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Cruises

Stella Australis; Discover Patagonia (Ushuaia to Punta Arenas)

Argentina, Chile, Patagonia

4 days

Summary

Discover Patagonia on board of the Stella Australis Cruise; The expedition cruise ship M/V Stella Australis takes you on an amazing journey to the “uttermost end of the earth.” Our adventure cruises sail between Ushuaia (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (Chile), where you’ll discover the splendour and beauty of Patagonia’s unique wildlife and landscapes. Along the way learn about others who have explored the same waters — Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Francis Drake, Captain FitzRoy and Charles Darwin. All the while on the lookout for whales, dolphins, penguins, condors, elephant seals and the other creatures who call this remote part of the world their home.

About the vessel:
The Stella Australis is an awe-inspiring adventure cruise ship. The ship, which was constructed in 2010, consists 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. Stella Australis offers a relaxed stay, while providing breathtaking sights from the decks. Indulge in first class Chile travel onboard the Stella Australis. Wine and dine, mix and mingle, and enjoy our fabulous entertainment on your Patagonia vacation.
Australis Patagonia itineraries offer 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 primeval sub-polar forest. Whether from the Zodiac boats or on foot, excursions are also an excellent way 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 scores of other bird species.

Highlights

  • Feel the mystical aura in Cape Horne, the southernmost cape of the Archipielago of Tierra del Fuego
  • Walk on Wulaia Bay, the site of the Yaghan people
  • Travel through the most important natural passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
  • Visit Isla Magdalena where you will see the Magellanic Penguin, a unique species in the world
  • Sightseeing of Glaciers and learn more about these huge ice fields that play a very important role in the climate of our planet

Inclusions

  • Accommodation in selected cabin
  • All meals and open bar incl. wines, beverages and liquor
  • Shore excursions and onboard entertainment

ITINERARY

Day 1 Ushuaia/Cruise

Check in at 160 Juan Manuel de Rosas Street in downtown Ushuaia between 10 AM- and 5 PM. Boarding between 5.30pm and 6pm.

Included in your cruise package:
· Breakfast, lunch and dinner
· Open Bar (while staff are on duty)
· Daily land excursions as scheduled by the ships
· Whisky and hot chocolate during the excursions
· All on board activities

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.

Day 2 Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay/Cruise

Around the break of dawn, Stella Australis 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 (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. 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 (currently awaiting repair after being damaged by fierce winds).

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.

Day 3 Agostini Sound and Águila Glacier/Cruise

After nightfall we reenter the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a watery wonderland protected within the confines of Alberto de Agostini National Park. Rounding the Brecknock Peninsula as the western extreme of Tierra del Fuego, Stella Australis is briefly exposed to the open Pacific. We then navigate a zigzag route through the Cockburn Channel, Magdalena Channel and Keats Fjord to reach scenic De Agostini Sound.

Named after an Italian Salesian priest who worked among the region’s indigenous people during the first half of the 20th century, De Agostini Sound is flanked by numerous glaciers and sheer saw-toothed peaks reminiscent of Torres del Paine. Our shore excursion this morning is Águila (“Eagle”) Glacier, which hovers above a placid glacial lagoon surrounded by primeval forest. After a Zodiac landing on the beach, passengers hike around the edge of the lagoon to a spot near the base of the frozen facade. Condors can sometimes be seen winging high above, but there is always abundant bird life around the lagoon. This landing provides the perfect opportunity to experience the beauty of Patagonia’s sub-Antarctic rainforest and to see how the power of nature has molded the spectacular landscape.

Day 4 Magdalena Island/Punta Arenas

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.

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