patagonia cruise ship under rainbow

Ushuaia to Punta Arenas

This cruise is the perfect extension to our Argentina Private Journey or our Great Hikes and Estancias of Patagonia itineraries. Please contact us for more details.

Overview

Explore Patagonia on an adventurous five-day journey from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas 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
Ushuaia / Embark

After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, depart for one of the most remote corners of the planet. Overnight, the ship will traverse Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. Watch the lights of Ushuaia disappear as you sail into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.

Day 2
Cape Horn / Wulaia Bay

By early morning, you will be crossing Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you can bundle up and 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 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 is 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.

Sailing back across Nassau Bay, the ship will anchor at fabled 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, you'll have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooded mountain behind the bay. On each hike, you'll stroll through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other endemic fauna 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.

Day 3
Pia Glacier / Garibaldi Glacier

Casting off from Wulaia Bay, the ship retraces its route to the Beagle Channel and sails westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a section of Alberto de Agostini National Park called Glacier Alley. Flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet are a number of impressive tidewater glaciers, most of them named after European countries—Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. Amongst this frozen league of nations, you'll enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board a Zodiac for a walk to Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but according to one theory, it was named for princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. Enjoy a short hike with panoramic views of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea, or take a longer, more challenging walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier.

Day 4
Agostini Sound / Aguila Glacier / Condor Glacier

Early in the morning, sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range—some of them reaching the water. Take an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. The walk leads to a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, you can approach the Condor Glacier by Zodiac and, if the timing is right, witness some of the abundant Andean condors in the area.

Day 5
Magdalena Island / Punta Arenas

Cruise overnight back into the Strait of Magellan, where the ship anchors off Magdalena Island, 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. If you are on the September or April departure when the penguins dwell elsewhere, rather than hiking you will take a Zodiac ride to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions. After a short sail south along the strait, disembark at Punta Arenas in the late morning.

Highlights

Highlights

Go ashore on legendary Cape Horn
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

Details

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

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