The Voyage of the Beagle HTML version

Santa Cruz, Patagonia, And The Falkland Islands
Santa Cruz -- Expedition up the River -- Indians -- Immense Streams of Basaltic Lava --
Fragments not transported by the River -- Excavations of the Valley -- Condor, Habits of
-- Cordillera -- Erratic Boulders of great size -- Indian Relics -- Return to the Ship --
Falkland Islands -- Wild Horses, Cattle, Rabbits -- Wolf-like Fox -- Fire made of Bones -
- Manner of Hunting Wild Cattle -- Geology -- Streams of Stones -- Scenes of Violence --
Penguins -- Geese -- Eggs of Doris -- Compound Animals.
APRIL 13, 1834. -- The Beagle anchored within the mouth of the Santa Cruz. This river
is situated about sixty miles south of Port St. Julian. During the last voyage Captain
Stokes proceeded thirty miles up it, but then, from the want of provisions, was obliged to
return. Excepting what was discovered at that time, scarcely anything was known about
this large river. Captain Fitz Roy now determined to follow its course as far as time
would allow. On the 18th three whale-boats started, carrying three weeks' provisions; and
the party consisted of twenty-five souls -- a force which would have been sufficient to
have defied a host of Indians. With a strong flood-tide and a fine day we made a good
run, soon drank some of the fresh water, and were at night nearly above the tidal
The river here assumed a size and appearance which, even at the highest point we
ultimately reached, was scarcely diminished. It was generally from three to four hundred
yards broad, and in the middle about seventeen feet deep. The rapidity of the current,
which in its whole course runs at the rate of from four to six knots an hour, is perhaps its
most remarkable feature. The water is of a fine blue colour, but with a slight milky tinge,
and not so transparent as at first sight would have been expected. It flows over a bed of
pebbles, like those which compose the beach and the surrounding plains. It runs in a
winding course through valley, which extends in a direct line westward. This valle varies
from five to ten miles in breadth; it is bounded b step-formed terraces, which rise in most
parts, one above th other, to the height of five hundred feet, and have on th opposite sides
a remarkable correspondence.
April 19th. -- Against so strong a current it was, o course, quite impossible to row or sail:
consequently th three boats were fastened together head and stern, two hand left in each,
and the rest came on shore to track. As th general arrangements made by Captain Fitz
Roy were ver good for facilitating the work of all, and as all had a shar in it, I will
describe the system. The party including ever one, was divided into two spells, each of
which hauled at th tracking line alternately for an hour and a half. The officers of each
boat lived with, ate the same food, and slep in the same tent with their crew, so that each
boat wa quite independent of the others. After sunset the first leve spot where any bushes
were growing, was chosen for ou night's lodging. Each of the crew took it in turns to b
cook. Immediately the boat was hauled up, the cook mad his fire; two others pitched the
tent; the coxswain hande the things out of the boat; the rest carried them up to th tents and
collected firewood. By this order, in half an hou everything was ready for the night. A