Darwin's Route from Punta Arenas

Retrace the steps of Charles Darwin on this adventurous nine-day journey through the waterways at the outer edge of the world. Departing and returning in Punta Arenas, you’ll cruise down the Beagle Channel visiting wildlife rich Ainsworth Bay, Pia Glacier and sail through Glacier Alley. Your voyage will take you to Magdalena Island with its rowdy penguin colony, the historic Wulaia Bay and fabled Cape Horn.

9 Days

$2,592

Darwin's Route from Punta Arenas - 9 - $2,592

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Board your ship and set sail for the Magellan Straits
  • Navigate the Beagle Channel and Glacier Alley; hike to viewpoint of Pia Glacier
  • Step ashore and learn about Wulaia Bay's history; land on Cape Horn
  • Morning arrival at Ushuaia
  • Sail the waters of Tierra del Fuego
  • Visit Cape Horn (the end of the Earth)
  • Explore the glaciers of the Darwin Mountain Range
  • Visit the Magellan penguins of Magdalena Island

Start from Punta Arenas and end at Punta Arenas

Landmarks visited on Darwin's Route from Punta Arenas

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Punta Arenas

Check in at 1385 O'Higgins Street (Arturo Prat Port) in Punta Arenas between 13:00 and 17:00 (1-5 PM) on the day of your Australis cruise departure. Board the M/V Stella Australis (6 PM). After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonian. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as you enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 2: Ainsworth Bay - Tuckers Islets

By dawn the ship is sailing up Admiralty Sound (Seno Almirantazgo), a spectacular offshoot of the Strait of Magellan that stretches nearly halfway across Tierra del Fuego. The snowcapped peaks of Karukinka Natural Park stretch along the north side of the sound, while the south shore is defined by the deep fjords and broad bays of Alberto de Agostini National Park. You'll go ashore at Ainsworth Bay, which harbors copious bird life and a colony of southern elephant seals which can sometimes be spotted from the Zodiacs. Two guided excursions are available: one is along the edge of a stream, peat bog and beaver habitat to a waterfall-and-moss-covered rock face tucked deep inside a pristine sub-polar forest; the other is a more strenuous hike along the crest of a glacial moraine. Both afford views of Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Mountains.

Leaving the Ainsworth Bay tour behind, you'll sail west along the sound to the Tucker Islets. After lunch, you board the Zodiacs again for a close-up view of the Magellan penguins that inhabit the tiny islands. More than 4,000 penguins use Tucker as a place to nest, give birth and nurture their chicks. Many other bird species also frequent the area including king cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, kelp geese, dolphin gulls, eagles and even the occasional Andean condor. In September and April, when the penguins live elsewhere, this excursion is replaced by a short walk to a glacier at nearby stunning Brookes Bay.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 3: Pia Glacier - Glacier Alley

Overnight you'll sail around the western end of Tierra del Fuego via the very narrow Gabrial Channel, Magdalena Channel and Cockburn Channel. After rounding the remote Brecknock Peninsula, Stella Australis tacks eastward and enters the Beagle Channel again. By morning you are entering Pia Fjord and boarding the Zodiacs for a Pia Glacier tour. After disembarking you'll take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking mass of snow and ice got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king.

Back onboard the ship, you'll continue east along the Beagle Channel through an area called Glacier Alley. Living up to its name, the passage features a number of impressive tidewater glaciers flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet on the north shore. Most of them named after European countries -- Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 4: Wulaia Bay - Cape Horn

During the early morning you navigate the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands and drop anchor at historic Wulaia Bay, one of the few places in the archipelago where the human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. Originally the site of one of the region's largest Yamana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain FitzRoy in the 1830s during their voyages on the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for its mesmerising beauty and dramatic geography.

After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station, which is especially strong on the Yamana people and European missionaries in the area, passengers have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the bay. On all of these you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigues, canelos, ferns, and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay. Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum, letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by future travellers, an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

In the afternoon you cruise across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition, and named after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland, Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the "End of the Earth." The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a lightkeeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 5: Ushuaia

The following morning you'll sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. Disembarkation is scheduled at 8 AM. You have almost a full day to explore Ushuaia which was founded in 1884 and was one of the original points of contact between the indigenous Yamana and European cultures. The city's name derives from the Yamana word for 'penetrating bay.' With around 65,000 inhabitants, Ushuaia is the second largest city in Tierra del Fuego (after Rio Grande) and is surrounded by the Southernmost Andes peaks. Among its highlights is the Prison at the End of the World, a former penitentiary that is now a maritime museum that features an Antarctic collection and memorial to those once incarcerated there. The city is also good for shopping (especially locally made chocolate) or hanging out in its many cafes.

Passengers are required to reboard Ventus Australis at 17:30 (5:30 PM). After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew to new passengers joining the cruise, the ship departs for more adventures in Tierra del Fuego. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel, cross back into Chilean territorial waters, and turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 6: Cape Horn - Wulaia Bay

By early morning, Ventus Australis is once again cruising across Nassau Bay to Cape Horn. Our itinerary repeats the shore landings and other activities from Day 4. However, second landings at some of the more iconic spots along the route can sometimes be more rewarding than the first time around and give you more time to explore each place in depth. At Cape Horn you have a second chance to visit the Stella Maris Chapel, chat with the lighthouse keeper and his family, or photograph the unusual sub-polar flora that covers the heights.

At Wulaia Bay, explore the museum in much more depth, strike out on a longer walk than last time, bird watch along the shore, or sort through the mail barrel to see if a past visitor lives close to your own home. This second approach also increases your chances of landing on Cape Horn Island.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 7: Pia Glacier - Garibaldi Glacier

After nightfall you'll reenter the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a watery wonderland protected within the confines of Alberto de Agostini National Park. By morning you are entering Pia Fjord again and another chance to hike beside its famous glacier.

Making your way further west along the Beagle Channel, you'll enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. This time you'll hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding, very steep, negligible trail, rough footing, and not for everyone. For those who choose to stay on-board, your captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 8: Agostini Sound - Aguila Glacier - Condor Glacier

Early in the morning, you will sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range , some of them reaching the water. This morning, you'll disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Aguila Glacier. You will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the afternoon, you will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac, and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.

Meals: All included

Accommodation: On board


Day 9: Magdalena Island - Punta Arenas

After an overnight cruise through Magdalena Channel and back into the Strait of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island, which lies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland. Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, you'll go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island. In September and April, when the penguins dwell elsewhere, this excursion is replaced by a ride aboard Zodiacs to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions. After a short cruise south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11:30 AM.

*Camera extension poles are prohibited on Magdalena Island

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices quoted are in $USD per person based on 2 people sharing. 

Availability changes all the time, please contact us for up to date details, and any cabins recently made available.

Please note: Limited Availability, book soon to avoid disappointment!

AA Superior
AAA Superior
AAA Cabin
AA Cabin
A Cabin
B Cabin
September 2018
26-Sep-2018 $2,592* $3,478 $3,650 $3,823 $4,599 $4,815
October 2018
4-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
12-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
16-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
20-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
24-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
28-Oct-2018 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
November 2018
1-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
5-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
9-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
13-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
17-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
21-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
25-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
29-Nov-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
December 2018
3-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
7-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
11-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
15-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
19-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
23-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
27-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
31-Dec-2018 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
January 2019
4-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
8-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
12-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
16-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
20-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
24-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
28-Jan-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
February 2019
1-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
5-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
9-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
13-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
17-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
21-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
25-Feb-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
March 2019
1-Mar-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
5-Mar-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
9-Mar-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
13-Mar-2019 $4,136 $5,323 $5,575 $5,843 $6,961 $7,297
17-Mar-2019 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
21-Mar-2019 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
25-Mar-2019 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996
29-Mar-2019 $3,240 $4,338 $4,547 $4,759 $5,729 $5,996

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $2592

Please contact us for further details of the different cabin types. In short:

  • There are a limited number of 'B' cabins on the lowest deck which tend to get booked up a long time in advance
  • 'AAA' cabins are on a higher deck than 'AA' and 'A' cabins
  • Superior cabins ('S') are approx 25% larger.
  • A, AA, AAA cabins are available for single occupancy, with a 50% supplement.

Includes

  • Accommodation
  • Sea transportation
  • All meals
  • Open bar when on duty (without additional cost for wines, beverages, and liquors)
  • Shore excursions
  • Onboard entertainment.

Excludes

  • Optional tours and transportation
  • Port tax
  • Migration fee
  • National park fee

Questions about this Voyage?