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Set sail aboard the National Geographic Orion to experience the fjords, glaciers, and panoramic vistas that make Chilean Patagonia one of the most lauded nature destinations on Earth. Encounter celebrated treasures, like the legendary Beagle Channel and Cape Horn, as well as remote wildlife reserves on Tierra del Fuego not easily accessible to the public. Along the way, venture out by Zodiac and kayak to explore Chile’s deeply indented coastline. Glide into fjords and inlets beneath walls of blue ice; hike on shore with naturalists; and watch for humpback whales, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins, and Andean condors. The expedition caps off on Argentina’s Staten Island, where we’ll have special access to nature reserves teeming with wildlife.
Search for whales, dolphins, and penguin colonies while cruising the Beagle Channel, and take in the view from land’s end at Cape Horn.
Be one of the few people to discover the rugged landscapes and colossal wildlife colonies of Isla de los Estados (Staten Island), which we have been granted special permission to explore.
Venture into a mountain-fringed maze of channels and islands in the Chilean fjords, exploring by Zodiac, by kayak, and on foot.
By special arrangement, explore the protected areas of Yendegaia National Park and Karukinka on Tierra del Fuego.
Itinerary - 11 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Santiago, Chile
Depart on an overnight flight to Santiago and check in to our hotel. Set out on a guided overview of the city to discover the Plaza de Armas and the Presidential Palace. Grand Hyatt Santiago (L)
Day 3 — Punta Arenas/Puerto Natales
Fly to Punta Arenas, situated on the Strait of Magellan. Drive to Puerto Natales, where we embark our ship. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Kirke Narrows/Chilean Fjords
Our Captain and local pilots guide us through Kirke Narrows, accessible only to a small ship as the National Geographic Orion. We’ll 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 and look for elephant seals, or take a forest walk. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Tierra Del Fuego: Karukinka Natural Park
Explore the newest and largest protected area on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago: Karukinka, meaning “our land” in the language of the ancient inhabitants. We have obtained permission to visit the private reserve, which harbors rich wildlife. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Chilean Fjords/Beagle Channel
Today we continue our exploration of the Chilean fjords. Board Zodiacs to explore protected waters and rugged shorelines, and look for the Andean condors, albatrosses, petrels, fulmars, and many other birds that inhabit this otherworldly realm. Later, sail the Beagle Channel, and hike and kayak amid this region of beech forests, mountains, and rushing rivers. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Cape Horn, Chile
Visit the southernmost tip of South America: Cape Horn, named in 1616 by Dutch navigator Willem Schouten after his birthplace, Hoorn, Holland. Weather permitting, take Zodiacs ashore for a panoramic view from land’s end. (B,L,D)
Days 8 & 9 — Isla De Lost Estados (Staten Island), Argentina
By special permission, explore the rugged landscapes of Staten Island, a wonderland of beech forests, mountains, and fjords. Spot southern rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, water birds, and sea lions; and see the San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world.” (B,L,D)
Days 10 & 11 — Ushuaia/U.S.
Disembark in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Take a charter flight to Santiago and connect to your overnight flight home. (B,L)
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts — from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes, and local culture. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
During his eight years on the National Geographic staff, photographer Jonathan Irish launched and directed the National Geographic Adventures program. He specializes in documenting adventure lifestyles, landscapes, and cultures abroad. Jonathan has photographed on all seven continents, and has shot a variety of assignments in Antarctica, Patagonia, and beyond. His photography has appeared in National Geographic and The New York Times, on BBC, CNN, and elsewhere. For the 2016 centennial of the U.S. National Park Service, Jonathan took a year-long road trip with an Airstream visiting and photographing all 59 of America’s national parks.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.