Setting sail from Ushuaia
Ushuaia is sometimes described as 'the city at the end of the world', though its rugged beauty is far from apocalyptic. Perched on the ragged southern edge of Argentina, where the snow-capped Andes fall away into the churning sea, the city has a frontier town feel to it, and serves as the base for expeditions into the icy waters of Antarctica. There are also plenty of outdoor pursuits on offer here, including hiking, skiing and fishing, and the Tierra del Fuego National Park is home to spectacular scenery and wildlife including penguins, guanacos, sea lions and condors.
What can we say? You can’t miss anything in the town, it’s so small!
Falkland Islands: Falkland Islands
The rugged and windswept Falkland Islands make for a fascinating stop on the way to or from Antarctica. Over 80% of the population lives in the capital, Stanley, though humans are far outnumbered by other creatures, including penguins, sea lions and albatrosses.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands: South Georgia
Remote and virtually uninhabited, the island of South Georgia is a beautiful and fascinating place. The landscape of jagged, snowy peaks and dramatic fjords is home to an abundance of penguins and seals, as well as ghostly abandoned whaling stations and the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
28 February - 4 March
Antarctica: Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctica is the world’s last great wilderness, an alien landscape of snow-covered mountains, jagged icebergs and extraordinary wildlife. February is a great time to spot whales, with species including humpback, sperm and orca, and you still have a chance of seeing penguin chicks. Fur seals are also abundant at this time of year. Expedition trips will spend time exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, making several landings at various sites and cruising through scenic channels.
Perched on the ragged southern edge of Argentina, where the snow-capped Andes fall away into the churning sea, Ushuaia has a frontier town feel to it, and serves as the base for expeditions into the icy waters of Antarctica.
Chile: Cape Horn
Surrounded by notoriously treacherous waters and battered by gale force winds known as the Furious Fifties, Cape Horn is the dramatic southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. This is the point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet, watched over by a lonely lighthouse.
Chile: Chilean Fjords
Chile: Punta Arenas
The weather-beaten city of Punta Arenas is a laid back and welcoming place, in spite of its inhospitable location on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. Nearby attractions include penguin colonies and the dramatic scenery of Torres del Paine National Park, while beyond the horizon lie the frozen wastes of Antarctica.
Chile: Chilean Fjords
Chile: Castro (Chiloé Island)
Rugged and unspoilt Chiloé, situated at the southern end of Chile’s Lake District, is a unique and culturally distinct island that stands apart from the rest of the country. The main town, Castro, is notable for its colourful waterfront homes on stilts (known as palafitos), and is the gateway to the dense forests and rolling hills of the island interior.
Chile: Puerto Montt
Puerto Montt is the capital of the Chilean Lake District, spread out around a wide bay against a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. This wild region offers a host of outdoor activities, including mountain hikes, kayaking, white water rafting, fishing, zip lining and cycling.
Arriving in Valparaíso
Characterful, colourful and a little chaotic, the port city of Valparaíso enjoys a somewhat awkward setting, scattered across 45 vertiginous hills. Thanks to this difficult topography the city streets are punctuated by steep staircases and funicular elevators, and energetic explorers will be rewarded with wonderful views of the pastel hued buildings that hug the slopes. Valparaíso's most famous former resident was the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and you can visit one of his former residences, La Sebastiana, which now houses a small museum.
Amble through the city, taking the really cheap cable cars when you can to help you up and down the hills!
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Where to stay in Ushuaia
Los Cauquenes Resort and Spa is your best option, if you have time to stay.
Tours from Ushuaia
What you choose to do on tour will need to supplement whatever cruise you are taking. So if you are heading to Antarctica, whilst here you will want to go to the Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Where to stay in Valparaíso
The 23 room Palacio Astoreca comprises two buildings, including a completely restored national monument.
For contrast, visit clean and orderly Viña del Mar just up the coast.