South America’s summer months (from November to March) are the perfect time to take holidays to Patagonia, the straits and waterways at the southernmost tip of South America, and the captivating Chilean Fjords.
The sea-life is diverse and fascinating, with the opportunity to see whales, elephant seals and penguins around Puerto Madryn and the Valdes Peninsula. On a holiday to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago you explore the extraordinary channels, islands, and colourful towns such as Ushuaia, all against the breathtaking backdrop of the National Park.
If seas are exceptionally calm you might round Cape Horn before beginning an exploration of the magnificent Chilean Fjords, maybe even land, or stay in the protected waters of the Straits of Magellan.
Holidays to the Chilean Fjords will see you gliding along the fjords to view the immense glaciers, with the mighty Andes dominating the horizon, and a wealth of bird and sea-life to watch for.
Most Patagonian cruises finish in the picturesque seaside city of Valparaiso, just a couple of hours drive from Chile’s capital, Santiago de Chile, which merits a short stay. A few continue up the coast to Lima, particularly at the beginning or end of the season.
Adventurous travellers might take the chance to venture into the Atacama desert, or fly to Bolivia to visit Lake Titicaca and continue to Peru and Machu Picchu – a must do if you are not planning to return to South America.
Day 1 – Punta Arenas, Chile. Embark M/V Via Australis and depart for “the uttermost part of the earth”.
Day 2 – Ainsworth Bay & Tuckers Islets. Navigate through Almirantazgo Sound and witness the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range. Later, you will sail to Tuckers Islets, and onboard Zodiac boats, you will get close to a colony of Magellan Penguins.
Day 3 – Pia Glacier. Sail through Beagle Channel and the majestic ‘Glacier Alley’ where you can appreciate the spectacular Pia Glacier.
Day 4 – Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay. After sailing through Murray Channel and Nassau Bay you will reach the mythical Cape Horn known as the “End of the Earth”.
Day 5 – Ushuaia. Disembark M/V Via Australis
Due to the Patagonia region of Chile being so far south, it has a climate that is very susceptible to change. The best time of year to visit is during the Southern Hemisphere summer (October to March), when temperatures are warmer.
Practical, comfortable clothing is a must. Sturdy walking shoes should be packed. This destination is all about the scenery and wildlife and therefore very appealing to photographers – remember to come well equipped as you are unlikely to be able to get everything you need locally.