Departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, Australis Cruise -Darwin’s Route Ushuaia to Ushuaia voyage- retraces the route of Charles Darwin when he travelled through the Fuegian Archipelago. This adventurous eight-night/nine-day cruise goes to legendary Cape Horn, historic Wulaia Bay and stunning Glacier Alley. You’ll also see the spectacular fjords that harbour Pía and Águila glaciers. Along the way, you’ll also encounter Patagonia’s massive ice fields, lush sub-polar forests, and secluded beaches. What’s more, you’ll be able to visit Tuckers and Magdalena islands which are home to big colonies of penguins.
Australis Patagonia cruise offers several adventurous and informative shore excursions to discover Patagonia’s incredible flora, fauna, and geology. You will do it on board of Zodiacs which are inflatable boats 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.
In addition to learning about the history and nature of the Fuegian Archipelago, the shore excursions allow stretching your legs on guided hikes to secluded waterfalls and the bottom of tidewater glaciers. Walk along pristine beaches, rocky shores, and even hike through the ancient sub-polar forest. In addition, you might be able to see Elephant and leopard seals, Andean condors and Caracara falcons, Albatross and thousands of penguins.
The twin vessels Stella Australis and Ventus Australis are awe-inspiring adventure cruise ships. The ships, 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 5.30pm. 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.
Around the break of dawn, the Australis cruise 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 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.
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 mesmerising beauty and dramatic geography. Then visit the Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station, which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area. You will have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the 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.
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, the Australis cruise tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning we are 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.
Navigating further west along the Beagle Channel 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 on board, the 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, 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. This morning go on a gentle walk around a lagoon formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. Reach a spot right in front of the 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.
After an overnight sail through Magdalena Channel and 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. An immense colony of Magellanic penguins inhabits today. 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 live 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 short navigation south along the strait, disembark at Punta Arenas. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, and you’ll have to reboard the vessel at 6 pm. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs on the second half of the journey. During the night cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
By dawn you’ll be sailing up 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, this excursion is replaced by a beach walk to a glacier at 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, the Australis cruise 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. Alternatively, take 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 many impressive tidewater glaciers flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet on the north shore.
During the early morning navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor back at historic Wulaia Bay. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum, you’ll 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 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 harbours legendary Cape Horn.
Sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Disembark at 8 AM.