Fjords of Tierra del Fuego five-day journey aboard the Stella and Ventus Australis Cruises sails along Chile and Argentina‘s Patagonia. This scenic voyage through the fjords of the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego highlights the natural beauty of Patagonia.
This four-night journey on the Australis cruises includes visits to wildlife rich Ainsworth Bay and massive Pia Glacier. Followed by Glacier Alley, as well as mystical Wulaia Bay and the legendary Cape Horn. During the cruise, members of the Australis Expedition team will host lectures of wildlife, history, and geography of this legendary region. The presentations will take place both on board (with audio-visual support) and on land.
The Australis Cruises offer a number of adventurous and informative shore excursions to discover Patagonia’s incredible flora, fauna, and geology. All are undertaken in comfortable Zodiacs, that allow exploration of narrow fjords and shallow bays where larger vessels cannot venture. Zodiacs are also perfect for landing on secluded islands, rocky beaches, and small piers.
During the excursions, whether from the Zodiac boats or on foot you will be able to observe and photographic the marvellous array of animals that live along the waterways of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Elephant and leopard seals, Andean condors and Caracara falcons, thousands of penguins and Albatross and scores of other bird species.
The twin vessels Stella Australis and Ventus Australis are awe-inspiring adventure cruise ships. The vessels, which were constructed in 2010 & 2017 respectively, consist of 100 total cabins and can hold up to 210 passengers each. Enjoy the comfort of cabins that provide you with incredible ocean views and lavish decor. Australis cruises offer a relaxed stay while providing breathtaking sights from the decks. Indulge in first-class Chile travel onboard the Stella or Ventus Australis Cruises. Wine and dine, mix and mingle, and enjoy the fabulous entertainment on your Patagonia vacation.
Board the Stella Australis or Ventus Australis at 6pm. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night, you will cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonian. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as you enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
By dawn the ship is sailing up Seno Almirantazgo, a spectacular offshoot of the Strait of Magellan that stretches nearly halfway across Tierra del Fuego. The snow-capped peaks of Karukinka Natural Park stretch along the north side of the sound. While the south shore is defined by the deep fjords and broad bays of Alberto de Agostini National Park. Go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, which harbours copious bird life and a colony of southern elephant seals which can sometimes be spotted from the Zodiacs. Two guided excursions are available today. One is along the edge of a stream, peat bog and beaver habitat inside a pristine sub-polar forest. The other is a more strenuous hike along the crest of a glacial moraine. Both afford views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains.
Leaving Ainsworth Bay behind, sail west to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, board the Zodiacs again for a close-up view of the Magellan penguins that inhabit the tiny islands. More than 4,000 penguins use Tucker as a place to nest, give birth and nurture their chicks. Many other bird species also frequent the area including king cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, kelp geese, dolphin gulls, eagles and even the occasional Andean condor. In September and April -when the penguins live elsewhere- this excursion is replaced by a short walk to a glacier at nearby stunning Brookes Bay.
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 you will be entering Pia Fjord and boarding 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.
Back on board the ship, continue east along the Beagle Channel through an area called Glacier Alley. 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.
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 mesmerising 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 travellers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.
In the afternoon, you will cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn. Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition, Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. Before the creation of the Panama Canal, it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, 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.
The following morning, sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Arrival at 08:30 a.m. or 9:30 am according to date of departure.