SAVE U$400 OFF PER PERSON! If your purchase your cruise during June and July for departures through December 2019.
Departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, Australis Darwin’s Route Ushuaia to Ushuaia voyage retraces the route of Charles Darwin. As he travelled aboard HMS Beagle through the Fuegian Archipelago. This adventurous eight-night (nine-day) journey includes legendary Cape Horn, historic Wulaia Bay and stunning Glacier Alley. As well as the penguins of Tuckers and Magdalena islands, and the spectacular fjords that harbor Pía and Águila glaciers. Along the way, you’ll also encounter Patagonia’s massive ice fields, lush sub-polar forests, and secluded beaches.
This Patagonia cruise offers a number of adventurous and informative shore excursions to discover Patagonia’s incredible flora, fauna, and geology. All are undertaken in trusty Zodiacs, inflatable boats that allow exploration of narrow fjords and shallow bays where larger vessels cannot venture. Zodiacs are also perfect for landing on secluded islands, rocky beaches, and small piers.
In addition to learning about the history and nature of the Fuegian Archipelago, shore excursions afford an opportunity to stretch your legs on guided hikes to secluded waterfalls and the bottom of tidewater glaciers, along pristine beaches and rocky shores, and through the primeval sub-polar forest. During the excursions, whether from the Zodiac boats or on foot you will be able to observe and photographic the marvellous array of animals that live along the waterways of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Elephant and leopard seals, Andean condors and Caracara falcons, thousands of penguins and Albatross and scores of other bird species.
About the vessels: The twin vessels Stella Australis and Ventus Australis are awe-inspiring adventure cruise ships. The vessels, which were constructed in 2010 & 2017 respectively, consist of 100 total cabins and can hold up to 210 passengers. Enjoy the comfort of cabins that provide you with incredible ocean views and lavish decor. Australis cruises offer a relaxed stay while providing breathtaking sights from the decks. Indulge in first-class Chile travel onboard the Stella or Ventus Australis Cruises. Wine and dine, mix and mingle, and enjoy the fabulous entertainment on your Patagonia vacation.
Board the Stella Australis or Ventus Australis at 5.30pm. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as we turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste Islands.
Around the break of dawn, the Australis cruise crosses Nassau Bay and enters the remote archipelago that comprises Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbors legendary Cape Horn. Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition,Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter 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 light keeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.
Sailing back across Nassau Bay,we 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 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 wooded mountain behind the bay. On all of these you stroll through an enchanted Magellanic forest of lengas, coigües, canelos and ferns to reach panoramic viewpoints overlooking the bay.
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 Australis cruise tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning we are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking we 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.
Making our way further west along the Beagle Channel, we enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. This time we hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding — very steep, negligible trail, rough footing — and not for everyone. For those who choose to stay onboard, our captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.
Early in the morning, we will 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. This morning, we will disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. We will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, we will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.
After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies 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, we 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. In September and April (when the penguins dwell elsewhere) this excursion is replaced by a ride aboard Zodiacs to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions. After a short cruise south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city.
Reboard the vessel at 6pm. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs on the second half of the journey. During the night, the lights of Punta Arenas fade into the distance as we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
By dawn we’re sailing up Admiralty Sound between the snowcapped peaks of Karukinka and the fjords of Alberto de Agostini National Park. We go ashore at Ainsworth Bay with its copious bird life and elephant seals. Two guided hikes are available, both with excellent views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains. Leaving Ainsworth Bay, we sail west to the Tuckers Islets for a close-up encounter with the 4,000 Magellan penguins who nest there. Many other bird species also frequent the tiny landfalls. In September and April this excursion is replaced by a beach walk to a glacier at Brookes Bay.
Overnight we 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 we are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking we 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.
Back onboard the ship, we 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.
During the early morning we navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor back at historic Wulaia Bay. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum you’ll 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 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 travellers, 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, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn.
The following morning we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Disembarkation is scheduled at 8 AM.