Summary : The southernmost realms of the planet are places of unimaginable beauty, where humpback whales breach and penguins gather by the thousands, where icebergs shimmer and sapphire-hued fjords harbor snowcapped peaks and virgin forests. Join an odyssey aboard the National Geographic Orion that combines the celebrated wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, southern Patagonia, and the Chilean fjords—all in a single, epic voyage. Follow in the wake of legendary explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Ferdinand Magellan to encounter otherworldly icescapes and calving glaciers, remote reserves and pristine parks, and the incredible creatures that thrive at the edge of the world.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$22,440 to $42,800
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Depart this evening on an overnight flight to Santiago.
Settle into your hotel before heading out on a guided overview of the vibrant Chilean capital backed by the Andes.
Fly to Ushuaia, a colorful mountain town perched at the southernmost tip of South America. Embark National Geographic Orion.
Sail to Antarctica via the Drake Passage, named after 16th-century English admiral Sir Francis Drake. Watch for dozens of species of seabirds gliding alongside the ship—including the albatross, which boasts the longest wingspan of any extant bird—and enjoy talks from your onboard naturalists about the wildlife and geology that await you on the Antarctic Peninsula.
With long hours of daylight at this time of year, there are ample opportunities to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. The schedule is flexible, allowing to take advantage of unexpected wildlife sightings and fortuitous weather conditions, whether you’re watching whales at play off the bow of the ship or enjoying an evening Zodiac cruise amid glittering icebergs.
One day, you might set out by kayak to encounter towering icebergs at water level; embark on a Zodiac excursion in search of seals and blue-eyed shags; or walk on a beach amid thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins, learning about how climate change is affecting resident penguin colonies. The next day, you might experience the thrill of the ship crunching through pack ice.
As you explore Antarctica’s ethereal icescapes, your expedition team will enrich your experiences with their intimate knowledge of the region. A National Geographic photographer and Certified Photo Instructor provide guidance on how to capture stunning images; your undersea specialists share fascinating video from their dives and reveal underwater footage taken some 1,000 feet below the surface using the ship’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV); and your expedition leader is always on the lookout for thrilling ways to appreciate the wonders of the Earth’s coldest continent.
Relax onboard and enjoy the ship’s amenities as the coast of Antarctica disappears from view. Round the southernmost tip of South America at Cape Horn and witness the dramatic meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans en route to the Chilean fjords.
Sail into southern Patagonia’s vast wilderness of forested isles, mirror-like lakes, and snowcapped peaks. In this pristine landscape, myriad fjords cut between soaring granite walls and waterfalls tumble from high above. Explore the region known as Chile’s Glacier Alley, part of the UNESCO-recognized Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Cruise into the secluded Pia Fjord, admiring views of the massive glacier at its terminus; and glide into Garibaldi Fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park, where the formidable Andes meet the sea. Get up close to the monumental wall of ice that marks the edge of Garibaldi Glacier, exploring by Zodiac or kayak. Continue to Agostini fjord, where numerous glaciers originate from the nearby mountains, for a chance to witness thunderous glacial calving.
Cruise to Tierra del Fuego and venture into the archipelago’s largest protected land area: Karukinka Natural Park. Karukinka, meaning “our land” in the language of the area’s ancient inhabitants, harbors over a hundred species of wildlife as well as the world’s southernmost old-growth forest. Visit this private reserve by special permission, searching for Andean foxes, guanacos, black-browed albatross, and more. Then sail to Ainsworth Bay, a stunning fjord perched at the mouth of the Marinelli Glacier and surrounded by subpolar forest, keeping an eye out for elephant seals sunbathing along the shore.
Today, enter the Strait of Magellan—which separates mainland South America from Tierra del Fuego—to explore Francisco Coloane Marine Park. One of the largest marine protected areas in Chile, the park covers more than 165,000 acres of land and sea and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including humpback whales, two species of sea lion, and Magellanic penguins. Cruise along the coastline by Zodiac and kayak to spot black-and-white Peale’s dolphins and keep a lookout for the endangered Chilean dolphin. Step ashore to spot the Andean condor, one of the largest of all flying birds, soaring overhead.
Continue your discovery of the Chilean fjords and their spectacular maze of channels and islands, where you may explore by ship or take a walk in the surrounding forest. As you continue to Puerto Natales, local pilots will join your captain on the Bridge to guide it through the winding Kirke Narrows, accessible only to small expedition ships. Dock for the night in Puerto Natales, a picturesque port town located at the head of a glacially carved fjord.
Spend your final day in Patagonia exploring majestic Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Set out by foot or by vehicle across the windswept, rugged landscape, which spans more than 550,000 acres and harbors an astounding variety of geological forms, from soaring granite pillars and windswept grasslands to rivers, glaciers, and gem-colored lagoons. As you explore this natural wonderland, keep an eye out for guanaco and flocks of rhea—a flightless bird distantly related to the ostrich—and smaller creatures like foxes and armadillos. Celebrate your epic adventure at a farewell dinner this evening.
Disembark in Puerto Natales and take a charter flight to Santiago to connect with your overnight flight home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage 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.
Lindblad-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Optional Pre-Trip Extension: Santiago / Casablanca Wine Valley / Maipo Valley
Visit Santiago's charming neighborhoods and get a taste for its world-famous cuisine at a few, select restaurants. Venture outside the city of Santiago and into wine country. Tour some of the beautiful wineries, meet Chilean winemakers, and sample world class wines alongside the experts who created them. 4 Days.
2020 Double Occupancy from $2,850 per person
2020 Single Occupancy from $3,170 per person
Optional Post-Trip Extension: Easter Island
Follow your Antarctica expedition with a visit to one of the most mysterious places on earth—Easter Island. Home to the silent sentinels of a long lost culture, this tiny island is located 2,300 miles west of Chiles in the Pacific Ocean and almost 1,200 miles from its nearest island neighbor. Learn about the ancient Rapa Nui culture that grew up in isolation. Where did these people come from and why did they carve more than 600 giant moai? Learn from key archaeologists. Flights must be booked through ExpeditionTrips. Trip length and rate varies due to airline schedules. Rates below are for trips that are five days; rates will be higher if longer than five days is required for flight schedules. Please inquire.
2020 5-Day Double Occupancy from $4,670 per person
2020 5-Day Single Occupancy from $5,510 per person
One pre-cruise hotel night in Santiago; transfers between airport/ship if booked on recommended flights; shipboard accommodations; kayaking; certified photo instructor; video chronicle of your trip; parka; all meals onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; crew gratuities. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; extensions; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; immigration fees; personal expenses such as Internet, spa charges, and laundry; optional extensions; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos ©: Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson (Lemaire Channel); Ralph Lee Hopkins (Zodiac/Penguins, Kayak/Whale); Sven-Olof Lindblad (Kayak/Seal); Michael S. Nolan (Penguin and Chicks, Penguin Jumping, Penguin Standing, Ship Deck, Zodiac/Whale, Zodiac/Ice, Kayak/Penguins)