Check in from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at 409 San Martín St. Board the MV Via Australis at 5:30 PM. After a welcome cocktail reception offered by the Captain and his crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as you sail into Alberto de Agostini National Park along the south coast of Tierra del Fuego.
In the early morning cruise up a long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier, one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. Taking the Zodiacs ashore, 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, your captain points the bow towards the beautiful sky-blue glacier so that everyone can enjoy a panoramic view from the upper decks.
Backtracking along the Beagle Channel, board the Zodiacs again for a shore excursion to 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. After disembarking take a short or long hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea. Back onboard, 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 are named after European countries - Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.
During the night navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and by dawn cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, 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.
Sailing back across Nassau Bay, 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 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 can stroll through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay.
In the morning, arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina's most important city in Tierra del Fuego, and the southernmost city in the world. Disembark after breakfast for your continued adventures or return flights home.