Chilean Fjords & Patagonia: An expedition cruise guide

Travel Advice

In the deep south of South America, you will find scenery and stories to captivate. The magnificent national parks of Chile and Patagonia boast volcanoes, lakes, fjords and glaciers, all dominated by the magnificent peaks of the Andes.

As you travel, you will learn more about the European sailors who explored this uncharted territory, their adventures and encounters with the indigenous people at the bottom of the world. Here are names to conjure with: Darwin, Drake, LeMaire, Bougainville, Magellan and de Gamboa. They encountered the local Patagones (Aonikenk), Onas (Selknams), Yamanas (Yaghans), Alacalufes (Kaweskars) and Haush (Manekenk). And throughout, there is a wealth of bird and sea-life to watch out for.

Pia Glacier in Patagonia, Chile

When to visit Chile & Patagonia

Ships venture into these waters in South America's summer months (from November to March), which is the perfect time to visit Patagonia, the straits and waterways at the southernmost tip of South America, and the captivating Chilean Fjords. The tiny vessels of Australis, which cruise the protected waters of southern Patagonia, operate from September through to April.

Australis - Penguins on Magdalena Island

Which itinerary to choose

For an in-depth exploration as part of a longer South America or Patagonia trip, go for the Australis journeys out of Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. Three, four and seven day options give you plenty of choice, and you can visit key sights such as Cape Horn, Magdalena Island, Wulaia Bay and Glacier Alley.

If you want to see more of Chile and the rest of South America, take a Chilean Fjords cruise and then add on as much or as little as you like from your disembark port - probably Valparaíso. Chilean Fjords itineraries tend to be repositioning voyages rather than regular cruises, so the date may dictate your choice.

Stilt houses on Chiloé Island, Chile

How to get to Patagonia

South America can be tricky to get to from the UK, since there are few direct flights. For Chile and Patagonia, your international gateways are Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. Fly on from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, and from Santiago to Punta Arenas.

Buildings in La Boca, Buenos Aires

The wildlife of Patagonia

Magdalena Island, located in the Strait of Magellan, is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic Penguins. In September and April, Marta Island is visited by sea lions. Torres del Paine National Park is home to a huge range of birds, including Andean condor, black-chested buzzard-eagle, rufous-tailed hawk, cinereous harrier, chimango caracara, magellanic horned owl, and the austral pygmy owl. In Chiloé National Park you may see foxes, sea lions, mountain monkeys, sea otters, opossums, pudús, finches and the Patagonian woodpecker.

Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia

Extending your stay in South America

There are so many options; you could extend your holiday with a trip to Iguazu Falls and an extended stay in Buenos Aires, or maybe visit the Pantanal over the border in Brazil. Or why not travel overland after disembarking and explore the Atacama Desert, Bolivia, Lake Titicaca or Machu Picchu. Whatever interests you, and however long you have to spare, we can help you put together the perfect trip.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Still have more questions about travelling to Chile and Patagonia? Give our friendly team of expedition cruise experts a call today on 020 7399 7630.

Meet the author

Tom is a Communications Manager at the Galapagos Conservation Trust and former Marketing Manager at Mundy Adventures

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