Luxury Patagonia Cruise

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Departing from Ushuaia, retrace the route of Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle,  the  exclusive Patagonia cruise ,  on an expedition voyage through the secluded Fuegian Archipelago at the southernmost of South America. Our adventurous nine-day (eight-night) itinerary includes legendary Cape Horn and historic Wulaia Bay, as well as Glacier Alley, the boisterous penguin  colonies on Tuckers and Magdalena islands, as well as the spectacular fjords that harbor Pía and Águila glaciers. While visiting Patagonia you’ll also encounter massive ice fields, lush sub-polar forests and secluded beaches in islands that remain refreshingly remote and barely touched by civilization, a rare glimpse of what planet Earth must have been like before mankind. Midway through the journey, a half-day visit of  Punta Arenas leaves plenty of time to explore a city rich in history, architecture and Patagonian culture before resuming the journey back to Ushuaia.

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AT A GLANCE

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia

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.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Day 2: Cape Horn - Wulaia Bay

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, 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.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Day 3: Pía Glacier – Garibaldi 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, the Australis cruise 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. 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.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Day 4: Agostini Sound – Águila Glacier – Cóndor Glacier

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.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Day 5: Magdalena Island - Punta Arena

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. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city. Reboard the vessel at 18:00 (6 PM). 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 we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. * Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island. *Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island.

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Day 6: Ainsworth Bay - Tuckers Islets

By dawn we’re sailing up Admiralty Sound between the snowcapped peaks of Karukinka and the fjords of Alberto de Agostini National Park. We 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, we 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.

Cape Horn, Wildlife & Glaciers

Day 7: Pia Glacier - Glacier Alley

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, the Australis cruise 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 the ship, 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.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Day 8: Wulaia Bay - Cape Horn

During the early morning we 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 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.

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Day 9: Ushuaia

The following morning we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city.

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

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Extend your visit and enjoy Patagonia

Live an adventure through the incredible landscapes of Patagonia, and discover every corner of its best attractions from north to south. Enjoy Bariloche and the lakes district, which resemble the mixture of huge forests, turquoise lakes, cozy villages, and emblematic mountains. Spot the amazing wildlife in Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdés, where you can see whales, penguins, sea lions, killer whales (orcas), and many other incredible species.

Experience the gaucho’s life at a local ranch (Estancia) in any part of the region. Discover the spectacular Paine Massif and its trekking trails, and Torres del Paine wildlife. Hike along the Argentina’s best trekking trails in El Chalten, and contemplate the incredible Glaciers in El Calafate. Reach the End of The World in Ushuaia and navigate on the Beagle Channel.

Whatever is your travel plan, we invite you to discover this region together, guided by our Patagonia travel experts.

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