Darwin’s Route from Ushuaia

9 Days/8 Nights

From $3,528 per person

(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)

Select Departures from September to April

Overview

Cruise the waterways of southern Patagonia from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas and back on this nine-day adventure.  You will visit penguin colonies on Magdalena Island and Tuckers Islets and observe southern elephant seals and other wildlife in Ainsworth Bay, and view massive glaciers flowing into the sea along Glacier Alley and throughout the journey.  The ship stops at historic Wulaia Bay and Cape Horn, the southernmost point of the continent, and you will have a nearly full-day port call in Punta Arenas to explore the city.

Patagonia Cruise Promotion

Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 8 nights on the Stella or Ventus Australis, and 22 meals (8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 8 dinners).

Best Time to Go: October-March.

Destinations: South America, Argentina, Chile, and Patagonia.

Interests: Adventure, Culture & History, Expedition Cruising, and Wildlife Viewing.

Places Visited: Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego and Punta Arenas.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Check in at 409 San Martín Ave. in downtown Ushuaia between 10:00am and 5:00pm on the day of your cruise departure. Board the Australis Cruise at 6:00pm.

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 you traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as you turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands. Overnight aboard the Ship. (D)

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, you 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, you 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 aboard the Ship. (B,L,D)

Overnight you 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 you are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking you 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 way further west along the Beagle Channel, you 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 you 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, the captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky-blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks. Overnight aboard the Ship. (B,L,D)

Early in the morning, you 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, you will disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. You will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, you will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac — and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area. Overnight aboard the Ship. (B,L,D)

After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, the ship anchors 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, you will 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 11:30am. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city.

Reboard the vessel at 6:00pm. 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 you cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. Overnight aboard the ship. (B)

Note: Camera extension poles (tripods) are prohibited on Magdalena Island.

By dawn you’re sailing up Admiralty Sound between the snowcapped peaks of Karukinka and the fjords of Alberto de Agostini National Park. You 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, you 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 — when the penguins live elsewhere — this excursion is replaced by a beach walk to a glacier at Brookes Bay. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Overnight you 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 you are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking you 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 the ship, you 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. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

During the early morning you navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor at historic 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 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 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 travelers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

In the afternoon you cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you 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. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

The following morning, we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Arrival and disembarkation at 8:30am.

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Itinerary Map

Patagonia Cruise Map - Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double Triple
B Cabins $5,292 $3,528 $3,528
A Cabins $7,074 $4,716 $4,716
AA Cabins $7,374 $4,916 $4,916
AAA Cabins $7,598 $5,065 n/a
AA Superior Cabins $8,999 $5,999 n/a
AAA Superior Cabins $9,534 $6,356 n/a
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.

Notes:

  1. The above prices are based on Low Season departures. Call for the prices of High Season departures.
  2. The above prices are valid for cruise departures through April 8, 2020.
  3. A limited amount of triples can be accommodated.

Departure Dates

Promotional Departures: Sep 25, 2019; April 4 and 8, 2020 (20% Discount).
Cruise Low Season: Oct 3, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, and 31, 2019; Mar 15, 19, 23, 27, and 3, 2020.
Cruise High Season: Nov 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, and 28; Dec 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, and 30, 2019; Jan 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, and 31; Feb 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, and 28; Mar 3, 7, and 11, 2020.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
  • Accommodations on board the M/V Stella Australis or M/V Ventus Australis.
  • All meals scheduled on board including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Shore excursions.
  • On-board entertainment.
  • Local, English-speaking tour guides.

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Domestic airfare.
  • Transfer from the airport to the Cruceros Australis office in Punta Arenas, Chile, and then to the pier at the beginning of the cruise, and from the pier in Ushuaia, Argentina to the airport at the end of the cruise.
  • Hotel nights before/after the cruise.
  • Port tax in Punta Arenas, Chile ($75).
  • Gratuities to ship crew and guides (suggested $15/passenger/day).
  • Gifts and personal items.
  • Travel insurance.

We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare, hotels, land services, and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.

Accommodations

Additional Details

Group/Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis.

Elevations: N/a.

Passport/Visa: For Chile, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens (except Greece) require a valid passport (for the duration of your visit) and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Greek citizens can stay for up to 60 days. Australian, and Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee (considered a multiple entry visa) of $95 and $132 respectively upon arrival (subject to change without notice due to currency fluctuations or other reasons). Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Chilean embassy in their country before traveling. For Argentina, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a valid passport (for the duration of your visit) and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Australian and Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee of $100 and $75 respectively (subject to change without notice due to currency fluctuations or other reasons) online, and must show proof of payment prior to arrival. The reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens has been suspended until further notice. For citizens of Australia, this fee covers unlimited entries to Argentina for 10 years, while citizens of Canada are charged the fee every time they enter the country (or $150 for multiple visits within five years). The fee can be paid online at ProvinciaNet.com.ar. You will need to register in order to make the payment. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the embassy of Argentina in their country before traveling.

Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.

To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $800 per person plus the cost of the airfare (if we make the arrangements for you).