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Patagonia Expedition Cruise - Argentina to Chile


ARP15B
15 NIGHTS
FROM £3,994
International flights quoted separately
Combine the exciting city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, with an unforgettable Expedition Cruise through the Beagle Channel & Glacier Alley. Visit Cape Horn, Magdalena Island & the dramatic landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park, before completing your holiday exploring Santiago & the Chilean Winelands. All transfers included.
Photo Pategonia Cruise Argentina Chile Stella Australis Cape Horn
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Ushuia
• 
Patagonia Cruise
• 
Beagle Channel
• 
Cape Horn
• 
Glacier Alley
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Santiago
• 
Valparaiso
• 
Buenos Aires
• 
Tango Show
• 
Ushuia
• 
Patagonia Cruise
• 
Beagle Channel
• 
Cape Horn
• 
Glacier Alley
• 
Torres Del Paine
• 
Santiago
• 
Valparaiso
Day 1
You will be met at Buenos Aires Airport and transferred to your hotel in this exciting city, situated on the estuary of the Río de la Plata (or "River of Silver").
 
Check in and relax in this capital of Argentina, known for its wonderful architecture, tango dancing and rich culture, including the highest concentration of theaters in the world.
Day 2
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 3
At leisure to explore Buenos Aires independently.
Day 4
Transfer to Aeroparque Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Ushaia Airport and transferred to your hotel. Surrounded by the spectacular mountains and fjords of Pategonia, this southermost city in the world is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel, at the southern tip of the island of Tierra del Fuego (or 'Land of Fire').
 
Regarded  by Argentinians as the true capital of the 'Malvinas' (the Falklands Islands), here you can visit the memorial to their citizens who lost their lives fighting in the Falklands War.
Day 5
Morning is at leisure to explore Ushuaia or enjoy an optional catamaran ride to Bird and Sea Lion Island.
 
In the afternoon you will be transferred to the cruise office for check in. Board your Patagonia Expedition Cruise at 18:00 and after a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain, we set out across the Beagle Channel 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 Ushuaia disappear, we sail into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands. Passport checks will be required, as we enter Chilean waters soon after leaving port.
 
Note: Please pack suitably for your Expedition Cruise - including waterproof jacket & waterproof trousers (these are essential, as you will be sitting on the inflated sides of open panga boats), warm hat, scarf, gloves, good walking shoes & socks. Dress in layers & don’t forget your binoculars, sunglasses & sunscreen.
Day 6
Around dawn we cruise across Nassau Bay and 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 UNESCO 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.
 
Sailing back across Nassau Bay, 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.
Day 7
After nightfall we re-enter 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. Rounding the Brecknock Peninsula as the western extreme of Tierra del Fuego, we are briefly exposed to the open Pacific Ocean.
 
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, this sound is flanked by numerous glaciers and saw-toothed peaks. After landing on the beach, we hike around the edge of a lagoon to the base of towering Águila Glacier ('Eagle Glacier'). Giant condors can sometimes be seen flying high above and there is always abundant bird life around the lagoon.
Day 8
After an overnight cruise that takes us back into the Straits of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies 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 is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. Many other bird species are also found on this island. Weather permitting, at dawn we go ashore and hike along a path that leads through thousands of these penguins to a small museum in the old lighthouse. In September and April -- when the penguins dwell elsewhere -- this excursion is replaced by a zodiac ride to Marta Island to see South American sea lions (Note: selfie sticks are prohibited on Magdalena Island).
 
After a short sail south along the strait, we disembark at Punta Arenas in Chile around 11.30. Here you will be 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 9
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 10
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 11
Transfer to the bus station for the 3-hour public bus ride to Punta Arenas Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile.
 
Check into your hotel in this sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, situated in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
Day 12
This morning enjoy a shared tour of the modern city of Santiago.
 
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. 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.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to explore more of this lively city independently.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 13
Today transfer 2-hours to the historic seaport of Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast - a UNESCO World Heritage site and the second largest city in Chile.
 
Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, it was the most important Pacific seaport on the crucial trade route that linked the American west coast with Europe, via the Strait of Magellan. Its many stairways and old funicular elevators that lead up the 44 hills on which the city is built are a real feature. Check into your hotel in this lively and chaotic city, with its quirky and eclectic architecture.
Days 14 To 15
At leisure to relax and explore the port city of Valparaiso.
Day 16
Transfer 2-hours to Santiago Airport for your flight home.

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