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Guanacos in Torres del Paine

Patagonia and Chilean Fjords

Ushuaia - Puerto Montt - Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Sylvia Earle
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Join Sylvia Earle on this 15-day cruise towards Chile while exploring some of the world’s most spectacular and diverse scenery, with a unique combination of wine country, dazzling Andean landscapes, and tantalizing cuisine. On this adventure, traverse the narrows and fjords in Patagonia that are filled with glaciers, experience the expansive wildernesses, and marvel at the granite spires on hikes in Torres del Paine National Park, Zodiac cruise, and kayak waterways rich in wildlife, where travelers can hope to see migrating whales, dolphins, penguins, and seals. Join the trip exploring the fjords and coast of southern Chile and discover why Chile was voted the best adventure destination in South America in the past few years at the World Travel Awards.
Sea lions in Beagle ChannelHiking through colorful fields in PatagoniaView the seal and cormorant colonies as you sail across the Beagle Channel Experience whales up close during a whale watching boat tour around Chiloe IslandTorres del Paine sceneryGuanacos in Torres del Paine
Highlights
  • Revel in the dramatic landscape along the Beagle Channel and Patagonia
  • Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park and be in awe of the majestic beauty
  • Watch for blowholes as whales migrate from high to low latitudes in search of warmer waters
  • Discover the UNESCO heritage listed unique timber churches in Chiloé
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia

Arrive in Ushuaia, where you are met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to your group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with the ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket.

The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.

Accommodation: Las Hayas Hotel (or similar) 

Day 2: Ushuaia | Embark

This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labeled with your name and cabin number. Please take your cabin luggage down to the hotel reception by 8.00 am. Your luggage can be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day. Once you have checked out of your hotel by 11.00 am, you have free time before meeting back in the hotel lobby at 2.00 pm to commence a tour of Ushuaia. Alternatively, enjoy time at leisure and make your own way to the pier by 4.00 pm for embarkation.

After embarkation, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before the important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from the port, you'll gather on the deck to commence the adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.

This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at the Welcome Dinner. 

Day 3: Cape Horn

Located on Hornos Island in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago lies Cape Horn, near the southernmost point in South America. Until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, ships had to sail around Cape Horn to travel between the east and west coast of South America—a hazardous endeavor due to the strong winds and currents, large powerful waves, and occasional icebergs. These days, Cape Horn attracts adventurous travelers—mostly from expedition cruise ships, who go ashore and hike to the landmark lighthouse known as ‘Stella Maris Chapel.’ At the top of the hill, you can enjoy panoramic views of where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet and feel the incredible power of nature as these two mighty oceans squeeze through the Drake Passage.

Day 4-5: Beagle Channel | Glacier Alley

As you re-enter the Beagle Channel, an important waterway that allowed ships to avoid the notoriously rough waters around Cape Horn, follow the route that a young Charles Darwin took on board the famous HMS Beagle back in 1831, a five-year expedition that forever changed his life and which led him to develop his seminal theory of evolution.

Sailing west past Ushuaia, you travel through a dazzling stretch of the 240-kilometer (150-mile) long Beagle Channel called Glacier Alley or ‘Avenue of the Glaciers’ as it’s more elegantly known. Marvel at this string of tidewater glaciers pushing down to the edge of the sea from the enormous Darwin Ice Field. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, most of the glaciers were named after European countries or the explorers who discovered them: Holland, Italy, Romanche, Spain, and Garibaldi. Weather permitting, you’ll board the Zodiacs for a closer look at the impressive Romanche Glacier. Even if fog obscures the view, the sound of the cracking ice, as it calves into the water, is sure to impress. Apart from the spectacular scenery, Glacier Alley offers opportunities to spot wildlife such as penguin rookeries and South American fur seals.

Day 6: Francisco Coloane Marine Reserve

Established in 2003 as Chile’s first marine reserve, Francisco Coloane was the first known feeding ground for humpback whales along the Pacific coast of South America. The park honors Francisco Coloane, a celebrated Chilean author who wrote many stories of ocean adventures about Patagonia and Antarctica. Coloane was himself an adventurer, explorer, and son of a whaler. Around the southern area of Santa Ines Island, surrounded by spectacular views including the tidewater glacier pushing down the rugged mountainous island, you spend time kayaking and Zodiac cruising, getting a close look at Magellanic penguins, imperial cormorants, flightless steamer ducks, and southern fur seals. Around Carlos III Island, a known feeding ground for humpback whales, you hope to see the majestic creatures from the comfort of the ship, or if conditions permit, from the kayaks or Zodiacs. 

Day 7: Chilean Fjord, Kirke Narrows

As you venture north, you enter one of the many channels and fjords of Patagonian Chile. Be prepared to experience wild weather. The fjords and islands of Chilean Patagonia take the brunt of the prevailing westerlies that blow across the southern seas, and here, the wind can blow almost constantly, and rain and snow can fall all year round. Sail through Montañas Fjord, a long fjord flanked by rugged mountains and a number of glaciers including Herman, Bernal, and Paredes. From the observation areas and perhaps from the bridge, it’s an ideal opportunity to watch the scenery unfold as you sail through this beautiful channel. Enjoy informative and entertaining presentations from the hand-selected expedition team, who brings to life the natural environment, wildlife, culture, and history of the places you’ll be experiencing.

Day 8-9: Puerto Natales | Torres del Paine National Park

Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, world-renowned for its granite towers, which give the park its name. These gigantic spires were carved by glacial ice and upon entering the park, you see a series of lakes with intense colors, mountains covered in ice, and an array of local fauna. In Patagonia, you feel the immensity of nature and delight in feeling completely insignificant in its presence. The jaw-dropping landscapes of turquoise waters, glaciers, and towering granite horns of the Torres del Paine National Park are a humbling experience.

You have two days to experience the wonders of Torres del Paine National Park on various hikes suited to your fitness level. You pass several estancias (ranches) en route to the national park, and you witness the landscape change from a steppe eco-region to a deciduous forest. Along the way, pause amongst the mountains to admire views of the lakes called Amarga, Sarmiento, Nordenskjold, and Salto Grande. You may be able to see some of the local fauna, including many species of birds including the majestic condor. Look out for foxes, huemul (Andean deer), and guanacos, which are wild camelids related to the llama. The reclusive difficult-to-spot puma has also been seen inside the national park where authorities are happy to report a healthy growing population.

You spend the night at a comfortable hotel located just outside of the national park offering superb mountain and river views. Here you enjoy local cuisine and Chilean wine and hear about the various hiking options available to you and suited to your individual interests and fitness level. On the afternoon of your second day in Torres del Paine National, you are transported back to the vessel in time for dinner, swapping stories on the drive back, of your exploration of the park.

You can choose from one of the following three itineraries to suit your fitness levels: Easy, Medium, and Difficult

Day One in Torres del Paine National Park
Easy option - minimal walking required with visits to the national park’s most impressive lookouts, shorter days
Highlights include: 
Sarmiento Lake viewpoint 
Laguna Amarga lookout 
Nordenskjold Lake lookout 
Salto Grande lookout 
Lunch at Pehoe Lake 
End the day at Villa Serrano to check in to your hotel for the evening

Medium option – easy treks of up to 14 km (8.7 mi) per day
Lazo-Weber trek, stopping for lunch during the trek. The trek is not difficult but it is long in distance. Walking poles are recommended for this trek. 
End the day at Villa Serrano to check in to your hotel for the evening

Difficult option – longer and more challenging treks of up to 22 km (13.7 mi) per day
Highlights include
Fauna Trail from Sarmiento to Amarga
Salto Grande + Mirador Cuernos
Lunch at Pehoe Lake 
Cóndor lookout
End the day at Villa Serrano to check in to your hotel for the evening
Today’s itinerary consists of three short treks, which combined makes for a long, challenging, and rewarding day.
Accommodation: Hotel Rio Serrano (or similar)

Day Two in Torres del Paine National Park
Easy option
Depart from Villa Serrano. Visit Cascada del Río Paine and Laguna Azul. Stop at Cerro Castillo on your drive back to Puerto Natales to rejoin the ship. 

Medium option
Today’s itinerary consists of two short treks of up to 6 km (3.7 mi) each. 
Highlights include:
Salto Grande + Mirador Cuernos
Nordenskjold Lake lookout 
Fauna Trail from Sarmiento to Amarga
Laguna Amarga lookout 
Drive back to Puerto Natales to rejoin the ship

Difficult option
Las Torres Base trek - up to 20 km (12.5 mi)
You can explore the Ascencio Valley, walking through a beautiful Lenga forest and getting up close to the astounding Torres del Paine viewpoint. Throughout the trek, you walk through forests, along streams, and across glacier moraines. 
Drive back to Puerto Natales to rejoin the ship.

Day 10-11: White Narrows | PIO XI Glacier | Puerto Eden

At low tide this morning, you cross the White Narrows – a narrow channel of water approximately 80 meters wide. Find a spot on one of the many observation areas and appreciate the masterful skills of your captains as they navigate through this difficult channel. At the heart of Chilean Patagonia lies Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. More than 320 kilometers (200 miles) from one end to the other, the park encompasses Patagonia's Southern Ice Field, which in combination with its northern counterpart forms one of the largest expanses of glacial ice outside the Polar Regions.

The only way to visit this area is by sea, through a maze of fjords that ultimately leads to the entrance of Pío XI, named in honor of Pope Pius XI by Father Alberto de Agostini, an Italian missionary and explorer, who in 1931 was the first person to cross the Southern Ice Field. Of the 48 glaciers in the Southern Ice Field, nearly all are retreating, except Pío XI. Scientists have not been able to explain exactly why it has advanced so far and so fast over the past number of years. In any case, Pío XI Glacier is an anomaly in a world where nearly all glaciers are retreating, and being able to see it up close is a privilege. You head to Puerto Eden on your journey northwards, navigating more challenging passages including Paso del Abismo, a very narrow and spectacular channel where you can continue to enjoy remarkable scenery.

Located on the east coast of Wellington Island, inside Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, Puerto Eden is a tiny fishing village connected by intricate canals, imposing mountains, and icefields, and is considered one of Chile's most isolated inhabited places. The village is known for being the home to approximately 25 Kawésqar indigenous inhabitants – roughly 10% of the population of the village. The village is connected by beautiful timber boardwalks called ‘pasarelas’. Kawésqar is traditionally nomadic sea people and it comes as no surprise that the main economic activity is fishing - mussels being a local specialty. Known for their excellent craftsmanship for canoe-making and basketry, local handicrafts are also a specialty, and you’ll have ample opportunity to meet the locals and to purchase locally made handicrafts directly from them. You’ll enjoy exploring the picturesque boardwalks over the maze of canals, meeting the friendly locals, and soaking in the tranquil natural beauty of this isolated hamlet.

Day 12: Chilean Fjords

Leaving Puerto Eden behind, you re-enter the channels for a few days navigating the way through Patagonia’s maze of fjords toward Chiloé. Your team of experts continue to deliver informative and entertaining presentations in the lecture theatre or, you may choose to enjoy a book from the library, stay active in the fitness center, or enjoy a massage in the wellness center.

Spend time on the decks to scan for whales, dolphins, and seabirds, while admiring the beautiful landscapes of the maze of channels and islands around. Sail along part of the 145 km / 90-mile long Moraleda Channel, which separates the mainland from the huge archipelagos of Chonos and Guaitecas. To the east, you see magnificent Andes peaks such as the Mentolat, Melimoyu, and Maca volcanoes. Scan the waters for the occasional presence of pods of killer whales that predate on the numerous South American sea lion colonies located along the coast and forested islands.

Day 13: Corcovado Gulf, Tic Toc Bay

Spend the morning exploring the delightful and impressive coastline of Tic Toc Bay – either ship cruising or perhaps by Zodiac and kayak. This whole area has been recently recognized as one of the few marine parks of Chile famous not only for the seasonal presence of blue whales but also for the rich array of other cetaceans, marine mammals, and seabirds. In the Corcovado Gulf, you enjoy spotting a good variety of seabirds including black-browed albatross, southern giant petrel, southern fulmar, and long-distant migrants such as the migratory Arctic skua.

Continue to keep watch for whales in the Corcovado Gulf as you sail into Chiloé, an archipelago of lush islands, a land of myths and legends, unique folklore, and culinary traditions. It’s a region blessed with natural beauty and culture, cherished by Chileans. Explore this mythical island with its colorful timber churches, sixteen of which have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Day 14: Castro, Chonchi

Continue to Castro, the charming capital of the Chiloé region. Here you have a choice of one of the following two shore excursion options.

Option 1 - Castro and Chonchi (5 hours)
Discover the main attractions of Castro town including palafittes (houses on stilts), museums, churches, and the handicraft market. You then visit the beautiful renowned churches of the area recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Continue to Chonchi, nicknamed the “city of three floors” for its terraces, with important sites such as the Museum of Traditions, Accordion Museum, and its attractive waterfront. For lunch, savor the taste of the region’s fresh produce before returning to Castro for some free time.

Option 2 - Chiloé National Park (6.5 hours)
This excursion takes you through the pristine natural landscapes that amazed Charles Darwin during his explorations of the Huillinco and Cucao Lakes and the Pacific Ocean. At Chiloé National Park visit the interpretation center, and walk along the lovely “Sendero el Tepual” a pathway that winds through Chiloé’s thick and humid forest. After the walk, it’s time to relax and enjoy lunch, where you savor the flavors of the region’s produce, before returning to Castro for some free time.

This evening, enjoy Captain’s Cocktail Party and Farewell Dinner to celebrate the end of a memorable adventure in this magical part of the world. 

Day 15: Puerto Montt | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Your voyage ends In Puerto Montt. Farewell your expedition team and fellow adventurers before transferring to the airport for your onward travels.

Ship/Hotel

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle
Sylvia Earle Observation Deck
Sylvia Earle Library

Ushuaia - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$13,595 2-3 travelers
Greg Mortimer-Aurora Stateroom Triple
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Aurora Stateroom Triple
22.67m2 (244ft2) - There are two Aurora Stateroom Triple cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms.
Sylvia Earle Aurora Stateroom Superior
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Aurora Stateroom Superior
19.9m2 - 20.8m2(214.2ft2 - 223.9ft2) - Located on Deck 7, the Staterooms feature french balconies, floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear.
Sylvia Earle Balcony Stateroom C
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Balcony Stateroom C
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 11 Balcony Stateroom C cabins - most economical, fitted with all the necessities and comfortable for up to 2 people. These cabins are scattered throughout Deck 6.
Sylvia Earle Balcony Stateroom B
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Balcony Stateroom B
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 17 Balcony Stateroom B Cabins - standard cabin, many fitted with interconnecting features making them great for families or groups. These cabins are located at the fore and aft of Deck 4 and 6.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Stateroom A
19.5m² - 28.7m² (209.9ft² - 308.9ft²)- 23 Balcony Stateroom A cabins - premium cabin, and the most abundant on board. These cabins are located in preferred positions on Deck 4 and 6 which provides easy access between Decks via the internal stairs or elevator.
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Balcony Stateroom Superior
29.2m2 - 35.2m2 (314.3ft2 - 378.9ft2) - Located on Deck 4 and 6, the Staterooms feature floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Some of these rooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.
Sylvia Earle Junior Suite
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Junior Suite
Up to 41.6m2 (447.8ft2)- 4 Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony.
Greg Mortimer-Captain's Suite
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Captain’s Suite
43.8m2 (471.5 ft2) - Captain's Suite - the largest of all our rooms, will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite, you'll need to get in early to secure this suite.
Included
  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners
  • 14 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • Beer, House Wine, and Soft Drinks with Dinner 
  • Educational Lectures and Guiding Services from Expedition Team 
  • Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
  • Port Surcharges, Permits, and Landing Fees
  • Captain's Welcome and Farewell drinks including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
  • Complimentary use of Muck boots during the voyage
  • All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
  • All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
  • On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
  • One night’s hotel accommodation in Ushuaia, including breakfast, on Day 1.
  • One night’s hotel accommodation near Torres del Paine National Park on Day 8.
  • Transfer from hotel to pier on Day 2.
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Airport Departure Tax - Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
  • Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
  • Optional activity surcharges
  • Reciprocity and Vaccination Charges
  • Passengers traveling with Aurora Expeditions are required to be covered by a reputable travel insurance policy that includes baggage loss, cancellation & curtailment of the holiday, medical, accident, and repatriation/emergency evacuation coverage worth at least $250,000 USD.
  • Add-on activities should be reserved at the time of the booking.

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
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