In the Footsteps of Darwin
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The end of the world awaits you on the expedition cruise ship MV Stella Australis’ journey from Ushuaia that retraces much of Darwin’s route through the Fuegian Archipelago aboard HMS Beagle.
- Trace the steps of Charles Darwin and learn about his amazing legacy
- Marvel at the rugged beauty of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
- Visit the famous Cape Horn, a high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage
- Anchor at fabled Wulaia Bay, originally the site of one of the region’s largest Yámana aboriginal settlements
- Magdalena Island’s immense colony of Magellanic penguins
2019 Seasonal Dates:
April, 2019: 02
January, 2019: 04, 08, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28
February, 2019: 01, 05, 09, 13, 17, 21, 25
March, 2019: 01, 05, 09, 13
As availability on travel programs changes frequently, please contact us for the most up to date availability on the trip you are interested in.
Category B – US$2,592
Category A – US$3,478
Category AA – US$3,650
Category AAA – US$3,823
AA Superior – US$4,599
AAA Superior – US$4,815
Category B – US$3,240
Category A – US$4,338
Category AA – US$4,547
Category AAA – US$4,759
AA Superior – US$5,729
AAA Superior – US$5,996
Category B – US$4,136
Category A – US$5,323
Category AA – US$5,575
Category AAA – US$5,843
AA Superior – US$6,961
AAA Superior – US$7,297
Port tax, migration fee and national park fee: US$70 per person
Rates are shown in US$ per person, based on two people sharing a cabin in the category shown. Single rates are available in categories A, AA, AAA, AA Sup or AAA Sup at 150% of the per person twin price in that category. No singles allowed in Category B. Children between 1 and 3 travel free if sharing a bed with their parents. Children between 4 and 12 receive a 50% discount, sharing a cabin with an adult.
All rates shown are subject to change by the expedition company based on available inventory.
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Check in at at 160 Juan Manuel de Rosas Street in downtown Ushuaia between 10:00 and 16:00 (10 AM-4 PM) on the day of your cruise departure. Board the M/V Stella Australis at 17:30 (5:30 PM). After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain and his crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentina into Chilean territorial waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as we turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.
By early morning, Stella Australis is cruising across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Australis is the only expedition cruise ship company with permission from Chilean authorities to navigate the Murray Channel to Cape Horn, and because of its concession the only travel company allowed to land passengers at Wulaia Bay. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition — and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland — Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the “End of the Earth.” The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a lightkeeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.
Sailing back across Nassau Bay, we anchor at fabled Wulaia Bay, one of the few places in the archipelago where the human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. Originally the site of one of the region’s largest Yámana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain FitzRoy in the 1830s during their voyages on HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for the mesmerizing beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored small museum in the old radio station — which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area — passengers have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the bay. On all of these you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay.
Overnight we sail around the western end of Tierra del Fuego via the very narrow Gabrial Channel, Magdalena Channel and Cockburn Channel. After rounding the remote Brecknock Peninsula, Ventus Australis tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning we are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier.After disembarking we take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking mass of snow and ice got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. Making our way further west along the Beagle Channel, we enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. This time we hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding — very steep, negligible trail, rough footing — and not for everyone. For those who choose to stay on-board, our captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.
Early in the morning, we will sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range — some of them reaching the water. This morning, we will disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. We will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, we will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac — and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.
After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island*, which lies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, we go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island. In September and April — when the penguins dwell elsewhere — 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, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM. You are free to explore Punta Arenas, founded in 1848 by Chilean settlers and now the capital of Chile’s Magallanes & Antarctica region. There’s plenty to keep you busy in the city: the Magellan Monument in the Plaza de Armas, the Magallanes Regional Museum (Casa Braun-Menéndez), the Shackleton Bar in the Hotel Jose Nogueira, the excellent Salesian Museum, the flamboyant Municipal Cemetery, and the Nao Victoria maritime museum with its full-sized reproductions of Magellan’s flagship, HMS Beagle, Shackleton’s rescue craft, and the Goleta Ancud pioneer ship. Reboard Stella Australis at 18:00 (6 PM). After a welcoming cocktail reception hosted by the captain and his crew, the ship departs on the second half of the journey. During the night, the lights of Punta Arenas fade into the distance as we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
*Camera extension poles/tripods are prohibited on Magdalena Island.
By dawn Stella Australis is sailing up Admiralty Sound (Seno Almirantazgo), a spectacular offshoot of the Strait of Magellan that stretches nearly halfway across Tierra del Fuego. The snowcapped peaks of Karukinka Natural Park stretch along the north side of the sound, while the south shore is defined by the deep fjords and broad bays of Alberto de Agostini National Park. We go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, which harbors copious bird life and a colony of southern elephant seals which can sometimes be spotted. Two guided excursions are available: one is along the edge of a stream, peat bog and beaver habitat to a waterfall-and-moss-covered rock face tucked deep inside a pristine sub-polar forest; the other is a more strenuous hike along the crest of a glacial moraine. Both afford views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains. Leaving Ainsworth Bay behind, we sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, we board the Zodiacs again for a close-up view of the Magellan penguins that inhabit the tiny islands. More than 4,000 penguins use Tucker as a place to nest, give birth and nurture their chicks. Many other bird species also frequent the area including King and Rock cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, kelp geese, dolphin gulls, eagles and even the occasional Andean condor. In September and April — when the penguins live elsewhere — this excursion is replaced by a short walk to a glacier at nearby Brookes Bay.
Overnight we sail around the western end of Tierra del Fuego via the very narrow Gabrial Channel, Magdalena Channel and Cockburn Channel. After rounding the remote Brecknock Peninsula, Stella Australis tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel Again. By morning we are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier. After disembarking we take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking mass of snow and ice got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king.
Back on-board Stella Australis, we continue east along the Beagle Channel through an area called Glacier Alley. Living up to its name, the passage features a number of impressive tidewater glaciers flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet on the north shore. Most of them named after European countries — Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.
During the morning we will be sailing through Murray Channel, going ashore at historical Wulaia Bay, originally the site of one of the region’s largest Yamana aboriginal settlements. Charles Darwin landed there in 1833 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for the mesmerizing beauty of its vegetation and geography. We will take an enchanted walk through the Magellan Forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns, and other endemic vegetation, to reach a panoramic viewpoint. In the afternoon we will go South through Nassau Bay to reach Cape Horn National Park, where, weather permitting, we shall go ashore. The legendary Cape Horn was discovered in 1616 and is a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory. For many years it was an important navigation route between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and is referred to as the ‘End of the Earth’. The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.
Arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina’s most important city in Tierra del Fuego, and the southernmost city in the world. Disembarkation is scheduled for 8:30-9:30 a.m, depending on the date.
- Accommodation aboard the ship
- Sea transportation
- All meals
- Open bar including wines, beverages and liquors
- Shore excursions
- On-board entertainment
- Port tax, migration fee and national park fee, approx. US$60 per person (subject to change by the port authorities)
- Airfare to/from Ushuaia
- Passport and visa fees, if required
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
Two centuries after his birth, Darwin continues to surprise the world with his theories on natural selection, his detailed observations and interpretations. Charles Darwin left the world his amazing legacy after sailing through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and you can trace his steps on this fascinating expedition cruise.
The excursions described in the itineraries can normally be carried out. Notwithstanding the above, Transportes Marítimos Terra Australis S.A., Transportes Marítimos Via Australis S.A., and Transportes Marítimos Geo Australis S.A reserve the right to reschedule, shorten, or alter all or part of the itineraries and/or excursions without prior notice, in order to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of passengers, preserve the environment, or due to any extraordinary circumstances, acts of God or force majeure. For the same reasons, the hours of departure or arrival of the vessels may be subject to change. There is no guarantee of wildlife sighting because the precise location of these animals cannot be confirmed.
IMPORTANT: The itinerary on the eight-night Ushuaia-Punta Arenas-Ushuaia cruise repeats excursions on Days 2 and 8 (landing on Cape Horn and anchoring at Wulaia Bay).
There will be several presentations on-board such as the Navigation Route, Discovering Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, Strait of Magellan, Glaciology in Patagonia and Informative Progress.
Disclaimer: We do our utmost to ensure that information posted on our website is correct at the time of publication, however trip details are subject to change without notice by the suppliers and operators involved. We update the information as soon as possible when changes are advised to us, however, we cannot assume responsibility for such changes made by the suppliers and operators.