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Explore the southern tip of Patagonia on a 5-day and 4-night journey between Ushuaia, Argentina and Punta Arenas, Chile. On this incredible voyage you will explore some of the planet’s most remote places and achingly beautiful scenery. You will learn about the history, culture wildlife of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
Prior to the discovery of Antarctica by Captain Cook Cape Horn as the Southernmost of the great capes was widely regarded as the end of the world. Pre-1914 it would have taken more than a month at sea to reach Cape Horn from London causing it to feature heavily in maritime culture as it is the meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In its 400 years as a major nautical route the Cape would claim thousands of lives and hundreds of ships.
Fortunately, the technology, navigation techniques and comfort aboard modern ships have come a long way in the centuries since Charles Darwin, Robert Fitzroy, Francis Drake and Fernand Magellan first came to explore these isolated waters.
Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 2: Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay
Day 3: Pía Glacier and Garibaldi Glacier
Day 4: Agostini Sound, Aguila Glacier and Condor Glacier
Day 5: Magdalena Island, Punta Arenas, Chile
You will have the morning to explore Tierra del Fuego, we recommend visiting the national park. If you are on the early voyages of the season in September, you may be able to take advantage of the last days of the ski season in Cerro Castor, the Southernmost resort in the world. Later in the season you will be able to visit the penguins here. In the afternoon you will check in at the Australis office in Ushuaia, boarding the ship in the afternoon before departing in the evening.
Get up a bit earlier in the morning and you will be able to enjoy the early risers’ refreshments and watch the sunrise over Cape Horn. The expedition team will decide if it is safe to make a landing, if so, they will unload the Zodiacs and prepare for the morning’s excursion. Put on your life jacket, waterproofs and wait for your turn to land on the great cape.
You will enjoy your first ride in a zodiac being deposited at the foot of a cliff before climbing the staircase and look around the lighthouse and visit the monument overlooking the vast cape. After enjoying the excursion, you will return to the ship for breakfast.
The ship will raise anchor and sail for Wulaia bay, this is the site of a barrel post office and the location where Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy met Tierra del Fuego’s Yaghan people. Choose one of the three excursions each with increasing orders of difficulty depending on your preference. 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 the ship will sail towards 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 will enter Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking you will 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.
The ship will make its way further west along the Beagle Channel, where it will 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 will 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.
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.
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.
The Stella Australis, meaning Southern Star, is an awe-inspiring expedition cruise ship. The ship was built in 2010 and has 100 cabins and can hold up to 210 passengers. The Stella Australis offers tourists a relaxed and luxurious voyage, sailing through the breath-taking scenery of Southern Patagonia.
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