Have a think about what attracted you to the Australis cruise you asked us about, and check out some of the alternatives below - you might be surprised by what’s possible!
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
Australis cruises are fully booked: what do I do now?
If you can't get a place on the Stella Australis, that's not the end of your Patagonia dreams. Depending on what you'd like to see, there are lots of alternatives.
This season, Australis sold one of their ships (the Via Australis) and with its replacement (Ventus Australis) still under construction,the Stella Australis is holding the fort all by herself…and she’s in demand!
Both of the Australis routes offer an opportunity to land on Cape Horn, and this is often a key draw for people keen to land on the southern most tip of South America. There are few options when it comes to reaching this wild and remote destination, and no other that allows you to actually land on Cape Horn itself, but we can get you a birds-eye view by plane, and up close on the water by kayak or sail-boat. Find out more.
Australis cruises are great for seeing a variety of glaciers, and getting up close to some of them, but there are lots of other ways to get your fill of Patagonia’s crashing, glistening ice fields by boat and on foot. Find out more.
Both of the Australis trips running this season visit Magellanic penguin colonies: one on Isla Magdalena (where you can walk among the penguins) and the other at Tucker Islets (where you take zodiac boats around a network of small islands but do not disembark). If penguins are your thing, there are other ways to see them as a day trip from Punta Arenas and Ushuaia, or on an alternative cruise, find out more.
One of the major draws of Australis is that their trips combine active adventures and explorations with the comfort of a small(ish) yet modern and well equipped ship to come back to at the end of the day, with excellent food and outstanding service. No other cruise company offers quite the same experience, but a few come pretty close.
Our favorite alternatives are the Skorpios cruises: Northern Patagonia Fjords Cruise and Glaciers of Patagonia Adventure Cruise. The ships are not quite as fancy as the Stella, but they are very comfortable, and the glacier cruise in particular provides excellent service and delicious food. The excursions are varied and provide opportunities for glacier gazing, wildlife spotting, and culture.
There are also ways to find comfort on much smaller ships/ boats, for a much more intimate and personalised experience, for example this Chiloe Discovery Cruise.
Often people are attracted to Australis cruises because of the convenient transport they provide between Chile and Argentina. There are a number of other ways to travel between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, for example by bus, plane, or a combination. We can help you find an alternative means of transport that suits you best, allowing you to enjoy alternative excursions and make the most of your time in Patagonia.
More information on travelling between Ushuaia & Punta Arenas
If after all that you’re still dead set on an Australis cruise, why not plan in advance for next season? There is still good availability from September 2017-April 2018, but that won’t be the case for long, so get in touch ASAP!
Cape Horn Flyover
Experience dramatic views of Cape Horn on an exciting flight over the island, as well as taking in the landscape and history of the surrounding areas on a choice of excursions by boat, foot, horse, or bike. A complete experience of the wildlife, culture, landscape and history without having to go to sea.
Cape Horn Kayaking
The expedition starts in Ushuaia and is fully supported by a sailboat. With your highly experienced guide, you'll kayak across the Beagle Channel, visit Puerto Williams, and continue to Puerto Toro, Picton Pass, and Caleta Martial. This cove is the last sheltered spot before the Cape and here you'll wait for the right conditions to paddle down to, and around the Cape. Your return to Ushuaia is aboard the sailboat.
Cape Horn Sailing
There are two options for sailing around the horn. The first, seven day adventure is on a 40ft Ketch with only four crew. Battle the seas down from Ushuaia to Cape Horn, taking in the varied landscape of Tierra del Fuego along the way and sailing in the wake of historic voyages dating back to Drake and the aboriginal Yamana people. The second option is a two week voyage, not just at sea, but on land as well, as you wind around Cape Horn and Isla Navarino, then track alongside the Cordillera Darwin, anchoring and exploring the landscape at spots completely free of human footprints.
Glacier Cruise Alternative
For the glacier enthusiast, the Glaciers of Patagonia Adventure Cruise is the number one choice - you’ll visit 14 different glaciers, including Amalia and El Brujo, the biggest and most impressive. It is a slightly more ‘Chilean’ experience than Australis, but a very comfortable vessel, with excellent service and food, and is kinder on the budget too. The trip departs every Tuesday and Friday for 3 nights from / to Puerto Natales, combining perfectly with a trip to Torres del Paine National Park (which is also accessed from Puerto Natales).
If you fancy a glacier fix on the Argentina side of the border, from the comfort of a luxurious vessel this Spirit of Glaciers cruise might be for you. You spend 2 nights sailing on Lago Argentino, visiting the iceberg barrier and each of the Mayo, Upsala, Spegazzini and of course, Perito Moreno glaciers. You could even combine some glacier spotting in this area with some time at a traditional estancia for some hiking, 4x4 excursions, fishing, horse riding and sailing.
Glaciers on Foot
Alternatively, if you fancy exploring on foot rather than on water, there are a number of trekking options, for example the Grey glacier in Torres del Paine, Perito Moreno and Viedma glaciers in Los Glaciares, and many more.
More Information on Patagonia's glaciers.
Northern Patagonia fjords cruise
A great alternative to an Australis cruise if penguins, glaciers and wildlife are your thing, but you’re OK missing out Cape Horn, and don’t mind a slightly less polished, more ‘Chilean’ feel to your experience. You’ll visit a Magellanic penguin colony at Conejos Islet, Chiloe, as well as visiting the spectacular San Rafael Glacier, bathing in hot springs, and soaking up the local culture.
More information: Northern Patagonia Fjords Cruise
Isla Magdalena day trip (Magellanic penguins)
Isla Magdalena can be visited as a day trip from Punta Arenas. It is a protected site and home to over 150,000 Magellanic penguins and an array of other sea birds. We can set up a day trip on request, for groups of 1-8 people. You will have a private naturalist guide who will provide in depth information on the natural and cultural history of the area, and the penguin colony itself. You will be collected from you hotel at 06:45, departing the dock at 07:30, and arriving at the island at 08:30. You have one hour to explore the trail to the centre of the island, surrounded by Magellanic penguins busy coming ashore, taking baths, preening and resting at the coastline, or waddling to and from their burrows tending their chicks. At 09:30 you depart for nearby Marta Island where you visit a colony of South American sea lions before heading back to Punta Arenas for 11:45am. Prices start from $150 USD per person.
Useless Bay day trip (king penguins)
Useless Bay is home to a very special colony of penguins - the only king penguin colony to be found outside of the Antarctic, established in the past 10 years, and currently at 100 individuals with 20 gorgeous fluffy chicks. You also see a variety of seabirds, mammals, dolphins and sea lions on this trip, which can be run as a one day trip by plane or a 2 day trip by ferry from Punta Arenas. Prices from $298 USD per person.
More information: King Penguins of Tierra del Fuego
Martillo Island Day Trip (Magellanic & gentoo penguins)
If you’re looking for penguins to visit from Ushuaia, Martillo Island is your best bet. You can do this as a day trip, by minibus to Estancia Harberton from where you sail for 15 minutes to Martillo Island. You can walk for about an hour on the island with Magellanic and gentoo penguins, as well as a variety of other sea birds. This excursion can also be combined with canoeing.
More information: Martillo Island Penguin Walk
Whales & other wildlife
The most notable to be seen by boat are whales, and we have dedicated humpback whale watching trips of one day and three days in duration, both of which start and end in Punta Arenas between December and April.
General wildlife spotting & photography
Land based wildlife spotting
The most popular land based animal that people seek out in Patagonia is the elusive Andean puma. Most puma tracking takes place in Torres del Paine National Park, and this excellent trip, the Pumas of Torres del Paine run by our top wildlife experts in Patagonia, could be for you. Alternatively, why not combine pumas, penguins and whales into one incredible wildlife adventure by land and sea?!