Summary : This is a truly diverse expedition with highlights that include spending five days in Antarctica before venturing into the Chilean fjords, discovering the rich wildlife of Patagonia, and visiting one of the most scenic national parks in the world. Enjoy close encounters with penguins, birds, and seals. 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
$11,006 to $16,088
The capital of Chile is exciting and diverse. There is a lot to discover here, from the Andean glaciers at the city borders to the city's skyscrapers and quiet parks, Colonial architecture, bohemian neighborhoods, and the fast-flowing Mapacho River. Your adventure starts with an overnight hotel stay here.
Take an included early morning flight to Punta Arenas where your ship is ready for the expedition to Antarctica.
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 to the Drake Passage, where two oceans meet (the Drake Passage connects the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) on your way to Antarctica. Here the warm waters from the north meet the cold, less salty waters from the south, which makes the waters here particularly rich in nutrients and forms the foundational basis of the areas’s unique marine life.
On the way to the White Continent you can learn a great deal about Antarctica’s fantastic wildlife and fascinating history. Your expedition team will start the lecture program to prepare you for the experiences ahead. There will also be various workshops and presentations. Make sure to spend some time on deck enjoying the fresh sea air and looking out for wildlife.
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, head back across the famous Drake Passage. The voyage from the Antarctic Peninsula to the southern tip of Argentina is roughly 600 miles (approximately 40 hours sailing time in good weather). As you sail north, attend lectures and recap your experiences of Antarctica.
Cape Horn 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. The region is of great significance due to its discovery, location, and history, and has played a part in various trade routes. If conditions allow, the crew will attempt a landing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you make your way along the Pacific Coast to Valparaíso, recap everything you've experienced on this expedition. Make sure you spend some time on deck looking for wildlife.
Your journey ends in the colorful and poetic city of Valparaíso. If you have time, explore this scenic town before you fly home.
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 be denied if this form is not presented at the time of embarkation.
Multilingual Departures: English/German/French (All Departures)
Photography Program: Included
Join onboard lectures about still photography, video photography, and wildlife photography. Those interested in a more in-depth photography expedition are encouraged to consider the optional, pre-bookable Explorer Photography School program. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Explorer Science Program: Included
Participate in lectures and activities to cultivate greater knowledge about the regions explored; conduct experiments or examine specimens in the Science Center with the assistance of professional biologists and geologists; or choose to assist with current research.
Young Explorers Program: Included
A dedicated staff member will lead age-appropriate lectures and field research with your Young Explorer on topics ranging from science, polar history, photography, and navigation. The focus is on education, fun, and participation. Designed for ages 7–13 (although all ages can join in!).
From Explorer Photography School to Basic Kayaking Certification, there are several supplemented activities to choose from. Some are pre-bookable. Most are booked once on board. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details and rates.
Economy flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago, Chile; one pre-cruise hotel night in Santiago, Chile with breakfast included; transfer from the hotel to the airport in Santiago; transfer from the ship to the airport in Punta Arenas after the cruise; shipboard accommodations; Young Explorers program for children; introductory photography lecture; onboard science center and Explorer Science program; expedition logbook; Wi-Fi; complimentary wind- and water-resistant parka; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities); most meals onboard the ship; early riser and afternoon treats; house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water in all restaurants; complimentary tea and coffee. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Expedition Suites include a separate check-in; welcome package on embarkation day; suite breakfast and a la carte meals in restaurant Lindstrøm; mini bar replenishment; fleece blanket/throw; espresso maker; turn-down service; and laundry service. Subject to change without notice.
International flights; transfers not detailed in the inclusions; passport and visa fees; travel protection plan; luggage handling; a la carte menu selections not detailed in the inclusions; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks except as mentioned; mini bar replenishment (except for suites); optional excursions and small-group adventures; optional small-group Explorer Photo program; items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa/wellness treatments except where mentioned; gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Andrea Kalvig Anderson, © Dominic Barrington, © Stefan Dall, © Karsten Bidstrup, © Hurtigruten