Amalia Glacier cruises

To cruise by Amalia Glacier is to take a journey into a pristine wilderness. In this area of Chile, silence is punctuated only by the occasional warble of a cormorant as you glide through narrow fjords past towering glaciers and jagged mountain peaks. 

Sometimes called Skua Glacier, Amalia is a tidewater glacier, meaning that it flows through a valley and ends in the ocean. Amalia Glacier is located in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, which is the largest protected area in Chile, named after the republic’s first head of state.

Glaciers are dense bodies of ice that move under their own enormous weight. When snowfall in a particular region exceeds the amount of snow that melts, a glacier forms over tens or hundreds of years. Glaciers move and change, retreating or advancing depending on weather conditions, forming deep crevasses and giant columns, and changing the shape of the landscape as they go.

Amalia Glacier originates in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is one of the largest ice fields on earth. Amalia’s path traverses one side of the Reclus volcano, which is being eroded and shaped by the ice. From 1945 to 1986, the glacier retreated a dramatic four miles, which is considered by many to be evidence of the effects of climate change.

Things to see at Amalia Glacier

Cruising past the glacier will allow passengers to see it up close and take in the rugged ice’s majestic beauty.

Glacier ice is unlike regular ice – it stretches and bends instead of shattering and breaking and, perhaps most strikingly, has a bright blue appearance. This is because the sheer weight of a glacial mass means that the bubbles of air that are normally present in ice are compressed out of it, making it more dense and lending it that brilliant blue colour.

Lucky passengers may be able to spot wildlife during their Amalia Glacier cruise. Curious dolphins can often be seen frolicking alongside the ship, and cormorants look down on the stunning scene from the air. This natural habitat is also home to otters and the Andean condor, which is part of the vulture family.

Photographing the region’s natural beauty and wildlife can be difficult due to the ice and water, which reflects and causes cameras to sense excess light. If you are photographing a person in the foreground, make sure the sun is behind you, or use your camera’s flash. You may also like to invest in a lens hood, which will help keep some of the glacier’s reflective light from entering your camera. Stock up on extra batteries for your camera and keep them in an inside pocket. Battery life reduces significantly in the cold so keep them close to your body.