Summary : This expedition takes you from the most intriguing spots along the South American coast to the magical Antarctic Peninsula. Starting in the colorful city of Valparaíso, sail along the Chilean coastline filled with snow-tipped volcanoes – the vastness and untouched beauty of the rugged and mountainous landscape will leave a lasting impression. Continuing onward, you will discover one of the most scenic national parks in the world, Torres del Paine, and the wild fjords of Chile. Then witness Cape Horn, a mystical place where two oceans meet. Cross the Drake Passage to Antarctica where penguins, seals, whales, and large flocks of sea birds give life to this surrealistic and beautiful landscape. Opt to kayak in pristine icy waters or hike at a landing site. Onboard, enjoy the comforts of a new, purpose-built, hybrid-powered expedition ship. Spend time in the Explorer Lounge and Bar while taking in the scenery through panoramic windows, hear presentations by knowledgeable guides, swim in the infinity pool, run the outdoor track, learn in the Science Center, or take a photography workshop. Children ages 7-13 can participate in the Young Explorers Program to gain a deeper understanding of nature, climate, and culture. The expedition ends in Punta Arenas, where you'll board an included flight to Santiago, Chile.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography
NEW – Pre-Bookable Kayaking
$14,459 to $38,065
This expedition starts in the colorful and poetic city of Valparaíso. One of the best ways to see this scenic town is by riding its funiculars, which are scattered around the city, and allow for sweeping views of the bay. From high up, the city's multi-colored houses create a rainbow of color and light. Stroll Valparaíso'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 its 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 embarking your ship.
As you make your way along the Pacific coast of Chile, your expedition team will start the lecture program to prepare you for the experiences ahead. Enjoy learning about the history and wildlife of the area through various workshops and presentations. Make sure to spend some time on deck to enjoy the fresh sea air and look out for wildlife.
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.
The expedition continues south through the fabled waters of Patagonia and onward to one of the world’s most remote, undisturbed, and beautiful places: the southern province of Ultima Esperanza, meaning Last Hope. Sailing through iconic Andean seascapes, you'll have plenty of time to gaze out on the magnificent natural expanse.
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. 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.
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 (at 9,186 feet high), Torre Sur (at 9,350 feet high), and Torre Norte (at 7,375 feet high). 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 a wide variety of a fauna and flora to flourish. While here, you might see llamas, pumas, chilla foxes, and skunks, in addition to more than 100 species of birds such as the Andean condor and black-chested buzzard eagle.
The Chilean fjords' deep channels and mountains plunging into icy water will excite nature enthusiasts. This wild and remote area seems almost untouched by humans. The ice has scoured its way between the mountains, creating the 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 that is rich in wildlife. You might be lucky enough to spot sea lions, Andean condors, and several bird species that can only be found here.
In the morning, sail through the Beagle Channel, named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his voyage of discovery, the HMS Beagle. Continue into open waters and—if conditions allow—land on Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America. This is the southernmost point of Chile and lies almost 56° South, marking the boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the northern end of the Drake Passage.
Continue to the Drake Passage, where two oceans meet (the Drake Passage connects the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) on your way to Antarctica. Along the way, you can learn a great deal about Antarctica’s fantastic wildlife and history. Here the warm water from the north meets the cold, less salty water from the south. This makes the ocean particularly rich in nutrients and forms the foundational basis of the unique marine life found here.
Antarctica is isolated from the rest of the world by ocean currents. 90% of the world's ice is found there, at 13,123-feet thick, covering the landmass. In winter it is further cut off by the sea ice forming off the coast – virtually doubling the size of the continent. In summer, it is a breeding ground for millions of penguins, whales, and seals who, for the rest of the year, simply spend their time at sea. Most wildlife here depends on krill as a cornerstone species. The krill population in the Southern Ocean represents the largest biomass of one species on Earth.
As outlined in the Antarctic Treaty, this is a continent dedicated to peace, science, and tourism. No human activity is allowed to alter the perfect natural balance. Visit a place that has evolved through millennia without human interference. Leave nothing behind but footprints and take nothing but pictures!
Because of the power of this remote and beautiful environment, the expedition team is pragmatic, changing landings, re-routing, and shifting plans to ensure safety and the best possible experiences for all. Every cruise experience is unique and takes full advantage of often ideal conditions, spending hours ashore hiking, on the water with kayaks, or simply cruising among a huge pod of whales.
You will attempt to land several places, including Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Brown Bluff, Cuverville Island, and Neko Harbor. All these sites are serene and offer untouched nature, penguin colonies, seals, whales in the ocean, glaciers, icebergs in every shape and color, old whaling stations, and research bases.? It's hard to sum up all the impressions you will gain and adventures you will have. As a well-known quote from a veteran Antarctic traveler put it:
“If you can describe Antarctica with words, you have probably never been there.”
After four unforgettable days in Antarctica, return across the Drake Passage. The voyage from the Antarctic Peninsula to the southern tip of Argentina is roughly 600 miles – or about 40 hours of sailing time in good weather. During the voyage north, the lecture series continues, along with recaps of your experiences in Antarctica.
When you reach Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world, it is time to say goodbye. Your journey home continues with an included flight to Buenos Aires, where you have a chance to extend your stay with optional post-cruise options.
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.
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.
Medical Declaration Form:
All travelers must complete a confidential medical declaration form, signed by a doctor, stating that they are fit to travel. This form will be available in advance of travel, and must be filled out, brought on board, and personally delivered to the doctor upon embarkation. Boarding may denied if this form is not presented at the time of embarkation.
Multilingual Departures: English/Norwegian/German (All Departures)
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.
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 Adventure: 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.
Kayaking - Basic Certification Program:
Learn how to effectively maneuver a kayak and perform simple, practical kayaking exercises and drills, as well as basic kayaking safety procedures. This course is up to 16 hours in duration over two non-consecutive days. Kayaking excursions on the water will be 2-4 hours in length. Graduates of the class will receive a basic kayaking certification from the Norwegian Paddle Association: Norsk Padleforbunds. The program is led by two professional kayaking guides, with a maximum of 8 participants. No previous paddling experience is necessary. The program is conducted in English. All equipment, including a dry suit, is provided for participants. Good physical fitness is essential. Children 13 years and older may participate on request. Please Note: This program is not combinable with the Explorer Photography School program. Pre-bookable (recommended) or bookable onboard, subject to availability. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details and booking information.
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. Min./Max. Capacity: 11-21 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
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.
Economy flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires; transfer from the ship to the airport in Ushuaia; shipboard accommodations; landings with small boats and activities onboard and ashore; professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities; Young Explorers program for children; onboard photography lectures; onboard science center; a wind- and water-resistant jacket; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots); all meals aboard the ship; complimentary tea, water, and coffee. Expedition Suites (MF, ME, MD, MC, MB, MA) 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.
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, © Dominic Barrington, © Stefan Dall, © Karsten Bidstrup