Summary : Discover the wild beauty of Patagonia—pristine landscapes, rich wildlife, and fascinating human history—aboard a comfortable expedition ship. Leaving the twinkling lights of Ushuaia behind, the vessel calls on fabled spots like Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay before cruising down the Beagle Channel. Continuing through the maze of islands, visit a number of glaciers—frozen giants that guard the southern flank of the Fuegian Archipelago—before entering the legendary Strait of Magellan. Last stop is the Isla Magdalena and its boisterous Patagonia penguin colony, or a stunning Zodiac ride to Marta Island before concluding this trip of a lifetime.
PLEASE NOTE: In April and September when the penguins live elsewhere, other excursions will be substituted in as per the itinerary.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$1,565 to $4,274
Board the ship in the evening. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night, traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as the ship turns into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino Island and Hoste Island.
In the early morning, cross Nassau Bay and enter the remote archipelago that comprises Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, go ashore on the windswept island that harbors legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition, and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland, Cape Horn is 1,394 feet tall with a sheer rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the "End of the Earth." The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a lightkeeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.
Wulaia Bay is one of the few places in the archipelago where the human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. Originally the site of one of the region’s largest Yámana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain FitzRoy in the 1830s during their voyages on HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for its mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography.
After a visit to the museum in the old radio station, which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area, passengers have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooded mountain behind the bay. On all of these you stroll through an enchanted Magellanic forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, and ferns to reach panoramic viewpoints overlooking the bay. Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum—letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by future travelers—an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.
Enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. After disembarking we take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier.
Making your way further west along the Beagle Channel, enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. This time hike through pristine Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding -- very steep, negligible trail, rough footing -- and not for everyone. For those who choose to stay onboard, the captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.
Early in the morning sail through Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound, where it's possible to see glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range with some of them reaching the water. Disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. Reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac, and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.
After an overnight cruise back into the Strait of Magellan, anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island.
PLEASE NOTE: In September and April when the penguins dwell elsewhere, the Magdalena Island excursion is replaced by a Zodiac ride to Marta Island to observe the South American sea lions.
After a short cruise south along the strait, disembark at Punta Arenas around noon.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
This trip is a part of a longer voyage; therefore, you may have passengers onboard who will be on the longer trip.
In April and September when the penguins live elsewhere, other excursions will be substituted in as per the itinerary.
Shipboard accommodations; all meals onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as internet and premium alcohol; gratuities to ship’s crew; port tax, migration fee, National Park fee; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Australis