Cultural Explorations - vacations and travel

Patagonia By Land And By Sea

Chile, South America

from $5,295* per person 10 Days October
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Cultural Explorations 24 people max
  • Punta arenas airport, chile
  • Culture & Nature trips
To resolve the quandary of the best way to visit the "uttermost part of the earth," we have combined a stay in a spectacularly sited eco-lodge with an expedition cruise through the Chilean fjords.

Our adventure begins in Torres del Paine National Park. Here we'll stay at the EcoCamp Patagonia, possibly the finest eco-lodge in South America and the perfect wilderness base from which to explore the park. The structure was built to minimize its ecological impact, inspired by the traditional geodesic domes of the indigenous Kawesqar people. During our stay here we trek in virgin beech forests, admire colossal calving glaciers and stand at the foot of the towering granite peaks of the Torres del Paine. The dramatic landscape is crowded with glaciers, lakes, fjords, ancient forests and wildlife such as guanacos, flamingos, condors, nandus and huemules.

The second part of our tour takes place on the 128-passenger M/V Mare Australis for a four-night cruise that takes us through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel. Built in 2002, the Mare Australis is a modern vessel specifically built for the remote environment. Cabins are on four decks and have private facilities, low beds and full panoramic windows. Onboard lectures on the wildlife, history and geography of the region complement our daily excursions.

We'll go out each day by Zodiac to observe glaciers and spot elephant seals, Magellanic penguins and cormorants. At Pia Glacier we'll have spectacular views of the entire glacier tongue. We'll sail through majestic Glacier Alley and learn about how life begins after the retreat of the ice. At Cape Horn National Park, the last territory before Antarctica, we'll trek to the "end of the earth." At historic Wulaia Bay we walk through the beauty of the Magellanic forest more of lengas, coihues, canelos, ferns and other native vegetation, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, who landed here in 1833. Our voyage ends in Ushuaia, where we disembark and bid farewell to our vessel and to the dramatic landscapes of Patagonia.

Locations visited/nearby

Chile, South America

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Special information

  • Accommodates certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.

Itinerary

Day 1:     Arrive in Punta Arenas
Upon our arrival in Punta Arenas we will be met by our local representative and taken to our hotel. We will have dinner together and discuss our plans for the upcoming adventure.
Overnight: Cabo de Hornos, Punta Arenas
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 - 5:     Torres del Paine National Park
From Punta Arenas we drive to Cascada EcoCamp located in world famous Torres del Paine National Park. Along the way we'll admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon. We will stop at Puerto Natales, a small but lively town on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza, "Last Hope Sound." We will explore the town and enjoy a hearty lunch with delicious local food. The other stop is at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890's. The surrounding area is very scenic with plenty of wild birds to be seen. We will spend four nights at the EcoCamp, with activities each day in the park.
Overnight: EcoCamp Patagonia
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6:     Board the M/V Mare Australis
We'll drive to Punta Arenas and have lunch on arrival. Late this afternoon we board the Mare Australis, and meet our Captain and crew with a welcome cocktail. Immediately after, the ship will depart as we embark on our cruise through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel to explore one of the most breathtaking wilderness regions in the world.
Overnight: M/V Mare Australis
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7:     Chilean Fjords: Ainsworth Bay to Tuckers Islets
At dawn we will navigate through Almirantazgo Sound, arriving at Ainsworth Bay inside the Alberto De Agostini National Park. From a distance we may see the Marinelli Glacier, which descends from the Darwin Mountain Range. We will take a walk to discover a beaver dam in the marvellous subpolar Magellanic forest. On the beach we hope to see elephant seals, although the precise location of the colony is unpredictable. Later, we sail to Tuckers Islets and, after lunch, we board the Zodiac boats to view Magellanic penguins, which only live in the southern hemisphere, and cormorants.
Overnight: M/V Mare Australis
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8:     Chilean Fjords: Pia Fjord and Glacier Alley
We navigate along the main part of the Beagle Channel to reach Pia Fjord, where we disembark near Pia Glacier. We'll take a short hike to a lookout point with a spectacular view of the glacier tongue, stretching from high in the mountains all the way to the sea. After this unforgettable experience we continue sailing along the northwest arm of the Beagle Channel, through majestic Glacier Alley.
Overnight: M/V Mare Australis
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9:     Chilean Fjords: Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay
We sail through the Beagle and Murray Channels to reach Cape Horn National Park, where we will disembark (weather permitting). Cape Horn is a sheer, 425-metre high rocky promontory which, in the past, was the only entrance to the Pacific Ocean. This spot is known as the "end of the earth" and is the last land before Antarctica. The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.
In the afternoon we will go ashore in historic Wulaia Bay, once the site of one of the region's largest Yamana aboriginal settlements. Charles Darwin landed here on January 23, 1833, during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for the mesmerizing beauty of its vegetation and geography. We will walk through a Magellanic forest of lengas, coihues, canelos, ferns and other native vegetation to reach a lookout point, before returning to our ship.
Overnight: M/V Mare Australis
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10:     Disembark at Ushuaia
We'll arrive this morning in Ushuaia, Argentina's most important city in Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world. We will disembark at 8:00 a.m. and will be transferred to the airport later for our flights home, or continue on with the extension to the Valdes Peninsula.
Meals: Breakfast

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