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Patagonia to Antarctica

Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : This expedition takes you to the most intriguing spots in Antarctica and along the South American Pacific coast. Discover Buenos Aires, known as the 'Paris of South America,' Cape Horn, the Chilean fjords, Patagonia, and visit one of the most scenic national parks in the world, Torres del Paine. After a short included flight from Buenos Aires, embark from Ushuaia across the legendary Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula where penguins, seals, whales, and large flocks of sea birds give life to the surreal and beautiful landscape. Enjoy shore excursions where you will experience some of the most unique wildlife viewing on the Antarctic continent. After re-crossing the Drake Passage, you will arrive at Cape Horn, a mystical place where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Sail on to the Chilean fjords, a wild and remote area that seems almost untouched by humans, with mountains plunging into icy waters. The steep valleys with snow-capped mountains make a striking contrast to an otherwise green area that is rich in wildlife. Your journey continues along the Chilean Pacific coastline that is filled with snow-tipped volcanoes reflected in beautiful lakes, raging rivers, and lush vegetation. Here you will visit Torres del Paine National Park. Enjoy this vast, rugged and beautiful landscape, before the expedition ends in colorful Valparaiso.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography

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Itinerary
Day 1
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Your expedition starts with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, the vibrant capital city of Argentina, renowned for its enchanting combination of European flair and Latin American charm.

Day 2
Buenos Aires / Ushuaia

Start your morning with an included breakfast at the hotel before meeting your included transfer to the airport. Your flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and transfer from the Ushuaia airport for embarkation are also included. In the evening, you will sail through the scenic Beagle Channel.

Day 3
At Sea

Today you will cross the Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic Peninsula. Your day will be filled with spotting an abundance of seabirds from the ship and enjoying fascinating presentations about the history and wildlife of Antarctica.

Day 4 – 9
Antarctic Peninsula

This unending, white wilderness is full of overwhelming impressions on a grand scale. The elements rule in Antarctica, so weather, wind and ice conditions will influence your program. Your experienced expedition team will select the best possible landing sites to create unforgettable experiences, and take advantage of the long hours of daylight. They will attempt to land at sites on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Flexibility allows you to take advantage of the unexpected, and wildlife will be at the forefront of the plans.

Located in the South Shetlands, Half Moon Island is nestled in a glaciated bay and is home to noisy chinstrap penguins. You might call at the gentoo penguin rookeries on Cuverville Island and cruise through scenic Neko Harbor. Your expedition team hopes to sail through the incomparable Lemaire Channel. You might take a challenging hike on Petermann Island to be rewarded with panoramic views. If weather permits, you'll call on Port Lockroy, an old British base with a museum. Sailing through the Antarctic Sound offers spectacular views of tabular icebergs and glacial landscapes, and Brown Bluff has amazing rock formations. Sturdy PolarCirkel boats will enable you to go ashore almost anywhere to truly explore bays and channels. The expedition team will guide you, always ensuring that the local wildlife is not disturbed.

Optional excursions offer you the chance to experience Antarctica with all your senses. Kayak in untouched waters with icebergs floating by, hike up snowy pathways to spectacular views, listen to the sounds of glaciers calving or penguins squabbling, spend the night on the continent, or for the most daring, take the polar plunge swim. Every day will be different and each will be carefully designed by your expedition team to create lasting memories.

Day 10 – 11
Drake Passage / Cape Horn

Sailing northbound across the Drake Passage is chance to recap all that you have seen, smelled, and heard in Antarctica. The expedition team will continue their lecture program to prepare you for the delights ahead. Enjoy priming your knowledge about the history and wildlife of the area. Make sure to spend some time on deck to enjoy the fresh sea air and look out for wildlife.

Day 12
Chilean Fjords

The Chilean Fjords' deep channels, fjords, and mountains plunging into the icy water always leave a profound impression on visitors. This wild and remote area seems almost untouched by humans. The ice has scoured its way between the mountains, creating isolated islands and hidden bays that form the unique fjord landscape of Chile. Snow-capped mountains and steep valleys make a striking contrast to a lush coastline rich in wildlife. You might be lucky enough to spot sea lions, Andean condors, and several bird species that can only be found here.

Day 13 – 14
Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is the gateway to the world-renowned Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most attractive nature sanctuaries in the world. Its main feature is the “towers” themselves; impressive rock formations called “Torres del Paine” (Towers of Paine). The formations are made up of the Torre Central (9,186 feet high), Torre Sur (9,350 feet), and Torre Norte (7,375 feet). The park features azure lakes, trails that meander through emerald forests, roaring rivers, and one big, radiant blue glacier. Torres del Paine hosts stunning variety, from the vast open steppe to rugged mountain terrain topped by looming peaks. The diversity of environments here has led to a wide variety of flourishing fauna and flora. While here, you might see llamas, pumas, chilla foxes, and skunks in addition to more than 100 species of birds like the Andean condor and black-chested buzzard eagle. Enjoy hiking in these amazing surroundings.

Day 15
Puerto Edén

After an unforgettable cruise through Patagonian waters, the unique village of Puerto Edén will enchant you. A tiny settlement in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, Puerto Edén is known for its geographical isolation. Situated at the end of a deep fjord and surrounded by mountains, its population of 250 people includes the 15 remaining members of the Kawéskar people.

There are no roads, only wooden walkways, and electricity is only available for a few hours each day. Puerto Edén is a great place to experience the traditional indigenous culture of the Patagonian tribes or purchase traditional Kawéskar crafts. The villagers sell fish, mussels, and shellfish, which are taken weekly to markets by boat.

Enjoy a stroll among the pathways, and maybe you will spot one of the many Magellan hummingbirds found here when you opt to hike or kayak.

Day 16
At Sea

The expedition continues north through the fabled waters of Patagonia. As you sail through iconic Andean seascapes, you have plenty of time to gaze out on the magnificent natural expanse. There might also be trivia contests covering questions about explorer history and Antarctic wildlife.

Day 17
Castro, Isla Grande de Chiloé

Located on Isla Grande de Chiloé, Castro is set among windswept hills and green vegetation. The city is known for its colorful 'palafitos,' wooden houses mounted on stilts along the water's edge. Go ashore and enjoy the local character and curious energy, mixed with a dash of modern development. The Iglesia San Francisco is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church is a visual delight: bright yellow and orange with a lavender trim. The varnished-wood interior is illuminated by rows of stained-glass windows.

Other sights include Plazuela del Tren, a small plaza by the waterfront with an odd collection of old trains. A stroll in the Cementerio Parroquial is fascinating; some of the tombs are quite grand and ornately decorated. Feria Campesina Yumbel is a bustling fruits and vegetables market. There are also household goods and fish stalls there. At the Feria Artesanal Lillo, an open-air market just south of the port, you can buy excellent hand-knitted woolen goods and handicrafts. Most of the restaurants and cafes in Castro are concentrated along the Calle Blanco, running from the southern end of the plaza down to the waterfront. This is where you can get a taste of the locally renowned meat, potato, and seafood stew known as curanto.

Close to town is Chiloé National Park, a largely unexplored wilderness hosting rare flora and fauna. The park features wide deserted beaches and long stretches of rugged coastline, and is home to dozens of seabird species, penguins, and sea lions.

Day 18 – 19
At Sea

Heading towards Valparaiso, relax and enjoy the deep relaxation of your days at sea. The expedition team will entertain you with stories of the area, help you to plan your next exploration or show you an interesting creature or two under the microscope.

Day 20
Valparaíso, Chile

Your expedition comes to an end in the wonderful, colorful, and poetic city of Valparaiso. One of the best ways of seeing this scenic town is through its funiculars. These constructions, which are scattered around the entire natural amphitheater surrounding the city, allow sweeping views of the bay, and highlight the city's multi-hued houses. Stroll Valparaiso's narrow streets, climb its endless staircases, and discover something new at every turn: a beautiful building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’. Don’t forget to explore the port and fishing piers, where you’ll get a real feel for Chile’s quirky seafaring side. Buy or sample freshly caught seafood at the market and enjoy the fishermen's banter. Visit the UNESCO-listed Historic Quarter before heading home or on to your next adventure.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Travel Insurance:
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Multilingual Departures: English/Norwegian/German (All Departures)

Camping:
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for camping during the voyage. Gear and all cold-weather needs supplied – except pajamas. Due to popular demand, campers are chosen by lottery as there is a set limit as to the number of guests allowed to sleep onshore. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Hiking:
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for hiking during the voyage. Included: Water bottle, snack bar, and lunch pack (if hike is during lunch time). Physical fitness is essential. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Kayaking: Pre-bookable, please inquire
Embark on a 2-4 hour kayaking excursion accompanied by expert guides in a stable double kayak. Included: head-to-toe kayaking gear, including a dry suit; snack and/or lunchbox as needed. Outings are subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to pre-book kayaking.

Photography School:
Taught by two professional photography instructors, this pre-bookable photography school program covers basic image editing, wildlife and landscape photography, and DSLR video instruction. This program is designed for proficient beginners to experienced photographers. Included: photography booklet, designated work station with software provided, priority access to the Photo Optics test center equipment, and a Zeiss Lens cleaning kit. Min. / Max. Capacity: 2-10 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Small Boat Cruising:
Depending on the weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for small boat ‘Polarcirkel’ cruising excursions during the voyage. The duration of each excursion is 1-2 hours. Included: Survival float suit, and a hot drink upon return. Small boat cruising is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Max. Capacity: 21 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Snowshoeing:
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for snowshoeing during the voyage. Due to popular demand, snowshoers are chosen by lottery as there is a set limit to the number of guests allowed to go onshore at one time. Snowshoeing is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Optional activities for this trip are subject to change without notice. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:

Economy flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia; one hotel night in Buenos Aires before the cruise, including breakfast; transfer from the hotel to the airport in Buenos Aires; transfer from the airport to the ship in Ushuaia; shipboard accommodations; landings and activities onboard and ashore; professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities; onboard photography lectures; onboard 'hands-on' science center; complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots); all meals aboard the ship; complimentary tea, coffee, and water. Expedition Suites (M, MG) include a separate check-in; welcome package with sparkling wine on embarkation day; suite breakfast; soft drink and wine packages; fleece blanket/throw; cabin kit with a bathrobe, slippers, and other beauty articles; espresso maker; Wi-Fi; turn-down service; and laundry service. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Airfare not detailed in the inclusions; transfers not detailed in inclusions; passport and visa fees; travel insurance; luggage handling; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks except as mentioned; mini bar replenishment; optional excursions and gratuities; items of a personal nature such as laundry; fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © Andrea Kalvig Anderson, © Stefan Dall

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