust me, at times, it felt like a 7!) but very excited to be able to access the glacier because we had decent weather. The glacier which loomed quite a distance away was our destination—Felipe wanted us to be able to touch it! We scampered over hill and dale, learning about a variety of lichens and mosses which grew on this barren landscape. We marveled at its blue crevices and the sheer magnitude of it and then whisked back to the mother ship where Cecilia met us with hot spiced wine, followed by a lunch of vegetable beef soup and saffron rice with shrimp and mussels.
The afternoon “activity” was a choice of kayaking or rafting on a river accessed again by the chopper. The guides had already inflated the kayaks and rafts by the time we arrived and we had a mini-orientation on the beach. Our group chose the rafts and the idea was to switch groups with the team of Chilean gentlemen who were also on board. One of the guest chefs, Christian, set the new river record for flipping his kayak, 30 seconds into the “activity,” (Prior record was 45 seconds!) and that served as some sort of portend of things to come…There were numerous obstacles in the river, mostly fallen trees that did not mix well with the kayaks!
Our raft crashed into a tree which sent Helen tumbling out backwards into the river—the loss of her camera was a peace offering to the river. We got her back on board and stopped for a restorative cup of coffee and then a few brave souls’ swapped places in the kayaks. We rounded a corner and saw an empty kayak floating down the river and Jan and her companion Carlos hanging from a tree. Jan’s eye glasses a further sacrificial offering to the river, and her camera got wet but not lost! Next thing I knew, Tom’s distinctive cap was floating in the water with an overturned kayak as he swam out from underneath. I think that we challenged the guides and have suggested wetsuits for that activity in the future!
The race was on to get to the sauna—everyone wet!
Tonight’s dinner was the creation of guest chef, Tomas, and we all raved about his conger eel, a Chilean delicacy, which was lightly poached, served with mashed potato and deep fried leeks and asparagus.