Voyage to Patagonia and the Chilean Fjords aboard the Silver Explorer

Overview

This all–encompassing journey is an explorer’s dream. Discover the wild tranquility of snow-capped mountains and peaceful waters on this journey through Patagonia and the Chilean fjords. Spend three magical days in the glacial beauty of Puerto Natales and marvel at the astonishing landscape of emblematic Torres del Paine National Park.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1, Nov 8, 2017
Valparaíso (Santiago), Chile

Embark Silver Explorer in Valparaiso and depart on your exciting expedition to the Patagonia and Chilean Fjords. This evening, after a mandatory safety briefing, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and enjoy the first of many delightful dinners in The Restaurant.

Day 2, Nov 9, 2017
At Sea

A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Meet some of your fellow explorers as you discover the luxurious amenities aboard Silver Explorer. Attend informative lectures and a Zodiac briefing led by your Expedition Team members that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the many adventures that lie ahead. In the comfort of your suite, relax and watch a movie on the in-suite interactive television.

Day 3, Nov 10, 2017
Niebla, Chile

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. The various batteries and garrisons on land and on Isla Mancera formed the most fortified complex along South America’s west coast. This morning you'll drive to the charming river port city of Valdivia, where you will find an interesting blend of influences from the native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants. Valdivia is also known because of the 1960 earthquake—the worst ever recorded and the strongest in the last 110 years. On the drive to Valdivia you can see tracts of land that are still under water as a result of the quake. Your destination is the Historical and Anthropological Museum Maurice Van der Maele, which houses a collection of Mapuche artifacts and jewelery, as well as important pieces from Hispanic and German periods. 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.

During the afternoon Silver Explorer will head farther south, giving the lecturers time to introduce you to the natural and historical highlights of Chile’s Lake District.

Day 4, Nov 11, 2017
Puerto Montt, Chile

Puerto Montt is the starting point for your excursion to the Lake District and specifically Lago Llanquihue and Lago Todos los Santos, also known as the Emerald Lake. You'll drive along the southern shore of Chile’s second-largest lake and head for the Petrohue waterfalls. These falls “connect” both lakes and you will walk over to the viewing platforms of Chile’s best-known falls. Here you will have an opportunity to see some of the local plants and endemic trees. Later you will take a local boat onto Lago Esmeralda from where you will have excellent views (weather permitting) of Volcán Osorno (a “twin” of Japan’s Mount Fuji). After lunch at a lakeside restaurant, drive up to the base of Osorno’s ski lift where a walk will reveal impressive views of Lago Llanquihue and the surrounding area.

Day 5, Nov 12, 2017
Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Chiloé Island is home to an amazing collection of 150 Jesuit-carved wooden churches, houses raised up on poles out of the water, and more than 400 native plant varieties. After dropping anchor, you'll go ashore via the Zodiacs.

From Castro, head north to the picturesque village of Dalcahue. On the way, glimpse the colorful hamlet of Llaullao with houses roofed with tejuelas. After a brief ferry ride to Quinchao, pass through Curaco de Velez. This tiny village of approximately 500 inhabitants had its best times around 1850 when cattle raisers and whalers lived here. Today, beautiful houses remain as a testament to these better times. Another highlight of this village is the coastal avenue where it is sometimes possible to see black-necked swans. Arrive in Achao, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1743 and now has almost 2,500 inhabitants. Achao is a lively town with boats arriving every day from all the surrounding islands.

While here, you will 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, cross Achao’s main square to enjoy a snack and typical local music before returning to Dalcahue. Here you will visit the well-preserved Dalcahue Church with its galvanized iron roof. Carved by Jesuits from locally grown Patagonian cypress, larch, and luma trees, the detailing and precision are amazing. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Alternatively, visit Chiloé National Park, located on the western coast of Chiloé Island. It encompasses an area of 430.57km² and includes dunes, temperate rainforests, swamps, and peat bogs. The park’s warm and humid climate contributes to the existence of the evergreen forest, which is made up mostly of terebinth shrubs, coigüe, luma, myrtle, tepú, and larch. The fauna includes fox, sea lion, mountain monkey, sea otter, opossum, pudú, finch, and Patagonian woodpecker. Some of these species are endemic, due to the insular nature of this island. The walk takes you along the El Tepual Trail through evergreen tepú forest

Day 6, Nov 13, 2017
At Sea, Cruising the Chilean Fjords

Let the on-board historian entertain you with tales of early Spanish exploration, or perhaps you might want to attend a talk about the region’s geology. Birders will want to see what species live in this area. The farther south the cruise takes you, the better the chance to see Andean condors majestically soaring above the hills and mountains.

Day 7, Nov 14, 2017
English Narrows and Pio XI Glacier

Early this morning, be out on deck to watch as the ship heads toward 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 is 80 meters wide, permitting the passage of only one vessel at a time. During this cruise, you may spot Magellanic diving petrels and steamer ducks, and if you're very lucky, you may spot the endemic Chilean dolphin. Shy of ships, this small dolphin enjoys spending its time in narrow channels with heavy tidal rips. The ship should pass the English Narrows before breakfast; although you can see the Narrows from the comfort of your suite, you really should be out on deck! Once having passed the English Narrows, you will have time for a leisurely breakfast and to attend lectures about the fjords’ natural history or perhaps a seminar. The whole region of the fjords is so inhospitable that only one single settlement exists south of the English Narrows, Puerto Eden.

In the afternoon you will visit the Pio XI Glacier. This tidewater glacier is 4.5 km wide and a remarkable shade of brilliant blue. An outlet glacier of the South Patagonian Ice Field, the Pio XI once extended out into the fjords whose waters the ship plies today. Conditions permitting, board Zodiacs and dodge brash ice and bergy bits as you approach the glacier at a safe distance. Alert for signs of calving, you may see chunks of ice falling from the glacier front.

Day 8, Nov 15, 2017
Cruise the Chilean Fjords, White Narrows, Puerto Natales, Chile

The course will take you through the vast expense of the Chilean Fjords. You will sail through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, before heading for another famous narrow channel, the White Narrows, during the afternoon. Mountains loom on both sides of Silver Explorer and one can only marvel at the hardy flora trying to cling to the barren rocks. Occasionally seals and dolphins can be seen. In the evening you will reach Puerto Natales, the point of access to Torres del Paine National Park. You will overnight here to be able to head out in the early hours of the following day to see Torres del Paine.

Day 9, Nov 16, 2017
Puerto Natales, Chile

Established as the capital of the Province of Ultima Esperanza (“Last Hope”), Puerto Natales is the starting point for either a full-day excursion to Torres del Paine or a half-day excursion to see the famous Milodon Cave, declared a Natural Monument by the Chilean authorities.

Three granite peaks are the trademark of Torres del Paine. To see them you will have to start quite early and will drive through the pampa, where sheep, guanaco, and foxes can be seen while approaching the Paine Massif. This national park is famous for its extensive trekking possibilities and you can do a walk to see some of the rivers and valleys, as well as waterfalls and, obviously, the three “horns” of Paine. The rivers all come from the Southern Patagonia Ice field. While there, you'll enjoy a typical lunch at a restaurant in the national park.

If you want to see the cave of the Milodon (giant sloth) you will be taken through extensive sheep grazing areas, with a possibility to see guanaco, foxes, “baqueanos” (the local shepherds on horseback), and local birdlife. Condors should be seen on both excursions.

You will overnight again in Puerto Natales to be able to take the White Narrows when tide permits the next morning. Perhaps you might want to try a local parrillada, empanaditas, and one of the many varieties of Pisco Sour served in Puerto Natales.

Day 10, Nov 17, 2017
Puerto Natales and Strait of Magellan, Chile

Depart Puerto Natales during breakfast and once more go through the White Narrows, before turning south, heading for the Strait of Magellan. The onboard Marine Biologist might talk about Chile’s Marine Park Francisco Coloane, created for its whales and dolphins, while the Historian might want to talk about Magellan or the importance of this waterway for shipping.

Day 11, Nov 18, 2017
Punta Arenas

Although Punta Arenas started as a small penal colony in 1848, today it's the capital of Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes and Antarctic Chile. The city grew in the 19th century because of a gold rush and extensive sheep-farming. Before the building of the Panama Canal, the Strait of Magellan was of prime importance to navigation and Punta Arenas still is the entrance for Antarctica for South America’s west coast.

Depart from the pier for an exploration of the city of Punta Arenas, stopping at the observation point of La Cruz Hill for a wide view of the city and the Strait of Magellan. Continue on to the Mayorino Borgatello Museum, founded by the Salesian missionaries, where you can view exhibits illustrating the habitat and history of Patagonia’s aboriginal people and the region’s natural history.

A must for any visitor to Punta Arenas is a stop at the Plaza de Armas, not only to browse for local products and souvenirs, but to see the imposing statue of Fernando de Magallanes and to touch the toe of the Fuegian native sitting at the base of the monument. There are several stately houses at or near the Plaza de Armas that relate to famous expeditions to Antarctica, and a local entrepreneur has even rebuilt Magellan’s ship Victoria in the outskirts of town. During the evening, take the Strait of Magellan, this time to head for the Beagle Channel.

Day 12, Nov 19, 2017
Cruising the Beagle Channel and Garibaldi Glacier

While approaching the Garibaldi Glacier, sail through one of Chile’s newest and largest national parks: Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini (more than 5,600 sq. mi.). It is not only a national park, but has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its different ecosystems and special landscape. Eventually, the Silver Explorer will enter the Garibaldi Fjord, a narrow passage strewn with floating ice in shades of blue and green. Ribbons of waterfalls snake down the steep mountainsides. At the head of this picturesque fjord, take in the quiet splendor of the retreating Garibaldi Glacier. The Captain and Expedition Leader will make the most of local conditions and available time to allow you to explore the area. Later, continue through the 150-mile-long (241-km-long) Beagle Channel, named after HMS Beagle, heading for your final destination: Ushuaia.

Day 13, Nov 20, 2017
Ushuaia, Argentina

Silver Explorer will arrive at Ushuaia in the morning. Following breakfast, disembark the ship.

Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.

POST-CRUISE EXTENSIONS

Two post-cruise tours are available: a 3-night Iguazu Falls Extension and a 4-night Vintages of Argentina Extension. Please call for details.

Highlights

Highlights

Learn about southern Chile’s native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants
See the wooden churches of Chiloé Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Cruise the English Narrows in the Chilean Fjords
Discover the wild tranquillity of snow-capped mountains and peaceful fjords, marvel at calving glaciers
Visit Torres del Paine, one of South America’s most emblematic national parks
Watch for humpback, sei, Minke, and orca whales, and Commerson’s, Peale, and Chilean dolphins

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6350  
Arrive: Valparaiso, Chile
Depart: Usuahia, Argentina
Lodging: 12 nights aboard a 130-passenger vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

12-day expedition cruise, cultural explorations, nature walks, and walking tours, Zodiac cruises
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