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Darwin's Route from Punta Arenas: Australis

The end of the world awaits you on the expedition cruise ship MV Stella Australis. The Punta Arenas and Patagonia excursions retrace much of Darwin’s route through the Fuegian Archipelago aboard HMS Beagle. This eight-day Punta Arenas excursion features the legendary Cape Horn, historic Wulaia Bay, spectacular Glacier Alley, and the penguins of Magdalena Island and Tuckers islands, as well as ice fields, fjords, sub-polar forests and secluded beaches at the southernmost extreme of South America.
  • Mythical Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego
  • Spectacular Patagonian Glacier and Fjords
  • Sail the Straits of Magellan and Beagle Channel
  • Walks in beautiful National Parks and sub-polar Magellanic forest
  • Unique journey in Patagonia on a luxurious expedition vessel

There are few places in the world which feel as vulnerable and surrounded by a mystic aura of spirituality as Cape Horn. Its location between two oceans at 55°56’ South latitude and 67°19’ West longitude, along with the intensity of the climatic phenomena, make its passage a unique and incomparable experience. 

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Day 1: Punta Arenas Check in at the Australis pier at 1385 O’Higgins Street (Arturo Prat Port) in Punta Arenas between 13:00 and 17:00 (1-5 PM) on the day of your cruise departure. Board the MV Stella Australis at 18:00 (6 PM). After a toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night we 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 we enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. Day 2: 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. The snowcapped peaks of Karukinka Natural Park stretch along the north side of the sound, while the south shore is defined by the deep fjords and broad bays of Alberto de Agostini National Park. We 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 Ainsworth Bay behind, we sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, we 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. In September and April -- when the penguins live elsewhere -- this excursion is replaced by a short walk to a glacier at nearby stunning Brookes Bay. Day 3: Pia Glacier 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, Stella Australis 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. Back onboard Stella Australis, 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. Day 4: Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay During the early morning we sail down the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor at historic Wulaia Bay. Australis is the only cruise ship company with permission from Chilean authorities to navigate the Murray Channel to Cape Horn, and because of its exclusive concession the only travel company allowed to land passengers at Wulaia Bay. Wulaia Bay is 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 the mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the small 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, Ñirres 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 travelers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis. In the afternoon we 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 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. Day 5: Ushuaia The following morning we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. Disembarkation is scheduled at 8 AM. You have almost a full day to explore Ushuaia, founded in 1884 and one of the original points of contact between the indigenous Yámana and European cultures. Its name derives from the Yámana word for ‘penetrating bay’ and it’s surrounded by the southernmost Andes peaks. With around 65,000 inhabitants, Ushuaia is the second largest city in Tierra del Fuego (after Rio Grande). Among its highlights is the Prison at the End of the World, a former penitentiary that is now a maritime museum, Antarctic collection and memorial to those once incarcerated there. The city is also good for shopping (especially locally made chocolate) or hanging out in its many cafes. Passengers are required to reboard Stella Australis at 17:30 (5:30 PM). After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for more adventures in Tierra del Fuego. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel, cross back into Chilean territorial waters, and turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands. Day 6: Cape Horn - Wulaia Bay By early morning, Stella Australis is once again cruising across Nassau Bay to Cape Horn. Our itinerary day repeats the shore landings and other activities from Day 4. However, second landings at some of the more iconic spots along the route can sometimes be more rewarding than the first time around and give you more time to explore each place in depth. At Cape Horn you have a second chance to visit the Stella Maris Chapel, chat with the lighthouse keeper and his family, or photograph the unusual sub-polar flora that covers the heights. At Wulaia Bay, explore the museum in much more depth, strike out on a longer walk than last time, bird watch along the shore, or sort through the mail barrel to see if anyone lives close to your own home. This second approach also increases your chances of landing on Cape Horn Island. Day 7: De Agostini Sound and Águila Glacier After nightfall we reenter the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into 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 for a brief time 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 8: Magdalena Island - Punta Arenas After an overnight cruise 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 sail south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM. *Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island NOTE: The excursions described in the itineraries can usually be carried out without any problems. Nevertheless, the shipowner holds the right to alter, change or skip certain portions of the itinerary without prior notice, whether motivated by the passengers’ well-being and safety, by the appropriate protection of the environment, or in case of any extraordinary event, unforeseeable circumstance or force majeure. For this reason, departures or arrival may be subject to change. Furthermore, sighting of birds and other species cannot be guaranteed as their exact location is variable by nature.

Expedition Vessel: M/V Via Australis

Built in 2005, The Via Australis can hold up to 136 passengers in 64 comfortable cabins. With a deck, entertainment, and beautiful cabins, the Via Australis allows each tourist to have the best Chile travel experience possible. Kick back and relax on your journey to an exciting and unforgettable adventure. You will not find another Patagonia cruise that will provide you with the exceptional customer service, entertainment, and sophisticated dining services that Australis offers. Australis’ Patagonia cruises offer guests an exciting Chilean cultural experience. During your Chile travel enjoy world class gourmet cuisine, engaging activities, and remarkable Patagonia tours. Waking up to an incredible view every morning. Traveling on Via Australis gives you the most majestic views of snowcapped mountains, clear blue waters, and amazing sunsets.

For full information about this vessel click here:

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Dates, Costs & Booking

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Date Selected: 4th Nov 2017


Adult (1) US$3774
Sub total US$3774

Essential Information

Deposits - Reservations require a deposit of US$300 at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 60 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments - Balances are due 60 days prior to departure. Cancellations - All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 60 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less the deposit. Cancellations received between 59 days and 50 days prior to departure, are refunded less 25% of the sales price. Cancellations received between 49 days and 40 days prior to departure, are refunded less 50% of the sales price. Cancellations received between 39 days and 30 days prior to departure, are refunded less 75% of the sales price. If cancellation occurs less than 29 days up to and including the day of departure: 100 % of the total price. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Rates - The shipping company reserves the right to modify the cruise rates and departure dates published, without prior notice. Children Policy - Infants between 0 and 3 years old have a 100% discount, sharing the bed with their parents. Children between 4 and 12 years old have a 50% discount, sharing a cabin with an adult. Single rate will be 150% of the category rate. Single rate does not apply to Category B. Booking Terms - Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Cruceros Australis and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking. Required clothing: Trekking or hiking boots are required for all passengers.

Included

  • Ship accommodation
  • sea transportation
  • all meals
  • open bar when on duty (without additional cost for wines, beverages, and liquors)
  • shore excursions
  • on board entertainment.

Excluded

  • Port tax, migration fee, national park fee. The cost per person is the following: US$50 - this may be modified by the port authorities of each country.
  • Optional tours and transportation are not included in the cruise rate.