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Cruises

Ventus Australis; Patagonian Explorer (Ushuaia to Punta Arenas)

Argentina, Chile, Patagonia

5 days

Summary

Explore Patagonia on an adventurous five-day, four-night journeys between Ushuaia (Argentina) to Punta Arenas (Chile) through some of planet’s most remote places and incredible scenery. Discover the wild beauty of Patagonia on an Australis cruise that showcases the region’s pristine landscapes, rich wildlife and fascinating human history aboard an expedition ship that brings an extraordinary level of comfort and service to the uttermost edge of the world. Leaving the twinkling lights of Ushuaia behind, the vessel calls on fabled spots like Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay before cruising down the Beagle Channel. Continuing through the maze of islands, we’ll visit a number of glaciers, frozen giants that guard the southern flank of the Fuegian Archipelago, before entering the legendary Strait of Magellan. Last stop is the Isla Magdalena and its boisterous Patagonia penguin colony before docking at Punta Arenas.

About the vessel:
Ventus Australis is the name announced for the new state-of-the-art ship being built for Australis Expedition cruise line. The name – Latin for “Southern Wind” – reflects Tierra del Fuego’s distinctive weather, a factor that has long determined the region’s socio-cultural development and that so impressed the early mariners who endeavoured to explore Patagonia’s southernmost waterways. Tailor-made for exploring the remote southern tip of South America, all aspects of the 210-passenger ship — including size, length, draft and engine power — are designed to give Ventus Australis the extreme manoeuvrability necessary to navigate narrow fjords and channels where no other cruise ships can venture.
Asenav, the internationally acclaimed Chilean shipyard, is creating our latest masterpiece, just as they did with the three other expedition ships for Australis. Ventus Australis will feature the latest regulations regarding safety at sea and protecting the marine environment, as all of our fleet does.

Highlights

  • Explore pristine Chilean national parks and ice-capped volcanoes
  • Discover Patagonia’s unrivalled sea life including the magestic King Penguin
  • Marvel at the Chilean fjords’ breath-taking glaciers
  • Follow Darwin’s historic footsteps to the “End of the Earth”

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 409 San Martín Ave. in downtown Ushuaia between 10 AM-5 PM. Board the cruise at 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

By early morning, Ventus Australis is cruising 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 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.

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 the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for its mesmerising 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 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.

Day 3 Pía Glacier – Garibaldi Glacier/Cruise

Casting off from Wulaia Bay, we retrace our route to the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a section of Alberto de Agostini National Park called Glacier Alley or Avenue of the Glaciers. Flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet are a number of impressive tidewater glaciers, most of them named after European countries — Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. In amongst this frozen league of nations we enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. After disembarking we take a hort 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.

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.

Day 4 Agostini Sound – Águila Glacier – Cóndor Glacier/Cruise

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.

Day 5 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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