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Patagonia and the Chilean fjords expedition cruise - 5 Nov 2018

18 days from £5,855pp

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Patagonia and the Chilean fjords expedition cruise - 5 Nov 2018:
Trip Dossier

This cruise on Silversea’s luxury expedition ship Silver explorer introduces you to the many and varied attractions of southern Chile, one of South America’s most photogenic regions. Culturally and scenically rich Chile, a slither of land clinging to the western slopes of the Andes with a long jagged coastline, is ideal cruising territory. This is no ordinary cruise: your shore landings and activities are included in the cost. You can explore the island of Chiloe, Torres del Paine National Park and enjoy Zodiac cruises to view hidden glaciers. Back on board, guests are pampered in cosy surroundings, with butler service, 4-course dinners and open bar. On-board talks from your expedition team complement the itinerary.

Between Valparaiso, Santiago’s busy port, and this area of wilderness lies the Chilean lake district, a region of aquamarine, meadows and snow-capped volcanoes. On show are the remnants of a fascinating human history of colonisation by different peoples. Justifiably popular with visitors, it is well worth the exploration you will make on your several landings.

Beyond are the dark fjords and steep mountains of sharply glaciated Patagonia; you sail through silvery seas dotted with a multitude of islands inhabited only by birds and sea-lions. 

It is so hard to penetrate the fragmented interior of the far south that even now there are few roads and many places can only be reached from the sea.  As a result the natural landscapes are untouched and human population is sparse; discovering this hidden territory is a true adventure.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Santiago, transfer to hotel in Valparaiso.

Day 2

At leisure in Valparaiso.

Day 3

Embark luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer.

Day 4

At sea sailing south.

Day 5

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

Day 6

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

Day 7

Arrive Chiloe island, visit Castro and traditional villages.

Day 8

At sea, sailing towards the Chilean fjords

Day 9

Visit Pio Xl glacier.

Day 10

Cruise through the islands to Puerto Natales.

Day 11

Visit Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 12

Cruising Montanas fjord

Day 13

Cruising through Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the Straits of Magellan

Day 14

Alberto de Agostini National Park and Ainsworth Bay

Day 15

Punta Arenas – Visit Patagonian Estancia

Day 16

Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier

Day 17

Arrive Ushuaia and disembark Silver Explorer. Fly to Buenos Aires

Day 18

Depart Buenos Aires.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Santiago, transfer to hotel in Valparaiso.
 
Valparaiso, Chile
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.

 

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Valparaiso, Chile

Day 2

At leisure in Valparaiso.
 
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.  

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valparaiso

Day 3

Embark luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer.
 
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.
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Silver Explorer

Day 4

At sea sailing south.
 
Silversea Explorer

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.

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Silversea Explorer

Day 5

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

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.

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Valdivia, Chile

Day 6

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

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.

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Osorno

Day 7

Arrive Chiloe island, visit Castro and traditional villages.
 
Chiloe

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. 

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Chiloe

Day 8

At sea, sailing towards the Chilean fjords
 
condor

A leisurely day at sea. Today Silver Explorer ventures again into the Pacific and rounds the Taitao and Tres Montes Peninsulas before entering the Golfo de Peñas. The ocean can be rough here, but the area is known for its sightings of whales and dolphins.  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. In the evening, Silver Explorer enters the Messier Channel and more sheltered, calmer waters off the Patagonian coast of Chile. 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.

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condor

Day 9

Visit Pio Xl glacier.
 
Pio XI Glacier, Chile

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. 

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Pio XI Glacier, Chile

Day 10

Cruise through the islands to Puerto Natales.
 
Puerto Natales, Chile

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.

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Puerto Natales, Chile

Day 11

Visit Torres del Paine National Park.
 
torres del paine

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, the most famous of Patagonia's national parks.

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. 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.

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torres del paine

Day 12

Cruising Montanas fjord
 
Chilean fjords

Leaving Puerto Natales in the morning, Silver Explorer once again passes through the White Narrows. This is another chance to spot wildlife and marvel at the amount of work and time that went into charting these waters. In the afternoon, the ship enters the narrow Canal de las Montañas and sails parallel to the Cordillera de Sarmiento. Several cascades and seven glaciers tumble down the steep sides of the mountains in a scenic wonder. Conditions permitting there may be a Zodiac cruise or even a landing and short hike.

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Chilean fjords

Day 13

Cruising through Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the Straits of Magellan
 
Chilean fjords

Continue through the majestic Chilean Fjords, sailing through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, before approaching the western portion of the Strait of Magellan. Mountains loom on both sides of the ship and Silver Explorer will sail through the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, an area humpback whales are known to frequent.

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Chilean fjords

Day 14

Alberto de Agostini National Park and Ainsworth Bay
 
Magellanic Penguins

Silver Explorer navigates past Dawson Island (infamous in Chile’s recent history as a penal settlement for political prisoners) into Almirantazgo Sound, to arrive at Ainsworth Bay. The bay is within Alberto De Agostini National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Conditions may allows for a Zodiac cruise to view the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range. This area gives an appreciation of how the land returns to life after glacial retreat. There may also be a chance to go walking in the stunning sub-polar Magellanic forest teeming with evergreens and deciduous trees. The bay promises a good chance of sighting Southern elephant seals, while nearby Tucker Island is known to have Magellanic penguins. Back on board, Silver Explorer sails for the southern port city of Punta Arenas.

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Magellanic Penguins

Day 15

Punta Arenas – Visit Patagonian Estancia
 
Punta Arenas, Chile

From Punta Arenas, drive to a typical estancia that was founded by French-Irish immigrants in the early 20th century for a glimpse of everyday life on a Patagonian ranch. There are presentations of sheep herding and shearing and a special demonstration of rodeo techniques (Chilean Patagonian-style).  Your typical Patagonian BBQ lunch is accompanied with empanadas and Pisco Sour.  On the drive to and from the estancia, keep an eye out for guanacos, rheas, Andean Condors and other wildlife.

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Punta Arenas, Chile

Day 16

Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier
 
Garibaldi Fjord

Silver Explorer will again sail out into the Pacific Ocean to reach the Beagle Channel, heading for Garibaldi Fjord. This beautiful corner of the Chilean fjords still lies within the Alberto de Agostini National Park, Chile’s third largest national park. This huge reserve includes all Chilean islands south of the Magellan Strait, including a portion of Tierra del Fuego.
The Garibaldi is an impressive glacier on the south face of the Cordillera Darwin. During a Zodiac cruise (conditions permitting) you will notice the different shades of blue in the ice, and calving events can make for a very impressive sight. Dozens of waterfalls dot the cliffs and in some cases the wind gusts can be so strong that the water gets blown upwards.
In terms of wildlife look out for Andean Condor, a South American sea lion colony, skuas, kingfishers, Flightless Steamer Ducks, Crested Ducks, Kelp Geese, Ashy-headed Geese, caracaras, vultures, and nesting Imperial Shags among others.
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Garibaldi Fjord

Day 17

Arrive Ushuaia and disembark Silver Explorer. Fly to Buenos Aires
 
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

After breakfast disembark Silver Explorer in the port of Ushuaia in Argentina and fly to Buenos Aires. Spend a night in the Argentine capital. (We can organise a longer stay - or consider heading out to the peaceful countryside which surrounds the city and stay on a luxurious estancia).

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Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Day 18

Depart Buenos Aires.

Essential information

Transport

Transfer from Santiago to Valparaiso (2hrs). 14 night expedition cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina. Flight to Buenos Aires from Ushuaia (4hrs).

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates a luxurious expedition cruise on board a first class cruise ship, Silver Explorer, accommodating 144 guests and 117 staff and crew. Hotels in Valparaiso and Buenos Aires are centrally-located and very comfortable.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board on the cruise ship. On board ship, all meals and snacks are included, with options to eat al fresco or in your suite. Complimentary beverages incl wine, spirits, coffee, soft drinks; customised minibar items.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 35 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return. Guides, lecturers and presenters on the cruise ship are all qualified in a field of expertise relevant to the cruise.

Included excursions

• Land and sea-based excursions and activities on the expedition cruise are included.

Summary of nights

Valparaiso, Chile, 2 nights; cruise 14 nights, Buenos Aires 1 night.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives on the mainland..
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• All inclusive cruise as specified, including land and sea excursions, activities and lectures. 
• Complimentary excursion rucksack and water bottle on cruise.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified. 
• Cruise staff tips and gratuities.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities on the mainland and mainland excursions.
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Excursions designated optional.

Currency

The unit of currency in Chile is the Chilean Peso, in Argentina it is the Argentine Peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of good quality meals, drinks and the odd souvenir on those days in the holiday itinerary or extension outside the cruise. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more. On the cruise, excursions, drinks, meals and tips are included.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), as this is much easier than Sterling to convert to local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused.

You can pay for extras on the cruise (beauty salon and spa treatments, boutique items) with a credit card or US dollars. Optional excursions may be offered which have to be booked and paid in advance before departure.

Tipping

Tips for the cruise staff are included, but local guides onshore will welcome a gratuity: they often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. Most service industry workers will hope for a tip so it is useful to have spare change for waiters, hotel porters, taxi drivers etc. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.  Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors. If you have doubts about your fitness for the cruise, we will send you a medical questionnaire. 

Children are accepted, but must be over 6 years old to participate in excursions. There is no special entertainment programme on board for children. Children and and teenagers who are interested in the wildlife and nature should enjoy the cruise and if there is a number of children/teenagers on board, the expedition team might dedicate a team member to lead the group and explain things to them.

Climate

The weather in Patagonia at this time of year will be cool  with some warm days but also chilly days with rain and even snow. In Antarctica, be prepared for zero temperatures and a cold wind, though you may be lucky and have calm, sunny weather: it is completely unpredictable.

November  is Spring in South America: it should be pleasantly warm in Valparaiso and Buenos Aires with temperatures in the low to late twenties celsius. 

Clothing and special equipment

Pack for both warm and cold weather: layered clothing is best. Include a little summer-weight loose, comfortable clothing including shorts and trousers (bear in mind that you have to get in and out of Zodiac boats but also that you are in cities for a few days). Bring sun-protective headgear, swimwear, smart casual for the evening, light sweater or jacket for cool evenings on and off shore. For Patagonia, bring a warm fleece or two, woolly-type  hats and gloves, scarf, and wet weather gear with waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers, rain-cape or coat. Good quality waterproof footwear is essential for shore landings (boots are not available on board). You may consider bringing collapsible walking poles. There’s no need to over-pack: on board the cruise ship there is a small, self-service laundry facility (or you may pay for the service to be done for you).

Sun block and insect repellent are essential. Don’t forget your sun-glasses, binoculars, camera, charger and memory cards. Some items can be bought in the on board boutique, including branded and unbranded T shirts and sweatshirts, scent, souvenir mugs etc. Remember to pack any personal medication (carry it in cabin luggage on the flights). Consider taking sea-sickness prevention (consult your pharmacist). A small first aid kit with blister pads, aspirin etc may come in handy. The ship has a doctor on board.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html

This costs $14 per person, and must be applied for by you personally.

UK Passport holders must present an e-passport with a built in chip. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.
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