The Garibaldi fjord is part of Alberto de Agostini National Park in Chile, a region where the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain chain, meets the ocean. The area is marked as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with the forest that grew upon the glacier’s retreat cited as a key criterion for its protection.
The Garibaldi glacier
One of the most important things to see in Garibaldi fjord is the retreating Garibaldi glacier. Regarded as one of Chile’s most beautiful glaciers, this mammoth wall of sapphire and teal-colored ice doesn’t disappoint, as it towers over visitors.
A notable feature of the Garibaldi glacier is its medial moraine. What’s a medial moraine and why is it so notable? A moraine is a formation of unconsolidated rock and debris that’s carried along by a glacier, while a medial moraine is one that forms when two glaciers meet, meaning that the Garibaldi glacier is the coming together of two separate ice flows.
The sides of the fjord
The Garibaldi glacier isn’t the only glacier in the fjord; numerous smaller glaciers mark the valley’s sides. But valley walls are not just covered with ice; plant life has amazingly found a way to exist in this cold, harsh environment, too. The vegetation isn’t limited to the valley walls, as proven by the park’s dense forests.
Not all the water on the mountainsides is frozen, either, with active waterfalls playing a supporting role in carving out the dramatic mountainside terrain. In addition to glaciers, forests, and waterfalls, it’s also possible to see a mountain range named after a renowned naturalist, the Cordillera Darwin, from the fjord.
In the water
In the waters of Garibaldi fjord, there are several small icebergs created from glacial calving — blocks of ice dropping off glaciers. If glacier calving occurs during your trip, you’ll definitely know about it. The energy released by the drop results in a large booming noise, while the impact of the ice mass hitting the water may create waves.
There are also various wildlife species in the water: some seals and sea lions may poke their heads out of the water during your trip. It may also be possible to spot some Magellanic penguins, or even orcas if you’re really lucky. In the air, look out for the Andean condor, a member of the vulture family.
Alberto de Agostini National Park is filled with spectacular natural wonders, and Garibaldi fjord — as well as the glacier that created it — is among the key sights in this remote part of the world.
Want to see the beautiful Garibaldi Fjord for yourself? Explore our South American and Antarctic expedition cruises.