Nov to Mar
KING PENGUINS OF TIERRA DEL FUEGO + AUSTRALIS SHIP TO CAPE HORN + TORRES DEL PAINE FROM EXPLORA HOTEL
The greatest natural marvels and upscale services of Patagonia.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY
- Cross Tierra del Fuego to encounter King Penguins, birdwatch, and spend quality time with Gauchos.
- Cruise the Magellan Straight, the Beagle Channel, and the fjords of the Darwin Mountain Range to the enigmatic Cape Horn.
- Visit the biggest colony of Magellanic Penguins in the World
- Spend four nights and days at the award-winning Explora Hotel, right in the middle of Torres del Paine National Park (The best location by far)
- All excursions and activities are included. The itinerary is flexible and adapts to your interests.
- The best accommodations, transport, and guidance in Patagonia, guaranteed.
If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.
– John Hemingway
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Itinerary in Brief
Arrive in Punta Arenas
Arrive in Punta Arenas today. The flight from Santiago is simply beautiful: You will fly right over the Southern Patagonian Ice eld, the 3rd largest freshwater reserve on the planet composed of 220 miles of ice (17,000 cubic miles), forming one of the most dramatic landscapes on earth. Upon arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred to the Cabo de Hornos hotel, located in Punta Arenas Main Square. The rest of the day is yours to recover from the international flights. You can visit the interesting museums (great for learning the history of the now-extinct Patagonia Natives), and enjoy walks along the streets of this, the southernmost former city on the planet.
Overnight: Hotel Cabo de Hornos. No Meals.
Free morning in Punta Arenas – Board Australis
After breakfast, you will have some free time to explore Punta Arenas before boarding your first class ship, the M/V Stella Australis.
Check in at 1398 Costanera del Estrecho Ave. (Arturo Prat Port) in Punta Arenas between 13:00 and 17:00 (1-5 PM) on the day of your Australis cruise departure.
Board the vessel at 6 PM. 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 you cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonian. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as you enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
Overnight: M/V Stella Australis. B, L, D and Open Bar.
Ainsworth Bay – Tuckers 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. You go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, which harbors copious bird life and a colony of southern elephant seals which 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 our Ainsworth Bay tour behind, you sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, you 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.
Overnight Stella Australis. B, L, D and Open Bar
Pia Glacier – Glacier Alley
Overnight you 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 Australis cruise tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning you are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a Pia Glacier tour. After disembarking you 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 on board the ship, you 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 named after European countries — Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.
Overnight Stella Australis. B, L, D, and Open Bar.
To UNESCO Cape Horn, the legendary “end of the world”, and Wulaia Bay
During the morning you cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you shall 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.
In the afternoon you 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 human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. 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 di culty) 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 fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay.
Overnight: O/N Stella Australis. B, L, D and Open Bar.
Disembark-Tour The Estancia-Rio Grande City
Early in the morning, you will say goodbye to Stella Australis and disembark at Ushuaia, Argentina. Meet your Argentinian Guide and drive to Estancia Las Hijas. Enjoy a delicious lunch and a tour of the Estancia. If you desire you can birdwatch. After this, you will drive to Rio Grande City and check in at Grande Hotel.
Overnight: Grande Hotel. B, L.
King Penguin Park – Tierra del Fuego
After breakfast, you will drive to the Chilean Border, then you will arrive at the King Penguin Park, a private reserve wherein 2011, a king penguin colony established itself; this is the only one found outside of South Georgia and Antarctica. You will enjoy close sightings of this species, arguably the most beautiful penguin on earth. You will enjoy lunch at Porvenir. Check-in in your hotel.
Overnight Hotel Cabo de Hornos. B, L.
Torres del Paine National Park – Explora
You will be picked up and travel to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Torres del Paine National Park. This is a drive-on comfortable van, that will be broken up by lunch, and panoramic stops.
Torres del Paine is one of the world’s most spectacular national parks. It is an unrivaled landscape of jagged peaks, impossibly blue lakes, iceberg-loaded rivers, and pampas filled with guanacos. It has the highest density of Andean condors and South American pumas in the world. Its unique microclimate creates high temperatures up to 82 F, but part of its beauty is that one can experience the four seasons every day.
Once in the park, you will travel to its heart, where the award-winning Explora hotel is located. Explora, our home for the next four nights, is recognized as one of the best expedition hotels in the world, by far the finest in the area, and a winner of so many awards it would be hard to mention them all here. Food is great and services are exceptional. Staying at Explora is a true highlight of the expedition. Please check the accommodations sections of this booklet for more details.
You will arrive in time to enjoy, and photograph, one of the greatest sunsets you have ever seen.
Overnight Explora Patagonia. B, L, D, and Open Bar
Day 9, 10 & 11
Torres del Paine – Explora Base
Torres del Paine is big, the activities are plenty, and its weather is unpredictable. That is why we suggest four nights and days in the park for a complete and memorable experience.
Also, and for the same reasons, we have selected Explora hotel, the only upscale property located in the middle of the park. With Explora we have secured the shortest drives to each destination, thus maximizing the time to explore and enjoy. Also, Explora is right in front of Pehoe Lake and the Paine Horns. Sunsets and Sunrises are spectacular.
During your days at Explora Torres del Paine, you will have a varied menú of small-group activities to choose from (No more tan 6 participants), all guided by well trained Explora local guides: From birdwatching, soft walking, horseback riding (The horse operation is top class) hiking, and even demanding hiking (You may even choose to climb to the base of the Paine Towers). It doesn’t matter what your level of fitness is, you will find the right excursions to explore the highlights of the park, at your pace.
You have included, every day, two half day excursions or one full day. All activities are planned daily based on the weather conditions and the guests interests. The hotel also has an indoors pool (With incredible vistas), hot tubs, lecture rooms (Daily lectures are offered) and a great lounge with several fireplaces.
All meals are included, and you will be amazed at the quality of them. They are served paired with an assortment of Chilean wines (included), and you will also have access to the open bar. Your days at Torres del Paine using Explora as your base will remain in your memory as some of the most beautiful and rewarding of your life.
Overnight Explora Patagonia. B, L, D and Open Bar
Drive to Punta Arenas and fly back to the US
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive from Torres del Paine back to Punta Arenas, and then fly to Santiago de Chile and connect with your flight back home.
On the shores of Lake Pehoe and beside the Salto Chico waterfall, right in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, it has breathtaking views of the Paine ridge and the granite towers. Its construction is based around essential luxuries, allowing the traveler to inhabit the remote location in its essence without distractions. Explora Patagonia has won several architecture and tourism awards since 1996.
The Ship: M/V Stella Australis
Built in 2010, the M.V. Stella Australis has 100 outside-facing cabins and was made specifically to cruise the spectacular Patagonian waterways. All cabins are the same size and feature a large window, an ensuite bathroom, and individual temperature controls. Cabins are available on three levels: Category A on the second level, Category AA on the third level, and Category AAA on the fourth level. Facilities aboard include an open deck, three lounges, a library, a game room, an exercise room, a single seating dining room, and an infirmary.
Hotel Cabo de Hornos
Chaparri Ecolodge is located in the dry forests of northern Peru. It provides a tranquil escape in a spectacular landscape of the foothills of the Andes, with excellent wildlife viewing. It is a communal award-winning project. Even though basic, the sta is truly warm. The 6 Rooms available are clean, feature en suite bathrooms, solar hot water, and electricity. Food is served on a simple terrace. A stream pool and hammocks are available. No AC (One night stay).
When to go
The best ideal opportunity to visit Chilean Patagonia is November to early Walk (mid-year in the southern side of the equator). Despite the fact that you’ll contend with hefty groups during this pinnacle season, the climate is ideal for investigating Torres del Paine Public Park and Tierra del Fuego. September, October, and November (spring) welcome brilliant sprouts, while Walk, April, and May (fall) introduce pre-winter tints. The two seasons experience gentle temperatures and fewer groups. Try not to visit in June and August (winter), when most attractions close and Southern Chilean Patagonia purges out. Anyways, make sure to pack layers and a tough coat to protect yourself from Patagonia’s crisp all-year winds.
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