Set off from Buenos Aires, trace Argentina’s dramatic coast to Tierra del Fuego, and encounter a dazzling array of wildlife, from elephant seals and humpback whales to rare Commerson’s dolphins and quirky penguins. Spot Andean condors among the twisting pinnacles of Torres del Paine National Park, and glide in Zodiacs past incandescent icebergs in Chile’s fjords. Then round Cape Horn to Ushuaia, following the route of some of history’s great explorers.
Disembark in Buenos Aires and check into our elegant hotel, located in the cultural heart of the city. Set out to discover Beaux Arts palaces and the bohemian quarters of La Boca and San Telmo, and see the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Perón. The next day, settle into your cabin aboard the National Geographic Explorer.
Caesar Park Hotel (B,L,D)
Enjoy a day at sea watching for marine life and attending talks by our team of experts as the ship follows the Argentine coast south. Then enter a maze of channels and islands in the Bahía Blanca Estuary, keeping an eye out for rare species like the La Plata river dolphin and Olrog’s gull. Drop anchor at the port city of Bahía Blanca, set on the edge of vast grasslands known as the Pampas, and head for the Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist. Learn about the native species of the Pampas as you explore the park on a variety of hikes and walks.
After a day at sea, arrive at Valdés Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site where endangered southern right whales come to mate and calve their young. Venture onto land to spot guanacos, maras, armadillos, elephant seals, and a Magellanic penguin colony.
Bahía Bustamante is a private, family-owned marine estancia that stretches across some 200,000 acres from the Patagonian steppe to the coast. A working sheep ranch, the estancia is part of the Coastal Marine Park of Austral Patagonia and harbors a fantastic array of flora and fauna, including more than 100 species of birds. Go whale-watching offshore; on land, look for guanacos, rheas, and other steppe wildlife on hikes.
Venture into the Reserva Natural Ría Deseado in small boats and look for numerous species of cormorant and breeding rock shag. Also keep your eye out for the black-and-white Commerson’s dolphin. Later visit the small town of Puerto Deseado and trace its history at a local museum.
Sail Argentina’s southern coast, stopping to enjoy a secluded beach or explore sea arches and caves. Weather permitting, we’ll cruise along the coastal wildlife sanctuary of Monte León, one of Argentina’s newest national parks.
Our first stop in Chile is Punta Arenas, perched on the Strait of Magellan. Take in panoramic views of the strait and learn about the town’s history and environment on visits to its museums. Go on a hike if you wish, and watch the antics of Magellanic penguins on Isla Magdalena.
Our destination today is the newest and largest protected area on Tierra del Fuego: Karukinka Natural Park. By special arrangement, we’ll explore the private reserve, which harbors rich wildlife, including guanacos, Andean condors, and the endangered culpeo fox.
Against a backdrop of spectacular peaks, the fjords and islands of the Chilean coast are home to dolphins, whales, seals, and Magellanic penguins. Exploring by Zodiac and on foot, pass below walls of blue glacier, skirt tiny islands thick with vegetation, and discover hidden lakes and waterfalls.
Dock at Puerto Natales and set out for Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known for its twisting black-tipped pinnacles. Spend the rest of the day discovering the glaciers, mountains, forests, and dazzling lakes of this magnificent park with our naturalists.
Transit the scenic Beagle Channel, stopping to explore the pristine wilderness of Yendegaia by special permission. A former cattle ranch stretching between the channel and the Cordillera Darwin, the park boasts southern beech forests, expansive grasslands, and wild rivers that pass through deep valleys.
Today we round the southernmost tip of South America, 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, and visit the family that mans the nearest weather station to the cape.
Disembark in Ushuaia and enjoy time to explore before our charter flight to Buenos Aires. Connect to your overnight flight home.
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. The expert featured below will be part of the expedition team on the date noted.
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced more than a dozen feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 for National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael’s recent assignments have focused on Russia, Israel, and North America’s national parks. He has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three on Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska, for which he spent four months traveling to every corner of the state. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography and sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge.
Michael will join the following departure:
Mar 07 - 26, 2014
This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.
REV Indicates trip operates in reverse.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin in 2014, add $4,250 in Category 2 and $4,490 in Category 3. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Economy airfare between Miami and Buenos Aires is $1,200 (subject to change). Charter airfare is $345 (one-way Ushuaia/Buenos Aires, or vice versa).