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Patagonia and the Chilean fjords expedition cruise - 6 Nov 2017

16 days from £5581pp

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Patagonia and the Chilean fjords expedition cruise - 6 Nov 2017

16 days from £5581pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive Santiago, transfer to hotel in Valparaiso.
 
On arrival at Santiago airport, transfer to Valparaiso, a couple of hours’ drive away on the Pacific coast. This is a lively, up-and-coming port busy regenerating its jumble of traditional wooden homes covering the steep hillsides framing the port. Your hotel, Palacio Astoreca, is in the old port district.

 

Valparaiso, Chile

Day 2

At leisure in Valparaiso.
 

At leisure in Valparaiso.  You might ride one of the funicular railways up the cliff face to visit smart new restaurants and survey the street art of what is becoming an arty Bohemian district. Or take a train or taxi to nearby Viña del Mar, Chile’s most popular beach resort, with some elegant buildings recalling its fashionable past.  

valparaiso

Day 3

Embark luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer.
 
Transfer to your ship. Once all guests have embarked she weighs anchor. You are introduced to the Expedition Team and other members of the crew. In the evening you can familiarise yourself with the vessel, meet your fellow travellers and enjoy your first meal in the restaurant which serves international cuisine and regional specialties unique to your destination.
Silver Explorer

Day 4

At sea sailing south.
 

Spend a leisurely day at sea. There are presentations about your destinations led by your Expedition Team members to prepare you for the upcoming ports of call. You can stroll around on deck or relax in the comfort of your suite, reading or watching a film on your interactive television.

Silversea Explorer

Day 5

Arrive Valdivia, visit the port at the entrance to the lake district.
 

Drop anchor at Niebla, a small village on the banks of the river Valdivia where it flows the Pacific Ocean. Today Niebla is a beach resort, but in the 17th century it was a defensive fortress built by Spanish conquistadores to repel pirate attacks. The batteries and garrisons here formed the most fortified complex along South America’s west coast.

It’s off the ship now for a drive to the river-port Valdivia at the northern end of Chile’s green and watery lake district. The chunky coastline here is wrinkled with inlets and silvery streams. Valdivia is a pleasant low rise city sitting where three rivers meet.

The city shows off aspects of the cultures of all the immigrant groups who made it the laid back city that it is today: native Mapuche indians, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants. Visit the Historical and Anthropological Museum to get an idea of how human history transformed the place, as did the 1960 earthquake. Reconstruction has led to a medley of the old and the new, and nowadays the life and soul of the place is on the quays and in the markets.

During the afternoon Silver Explorer heads further south, while you are introduced to the highlights of the volcano-studded lake district with a series of talks.

Valdivia, Chile

Day 6

Dock at Puerto Montt, excursions to the lake Todos Los Santos.
 

Puerto Montt is at the southern end of the lake district and the ship cruises into this lively fishing port, the jumping off point for a drive into to chocolate-box pretty countryside. You’ll get to see two of the most picturesque of its jewel-sharp lakes.

Next, head along the southern shore of the lake Todos Los Santos to see the Petrohue waterfalls, rapids fringed by nature trails and many wild flowers. Later there’s a boat trip on the emerald-green lake and, following a short climb, you will hopefully have views of the conical slopes of the dominant, snow-smothered Osorno volcano.

Osorno

Day 7

Arrive Chiloe island, visit Castro and traditional villages.
 

Undulating Chiloé, with its fractured coastline, is a secretive island famed for the myths and legends of the original native population. As it is isolated from mainland Chile, farming and fishing techniques haven’t changed much over the centuries.

The rustic villages clinging to the estuaries and creeks are dotted with unique Jesuit-carved, wooden churches and brightly painted houses on stilts (palafitos). Go ashore by Zodiac at the capital, Castro, to see its distinctive yellow church.

Continue by road and ferry to the picturesque village of Dalcahue, famous for its woollens and artisan crafts. Visit a couple of other distinctive villages, once affluent places with graceful houses and boats arriving every day from nearby islands. Dalcahue’s church is a UNESCO-listed site with exquisite wooden features carved by Jesuits

Alternatively, visit Chiloé National Park on the west coast with sand dunes, ancient evergreen rainforest, swamps and peat bogs. It’s an attractive home for foxes, sea-lions, sea otters, opossums and many woodland birds. You can walk one of the trails on the lookout for them. 

Chiloe

Day 8

At sea cruising the Chilean fjords.
 

The on-board historian entertains you with tales of early Spanish exploration, and there may be a talk about the region’s geology. As you head south, the land fractures into a jigsaw of drowned glaciated valleys, rugged mountains tumbling into the sea and forested islands.

Birdwatching enthusiasts can discover which species inhabit this area. The further south the ship sails, the better is the chance of spotting Andean condors soaring above the cliffs.

condor

Day 9

Visit Pio Xl glacier.
 

Early in the morning go out on deck to watch as the ship passes through the English Narrows which means cruising through a maze of islands. At the narrowest part it has a width of only 80m. You may spot Magellanic diving petrels, steamer ducks, and maybe a Chilean dolphin.

There are presentations on the region’s natural history. This heavily glaciated and forest-stifled area of fiords framed by near vertical hillsides is so inaccessible that only one settlement exists south of the English Narrows – Puerto Eden.

In the afternoon visit the vast Pio XI Glacier, a vast sheet of craggy, turquoise blue ice spitting icebergs into the chilly waters below its towering wall.  If the weather is OK you can take to the Zodiacs to approach the glacier and view it up close. 

Pio XI Glacier, Chile

Day 10

Cruise through the islands to Puerto Natales.
 

This is one of the least populated, remote places on earth and you will be made aware of a true wilderness untamed on all sides as the ship follows her course among the fjords.

Sail through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, before heading for another famously narrow channel, the White Narrows, crushed by barren rocks on either side. Seals and dolphins may pop up here.

In the evening the ship arrives in Chile’s far south at Puerto Natales, the access point for one of the exploration’s highlights, Torres del Paine National Park.

Puerto Natales, Chile

Day 11

Trip to Torres del Paine National Park or Milodon Cave.
 

Puerto Natales, a pleasant little port at the head of grimly named ‘Last Hope Sound’ has a frontier-town feel. Visitors use it as a launching pad for visits to Torres del Paine and to see the famous Milodon Cave.

Three towering, vertical granite peaks and a crown of cathedral-sharp icy peaks are the trademarks of Torres del Paine. To get there you drive through wind-tousled grasslands where sheep, guanaco and foxes can be seen. This national park is a delight for trekkers and you can take a walk along a trail to see some of the ice-flecked rivers, flowery meadows and steep, glaciated valleys.

Or you can visit the cave where the remains of a Milodon (giant sloth) were found. You are taken through extensive sheep grazing areas peppered with guanacos, foxes, ‘baqueanos’ (shepherds on horseback), and many bird species including Andean condors.

Overnight at dock in Puerto Natales.  You might like to savour a local parrillada (grill), and a pisco sour cocktail in town.

torres del paine

Day 12

At sea in the Magellan Strait.
 

The ship heads south for the Strait of Magellan; you are entertained and informed by talks about the marine park, the explorer Magellan or the historic importance of this waterway for shipping.

Chilean fjords

Day 13

Arrive Punta Arenas.
 

Arrive in Punta Arenas, founded as a penal colony in 1848, but now the busy capital of Chile’s southernmost region. The city prospered in the 19th century owing to a gold rush and extensive sheep-farming. Before the building of the Panama Canal the Strait of Magellan was on an important trading route. Punta Arenas still is an entry point to Antarctica.

Depart from the pier to explore the city, stopping at viewpoints. Continue on to a museum with exhibits illustrating the habitat and history of Patagonia’s indigenous people and the region’s natural history.

During the evening the ship heads back on the Strait of Magellan, aiming for the Beagle Channel.

punta arenas

Day 14

Cruise the Beagle Channel.
 

As the Silver explorer approaches the Garibaldi glacier she sails through one of Chile’s largest national parks: Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini, UNESCO listed as a biosphere reserve because of its unique ecosystems.

Eventually, the Silver Explorer enters the Garibaldi fjord, a narrow passage strewn with aquamarine ice. Waterfalls snake down steep mountainsides. At the head of this fjord you’ll see the retreating Garibaldi glacier.

The ship continues along the 130nm Beagle Channel, fringed by ancient evergreen woodland, water-smoothed boulders and rocky islets. This famous waterway on the southern shores of Tierra del Fuego was named after HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin sailed. You then head for the final destination: Ushuaia.

Lighthouse in Ushuaia

Day 15

Arrive Ushuaia, fly to Buenos Aires.
 

Silver Explorer will arrive at Ushuaia in the morning. Following breakfast, disembark. (But why stop here? Once in Ushuaia, the jumping off point for Antarctica might stay on board for a cruise to the Falkland islands, South Georgia and Antarctica, the White Continent. and the most majestic wilderness of them all. 

Transfer to the airport and fly to Buenos Aires, transfer to your hotel, the extravagant and prestigious Alvear Palace.

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

Day 16

Transfer to the airport for your international flight.
 

Having arrived in Buenos Aires, consider a wind-down and warm-up on a luxury estancia.

16 days from £5581pp

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