Charles Darwin in Patagonia

 

Retrace the footsteps of the famous explorer

Explore the remote and wild stretches of the Beagle Channel and Strait of Magellan

DESTINATION  |   ACTIVITIES  |   SHIPS  |   ITINERARY  |   DATES & PRICES  |   FAQs

Welcome to the remotest part of Patagonia!

Little change has come to the Fuegian Archipelago's labyrinth of islands, islets and canals since the epic HMS Beagle explorations of the early nineteenth century. During this time, the Beagle expedition made many important discoveries, and Darwin's own observations went far in shaping his revolutionary ideas about natural history and geology.

Daily exploration

Discover the rugged natural beauty and abundant wildlife of Patagonia with a myriad of daily activities

The crew meet with guests each morning to discuss the day’s opportunities.  Yet there are no required activities.  You may happily spend your entire trip curled up in the salon with a good book—or watch it all go by from a chair up on the deck while sipping coffee or a fine glass of Chilean wine.

The STELLA AUSTRALIS and VENTUS AUSTRALIS

Sister expedition ships designed for navigating the Strait of Magellan.

With space for up to 200 guests, sister ships Stella Australis and Ventus Australis both provide spacious cabins, elegantly appointed public spaces and a range of daily activities for all abilities. You’ll have the opportunity to explore by zodiac, land ashore for walks or more energetic hikes, and assist the resident science team with data collection.   More about the ships »

Your Itinerary

Charles Darwin in Patagonia operates during the Patagonian Spring, Summer and Fall (between October and March). This itinerary can begin in either Punta Arenas, Chile or Ushuaia, Argentina. The itinerary description below starts in Punta Arenas. You may combine this trip with other options in Chile and Argentina by extending your stay in Chile and/or Argentina.
See: Chile Extensions »
See: Argentina Extensions »

Click to enlarge

Day 1 | Punta Arenas - Embarkation

Check in at the Australis pier at 1385 O’Higgins Street (Arturo Prat Port) in Punta Arenas between 1 PM  and 5 PM on the day of your cruise departure. Board the MV Stella Australis at 6 PM. After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain and his crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night we 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 we enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego!

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, D

Day 2 | Ainsworth Bay and Tuckers Islets

Early morning brings us to Admiralty Fjord, where after breakfast we'll go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, inside the Alberto De Agostini National Park. From a distance we may see the Marinelli Glacier which descends from the Darwin Mountain Range, and we will learn how life begins after the retreat of the ice. We will also take a walk to discover a beaver dam in the marvelous subpolar Magellanic forest. On the beach, we will try to see elephant seals, but we cannot guarantee this as the precise location of the colony is unpredictable.

Later, we sail to Tuckers Islets, and after lunch we board the Zodiac boats to view Magellanic Penguins (which only live in the Southern Hemisphere), and Cormorants.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 3 | Glacier Alley

Overnight we 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 we are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking we 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 Stella Australis, we 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. 

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 4 | Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay

During the early morning we sail down the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor at historic Wulaia Bay.

Wulaia Bay is 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 the mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography.

You will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, Ñirres ferns, and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay.  In the afternoon we cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbors legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos).  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.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 5 | Ushuaia

The following morning we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. Disembarkation is scheduled at 8 AM. You have almost a full day to explore Ushuaia, founded in 1884 and one of the original points of contact between the indigenous Yámana and European cultures. Its name derives from the Yámana word for ‘penetrating bay’ and it’s surrounded by the southernmost Andes peaks. With around 65,000 inhabitants, Ushuaia is the second largest city in Tierra del Fuego (after Rio Grande). Among its highlights is the Prison at the End of the World, a former penitentiary that is now a maritime museum, Antarctic collection and memorial to those once incarcerated there. The city is also good for shopping (especially locally made chocolate) or hanging out in its many cafes.

Passengers are required to reboard your ship at 5:30 PM. After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain and his crew, the ship departs for more adventures in Tierra del Fuego. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel, cross back into Chilean territorial waters, and turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 6 | Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay

By early morning, Stella Australis is once again cruising across Nassau Bay to Cape Horn. Our itinerary day repeats the shore landings and other activities from Day 4. However, second landings at some of the more iconic spots along the route can sometimes be more rewarding than the first time around and give you more time to explore each place in depth. At Cape Horn you have a second chance to visit the Stella Maris Chapel, chat with the lighthouse keeper and his family, or photograph the unusual sub-polar flora that covers the heights. At Wulaia Bay, explore the museum in much more depth, strike out on a longer walk than last time, bird watch along the shore, or sort through the mail barrel to see if anyone lives close to your own home. This second approach also increases your chances of landing on Cape Horn Island.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 7 | Pia Glacier and Garibaldi Glacier

After nightfall you'll reenter the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a watery wonderland protected within the confines of Alberto de Agostini National Park. By morning you are entering Pia Fjord again and another chance to hike beside its famous glacier. 

Traveling further west along the Beagle Channel, you'll explore 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. You'll have an opportunity to 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,  steep with rough footing, but very rewarding. 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.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 8 | De Agostini Sound,  Águila and Condor Glaciers

After nightfall we reenter the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into watery wonderland protected within the confines of Alberto de Agostini National Park.  Rounding the Brecknock Peninsula as the western extreme of Tierra del Fuego, Stella Australis is for a brief time exposed to the open Pacific. We then navigate a zigzag route through the Cockburn Channel, Magdalena Channel and Keats Fjord to reach scenic De Agostini Sound.

Named after an Italian Salesian priest who worked among the region's indigenous people during the first half of the 20th century, De Agostini Sound is flanked by numerous glaciers and sheer saw-toothed peaks reminiscent of Torres del Paine. Our shore excursion this morning is Águila ("Eagle") Glacier, which hovers above a placid glacial lagoon surrounded by primeval forest. After a Zodiac landing on the beach, passengers hike around the edge of the lagoon to a spot near the base of the frozen facade. Condors can sometimes be seen winging high above, but there is always abundant bird life around the lagoon. This landing provides the perfect opportunity to experience the beauty of Patagonia’s sub-Antarctic rainforest and to see how the power of nature has molded the spectacular landscape.

Accommodations: Stella Australis or Ventus Australis, BLD

Day 9 | Magdalena Island and Punta Arenas

After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, we 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, we 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 cruise south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM.

*Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island

 

Charles Darwin in Patagonia - Dates & Prices

Charles Darwin in Patagonia operates from October to March.  All prices are per person, double occupancy unless otherwise specified.

Departure Dates Sept 2019 - April 2020. Scroll down for 2020/21

from Punta Arenas
Date Season Ship
Sep 21 - Sep 29 Low Stella
Sep 29 - Oct 7 Low Stella
Oct 7 - Oct 15 Shoulder Stella
Oct 11 - Oct 19 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 15 - Oct 23 Shoulder Stella
Oct 19 - Oct 27 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 23 - Oct 31 Shoulder Stella
Oct 27 - Nov 4 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 31 - Nov 8 Shoulder Stella
Nov 4 - Nov 12 High Ventus
Nov 8 - Nov 16 High Stella
Nov 12 - Nov 20 High Ventus
Nov 16 - Nov 24 High Stella
Nov 20 - Nov 28 High Ventus
Nov 24 - Dec 2 High Stella
Nov 28 - Dec 6 High Ventus
Dec 2 - Dec 10 High Stella
Dec 6 - Dec 14 High Ventus
Dec 10 - Dec 18 High Stella
Dec 15 - Dec 23 High Ventus
Dec 18 - Dec 26 High Stella
Dec 22 - Dec 30 High Ventus
Dec 26 - Jan 3 High Stella
Dec 30 - Jan 7 High Ventus
Jan 3 - Jan 11 High Stella
Jan 7 - Jan 15 High Ventus
Jan 11 - Jan 19 High Stella
Jan 15 - Jan 23 High Ventus
Jan 19 - Jan 27 High Stella
Jan 23 - Jan 31 High Ventus
Jan 27 - Feb 4 High Stella
Jan 31 - Feb 8 High Ventus
Feb 4 - Feb 12 High Stella
Feb 8 - Feb 16 High Ventus
Feb 12 - Feb 20 High Stella
Feb 16 - Feb 24 High Ventus
Feb 20 - Feb 28 High Stella
Feb 24 - Mar 3 High Ventus
Feb 28 - Mar 7 High Stella
Mar 3 - Mar 11 High Ventus
Mar 7 - Mar 15 High Stella
Mar 11 - Mar 19 High Ventus
Mar 15 - Mar 23 Shoulder Stella
Mar 19 - Mar 27 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 23 - Mar 31 Shoulder Stella
Mar 27 - Apr 4 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 31 - Apr 8 Shoulder Stella
Apr 4 - Apr 12 Low Ventus
from Ushuaia
Date Season Ship
Sep 25 - Oct 3 Low Stella
Oct 3 - Oct 11 Shoulder Stella
Oct 11 - Oct 19 Shoulder Stella
Oct 15 - Oct 23 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 19 - Oct 27 Shoulder Stella
Oct 23 - Oct 31 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 27 - Nov 4 Shoulder Stella
Oct 31 - Nov 8 Shoulder Ventus
Nov 4 - Nov 12 High Stella
Nov 8 - Nov 16 High Ventus
Nov 12 - Nov 20 High Stella
Nov 16 - Nov 24 High Ventus
Nov 20 - Nov 28 High Stella
Nov 24 - Dec 2 High Ventus
Nov 28 - Dec 6 High Stella
Dec 2 - Dec 10 High Ventus
Dec 6 - Dec 14 High Stella
Dec 10 - Dec 18 High Ventus
Dec 15 - Dec 23 High Stella
Dec 18 - Dec 26 High Ventus
Dec 22 - Dec 30 High Stella
Dec 26 - Jan 3 High Ventus
Dec 30 - Jan 7 High Stella
Jan 3 - Jan 11 High Ventus
Jan 7 - Jan 15 High Stella
Jan 11 - Jan 19 High Ventus
Jan 15 - Jan 23 High Stella
Jan 19 - Jan 27 High Ventus
Jan 23 - Jan 31 High Stella
Jan 27 - Feb 4 High Ventus
Jan 31 - Feb 8 High Stella
Feb 4 - Feb 12 High Ventus
Feb 8 - Feb 16 High Stella
Feb 12 - Feb 20 High Ventus
Feb 16 - Feb 24 High Stella
Feb 20 - Feb 28 High Ventus
Feb 24 - Mar 3 High Stella
Feb 28 - Mar 7 High Ventus
Mar 3 - Mar 11 High Stella
Mar 7 - Mar 15 High Ventus
Mar 11 - Mar 19 High Stella
Mar 15 - Mar 23 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 19 - Mar 27 Shoulder Stella
Mar 23 - Mar 31 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 27 - Apr 4 Shoulder Stella
Mar 31 - Apr 8 Shoulder Ventus
Apr 4 - Apr 12 Low Stella

Prices: Sep 2019 - April 2020

Cabin Low Shoulder High
B $2817 $3528 $4460
A $3820 $4716 $5719
AA $4010 $4916 $6007
AAA $4120 $5065 $6221
AA Superior $4824 $5999 $7321
AAA Superior $5150 $6356 $7693

Departure Dates Sept 2020 - April 2021.

from Punta Arenas
Date Season Ship
Sep 21 - Sep 29 Low Ventus
Sep 29 - Oct 7 Low Ventus
Oct 7 - Oct 15 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 15 - Oct 23 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 19 - Oct 27 Shoulder Stella
Oct 23 - Oct 31 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 27 - Nov 4 Shoulder Stella
Oct 31 - Nov 8 Shoulder Ventus
Nov 4 - Nov 12 High Stella
Nov 8 - Nov 16 High Ventus
Nov 12 - Nov 20 High Stella
Nov 16 - Nov 24 High Ventus
Nov 20 - Nov 28 Stella Ventus
Nov 24 - Dec 2 High Ventus
Nov 28 - Dec 6 High Stella
Dec 2 - Dec 10 High Ventus
Dec 6 - Dec 14 High Stella
Dec 10 - Dec 18 High Ventus
Dec 15 - Dec 23 High Stella
Dec 18 - Dec 26 High Ventus
Dec 22 - Dec 30 High Stella
Dec 26 - Jan 3 High Ventus
Dec 30 - Jan 7 High Stella
Jan 3 - Jan 11 High Ventus
Jan 7 - Jan 15 High Stella
Jan 11 - Jan 19 High Ventus
Jan 15 - Jan 23 High Stella
Jan 19 - Jan 27 High Ventus
Jan 23 - Jan 31 High Stella
Jan 27 - Feb 4 High Ventus
Jan 31 - Feb 8 High Stella
Feb 4 - Feb 12 High Ventus
Feb 8 - Feb 16 High Stella
Feb 12 - Feb 20 High Ventus
Feb 16 - Feb 24 High Stella
Feb 20 - Feb 28 High Ventus
Feb 24 - Mar 4 High Stella
Feb 28 - Mar 8 High Ventus
Mar 4 - Mar 12 High Stella
Mar 8 - Mar 16 High Ventus
Mar 12 - Mar 20 High Stella
Mar 16 - Mar 24 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 20 - Mar 28 Shoulder Stella
Mar 24 - Apr 1 Shoulder Ventus
from Ushuaia
Date Season Ship
Sep 25 - Oct 3 Low Ventus
Oct 3 - Oct 11 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 11 - Oct 19 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 19 - Oct 27 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 23 - Oct 31 Shoulder Stella
Oct 27 - Nov 4 Shoulder Ventus
Oct 31 - Nov 8 Shoulder Stella
Nov 4 - Nov 12 High Ventus
Nov 8 - Nov 16 High Stella
Nov 12 - Nov 20 High Ventus
Nov 16 - Nov 24 High Stella
Nov 20 - Nov 28 High Ventus
Nov 24 - Dec 2 High Stella
Nov 28 - Dec 6 High Ventus
Dec 2 - Dec 10 High Stella
Dec 6 - Dec 14 High Ventus
Dec 10 - Dec 18 High Stella
Dec 15 - Dec 23 High Ventus
Dec 18 - Dec 26 High Stella
Dec 22 - Dec 30 High Ventus
Dec 26 - Jan 3 High Stella
Dec 30 - Jan 7 High Ventus
Jan 3 - Jan 11 High Stella
Jan 7 - Jan 15 High Ventus
Jan 11 - Jan 19 High Stella
Jan 15 - Jan 23 High Ventus
Jan 19 - Jan 27 High Stella
Jan 23 - Jan 31 High Ventus
Jan 27 - Feb 4 High Stella
Jan 31 - Feb 8 High Ventus
Feb 4 - Feb 12 High Stella
Feb 8 - Feb 16 High Ventus
Feb 12 - Feb 20 High Stella
Feb 16 - Feb 24 High Ventus
Feb 20 - Feb 28 High Stella
Feb 24 - Mar 4 High Ventus
Feb 28 - Mar 8 High Stella
Mar 4 - Mar 12 High Ventus
Mar 8 - Mar 16 High Stella
Mar 12 - Mar 20 High Ventus
Mar 16 - Mar 24 Shoulder Stella
Mar 20 - Mar 28 Shoulder Ventus
Mar 24 - Apr 1 Shoulder Stella
Mar 28 - Apr 5 Shoulder Ventus
Apr 5 - Apr 13 Low Ventus
Cabin Low Shoulder High
B $2862 $3582 $4662
A $3892 $4806 $6299
AA $4056 $5022 $6696
AAA $4268 $5382 $7181
AA Superior $5030 $6254 $8073
AAA Superior $5247 $6531 $8550

Inclusions and exclusions

Inclusions

  • Ship transportation

  • Ship berth (double cabin)

  • Baggage handling and storage

  • All guides and guest lecturers

  • All meals, open bar

  • Shore excursions, and sightseeing arrangements as specified.

Exclusions

  • International airfare to Chile and/or Argentina

  • Domestic airfare within Chile and/or Argentina

  • Travel Insurance (MedEvac coverage is compulsory, cancellation/delay/baggage coverage is optional)

  • Laundry and items of a personal nature

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to go?

Patagonia is best experienced from October through April. December & January being the most popular times due to the winter holidays and South American summer vacations.

What will I see?

This itinerary starts in either Puerto Natales or Ushuaia. It combines wildlife, glaciers, hiking and cruising with fine dining and luxurious accommodations. Consider spending time in Santiago, the wine region or charming coastal Valparaiso en route to/from Puerto Natales. Likewise consider extending your stay in Buenos Aires before flying home with a city package or extension to Iguazu Falls.
Chile Extensions »
Argentina Extensions »

Is this trip for me?

Patagonia can accommodate various levels of activity, from gentle walks & cruising to challenging hikes.

Do I need a visa?

Canadian citizens must pay a (US)$160 visa reciprocity fee prior to entering Argentina.  This can be completed online here. US and Australian citizens are now exempt.   Visas for Chile are not required at this time. For the latest information, it's best to consult your local Argentine and Chilean consulates.

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