Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, transfer to the Australis Pier between 1pm and 5pm to await your cruise departure. Board the Australis Cruise at 6pm to enjoy a welcoming cocktail with the captain and crew, before the ship departs to one of the world’s most remote corners. During the night, you will cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of the Patagonian; The twinkling lights of Punta Aranas gradually fade into the distance as you enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
Ainsworth Bay & Tuckers Islets
After an incredibly picturesque journey, the ship will anchor at Ainsworth Bay, home to copious birdlife and a colony of southern elephant seals. Here, there are two guided excursions available: one will travel along the edge of a stream, peat bog and beaver habitat on the way to a waterfall and moss-covered rock tucked into a pristine sub-polar forest; the other is a more strenuous hike along the crest of glacial moraine – both afford wonderful views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains.
You’ll then sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, board the Zodiacs again for an up-close perspective on the Magellan penguins that inhabit these tiny islands. You may also have the chance to see many other bird species including king cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, dolphin gulls, eagles and maybe even the Andean Condor. When the penguins migrate from September to April, this excursion will be replaced by a short walk to the glacier in Brookes Bay.
Pia Glacier – Glacier Alley
As you wake in the morning, your cruise will be entering the Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion of the spectacular glacier, or you can take a much more difficult, longer walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier. Back on board the Australis Vessel, you’ll continue along the Beagle Channel through Glacier Alley; the passage features a number of impressive tidewater glaciers flowing down the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet on the north shore.
Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay
Wulaia Bay is renowned for its mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography; after a visit to a small Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station, you’ll have a choice of three hikes, increasing in degrees of difficulty, which ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the bay. Throughout these hikes, you will stroll through an enchanted Magellan forest to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay. In the afternoon, you will cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago which includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you may explore Cape Horn Island, a high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of Drake Passage. For many years, this was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, often referred to as the ‘End of the Earth’ and declared as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
This morning you will sail into Argentina waters to dock at Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. You will have a full day to explore this city, surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Andes mountain peaks. Amongst its highlights is the Prison at the End of the World, a former penitentiary that is now a maritime museum that features an Antarctic collection and memorial to those who were incarcerated there. The city is also great for shopping, or relaxing in its many ambient cafes.
Passengers are required to reboard the ship at 5:30pm, and after a welcoming toast with the new passengers joining the cruise, the ship departs for more adventures in Tierra del Fuego. During the night you’ll traverse the Beagle Channel, cross back into Chilean territorial waters and turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste Islands.
Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay
By early morning, the cruise will once again cruise across Nassau Bay to Cape Horn. Here, you will 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. At Wulaia Bay, explore the museum in much more depth, strike out on a longer walk than last time and bird watch along the shore. This second approach also increases your chances of exploring Cape Horn Island.
Pia Glacier – Garibaldi Glacier
Making your way further west along the Beagle Channel, you’ll enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. You’ll hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacier waterfall offering spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord; this walk is very challenging – an extremely steep, negligible trail with rough footing – and is not for everyone. For those who choose to stay on-board, the captain will point the bow towards the beautiful Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy panoramic views from the upper decks of the ship.
Agostini Sound – Aguila Glacier – Condor Glacier
Early in the morning you will enter Agostini Sound, where it’s possible to see glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range, some of them reaching the water. You’ll disembark and go for an easy walk around the lagoon formed by the melting of the Aguila Glacier, eventually reaching a spot right in the front of the glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, you will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac, and hopefully witness some of the abundance Andean Condors in the area.
Magdalena Island – Punta Arenas
After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, you’ll anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies around halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, you’ll go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage lighthouse.
In September and April, when the penguins migrate, 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, disembark at Punta Arenas for around 11:30am. Transfer to the airport for your onwards flight.