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
Valparaíso (Santiago), Chile

Valparaíso's dramatic topography—45 cerros, or hills, overlooking the ocean—requires the use of winding pathways and wooden ascensores (funiculars) to get up many of the grades. The slopes are covered by candy-color houses—there are almost no apartments in the city—most of which have exteriors of corrugated metal peeled from shipping containers decades ago. Valparaíso has served as Santiago's port for centuries. Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaíso was the busiest port in South America.

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
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. Enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. 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, or just take in the sun pool side. The choice is yours.

Day 3
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 the order of the Viceroy of Peru to prevent attacks against the town of Valdivia by pirates and corsairs. Niebla is well-known for its lively markets, the remains of the colonial fortress declared a National Monument in 1950 and restored in 1992, and a museum dedicated to its history.

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
Puerto Montt, Chile

For most of its history, windy Puerto Montt was the end of the line for just about everyone traveling in the Lake District. Now the Carretera Austral carries on southward, but for all intents and purposes Puerto Montt remains the region's last significant outpost, a provincial city that is the hub of local fishing, textile, and tourist activity.Today the city center is full of malls, condos, and office towers—it's the fastest-growing city in Chile—but away from downtown, Puerto Montt consists mainly of low clapboard houses perched above its bay, the Seno de Reloncaví.

Day 5
Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Bright, wooden huts teeter on stilts over Castro's estuary waterfront, inviting you into a patchwork of color that’s sure to brighten any day. These traditional palafitos give the warmest of welcomes, as you prepare to experience Chile at its most vibrant. Castro has faced something of a tumultuous past, having been hit by a by a succession of earthquakes and fires - the most recent a devastating earthquake in 1960. But this city is incredibly resilient, and today the capital of Chiloe Island makes for a fantastic base for exploring the archipelago that surrounds it.

Day 6
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
English Narrows and Pio XI Glacier

The English Narrows warrant time spent on the outer decks as the Captain and local Chilean Pilots expertly maneuver through the slalom course of islands and channel markers. The waterway is home to Magellanic Diving Petrels, Steamer Ducks, and the rare endemic Chilean dolphin. This small dolphin is shy of ships and enjoys spending its time in constricted straits with heavy tidal rips such as the English Narrows.

In the afternoon you will visit the Pio XI Glacier. The Pio XI Glacier is classified as a tidewater glacier, which means the river of ice starts in the high mountains and then courses downhill all the way to sea level where it slowly melts into the salty ocean bit-by-bit. The Pio XI Glacier is an offshoot of the South Patagonian Ice Field and approaching from the sea, the ice sprawls out in front of the ship in a wide band that reflects a remarkable shade of brilliant blue.

Day 8
Cruise the Chilean Fjords and White Narrows

The White Narrows is one spectacular facet of the vast expenses of the Chilean Fjords. On approach through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, the famous White Narrows become evident as mountains loom in on both sides of the fjord, and one can only marvel at the hardy native plants clinging to barren rock. With only approximately 80 meters (260 feet) of clearance from one side of the passage to the other, the sharp turns of the ship, skillfully executed between rocky outcrops, are fascinating to watch from the outer decks.

Days 9-10
Puerto Natales, Chile

With a population of roughly 18,000, Puerto Natales is the capital of the Ultima Esperanza Province. Founded in 1911, it quickly developed into a major residential center and shipping port for the area’s products. Nestled on a gently-sloping point amid spectacular scenery, the town overlooks the Ultima Esperanza Gulf and has a nice view of the Balmaceda Mountain. It provides services for the region’s intense livestock activity. Many of its inhabitants work at the Argentinian coal mines in Rio Turbio and return home over the weekend.

Day 11
Punta Arenas, Chile

Impenetrable forests, impassable mountains, and endless fields of ice define Chilean Patagonia, and meant that the region went largely unexplored until the beginning of the 20th century. Located in the southernmost part of the country, this area is still sparsely inhabited, though you will find a few populated places—like the colorful provincial city of Punta Arenas, which looks like it's about to be swept into the Strait of Magellan. Unique wildlife, particularly colonies of elephant seals and penguins, call this breathtaking topography home. To the north is Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, the country's most magnificent natural wonder, and whose snow-covered peaks seem to rise vertically from the plains below. The vistas, such as the fantastic Avenue of the Glaciers, are breathtaking; along this stretch of the Beagle Channel, you can pass six tremendous glaciers all within a stone's throw of each other.

Day 12
Cruising Garibaldi Glacier

The approach to the Garibaldi Glacier is through one of Chile’s newest and largest national parks: Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini (more than 9,000 square kilometers or 5,600 square miles). It is not only a national park, but has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its swaths of distinct ecosystems and its special landscapes. The Garibaldi Fjord itself is a narrow passage strewn with floating ice in shades of sapphire blue and teal green. Ribbons of waterfalls snake down the steep mountainsides. At the head of this picturesque fjord is the splendor of the retreating Garibaldi Glacier.

Day 13
Ushuaia, Argentina

At 55 degrees latitude south, Ushuaia (pronounced oo-swy-ah) is closer to the South Pole than to Argentina's northern border with Bolivia. It is the capital and tourism base for Tierra del Fuego, the island at the southernmost tip of Argentina. Although its stark physical beauty is striking, Tierra del Fuego's historical allure is based more on its mythical past than on rugged reality. The island was inhabited for 6,000 years by Yámana, Haush, Selk'nam, and Alakaluf Indians. But in 1902 Argentina, eager to populate Patagonia to bolster its territorial claims, moved to initiate an Ushuaian penal colony, establishing the permanent settlement of its most southern territories and, by implication, everything in between.

The city rightly promotes itself as the southernmost city in the world (Puerto Williams, a few miles south on the Chilean side of the Beagle Channel, is a small town). You can make your way to the tourism office to get your clichéd, but oh-so-necessary, "Southernmost City in the World" passport stamp. Ushuaia feels like a frontier boomtown, at heart still a rugged, weather-beaten fishing village, but exhibiting the frayed edges of a city that quadrupled in size in the '70s and '80s and just keeps growing. Nature is the principal attraction here, with trekking, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife spotting, and sailing among the most rewarding activities, especially in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (Tierra del Fuego National Park).

Reverse Direction Cruise in 2020

Note: This itinerary also runs in reverse direction from Ushuaia to Valparaiso (15 day itinerary) March 4-18, 2020.

ITIN-IN-BRIEF
Day 1 Ushuaia
Day 2 Garibaldi Fjord & Glacier
Day 3 Alberto De Agostini National Park / Ainsworth Bay
Day 4  Punta Arenas
Day 5 Cruise Chilean Fjords
Day 6 Puerto Natales
Day 7 Cruise Chilean Fjords
Day 8 Cruise English Narrows
Day 9 Tortel
Day 10 Day at Sea
Day 11 Castro
Day 12 Puerto Montt
Day 13 Niebla
Day 14 Day at Sea
Day 15 Valparaiso

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: $8300  
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 (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

13-day expedition cruise, cultural explorations, nature walks, and walking tours, Zodiac cruises
Cruise collection 2020 brochure

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