Patagonia, The Chilean Fjords and Argentina's Staten Island
- See Patagonia’s signature Torres del Paine National Park
- Explore the Chilean fjords
- Venture through wildlife reserves not easily accessible to the public
- By special permission, be one of the few people ever to explore Isla de los Estados (Staten Island)
At a glance
Duration: 21 Days, 20 Nights
Coverage: Puerto Montt, Chilie to Ushuaia, Argentina
Activities: Birding, Culture, History, Nature, Wildlife
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Legendary wildness and special access to seldom-visited regions
Remote and largely inaccessible, Patagonia is the essence of wildness—a maze of channels and islands.
Venture deep into Chile’s glorious fjords past incandescent icebergs and massive glaciers. From the “land of fire,” Tierra del Fuego, to the jagged spires of Torres del Paine National Park, experience Patagonia at close range aboard National Geographic Explorer. And, thanks to our special access, we’ll enjoy the privilege of visiting the far-off, stunningly beautiful natural parklands of Karukinka and Yendegaia. We’ll also visit the ‘brand-name’ adventurous destinations of Torres del Paine and Cape Horn. And we’ll be privileged to be one of the only expedition ships ever allowed to visit Argentina’s remote, wild Isla de los Estados.
The wilderness of Patagonia is near mythic, nowhere more so than the newest and largest protected area: Karukinka Natural Park. We’re thrilled to have special permission from the Wildlife Conservation Society to visit this reserve, which spans 1,160 square miles and harbors endangered culpeo fox and Andean condors.
By special permission, National Geographic Explorer will call at Isla de los Estados, a wild island largely untouched by humans in decades, it has only a naval outpost with four guardians. Walk its wild beech forests, look for penguins, see 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. And, conditions permitting, explore a very rarely seen archeological site where native people lived 1,500 years ago.
From the razor-backed ridges of the sprawling Torres del Paine National Park to Pio XI, the longest glacier in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica, Patagonia is a land of superlatives. This vast area of snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes, soaring granite walls, and waterfalls, and archipelago provides days of spectacular adventure. Explore the towering fjords by Zodiac and kayak; hike to the terminus of massive glaciers; walk the spongy, vegetation-covered ground surrounded by the immensity of a wild pristine landscape.
On Chile’s Chiloé Island, hike through the unusual, ancient alerce forest of massive trees, some 2,000 years old, similar in dimension to California redwoods. Search for the endangered culpeo fox and Andean condors. See albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters, and more. And on Isla de Los Estados, walk among colonies of southern rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, plus see large groups of fur seals and sea lions. And in the Chilean fjords, Explorer’s on board undersea specialist will deploy an ROV to shoot video of an undersea few humans have ever seen.
You’ll get out on adventures often in Patagonia, sometimes twice a day—to walk or hike, kayak, or Zodiac cruise through the fjords and alongside towering glaciers. Because Explorer has a fleet of both Zodiacs and kayaks, the entire expedition community can embark at once on forays, no waiting around for returning parties. You’ll have a choice of activities each day, and the option to join any naturalist whose interests mirror yours. Choice also includes opting to enjoy the view from the all-glass observation lounge, the library, or the chart room. To visit the fitness center with its panoramic windows, or ease into the sauna, or have a massage in the wellness center.
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.
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer plus a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, a Global Perspectives guest speaker, a wellness specialist and a video chronicler. Their knowledge and passion for Patagonia is the key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Days 1-2: U.S./Santiago, Chile
Depart on an overnight flight to Santiago, Chile. We check in to the Hyatt Regency, 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. (Day 2: D)
- Day 3: Puerto Montt/Embark
Today we fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt, Chile’s northern gateway to Patagonia. Time permitting, we’ll explore the city and its environs before embarking National Geographic Explorer.
- Day 4: Castro (Chiloé Island)
We spend the day exploring Chiloé’s culture and natural history, seeing its attractive palafitos, colorful fishermen’s houses precariously built on stilts along the water’s edge. You may choose to visit Chiloé National Park to see its forests, wetlands and wildlife, with a selection of longer or shorter walks. Magnificent alerce trees here may grow to over 200 feet tall. Alternatively, visit some of the welcoming small communities that dot the countryside and learn about a unique way of life. (B,L,D)
- Day 5: Pumalín National Park
Pumalín’s 750,000 acres in Chilean Patagonia are protected as one of the last areas where the unusual alerce forest remains. These huge trees are similar in dimension to California redwoods, with some specimens 2,000 years old. Have a choice of walks in the park with naturalists in the forest, visit a hidden waterfall, or, for the energetic, climb to the rim of the caldera of Chiloé volcano for fantastic views. (B,L,D)
- Days 6-10: The Inland Passage & The Chilean Fjords
This large region of incredible scenery provides days of adventure for us. A vast area of snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes, soaring granite walls, and waterfalls, the archipelago is untouched by man, except for a few fishing villages which perch at “the end of the world.” We will make good use of our Zodiacs, kayaks and undersea technology to explore the beautiful protected waters and quickly run out of suitable adjectives to describe all we are witnessing. With a National Geographic photographer and a photo instructor by your side, you’ll have boundless photo options. One of the many highlights is the Pio XI Glacier, the longest glacier in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica. We explore by Zodiac and in the afternoon may hike on land exposed by the receding glacier. Be on deck to look for condors and other wildlife as our ship transits the White Narrows on our way to Puerto Natales. (B,L,D)
- Day 11: Puerto Natales/Torres del Paine National Park
From Puerto Natales, drive to monumental Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere. The landscape is big, wide and sprawling, with razor-backed ridges, Andean condors, flamingos, and rheas. It’s hard to imagine that the park could top the drive, but the Torres del Paine are an amazing sight, jagged granite mountains topped with a thick layer of dark slate. 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 lagoons. Chileans themselves dream of visiting this magnificent park. (B,L,D)
- Days 12-13: Tierra del Fuego, Chile: Karukinka Natural Park
Tierra del Fuego is one of Patagonia’s crown jewels. We transit the White Narrows, then on November 2 visit its newest and largest protected area: Karukinka Natural Park. 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 and Andean condors. (B,L,D)
- Days 14-15: Exploring the Fjords, Beagle Channel & Yendegaia
We’ll explore more stunning wilderness as we see the fjords and glaciers of the region by Zodiac, kayak and on foot. A vast area of soaring, snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of verdant islands, serene lakes, and waterfalls—the archipelago is scarcely touched by man. 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 to Yendegaia, a stunning wilderness that covers 95,000 acres on Tierra del Fuego. This newly established national park was formerly a private reserve. It has beech forests, mountains and wild rivers. (B,L,D)
- Day 16: Cape Horn
Today we visit Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of the continent, and, weather permitting, take Zodiacs ashore for panoramic views. (B,L,D)
- Days 17-19: Isla de Los Estados (Staten Island), Argentina
We have been given special permission to visit extraordinary Staten Island, and National Geographic Explorer will be one of the only expedition ships ever been 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 colonies of southern rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, many other water birds, and large assemblages of fur seals and sea lions. We’ll also look for otters on our landings ashore, and we’ll see the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, along with the ruins of a penal colony, and perhaps an archaeological site occupied 1,500 years ago by Native Americans. 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. (B,L,D)
- Days 20-21: Ushuaia/Disembark/Buenos Aires/U.S.
Disembark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Take a charter flight to Buenos Aires and connect to your overnight flight home. (Day 20: B,L)
Dates & Rates
|Oct 31, 2017||National Geographic Orion||$8,950||$9,610||$10,620||$12,550||$14,650||$16,720||$13,430||$15,930|
National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship, and the latest addition to the Lindblad fleet. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world. View ship details...