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Magdalena Island Penguin Colony

Darwin's Route from Ushuaia

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard MV Ventus Australis
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Departing from Ushuaia, retrace the route of Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle on an expedition cruise through the secluded Fuegian Archipelago at the bottom of South America. This adventurous 9-day cruise includes legendary Cape Horn and historic Wulaia Bay, as well as Glacier Alley, the penguin colonies on Tuckers and Magdalena Islands, and the spectacular fjords that harbor Pía and Águila glaciers. Encounter massive ice fields, lush sub-polar forests, and secluded beaches on islands that remain barely touched by civilization, a rare glimpse of what planet Earth must have been like before mankind. Midway through the journey, a half-day port call in Punta Arenas leaves plenty of time to explore a city rich in history, architecture, and Patagonian culture before resuming the journey back to Ushuaia.   

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Ushuaia | Embark
Day 2 : Cape Horn | Wulaia Bay
Day 3 : Pía Glacier | Garibaldi Glacier
Day 4 : Agostini Sound | Águila Glacier | Cóndor Glacier
Day 5 : Magdalena Island | Punta Arenas
Day 6 : Ainsworth Bay | Tuckers Islets
Day 7 : Pia Glacier | Glacier Alley
Day 8 : Wulaia Bay | Cape Horn
Day 9 : Ushuaia | Disembark

Highlights

  • Discover the windswept island that harbors legendary Cape Horn
  • Visit Wulaia Bay, where human history is just as compelling as the views
  • Sail around the western end of famous and breathtaking Tierra del Fuego
  • Take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of spectacular Pia Glacier

Ship

MV Ventus Australis

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Magdalena Island Penguin Colony Walking along the beach revealed amazing art in Punta Arenas! Guanaco! Every angle was a stellar photo. Magdalena Island lighthouse and penguin colony

Day 1 Ushuaia | Embark

Check in at Juan Manuel de Rosas Street in downtown Ushuaia between 10:00 and 17:00 (10 AM-5 PM) on the day of your cruise departure. 

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 traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as the ship turns into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste Islands.

Day 2 Cape Horn | Wulaia Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Around the break of dawn, the ship crosses Nassau Bay and enters the remote archipelago that comprises 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 (currently awaiting repair after being damaged by fierce winds).

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 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.

Day 3 Pía Glacier | Garibaldi Glacier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Overnight 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, Ventus Australis tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning arrive at Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking 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 your way further west along the Beagle Channel, 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 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 points the bow towards the beautiful sky-blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.

Day 4 Agostini Sound | Águila Glacier | Cóndor Glacier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Early in the morning, 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, disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. Reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac -- and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean condors in the area.

Day 5 Magdalena Island | Punta Arenas

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After an overnight cruise back into the Strait of Magellan, 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, 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 sail south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM.

*Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island.

Day 6 Ainsworth Bay | Tuckers Islets

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
By dawn sail up to Admiralty Sound between the snowcapped peaks of Karukinka and the fjords of Alberto de Agostini National Park. 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, 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.

Day 7 Pia Glacier | Glacier Alley

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Overnight 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, Stella Australis tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning enter Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking 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, 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.

Day 8 Wulaia Bay | Cape Horn

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During the early morning, 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, 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.

Day 9 Ushuaia | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city.

Arrive at 8:30 AM or 9:30 AM, according to date of departure.

MV Ventus Australis

Deals

Kids Sail Free
Book by November 29, 2019 and your kids sail free! Valid for children under 17 years old, sharing a AA cabin with an adult. Applicable to new bookings made between November 1, 2019 through November 29, 2019 on select departures only. Reservation must be paid in full by November 29, 2019. Contact us for availability. 
Click for departure dates

Per person starting at
$2,817
Ventus Australis
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Category B
Magallanes Deck, 16.5 m2/177 sq.ft. One double or two twin beds.
Ventus Australis
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Category A
Magallanes Deck, 16.5 m2/177 sq.ft. One double or two twin beds.
Ventus Australis
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Category AA
Tierra del Fuego Deck, 16.5 m2/177 sq.ft. One double or two twin beds.
Ventus Australis
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Category AAA
Cabo de Hornos Deck, 16.5 m2/177 sq.ft. One double or two twin beds.
Ventus Australis
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Category AA Superior
Tierra del Fuego Deck. One double or two twin beds.
Ventus Australis
Select a Date
Category AAA Superior
Cabo de Hornos Deck. One double or two twin beds.

Notes

- Port Charge and Park Fees are not included in cruise fare.
- Single occupancy of twin cabins is available at 1.5 times the double occupancy rate. Superior cabins are not available for single occupancy.

*The arrival time is estimated, the vessel may be delayed due to climate conditions. 

Please note: The excursions described in the itineraries can usually be carried out without any problems. Nevertheless, the shipowner holds the right to alter, change or skip certain portions of the itinerary without prior notice, whether motivated by the passengers’ well-being and safety, by the appropriate protection of the environment, or in case of any extraordinary event, unforeseeable circumstance or force majeure. For this reason, departures or arrival may be subject to change. Furthermore, sighting of birds and other species cannot be guaranteed as their exact location is variable by nature.


Trekking or hiking shoes are required for all passengers.

Rates Include:
  • Accommodation
  • Sea transportation
  • All meals
  • Open bar when on duty (without additional cost for wines, beverages, and liquors)
  • Shore excursions
  • Onboard entertainment
Rates Exclude:
  • Optional tours and transportation
  • Port tax
  • Migration fee
  • National park fee
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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