From the wilds of Tierra del Fuego to the pinnacles of Torres del Paine National Park, experience Patagonia at close range aboard National Geographic Explorer. Set off from Buenos Aires, tracing the east coast of Argentina to Tierra del Fuego and watching for elephant seals and Andean condors, whales and rare Commerson’s dolphins, guanacos and quirky penguins. Search for Southern right whales at their renowned gathering spot off the Peninsula Valdés. Venture through the Strait of Magellan, deep into Chile’s maze of glorious fjords, past incandescent icebergs and massive glaciers. Explore Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and view land’s end rounding Cape Horn.
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.
The remote Argentine coast has been visited by countless expeditions through out history, including Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle. The southern coast has sandy beaches and impressive geological formations with dramatic arches and caves, perfect for exploring.
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 Fellow John Francis was in his twenties when a 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay jarred his comfortable life. Even as he joined the volunteers who scrubbed the beaches and fought to save birds and sea creatures poisoned by petroleum, he felt the need to make a deeper, more personal commitment. As an affirmation of his responsibility to our planet, he chose to stop using motorized vehicles and began walking wherever he went. His decision was greeted with surprise, disbelief, and even mockery—but it was only the start of a much deeper transformation. A few months later he took a vow of silence that would last 17 years. In 2008, National Geographic published Francis’s stirring memoir Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking, 17 Years of Silence. It is the story of a man who rediscovered rhythms in nature that most of us have forgotten and learned to communicate his understanding and empathy without speaking a word. He walked across the Pacific Northwest, crossed the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, and traversed America from coast to coast. Along the way—and without a word—he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in science and environmental studies and a Ph.D. in land resources. He then voyaged across the Caribbean to South America and spent years walking its length to the southernmost tip of Patagonia. In an effort to share his insights with others, Francis founded “Planetwalk,” a non-profit educational organization dedicated to raising environmental consciousness and promoting Earth stewardship. In 2010, Francis became the first National Geographic Education Fellow.
John will join the following departure:
Oct 23 - Nov 11, 2014
This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.
Add four days in Easter Island or three days in Iguazú Falls. Please call for details.
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).