GTCA- 588 – PATAGONIA CRUISE ABOARD THE STELLA AUSTRALIS

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DARWIN’S ROUTE FROM USHUAIA
USHUAIA – USHUAIA
Eight Days / Seven Nights

Departures every Wednesday
Starting October 4/2017 thru April 4/ 2018

HIGHLIGHTS

Departing from Ushuaia (Argentina), retrace the route of Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle on this expedition cruise through the Fuegian Archipelago. Our adventurous eight-day (seven-night) itinerary includes legendary Cape Horn and historic Wulaia Bay, as well as Glacier Alley, the penguins of Tuckers and Magdalena islands, and the spectacular fjords that harbor Pía and Águila glaciers. Along the way you’ll also encounter Patagonia’s massive ice fields, lush sub-polar forests and secluded beaches.

DAY 1: Ushuaia

Check in at 160 Juan Manuel de Rosas Street in downtown Ushuaia between 10:00AM
and 5:00 PM on the day of your cruise departure. For the 2017-2018 Season: Board the M/V Stella Australis at 6:00PM.

After a welcoming cocktail with the captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as we turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.

DAY 2: Cruceros Australis

Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay
By early morning, Stella Australis is cruising 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). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition — and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland — Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was 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.

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.

After a visit to the small Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station — which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area — passengers 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, Ñirres 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 travelers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

DAY 3: Cruceros Australis

De Agostini Sound and Águila Glacier
After nightfall we 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. Rounding the Brecknock Peninsula at 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 this spectacular landscape.

DAY 4: Cruceros Australis

Magdalena Island – 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. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city.

Reboard Stella Australis at 18:00 (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, the lights of Punta Arenas fade into the distance as we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. * Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island.
*Camera extension poles (tripods) are prohibited on Magdalena Island.

DAY 5: Cruceros Australis

Ainsworth Bay & Tuckers Islets
After leaving Punta Arenas and crossing the Strait of Magellan, we sail up Admiralty Sound between the snowcapped peaks of Karukinka and the fjords of Alberto de Agostini National Park. We 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, we sail west to the Tucker 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 — when the penguins live elsewhere — this excursion is replaced by a beach walk to a glacier at Brookes Bay.

DAY 6: Cruceros Australis

Pia Glacier – Glacier Alley
Overnight we sail around the western end of Tierra del Fuego via the very narrow Gabrial, Magdalena and Cockburn channels. 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. Most of them named after European countries — Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.

DAY 7: Cruceros Australis

Wulaia Bay – Cape Horn
Stella Australis once again enters the maze of islands at the bottom end of south America for another visit to Wulaia Bay and Cape Horn. Our itinerary day repeats the shore landings and other activities from Day 2. 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 Wulaia bay, explore the small museum in much more depth, strike out on a longer walk than last time or birdwatch along the shore. Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum – letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by future travelers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

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. This second approach also increases your chances of landing on Cape Horn Island.

DAY 8: Ushuaia

After a final night aboard Stella Australis, we sail back into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia. Acknowledged as the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia (Argentina) was founded in 1884 and was 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 now the second largest city in Tierra del Fuego (after Rio Grande). Disembarkation is scheduled at 8:30 AM, providing a perfect opportunity to enjoy the city and its spectacular scenery.

RATES PER PERSON BASED ON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY
DARWIN’S ROUTE FROM USHUAIA
USHUAIA – USHUAIA
Eight Days / Seven Nights

CABIN CATEGORY PROMO RATE LOW SEASON HIGH SEASON
B $ 2,366 $ 2,957 $ 3,774
A $ 3,174 $ 3,958 $ 4,857
AA $ 3,332 $ 4,149 $ 5,086
AAA $ 3,489 $ 4,343 $ 5,333
AA SUPERIOR $ 4,197 $ 5,229 $ 6,345
AAA SUPERIOR $ 4,394 $ 5,472 $ 6,653

Send us a Message

ENQUIRE NOW

We will be happy to answer your questions or comments.

G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843

Send us a Message

ENQUIRE NOW

We will be happy to answer your questions or comments.

G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843

Send us a Message

ENQUIRE NOW

We will be happy to answer your questions or comments.

G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843