patagonia argentina cruise ship near glacier

Fjords of Tierra del Fuego

This cruise is the perfect extension to our Chile from Top to Bottom, Patagonia's Wild North, and Chile Private Journey itineraries.

Overview

Explore Patagonia on an adventurous five-day journey from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia through some of the planet’s most remote, untamed wilderness. From aboard an expedition ship that brings an extraordinary level of comfort and service to the uttermost edge of the world, witness fabled spots like Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay, and Beagle Channel. Sail through a maze of islands and visit icy blue glaciers—frozen giants that guard the southern flank of the Fuegian Archipelago, enter the legendary Strait of Magellan, and explore Isla Magdalena to view its impressive penguin colony. Whether from Zodiac or on foot, shore excursions will get you up close to witness the incredible range of wildlife that lives along these magnificent waterways.

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
Punta Arenas

After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night, cross the Strait of
Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonia. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as the ship enters the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.

Day 2
Ainsworth Bay / Tucker Islets

By dawn the ship is sailing up Admiralty Sound (Seno Almirantazgo), a spectacular offshoot of the Strait of Magellan that stretches nearly halfway across Tierra del Fuego. The snowcapped peaks of Karukinka Natural Park stretch along the north side of the sound, while the south shore is defined by the deep fjords and broad bays of Alberto de Agostini National Park. Go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, which harbors copious bird life and a colony of southern elephant seals that can sometimes be spotted from the Zodiacs. Two guided excursions are available: one is along the edge of a stream, peat bog, and beaver habitat to a waterfall-and-moss-covered rock face tucked deep inside a
pristine sub-polar forest; the other is a more strenuous hike along the crest of a glacial moraine. Both afford views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains.

Leaving Ainsworth Bay behind, sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, board the Zodiacs again for a close-up view of the Magellan penguins that inhabit the tiny islands. More than 4,000 penguins use Tucker as a place to nest, give birth, and nurture their chicks. Many other bird species also frequent the area including king cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, kelp geese, dolphin gulls, eagles, and even the occasional Andean condor. In September and April—when the penguins live elsewhere—this excursion is replaced by a short walk to a glacier at nearby stunning Brookes Bay.

Day 3
Pia Glacier / Glacier Alley

Overnight sail around the western end of Tierra del Fuego via the very narrow Gabrial Channel, Magdalena Channel, and Cockburn Channel. After rounding the remote Brecknock Peninsula, the ship tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning the ship enters Pia Fjord and you will board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking, 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. No one knows for certain how the hulking mass of snow and ice got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. Back onboard the ship, continue east along the Beagle Channel through an area called Glacier Alley. Living up to its name, the passage features a number of impressive tidewater glaciers flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet on the north shore. Most of them are named after European countries—Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.

Day 4
Wulaia Bay / Cape Horn

During the early morning, navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor at historic Wulaia Bay, 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 the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for its mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored 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 wooden mountain behind the bay. On all of these you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other endemic flora to reach a panoramic viewpoint 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.

In the afternoon, cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes 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 a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high 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.

Day 5
Ushuaia

This morning you will sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. The ship is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 or 9:30 am depending on the date of departure.

Highlights

Highlights

Explore several impressive tidewater glaciers on foot and by Zodiac
Choose from easy or more challenging walks through magical forests to waterfalls and viewpoints
Witness a wide array of wildlife from Magellanic penguins to South American sea lions
Go ashore on legendary Cape Horn, weather and conditions permitting

Details

Length: 5 days
Cost From: $1960  
Arrive: Punta Arenas, Chile
Depart: Ushuaia, Argentina
Lodging: 4 nights aboard a 210-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Boat & Yacht Cruising, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

5-day cruise, nature walks, day hikes, Zodiac excursions