Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine aboard the Ultramarine
Spend two weeks enjoying Chile’s spectacular network of fjords and channels
Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine
A 15-day long Cruise
The Trip Highlights
Walk among Magellanic penguin colonies
Photograph incredible wildlife
Live the natural splendors of southern Patagonia
Observe sparkling glaciers and icebergs
Your Polartours 'Plus' Experience
Experience Helicopter flightseeing and Zodiac cruises
Experience the chill of a polar plunge
Your trip is 100% carbon offset
Learn from Polar experts
Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin to the "edge of the world" with this expedition cruise to the heart of Patagonia. Venture between the Chilean fjords and Torres del Paine to photograph the most remote and scenic landscapes on the planet! Learn about the local wildlife and see them living in their natural habitat. Observe the majestic blue tidewater glaciers and enjoy a view from the sky with the included helicopter flightseeing.
Your ship: Ultramarine
Welcome aboard the Ultramarine! One of the newest cruise ships in the Polar fleet, Ultramarine was designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration - to discover new places and immerse you in the best of the region. Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, it offers robust adventure activities. It features the category’s most spacious suites, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships of its size. It also features a best-in-class operational range and an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards. … Read more about Ultramarine
Food & Drinks
*Ultramarine” two dining options. “Balena” is the main restaurant located on Deck 5. “Bistro 487” gives guests an alternative dining option on Deck 7. Both offer a great choice of high-quality international dishes and healthy options. While mealtimes may change due to landings and wildlife encounters, you’ll always be served three meals a day.
In addition, an “early riser’s” breakfast will be offered in Bistro 487, as well as afternoon tea and late-night snacks. There’s also a permanent selection of light snacks available here at all times.
The dress code on the ship is casual, as befits a polar exploration vessel, though some may choose to dress up a little for the Captain’s Welcome Reception.
The well-stocked bar on the ship is open to enjoy with your fellow shipmates in the late morning, afternoon, and evening. Soft drinks, juices, and water are available at no cost, and beer and wine are offered with dinner. A selection of liquors, spirits, and premium beer, wine, and champagne is available and can be charged to your shipboard account.
Day 1 • Your incredible Antarctic adventure starts in Buenos Aires
You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).
Day 2 • Fly to Ushuaia and embark on your new home, the Ultramarine
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier. After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America.
Ushuaia is often called the "Gateway to Antarctica". Thanks to its position on the shores of the Beagle Channel at the southern tip of Argentina, Ushuaia's harbor is equally popular with luxury cruise vessels and huge, rugged ice breakers. A vital port for the resupply of many of the Antarctic research bases, Ushuaia is also a beautiful city that really does feel like it's at the edge of the world. You can have a walk in the city to explore fascinating museums like "the end of the world" musem and other cultural centers. It is the perfect place to start boat trips along the Beagle Channel to get up close and personal with penguins and seals. Ushuaia is definitely a remarkable destination in its own right, as well as a wonderful place to start any kind of cruise and trip through Patagonia.
Day 3-4 • Begin your exploration of Chile’s southern extent, Cape Horn and Diego Ramirez Islands
Cape Horn (known as Cabo de Hornos in Spanish) is the southernmost point of South America. It’s not technically part of the mainland, as it is the Tierra del Fuego archipelago’s most southerly headland.
Before the Panama Canal opened, it was the route used by shipping to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and its waters have a reputation for being treacherous. Thanks to the fierce currents, huge waves, strong winds, and frequent icebergs, Cape Horn is still a challenge to navigate and is seen as a “bucket list” passage for many yachtsmen.
If your cruise vessel “rounds the Horn” then you can join the privileged ranks of those who have sailed between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans off the southernmost tip of South America!
Day 5-6 • Observe the gigantic glaciers of the Tierra del Fuego
As our ship sails back north toward the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego, stimulating presentations by your Expedition Team will enrich your knowledge of the glacial systems, geology, environment, wildlife and storied history of the region as you retrace Charles Darwin’s historic journey through the Beagle Channel, a 150-mile (240 km) strait separating Tierra del Fuego’s main island from several smaller islands. Named after Captain Robert FitzRoy’s famous ship on which Charles Darwin was a passenger, the channel presents plenty of photo ops to capture seabirds hovering overhead and dramatic vistas of jagged-peaked mountains and massive tidewater glaciers. Rugged and untouched, this magnificent landscape is as starkly beautiful as it was when Darwin first laid eyes on it in 1833.
Day 7 • Enjoy your time on a cruise along the Chilean Fjords
Continuing north, we’ll navigate through a remote network of coastal fjords and channels, including time spent venturing out into the Pacific Ocean. Your Expedition Team will prepare for the adventures that await, helping you further understand the glacial systems, as well as the flora and fauna that can be found in this part of Chile. Take a moment, as we glide past soaring snow-capped peaks, to contemplate the mariners of long ago who traveled these same sheltered passageways, and were rewarded with the same wondrous sights.
Day 8-9 • Discover Torres del Paine National Park
Sailing the turquoise waters of the extraordinary stretch of coastline leading to the small port of Puerto Natales, we’ll meander through a mesmerizing maze of deep, windswept fjords, narrow channels and isolated bays, with an eye toward the rugged landscape, unique wildlife and impressive glaciers that tumble from the towering mountains into the icy waters below, along with the imperial and king cormorants, South American terns, black-necked swans and southern wigeons (Chiloé wigeons) that frequent the fjord.
Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most stunning wilderness areas in South America, and Puerto Natales is the gateway. This enormous park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, so designated for both its natural wonders and ancient human history, and named for the three granite peaks that tower above the glacier-fed lakes. Enjoy a full day of hiking tailored to your preferred activity level and stopping at lookouts in the park, followed by a traditional Patagonian barbecue in the afternoon.
Day 10 • Cross the crystal-clear waters of the Canal de las Montañas
Cruising the calm, crystal-clear waters of the Canal de las Montañas (“Channel” or “Fjord of the Mountains”) will leave you breathless. You’ll be awed by the amazing series of waterfalls cascading down between the jagged peaks that rise up sharply on either side of the narrow, 41-mile (66 km) long channel dotted with glaciers, five of which spill dramatically into the water. Here, impressive ice fields glisten, and steeply sloped glaciers exceed elevations over 8,235 feet (2,510 meters). The channel also provides an ideal place to put our Zodiacs in the water for more detailed exploring or going ashore for a hike to scenic viewpoints. If you’re feeling more adventurous, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an optional kayaking excursion (extra cost), an exceptional opportunity to experience the channel from a special perspective.
Day 11 • Walk among the penguins on Tuckers Islets
A series of small islands and rocky outcrops in Almirantazgo Sound (“Admiralty Sound”), a small fjord off the Strait of Magellan, Tuckers Islets is a superb location for viewing penguins. Though landing here is prohibited, a Zodiac excursion will take you very near a pebble beach to view a colony of 4,000-plus breeding Magellanic penguins, conditions permitting. Named for Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose crew sighted the charming creatures in 1520 during the first circumnavigation of the globe, the species is native to the region, and the sight of them in their burrows, lounging on the beach or waddling in and out of the water, is one you won’t forget. If we’re fortunate, we may also see Chilean skuas, Magellanic cormorants (rock shags), imperial cormorants (king shags), oystercatchers, kelp geese, or even dolphins.
Day 12 • Explore ashore at Ainsworth Bay, one of the most picturesque places in Patagonia
Continuing our exploration of Almirantazgo Sound, we plan to explore ashore at Ainsworth Bay, one of the most picturesque and pristine places in Patagonia. Surrounded by untouched sub-Antarctic forest, this isolated bay is a protected area within the border of Alberto de Agostini National Park. It hosts abundant birdlife, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled as we cruise in the Zodiacs. Hiking options will be available for all fitness levels, affording panoramic views of Marinelli Glacier, Marinelli Fjord and the surrounding Darwin mountain range.
Day 13 • See the waterfalls and glaciers of Brookes Bay
Another excellent spot for glacier exploring in Almirantazgo Sound is Bahia Brookes (Brookes Bay), where, conditions permitting, we’ll go ashore by Zodiac. The bay offers ample chances for closer views of a number of waterfalls and glaciers, including the calving North Brookes Glacier, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the towering Darwin mountain range. Amid the serene silence of this icy wonderland, the only sound you may hear is the powerful roar of ice breaking off and crashing into the frigid waters below. This is also a great location for viewing ice fall deposits, which form reconstituted glaciers, and kame (silt and sediment deposits).
Day 14 • Meet the abundant birdlife of Marta Island
In the middle of the Strait of Magellan, Marta Island (Isla Marta) is home to abundant birdlife and more than one thousand Patagonian (South American) sea lions. To protect the wildlife, shore landings are not possible here, but we do plan to circumnavigate the island, providing numerous opportunities to observe and photograph the colony from a short distance, in the comfort of a Zodiac. Called lobos marinos (“sea wolves”) by local Chileans, these giant pinnipeds—males can weigh over 700 pounds/320 kg—form quite a noisy group as each sea lion vies for a choice spot of coastline. As you cruise by, sightings of imperial cormorants, skuas, southern gulls, Antarctic pigeons—and if we’re lucky, dolphins—are also possible.
Day 15 • Your incredible Patagonia adventure comes to an end in Punta Arenas
After an adventurous two weeks of exploration, you’ll say goodbye to your Expedition Team and disembark in Punta Arenas, to be transferred to the airport for your charter flight to Santiago, where you are welcome to continue on your own travels or connect to your homeward flights.
Punta Arenas ("Sandy Point" in Spanish) is the capital city of Chile's southernmost region, Magallanes and Antarctica Chilena.
Punta Arenas is the largest city below the 46th parallel and is one of the largest cities in the entire Patagonian Region.
It is only 870 miles from the coast of Antarctica, yet Punta Arenas is a vibrant and modern city that's the perfect starting point for Antarctic exploration.