The Chilean Fjords, with mazes of inland passages, calving glaciers and stunning wildlife, count as one of nature’s greatest wonders. There is no greater way to experience this spectacle than from an expedition cruise. We invite you to enjoy this adventure onboard the new Ocean Victory, a luxury class expedition vessel with room for just under 190 passengers - all in exterior staterooms and many with balconies. The ship has all the modern conveniences, the highest ice-class and sea safety certifications, as well as electronically controlled engines to optimize speed and fuel consumption.
DAY 1: USHUAIA. EMBARKATION ON MV OCEAN VICTORY
Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina - the world’s southernmost town. Explore
the quaint city or local countryside. Alternatively, consider a day
trip off the beaten path to the raw, natural archipelago of Tierra del
Fuego. It's a hiker's paradise with rugged snow-capped mountains,
glaciers, flower-filled meadows and boggy quagmires. In the afternoon,
we board our ship, the 5-star Ocean Victory. We sail towards Puerto
Williams on Chilean side of the Beagle Channel. The channel has rich
wildlife with cormorants, penguins and sea lions on virtually every
rocky outcrop, and dense temperate rainforest reaches from shore to
tree line and the eternal snow. In this harsh climate, the hardy
people of the now extinct Yagan tribe resided, as described by Charles
Darwin in his journals.
DAY 2: THROUGH MURRAY AND BEAGLE CHANNELS TO CAPE HORN
Today we are going to see the famous "horn", Cabo de Hornos. It is
difficult to predict the day’s program, as the waters south of the
horn are unpredictable at best. Should weather be fair, we will use
our landing Zodiacs to go ashore on Isla Hornos at the memorial for
sailors who have lost their lives here. Although the ship is very
stable, we will hopefully get a brief impression of what the old
sailing ships were going through in Magellan's and Darwin's time, and
rejoice that ships are no longer what they have been. The first
"modern" sailor to navigate the race was the Dutch captain Willem
Schouten in 1616, who opened the dangerous route. But haven't the
locals been here long before?
DAY 3: GARIBALDI FJORD OVERLOOKING CALVING GLACIERS AND MOUNT
Today's highlight is sailing into the narrow and unbelievably
beautiful Garibaldi fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park – a
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its spectacular soaring glaciers and
rich plant and wildlife. It is not uncommon to see a group of killer
whales in these waters feasting on the seafood.
DAY 4: FORT BULNES, CHILE AND STRAIT OF MAGELLAN PARK
As we leave the island of Tierra del Fuego, we head into Magellan
Strait and reach Fort Bulnes. The fort was built in 1843 on the rocky
shores of Punta Santa Ana under the command of President Bulnes Prieto
to maintain control of the Magellan Strait and the ships that sailed
through it. The fort is today restored to its original form, and the
area around included in the fascinating Strait of Magellan Park.
DAY 5: THROUGH THE CHILEAN ARCHIPELAGO. SCENIC SAILING
THROUGH THE LABYRINTHINE FJORD LANDSCAPES.
The day is set for cruising on the legendary Strait of Magellan,
which divides “Land of Fire” from the South American continent as well
as the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean. Ferdinand Magellan, whom the
strait was named from, was a Portuguese explorer on commission of
Spain's Charles d. 1st and the first to navigate the strait in 1520.
Chile annexed the Strait under President Bulnes in May 1843,
emphasizing Chile's supremacy through the construction of the
previously visited fort. The climate is sub-antarctic and the coast is
rugged and vegetation-poor. Yet these coasts have been home to a
highly developed and populous Native American culture, consisting
primarily of maritime, nomadic hunter-gatherers and others who
contented themselves with staying on land from which they fished and
collected seafood. The tribes lived isolated and unaffected by Western
civilization until about 1800, after which they quickly became extinct
as a result of new diseases and radical eradication campaigns
initiated by the governments of Chile and Argentina. Today, our
overall knowledge of these many different peoples is extremely sparse.
DAY 6: PUERTO NATALES, CHILE. VISIT TO THE NATIONAL PARK
TORRES DEL PAINE.
The Captain has through the night navigated the vessel more than 200
kilometers east across Chile through the world’s most complicated
fjord system. Disembarking in the town of Puerto Natales we are ready
for a bus drive into Torres del Paine National Park. Crowned by the
three majestic granite towers, "Torres del Paine", and “Paine Grande”,
2,884 meters above sea, and encircled by huge lakes, calving glaciers
and open grasslands where guanacos feed, it is fair to say that this
is among the most beautiful national parks in the world. "Paine" is a
Native American word for "blue", and today's excursion into the
national park shows why. We will drive through the park and enjoy the
view of the mountains throughout the day. Occasionally we will get off
the bus and take shorter walks to reach the best vantage points.
DAY 7: CHILEAN FJORDS. MINI-CRUISES THROUGH THE FJORD
LANDSCAPES IN OUR ZODIACS
By now, we are in the deep archipelago and the ship navigates through
the many narrow waterways, almost all of which are called canals. The
route follows the canals Sarmiento, Esteban, Angostura, Inocentes and
then into the long narrow Canal Messier. It is incredibly beautiful no
matter what direction the eyes are turned. Pointed rugged, often
snow-capped mountain peaks, glaciers, lots of life above and below the
water. The canals have all been shaped and extended during the recent
ice ages, when they were filled with glaciers from the Andes to the
east. As we enter the 250km-long Messier, we begin to see small
fishing villages. We will plan for Zodiac landings along the way where
DAY 8: PUERTO EDÉN, CHILE. CRUISE TO THE BRÜGGEN GLACIER.
Our goal this morning is the 60 km long Brüggen Glacier, slowly
flowing down from the huge Patagonian Ice Fields. We cruise in safe
distance from the active glacier front – and continue north through
the Messier for more adventures. It is a must to visit the small,
completely cut-off town of Puerto Edén, which, with less than 200
inhabitants, lies on the banks of the Canal Messier. The sea is the
only access because neither roads nor paths lead to Edén. The city
also has no roads between houses and shops, only wooden promenades or
boardwalks. The population lives primarily on fishery and seafood
collection, which is picked up once a week by a cutter.
DAY 9: CALETA TORTEL VILLAGE, CHILE
We have reached the northern end of Canal Messier, where we find yet
another exciting and typical Chilean village in this area. Caleta
Tortel was built in 1955 to utilize the area's cypress trees for
timber production. The village is located where rivers, meltwater and
the sea coalesce into a mossy subsoil, which is why all houses are
built on stilts and the roads are, like in Puerto Edén, built of wood.
Cypress of course.
DAY 10: AT SEA TOWARD CASTRO
The trip continues along the coast of Chile, and we have time to
enjoy the ship's facilities, perhaps a little massage, a visit to the
shop or an interesting lecture on the nature or culture of the area.
You can also relax in one of the hot tubs on the deck or take a dip in
the small pool.
DAY 11: CASTRO, CHILE
In the outskirts of the Chilean Lake District and we visit yet
another city on stilts, Castro. It is the county’s third oldest city,
founded in 1567. The area has been hit by earthquakes and tsunamis
several times, and in 1837 the city was effectively leveled with the
ground. Castro is an exciting city to stroll around. The famous wooden
churches on Chiloé, of which four are in Castro, are one of Chile's
largest cultural treasures and were added to UNESCO's list of cultural
heritage. Many of the churches are built entirely of wood without as
much as a single nail.
DAY 12: THE NATURE-PROTECTED ISLAND OF ISLA MOCHA.
Today’s landing is on the small island of Mocha, of which half is
designated as a national park. Originally the island was inhabited by
the so-called Lafkenches people. Francis Drake visited the island during
his world circumnavigation, but had to leave after being seriously
injured by the island's residents. In 1685, the governor forced the
entire island population to what is today the city of Conception. There
are several stories from the 19th century about a giant white casket
whale that belonged to the island of Mocha, called Mocha Dich, which
should have inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. In 2007, skulls
from the original Mocha people were compared to skulls from the Easter
Island and was found to have astonishing similarities, supporting the
theory, originally put forward by Thor Heyerdahl, about the connection
between South America and the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean. We
will utilize the ship's Zodiac fleets to make the landing and learn
about the national park and the local flora and fauna.
DAY 13: AT SEA TOWARDS VALPARAÍSO
Today it is time read, listen to lectures and relax in the company of
the other passengers of the ship and enjoy the delicious meals the
chefs of the ship spoil us with.
DAY 14: VALPARAÍSO, CHILE. DISEMBARKATION
After breakfast, it's time to leave Ocean Victory and get ready for
the homebound journey. Valparaíso, one of Chile's oldest cities. The
city is constructed on a number of ridges around the bay and is known
for its old cable cars, 15 of which are still functional. They lead
from the harbor up to the old UNESCO-protected residential
neighborhoods. Here colonial-era German and English traders lived in
the colorful houses that illuminate the cityscape.