Summary : A journey from the “End of the World” to “the Jewel of the Pacific”. A remarkable medley of landscapes to see: from steep streets and jumbled buildings of Ushuaia to Patagonia’s lakes, glaciers, mountains and fjords. The exceptional wooden churches of Chiloe will delight history buffs while nature lovers will rejoice in the wildlife, both at sea and in the Torres del Paines National Park.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark your vessel and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board. Settle in, set sail, and be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Heading west in the Beagle Channel, Silver Explorer will reach the Garibaldi Fjord early in the morning. This beautiful corner of the Chilean fjords lies within the Alberto de Agostini National Park, Chile’s third largest national park. This park includes all Chilean islands south of the Strait of Magellan, including a portion of Tierra del Fuego.
The Garibaldi is an impressive glacier on the south face of the Cordillera Darwin. During a Zodiac cruise see the different shades of blue of the ice and calving events can make for a very impressive sight. Dozens of waterfalls dot the cliffs and in some cases the wind gusts can be so strong that the water gets blown upwards!
In terms of wildlife you may see the majestic Andean Condor, sea lions, skuas, kingfishers, Flightless Steamer Ducks, Crested Ducks, Kelp Geese, Ashy-headed Geese, caracaras, vultures, and nesting Imperial Shags among others.
During the afternoon, Silver Explorer will sail out into the Pacific Ocean to reach the entrance to the Strait of Magellan and your experts will present talks in The Theatre to give you an introduction to Chile and the region’s wildlife and nature. Today your lecturers will introduce you to the natural and historical highlights of Chile’s Magallanes Region and its capital Punta Arenas.
Today Silver Explorer will navigate past Dawson Island quite infamous in Chile’s modern-day history as a penal settlement for political prisoners into Almirantazgo Sound, to arrive at Ainsworth Bay. The bay is within Alberto De Agostini National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Depending on conditions, intend to offer a Zodiac cruise to see the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range. This area will give a good appreciation of how the land returns to life after glacial retreat. Take a walk in the stunning sub-polar Magellanic forest teeming with evergreens and deciduous trees. The bay promises a good chance of sighting Southern elephant seals, while nearby Tucker Island is known to have Magellanic Penguins.
Leaving from Punta Arenas, the capital of the region, you have two options: you can either drive to the estancia El Galpón; or visit historic Fort Bulnes (2018) or city highlights (2019).
At El Galpón you will get an understanding of the procedure of the wool and the importance of cattle and sheep to Patagonia through presentations of a video and the demonstration of sheep shearing. There is also a guided path of local flora, while rheas and guanacos can be seen roaming free. Visit the small museum and enjoy a cocktail before heading back to the pier.
Another option would be to head south along the Strait of Magellan towards the Patagonia History Park and Fort Bulnes, a reconstruction of the first Chilean settlement along the Strait of Magellan. The recently inaugurated visitor’s center will give an insight into the fort founded in 1843 and the impact it had on the region. Enjoy a stroll around the fort and the views of the Strait.
The highlight tour of Punta Arenas visits the Salesian Museum, the General Cemetery (a Chilean National Monument), and the Plaza de Armas with some time to browse for souvenirs or look at the stately homes of the late 19th and early 20th century found around the Plaza de Armas.
Silver Explorer will cruise the Chilean Fjords and head for the Montañas Fjord in the late morning, early afternoon. Silver Explorer will sail parallel to the Cordillera de Sarmiento where several cascades and seven glaciers come down the steep sides of the mountains and conditions permitting do a Zodiac cruise or even land for a short hike. In the afternoon continue towards Puerto Natales.
From Puerto Natales, head out to Torres del Paine National Park by bus. This is considered by many to be the most spectacular worldwide Reserve at the end of the world. The park is a fertile combination of lakes, lagoons, waterfalls, glaciers, hills and spectacular peaks and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. On the way to Laguna Sarmiento, the entrance to the park, stop for photos of the free roaming guanacos, Andean Condors and other wildlife. There will be opportunities to see the Salto Grande waterfall, the famous Torres del Paine peaks (weather permitting) and Nordenskjold Lake. Lunch will be had at the Serrano River area. Within the park there will be three different excursion levels of walks and hikes.
Explore the vast expanse of the Chilean Fjords. Sail through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, heading north for another famous narrow channel, the English Narrows. Mountains loom on both sides of the ship. As you sail past Wellington Island your experts will assist you on deck looking for birds and mammals, while discussions and lecture will also take place in The Theatre.
During the morning attend lectures about the Fjords’ natural history or perhaps a seminar. Birders will want to know and see what species live in this area. Keep an eye out for Andean Condors majestically soaring above the hills and mountains.
Around lunchtime visit the Pio XI Glacier. This sprawling tidewater glacier is a remarkable shade of brilliant blue. An outlet glacier of the South Patagonian Ice Field, the Pio XI had once extended out into the fjords whose waters you ply today.
In the evening, head towards the English Narrows. The Captain and the local Chilean Pilots expertly maneuver Silver Explorer through the slalom course of islands and channel markers. At the narrowest part, it permits the passage of only one vessel at a time.
Caleta Tortel is one of the southernmost and until 2003 least connected settlements in Chile’s Aisén Region (in Patagonia). The abundant cypress led to the founding of the village and most houses are built on stilts along the shoreline of this hilly terrain. There are no conventional streets; instead the houses are connected by wooden walkways. Explore the village where a folkloric presentation awaits you at the main plaza and will take a Zodiac cruise through the channels and the Baker River to visit “La Isla de los Muertos”, a small island used as a cemetery in 1906. Both the village and the island have been declared National Monuments.
Today Silver Explorer will venture again into the Pacific and round the Tres Montes and Taitao Peninsulas. The area is known for its whales and dolphins sightings. Watch for cetaceans or relax in one of the lounges with that book you’ve been meaning to read and meet up with new friends for cocktails.
Chiloé Island is home to an amazing collection of 150 Jesuit-built wooden churches and houses situated on stilts above the water. There area is home to more than 400 native plant varieties.
From Castro, head north to the picturesque village of Dalcahue and a brief ferry ride to the island of Quinchao, passing through Curaco de Velez. This tiny village of approximately 500 inhabitants had its best times around 1850. Today, beautiful houses remain as a testament to those earlier days. Black-necked Swans can sometimes be seen near the here.
Head for Achao, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1743. Achao is a lively town with boats arriving every day from all the surrounding islands. Visit the Jesuit’s Achao Church, the oldest wooden structure in Chiloé and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1730, it contains beautiful baroque imagery. Afterwards, take the ferry back to Dalcahue. Visit the well-preserved Dalcahue Church with its galvanized iron roof. The details and precision of the imagery carved by Jesuits from locally grown Patagonian cypress, larch and luma trees, are amazing, and it was declared a World Heritage site in 2000. For lunch head to Rilan, where a traditional “Pulmay” will be served. This is a meal typical of Chiloe, consisting of shellfish, potatoes, chicken and smoked meats cooked together in a pot (sometimes in an underground oven). There will be a traditional folkloric presentation and a local fashion show of typical dresses and materials.
Alternatively, visit three of the 16 UNESCO World Heritage Site churches on the island of Chiloé in Vilupulli, Chonchi and Castro. Apart from the churches, the Museum of Traditions will be visited in Chonchi. This small museum houses artifacts and photos relating to Chiloe and Chonchi and recreates the feeling of Chonchi in the early 20th century. The excursion ends with a visit to Castro’s handicraft market.
Puerto Montt is the starting point for your excursions to the Lake District and specifically Lago Llanquihue.
Drive along the southern shore of Chile’s second-largest lake and head for the Petrohué waterfalls. These falls ‘connect’ Lago Esmeralda with Lago Llanquihue. Walk over to the viewing platforms of Chile’s best-known falls. Enjoy an opportunity to see some of the local plants and endemic trees. Later you will have the choice to either visit a typical Chilean farm to learn about the traditions of southern Chile’s food, music, tools and the national sport of rodeo which is quite different from the North American version. Or you can have lunch at a local restaurant and explore the town of Puerto Varas.
If you choose the local farm, you will have lunch including empanadas, a tasty barbecue and traditional German desserts. This area was first colonized by Germans in the mid-19th century. You will also have the chance to learn the Chilean national dance, the Cueca.
If you choose Puerto Varas, you will have time to explore the “City of Roses” and to browse the small handicraft village and see some of the wooden buildings for which the town was declared a “Heritage Zone”.
During the late morning Silver Explorer will anchor in the Corral Bay halfway between Corral and Niebla. Niebla is a small village on the banks of the Rio Valdivia where Chile’s Corral Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Today Niebla is a beach resort, but in 1671 it was a defensive fortress built by Spanish conquerors to prevent attacks from pirates and corsairs.
Today you can either drive to the charming river port city of Valdivia with its interesting blend of influences from the native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants, or take a catamaran on the river. In both cases you will have time to see the town of Valdivia. The first German colonists arrived here in 1849 and worked hard to develop Valdivia into one of southern Chile’s most productive areas and their influence can be felt in every corner of this city. The town was affected by the 1960 earthquake, but rebuilt with a strong German imprint. On your way to Valdivia see tracts of land that are still under water as a result of the quake. Visit the river market and have a look at downtown Valdivia with its mix of old and modern buildings. Choose whether you would like to visit the Fort at Niebla or enjoy fresh fish and crabs in Valdivia.
During the last day of your voyage, edit your photos and videos, attend final presentations and discussions and watch the Voyage-DVD prepared by the onboard Videographer.
Following the Humboldt Current, Silver Explorer will continue north along the Chilean coast, heading for Valparaiso.
After breakfast disembark Silver Explorer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Onboard accommodation; onboard meals; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Daniela Plaza (glacier), © Michel Verdure (sea lions), © Richard Sidey (bird)