Setting sail from 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.
Although there are museums and some great architecture, what you really mustn’t miss is the vibe of this quirky and characterful town, so take the time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the views.
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.
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: 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: 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.
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.
Antarctica: Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctica is the world’s last great wilderness, an alien landscape of snow-covered mountains, jagged icebergs and extraordinary wildlife. Visiting at the beginning of the cruise season in October or November means bigger icebergs and pristine snowy landscapes, along with the chance to see breeding elephant seals. There may still be sea ice around the Antarctic Peninsula, and temperatures are cold. Expedition trips will spend time exploring the peninsula, making several landings at various sites and cruising through scenic channels.
Arriving in 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.
You can finish off your cold weather shopping here, they have all the best stuff.
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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.
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.