DAY 1: U.S. / Fly Overnight to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fly overnight to Buenos Aires.
DAY 2-3: Buenos Aires/Embark Ship
The sweep and elegance of a Parisian cityscape with a tango soundtrack. That’s Buenos Aires. Visit the city’s Beaux Arts palaces, the bohemian quarters of La Boca and San Telmo and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. On Day 3, embark National Geographic Explorer. (Day 3: B,L,D)
DAY 4: At Sea – South Atlantic
Our ship navigates southward along the Argentine coastline. Head to the Bridge to watch for marine life, and gather in the lounge for presentations from our staff. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: Bahia Blanca, Argentina
We cruise up the expansive estuary, a maze of channels and islands, hoping to view the rarely observed Franciscana, or La Plata dolphin, as well as the local and rare Olrog’s gull. From this port city, set on the edge of vast grasslands called the Pampas, we venture into the countryside flanked by the mountain range of Sierra de la Ventana. Visit the Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist, which preserves a wide range of species native to the Pampas. (B,L,D)
DAY 6: At Sea South Atlantic
Enjoy the ship’s amenities: have a massage, work out in the gym, savor time in the library, and listen to talks by the staff on photography and the marine environment of the Patagonia Shelf. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Peninsula Valdes
A UNESCO Site, Peninsula Valdes is a wildlife haven where endangered southern right whales come to mate and calve their young. October is the peak of the migration season, and at this time of year the cows and newborn calves can be seen, often in water as shallow as 15 feet. When you come to Peninsula Valdes you must have a keen eye and an open mind, as things aren’t always as you imagine they should be. Unlike most whales species, which lift their tail flukes temporarily out of the water to make a dive, these right whales choose instead to hover vertically with their heads and bodies underwater, lifting their massive flukes high above the sea to catch the wind. Imagine it if you can: a whale tail sail!
Leaving the whales behind, we journey further into the peninsula, stopping to look at guanacos (a wild relative of the llama), rheas, armadillos, and a Magellanic penguin colony. Even the familiar form of penguins seems so out of place here in this strange and exotic peninsula. (B,L,D)
DAY 8: BahÃa Bustamante
One quickly understands the term vast, while traveling in Patagonia. Today we visit a private estancia (ranch), which has been in the hands of the Soriano family for 50 years. With 210,000 acres, the estancia still operates as a sheep ranch and also as a nature reserve. Fifty miles of its coastline is included in Argentina’s Marine National Park Austral Patagonia, and most of the vegetation and wildlife of the Patagonia steppe lives on the property. Over 100 species of birds are found in the area, officially declared an Area of Importance for the Conservation of Birds. We see colonies of Magellanic penguins, and rock and royal cormorants. Southern sea lions and elephant seals breed here and we look for whales offshore. Inland, we keep an eye out for the guanacos, rheas and other steppe wildlife. (B,L,D)
DAY 9: Puerto Deseado
For a small port village isolated along a rugged coast, Puerto Deseado has a distinctive maritime history. First discovered by Magellan in 1520, other explorers followed including Sir Francis Drake, Thomas Cavendish and Charles Darwin. We see a remnant of the port’s past at the local museum, where remains of the Swift, a British war ship sunk in 1770, is displayed. Deseado is actually a submerged estuary designated Reserva Natural RÃa Deseado by the Argentine government. We board small boats to view the steep cliffs and visit colonies of four species of breeding shags and other seabirds. Dolphins often escort the boats and we hope to spot the distinctive small black and white Commerson,™s dolphin. (B,L,D)
DAY 10: Exploring Coastal Argentina
The remote Argentine coast has been visited by countless expeditions through history, including Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle. The southern coast has sandy beaches and impressive geological formations with dramatic arches and caves, perfect for exploring. (B,L,D) DAY 11: Punta Arenas, Chile/Magdalena Bay
Discover the special charm of the extreme southern city of Punta Arenas. Begin at Cerro de la Cruz for panoramic views of the Strait of Magellan then travel the main plazas, stopping at two unique museums: the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum, with its natural history exhibits, and the Braun Menendez Museum, an opulent mansion testifying to the wealth and power of sheep farmers in the 1800s. There will also be an opportunity for a nature hike on the rolling hills above the town. Visit Magdalena Island, seen by Magellan, and home to a large Magellanic penguin colony and seabirds. (B,L,D)
DAY 12: Tierra Del Fuego, Chile: Karukinka Natural Park
Cruise deep into the western Strait of Magellan to see tidewater glaciers and one of Patagonia’s crowned jewels, Tierra del Fuego is a beautiful island known as the ,˜Land of Fire” at its most southern tip home to remarkable wildlife. Our destination is the newest and largest protected area on Tierra del Fuego: Karukinka Natural Park. Since 2004, it has been owned and managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, who we’ve been in conversation with and are thrilled to have been offered permission to explore their park. Spanning 1,160 square miles, this protected area is a bountiful reserve of sub-Antarctic woodlands, peat bogs, windswept steppes and snow-covered mountain ranges. Karukinka is a showcase for the unique wildlife of Patagonia, sheltering small breeding colonies of black-browed albatross and Southern elephant seals. Weather permitting, choose to kayak, surrounded by spectacular scenery and soaring Andean condors. (B,L,D)
DAY 13-14: Exploring The Chilean Fjords
The renowned fjords of southern Chile rival those of southeast Alaska in their raw beauty. The protected fjords and inlets of the honeycombed Chilean coastline are home to dolphins, whales, seals, and Magellanic penguins, with awesome views of the Cordillera Darwin as a bonus. You’ll see gigantic glaciers and snowcapped peaks, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes and waterfalls and come to appreciate (in the words of Herman Melville) all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonia sights and sounds., Our Captain and Expedition Leader will constantly be on the lookout for memorable places to explore by ship, Zodiac and kayak. (B,L,D)
DAY 15: Puerto Natales/Torres Del Paine N.P.
After sailing through the famous White Narrows yesterday, we arrive at Puerto Natales to begin our three-hour drive through Chilean Patagonia to the monumental Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere World Reserve. The landscape is big, wide and sprawling, with miles of grazing land, snow-capped mountains and razor-backed ridges. Look for Andean condors, flamingos and rheas, the flightless birds that are cousins of the emu and the ostrich. It is hard to imagine that the park could top the drive, but the Torres del Paine are an amazing sight, a cluster of jagged granite mountains topped with a thick layer of dark slate. The park is one of the most spectacular and wildlife-rich areas in the Americas, covering about 450,000 acres of glaciers, mountains, forests, rolling hills and grasslands, colorful lakes, rivers and lagoons, and we explore and hike in the company of our Naturalists and local guides. (B,L,D)
DAY 16: Tierra Del Fuego/Exploring the Chilean Fjords
We have another opportunity to explore the Chilean Fjords’ myriad islands and maze of channels. Andean condors soar overhead, while humpback whales, Peale’s and the rare Chilean dolphins utilize the productive marine waters. The Andes mountain range will be an ever-present and inspiring backdrop. Myriad fjords or senos indent the coast of Tierra del Fuego along the western Strait of Magellan: Seno Angostini, Seno Martinez, Seno Chico to name a few. Many are punctuated with tidewater glaciers at the end and we will cruise deep into one of the senos to explore by Zodiac and kayak. (B,L,D)
DAY 17: Yendegaia/Beagle Channel
Our transit of the scenic Beagle Channel takes us through protected waters in view of the snow-covered peaks of the Cordillera Darwin, which makes up the Western Peninsula of Tierra del Fuego. Huge condors may be seen against a background of enormous glaciers. It was here in the 1830s that naturalist Charles Darwin explored aboard HMS Beagle.
Our focus today is on Yendegaia, a stunning piece of wild nature that stretches more than 95,000 acres. We’ve received special permission to explore here from friends and wilderness advocates Kris and Doug Tompkins, who first saw its outstanding conservation potential in 1998 and worked to preserve it. A former cattle ranch on Tierra del Fuego, it boasts southern beech forests, expansive grasslands, mountains and wild rivers. (B,L,D)
DAY 18: Cape Horn
Today we round the southernmost tip of the continent, named in 1616 by Dutch navigator Willem Schouten. He called the cape Hoorn, after his birthplace while he was searching for a trade route to the Orient. Weather permitting, take Zodiacs ashore for a panoramic view from the southernmost tip of South America, and visit the family manning the weather station on top of the island. (B,L,D)
DAY 19-20: Ushuaia /Disembark/Buenos Aires/Fly Overnight to U.S.
On Day 19, disembark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, with time to explore before our private LAN charter flight to Buenos Aires, connecting to homebound flights. NOTE: Your overnight flight to the U.S arrives home on Day 20. (Day 19: B)
A note about the weather: In this very wild part of the world, the weather is highly unpredictable. As can happen on any of our expeditions, we may well have to adapt our plans to conditions at the time of our visit. Add these extensions for an additional fee: Buenos Aires
PRE-TRIP / 2 DAYS / FROM $1,560
Before embarking on your expedition take time to explore one of the world’s most intriguing cities. See its famous architecture, explore the most interesting neighborhoods, visit top museums, and take in a tango performance on an extension curated to provide the very best that Buenos Aires has to offer. Easter Island
POST-TRIP / 4 DAYS / FROM $2,990
Walk among the sentinels of a long lost culture in on one of the most mysterious islands on Earth. See the 100-ton stone statues, all that,™s left of the ancient Rapa Nui culture that grew in isolation. Iguazu Falls
POST-TRIP / 3 DAYS / FROM $2,490
Taller than Niagara and twice as wide, Iguazu Falls is situated in a beautiful subtropical forest, home to more than 450 species of birds, including toucans and parrots, and butterflies, orchids, and endangered jaguars.