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Patagonia Cruise - Chile to Argentina


CRH14S
14 NIGHTS
FROM £4,295
International flights quoted separately
There is no better way to experience the spectacular landscapes of Patagonia than aboard a thrilling Expedition Cruise, sailing from Punto Arenas in Chile, to Ushuaia in Argentina - sailing via Cape Horn. Explore Torres Del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks, as well as the capital cities of Santiago & Buenos Aires. English guides, all transfers & specified sightseeing included.
Patagonia Cruise Chile Photo Argentina Ushuaia Torres del Paine Perito Moreno
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Santiago
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
• 
Punta Arenas
• 
Patagonia Cruise
• 
Glacier Alley
• 
Cape Horn
• 
El Calafate
• 
Perito Moreno Glacier
• 
Buenos Aires
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Santiago
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
• 
Punta Arenas
• 
Patagonia Cruise
• 
Glacier Alley
• 
Cape Horn
• 
El Calafate
• 
Perito Moreno Glacier
• 
Buenos Aires
Day 1
You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile. This sophisticated and cosmopolitan city is situated in a valley, surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
 
On arrival enjoy a shared tour of this modern city. We start in the downtown area of this relatively compact city, where modern buildings have transformed the landscape, and visit Santa Lucia Hill where the city of Santiago was founded in 1541.
 
We continue to the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the old colonial city and bustling Ahumada Boulevard with its many shops, street performers and vendors. Here you will be able to see some beautiful neo-classical buildings – including the 18th century Cathedral of Santiago and the early 19th century Royal Court Palace, which now houses the National History Museum. Also enjoy outside views of the Municipal Offices, the Post Office and the current Presidential Palace, La Moneda. Time permitting you will have the opportunity to taste a ‘Pisco Sour’, see local handcrafts and walk through some of the more traditional streets of the city, before being dropped off at your hotel.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 2
Today we recommend an optional full day tour into the beautiful Chilean Winelands.
 
Discover some of Chile's famous 'New World' wines and learn more about their production, as you visit at least two wine estates, including a cellar tour and wine tasting.
Day 3
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Punta Arenas Airport and escorted to the bus station for the 3-hour public bus ride to Puerto Natales - the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.
 
You will be met on arrival at Puerto Natales bus station and transferred to your hotel in this former fishing town situated on the Ultima Esperanza Sound.
Day 4
Weather permitting, an early departure this morning for a full day excursion by boat to the spectacular Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers.
 
We sail at 08.00 from Puerto Natales and enjoy an onboard breakfast as we navigate through the beautiful Ultima Esperanza Fjord. After 3-hours we arrive at the icy blue Balmaceda Glacier in Bernardo O´Higgins National Park. This astonishing glacier is over 1,000 years old and offers a magnificent display when "calving" - as huge chunks of ice detach and crash into the waters below. You can hope to see cormorants and sea lions here.
 
We disembark at Puerto Toro at the end of the fjord and walk 3/4 mile (1 km) through an indigenous forest to the foot of the Serrano Glacier, another fantastic natural wonder that is part of the Southern Patagonia Icefields.
 
On the way back we stop at an Estancia (ranch) to enjoy an included 'Asado al Palo' (typical Magellanan barbeque), before sailing back to Puerto Natales. We disembark around 17.00 and transfer back to our hotel.
 
Note: This excursion is available from October to April only.
Day 5
Today enjoy a full day excursion travelling across the dry scrubland of the Magellanic Steppe to Torres del Paine National Park - a 242,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its soaring mountains, electric-blue lakes and many glaciers.
 
We drive past Figueroa Lake and stop at the village of Cerro Castillo, where you can enjoy a coffee and buy typical handcrafts of the region. A variety of rare wildlife can be seen in these pampas (lowlands), including large herds of elegant guanaco - a type of humpless camel related to the llama - and the lesser rhea, which is related to the ostrich and emu. You may also see giant condor birds soaring in the thermals.
 
We then enter Torres del Paine National Park, where the landscape changes dramatically to spectacular glacier lakes frequented by marine birds, lofty waterfalls and magnificent granite mountain peaks covered by ice. The enormous Campo de Hielo Sur icecap gives the park four main glaciers - Grey, Dickson, Zapata and Tyndall. Two other glaciers descend from the west side of the central massif.
 
From the Lake Sarmiento viewpoint, enjoy postcard views of the Paine Massif. Weather permitting, from the Lake Amarga viewpoint you will have one of the best views of the three granite Torres Del Paine ('Towers of Blue') from which the park takes its name. We also stop at the Lake Nordenskjold lookout, with its view over the different peaks of the Cordillera Paine – including the famous Cuernos del Paine and the highest mountain in the Park, the Paine Grande at 10,000 ft (3,050 m).
 
After a 15-minute walk to the powder blue Salto Grande Waterfall that flows into Lake Pehoé, enjoy an included picnic lunch. Afterwards we stop on the shores of Grey Lake and walk across a hanging bridge over the Pingo River to the beach, from where spectacular blue icebergs can be seen against a backdrop of the distant Grey Glacier.
 
We then leave Torres del Paine, stopping on our return journey at the Milodón Cave on Benitez Hill. The remains of several extinct animals have been found here - including the sabre toothed tiger, the American horse and a gigantic herbiverous mammal known as the Milodon. You will need to walk for half an hour to reach the main cave, which is 200 meters deep, 80 meters wide and 30 meters high. Here you can see stalactites and a life-size replica of the Milodon. We return to Puerto Natales in the late afternoon.
Day 6
Transfer to Puerto Natales bus station for the 3-hour public bus to Punta Arenas.
 
You will be met at the Punta Arenas Bus Station and transferred to your hotel in this small port city, situated on the Straits of Magellan that link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Day 7
This afternoon transfer to the Patagonia Expedition Cruise office in Punta Arenas (1385 O’Higgins Street) in good time to check in and board your ship, which departs at 18.00.
 
After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain, we set out to one of the remotest parts of the planet - the breathtaking wilderness that is southern Patagonia, which includes the islands of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
 
As the lights of Punta Arenas disappear, we enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Tierra del Fuego. During the night we cross the Straits of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonia.
Day 8
By dawn we sail up Admiralty Sound, a spectacular offshoot of the Straits of Magellan that stretches nearly halfway across Tierra del Fuego. The snowcapped 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.
 
Continuing along the sound we sail into Ainsworth Bay, created by the retreat of the Marinelli Glacier over thousands of years. We go ashore in this bay that has abundant bird life and a large colony of southern elephant seals, which can sometimes be spotted from the zodiacs. Two guided excursions are available here. One walk is along the edge of a stream, peat bog and beaver habitat to a waterfall-covered rock face tucked deep inside a pristine sub-polar forest. Another more strenuous hike is along the crest of a glacial moraine, with both options affording views of the Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains.
 
Leaving Ainsworth Bay behind, we sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, we board the zodiacs again for a close-up view of the Magellan penguins that inhabit these 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.
Day 9
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, we head eastward and enter the Beagle Channel.
 
In the morning we enter Pia Fjord and boarding the zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking you can choose either a short or long hike, both offering panoramic views of this spectacular glacier which extends from the mountain tops down to the sea.
  
Back onboard, 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. Most of them named after European countries -- Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.
Day 10
During the early morning we navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste Islands. We drop anchor at beautiful 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, it was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain FitzRoy, who landed here in 1833 during their voyages on the HMS Beagle.
 
There is a choice of three hikes here of varying difficulty, walking through the heavily wooded Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns and other endemic vegetation to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking Wulaia Bay. Afterwards visit the small museum in the old radio station, that tells the story of the Yámana people and the European missionaries who landed here. Before leaving, drop a postcard in the wooden barrel in the old maritime tradition.
 
In the afternoon we sail across Nassau Bay, into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we go ashore on the windswept island of Cape Horn. Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition, and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland, this sheer 1,394 ft (425 m) high rocky promontory overlooks the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years this was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans - referred to as the 'End of the Earth' - and today it is a World Biosphere Reserve. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a lighthouse keeper and his family. There is also the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and Cape Horn monument.
Day 11
Disembark in Ushuaia today between 08.30 and 09.30 and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at El Calafate Airport and transferred to your hotel in this small town, situated on Lake Argentino in Santa Cruz province and the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park.
 
Check in and relax surrounded by the scenery of the spectacular Southern Pategonia Ice Field.
Day 12
Today enjoy an 8-hour shared excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, the second largest national park in Argentina covering an area of over 725,000 hectares and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 
This is an area of exceptional natural beauty, with towering mountains and many glacial lakes. The giant ice cap in the Austral Andes that feeds these 47 glaciers is the largest outside Antarctica and Greenland.
 
Over half the park is covered with enormous glaciers and you can walk along paths in front of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier to get closer views. With luck you may see it "calving", when huge chunks of ice break off the glacier and splash into the lake below. There is also an optional 1-hour boat ride to view the glacier from water level (pay locally).
 
After lunch (own account), there is some free time to explore the park before returning to your hotel in the afternoon.
Day 13
Transfer to El Calafate Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Aeroparque Airport in Buenos Aires and transferred to your hotel in this capital city.
Day 14
This morning enjoy a half day tour of Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan city influenced by the many immigrants who helped form it and offering beautiful architecture, history and culture.
 
Our tour starts at the Plaza de Mayo, the historical, political and cultural centre of the city. Here you can see the Pink House (Presidential Palace), the Pyramid de Mayo and Metropolitan Cathedral. We continue down Avenida de Mayo, with its wide avenues and spacious green areas, past the Obelisk to the neighborhood of San Telmo, one of the oldest in the city with cobbled streets and colonial houses. Every Sunday an antiques fair takes place here around the Plaza Dorrego. The vibrant area is the centre for most of the tango parlors, restaurants and bars of the city.
 
Going further south, we visit the Italian port neighborhood of La Boca, with its colourful houses in Caminito Street and many “cantinas” (small restaurants). Also the trendy modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero, where the old piers have been converted into upmarket offices, apartments and restaurants with views of the Rio de la Plata. We visit the residential neighborhood of Palermo with its elegant mansions surrounded by spacious parks, before arrivinge in glamorous Recoleta, where there is the option to visit the famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, with its rich architecture (pay locally). Next to the cemetery is the church of Our Lady of Pilar, the Recolete Cultural Centre (originally a convent) and the Palais de Glace exhibition centre.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax, before you are collected in the evening for a Tango Show. Born in the brothels of the city amongst a racial mix of Gauchos, Italian, Spanish and African immigrants, this dance and its music originated as a combination of Cuban and Spanish rhythms, with some polka and African beat. Enjoy the show and dinner, including mouth-watering Argentinian beef and Malbec wine.
Day 15
Transfer to Buenos Aires Airport for your flight home.

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