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Best of Chilean Patagonia

Best of Chilean Patagonia

At a glance

Duration: 15 Days, 14 Nights

Coverage: Puerto Natales to Ushuaia

From: $15,660

Season: March, November

Activities: Birding, Culture, History, Nature, Wildlife

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Lindblad Expeditions in Partnership with National Geographic

Discover the breadth of Patagonia’s wildness on a land-and-sea expedition

Optimize your Chilean Patagonia experience with a land and sea expedition. Spend three days at the superb Tierra Patagonia Hotel or Explora Patagonia to savor the grandeur of Torres del Paine’s sunrises and sunsets, its iconic landscapes, and profusion of wildlife. Then explore the fjords, glaciers, and panoramic vistas of Patagonia’s coast and waterways that are only accessible by expedition ship. Venturing out on Zodiac forays, kayaking pristine fjords, or hiking virgin trails, you’ll breathe the rarified air of a near-mythic region. Enjoy special access to Argentina’s Isla de Los Estados (Staten Island)—a seldom-seen island covered in wind-sculpted flora, with wildlife that includes South American fur seals and Magellanic penguins. Discover the vast parklands of Karukinka. And check viewing legendary Cape Horn on your life list as well.

  • Discover over several days the wildlife-rich, iconic landscapes of Torres del Paine, Patagonia’s jewel, with the superb Tierra Patagonia Hotel (October 2017 and October 2018) or Explora Patagonia (March 2018) as your base camp
  • Explore wild, windswept Isla de los Estados (Staten Island), located at the extreme end of South America and largely off limits to travelers since 1923
  • Transit the legendary Beagle Channel and see storied Cape Horn
  • Venture through wildlife reserves not easily accessible to the public, including Karukinka Natural Park in Tierra del Fuego
  • Zodiac cruise and kayak through the breathtaking Chilean fjords

Explore inland Patagonia

Nestled between Torres del Paine National Park and a high altitude lake, our beautiful hotel is an ideal base camp to discover inland Patagonia. Horseback ride, if you wish, in the shadows of great mountains, hike in some of the most inspiring landscapes anywhere, and at the end of each day dine with views of Patagonia’s legendary snow-capped peaks.

Discover Argentina's seldom-visited Isla de los Estados

By special permission, National Geographic Orion will call at Isla de los Estados, a wild island largely untouched by humans in decades. Its only human residents are the four guardians at a small naval outpost. Walk its wild beech forests, look for penguins, see the replica of the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, plus explore the ruins of a penal colony.

Experience iconic landscapes & see rare wildlife

From saw-toothed peaks to bright blue glaciers you’ll discover a near-mythic wildness that is inaccessible without an expedition ship. This vast area of snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes, soaring granite walls, and waterfalls provides days of spectacular adventure. See the wildlife of the Patagonian steppes, including Andean condors soaring overhead. Look for Magellanic penguins, Austral parakeets, albatrosses, grebes, woodpeckers, fulmars, shearwaters, and more.

Take advantage of superb photo ops

You’ll have a National Geographic photographer as your traveling companion, to inspire you and provide tips in the field. And the services of a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor, as well—to help you turn your point-and-shoot camera into an aim & create. You’ll find no end of subjects, and the help you need to return home with your best photos ever.

Travel in excellent company

Explore Torres del Paine under the expert guidance of veteran Lindblad naturalists relying on their expertise to maximize wildlife sightings. And aboard National Geographic Orion, go with expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer plus a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, a wellness specialist and a video chronicler. Their knowledge and passion for Patagonia are key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

Note: The 2019/20 departures are one day longer, and priced accordingly.

Days 1-2: U.S./Santiago, Chile

Depart on an overnight flight to Santiago, Chile. We check in to the Mandarin Oriental (or similar) centrally located in Santiago, and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the city. In the early evening, we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel. (Day 2: L)

Day 3: Punta Arenas/Puerto Natales

Today we fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, Chile’s southern gateway to Patagonia, drive to the outpost of Puerto Natales and check in to our fine hotel, the Singular, located on Última Esperanza (Last Hope) Sound. The sound got its name when 16th-century explorers tried and failed to find a route to the Pacific here. This afternoon, we will enjoy a short exploration of the town, including a visit to the small but excellent Municipal Historical Museum, with exhibits on the region’s Native Americans and on its settler past. We have dinner at our hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 4-6: Torres del Paine National Park

We drive to Torres del Paine National Park, stopping at Milodón Cave, where the remains of an extinct giant sloth were discovered. Illuminating displays show the history of human habitation and wildlife of the region. We continue to monumental Torres del Paine, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and a place of superlatives. The landscape is big, wide and sprawling, with razor-backed ridges, Andean condors, guanacos, foxes, and rheas. Regardless of where you are, the Paine massif draws your eye with its jagged peaks, including the famous “Horns” and the three towers for which the park is named. These granite mountains are topped with a thick layer of dark slate. Chileans themselves dream of visiting this magnificent park, and it holds a special place in their hearts as a symbol of wildness.

We spend three nights at the Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. During our days here, we’ll discover one of the most spectacular and wildlife-rich areas in the Americas, covering 450,000 acres of glaciers, forests and grasslands, rivers and colorful lakes and lagoons. You’ll be able to choose among a variety of excursions each day, ranging from a challenging hike to the base of the towers, to a shorter walk among guanaco herds to the edge of a lake, to a scenic drive to a waterfall and the “Blue Lagoon”, with views of the towers. Or ride horseback if you wish, in this most inspiring of landscapes. You’ll leave here with the feeling you’ve really experienced an adventure. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Torres del Paine National Park/ Puerto Natales/Embark

We have a final morning to explore Torres del Paine. We then drive to Puerto Natales, where we embark National Geographic Orion. (B,L,D)

Days 8: Kirke Narrows & Exploring the Chilean Fjords

Note: 2019/2020 sailings will spend two days in the Chilean Fjords.

Be on deck to look for condors and other wildlife on our way out of Puerto Natales, as our ship transits the narrow sliver of water known as the Kirke Narrows—always a challenge to navigate because of the powerful currents that flow through its pinch point. Today and during the following days you will be treated to the spectacular features of an active glaciated landscape with hanging valleys and tributary glaciers. This region was navigated by Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition and it took most of November 1520 for his ships to find a way through the channels that lie between the continental mainland and Tierra del Fuego to the south. Our Captain and local pilots guide us through Kirke Narrows, accessible only to a small ship as National Geographic Orion. We’ll look to make a first stop in the extensive maze of channels and islands of the Chilean fjords, where we may go out by Zodiac and kayak. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Tierra del Fuego, Chile: Karukinka Natural Park

Tierra del Fuego is one of Patagonia’s crown jewels. We visit its newest and largest protected area: Karukinka Natural Park. Established in 2004 through a gift from Goldman Sachs, Karukinka is one of the largest donations ever made for conservation. We’re thrilled to have special permission from the Wildlife Conservation Society to visit this private reserve, which spans 1,160 square miles and harbors endangered culpeo fox, Andean condors, albatross, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and many other kinds of wildlife. We may explore Jackson Bay, backed by a skyline of rugged mountains and look or wildlife including black-browed albatross that nest on one of the nearby small islands. We may walk a trail to a lovely waterfall and look for elephant seals resting on not only the beach but also high in the grass meadows and even in the small river draining the valley inland. (B,L,D)

Days 10: The Chilean Fjords, Beagle Channel & Exploring

We’ll explore more stunning wilderness as we see the fjords and glaciers of the region by Zodiac, kayak and on foot. Take Zodiacs out to explore these protected waters and rugged shores, the blue and white of ice contrasting with greens of the forest highlighted by splashes of late-season flowering plants. Look for the Andean condors, albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and many other birds that inhabit this otherworldly realm. Then we sail the Beagle Channel and will look to hike and kayak one of the wild areas in this region of beech forests, mountains and wild rivers. (B,L,D)

Days 11: Cape Horn

Today we visit Cape Horn, near the southernmost tip of the South American continent, named in 1616 for the Dutch town of Hoorn. These waters are famously difficult to navigate, and over the centuries have been the graveyard of many ships-which before the opening of the Panama Canal had to round the Cape to sail between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Of course, we'll use our modern equipment to explore safely. Weather permitting, we'll take our Zodiacs ashore and walk to the top of the hill for panoramic views and to see the memorial placed there in 1992, showing an albatross in silhouette. (B,L,D)

Day 12-13: Isla de Los Estados (Staten Island), Argentina

We have been given special permission to visit extraordinary Staten Island, and our ship will be one of the only expedition ships ever allowed here. It’s a place of superlatives, barely touched in recent decades and visited primarily by a few scientists and those who man the tiny naval observatory. The island was named by Dutch explorers in 1615. Its mountainous, forested landscapes and rugged fjords are beautiful, and we’ll find a great deal of interest here. Our exact schedule will remain flexible to take best advantage of conditions. We’ll see southern rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, many other water birds, and fur seals and sea lions. We’ll also look for otters on our landings ashore, and we’ll see the replica of the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, perhaps along with the ruins of a penal colony. There will be chances to walk in the southern beech forests. These days are bound to stand out as a unique chance to explore a very remote place. Read Eric Guth's account from our inaugural 2015 visit at (B,L,D)

Day 14-15: Ushuaia/Disembark/Santiago/U.S.

Disembark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Take a charter flight to Santiago and connect to your overnight flight home. (Day 14: B,L)

Best of Chilean Patagonia Itinerary Map

Dates & Rates

Dates Direction 1 2 3 4 5 6 1S 3S
Nov 7, 2019 Puerto Natales to Ushuaia $15,660 $16,430 $17,610 $19,870 $22,330 $24,750 $22,650 $25,590
Mar 8, 2020 Ushuaia to Puerto Natales $15,660 $16,430 $17,610 $19,870 $22,330 $24,750 $22,650 $25,590


National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion is a state-of-the-art expedition ship, designed to safely explore the remote regions of the planet. Orion carries 102 guests in 53 cabins, nine of them with balconies. She is equipped with a full complement of cool tools to explore the environment, including kayaks, Zodiacs, an ROV, and the capacity to accommodate Scuba divers. Her size and nimbleness offer the perfect combination of safety and the ability to go to the out-of-the-way islands of the South Pacific and other places where large cruise ships cannot go. View ship details...

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