Why should I do a wildlife cruise?
- Some of Patagonia's most fascinating wildlife inhabits the water and coastlines of Chile and Argentina, in areas only accessible by boat.
- Many of these areas are protected marine parks where access is restricted to only a select few vessels who must agree to strict terms in order to access them. This means that not only will you see few if any other people, you can rest assured that you're travelling responsibly too.
- Taking a cruise or boat trip in Patagonia can get you up close to whales (4 different species), walking/zodiac boating among hundreds of penguins, gazing up at sea birds and condors, and covering your ears at the sound of sea lions barking and splashing; experiences that are very difficult, if not impossible to have from land.
- There are a range of vessels to choose from, varying in terms of size and comfort level, with itineraries to suit all levels of adventurousness, physical ability, and special interests, so there really is something for everyone.
Types of wildlife cruise
The waters around Patagonia are home to four types of whales: the orca, humpback, southern right, and the blue whale, which can be seen in specific areas around Peninsula Valdes in Argentina, and the fjords around Chiloe island and Tierra del Fuego. There are a number of dedicated whale watching cruises and boat trips that take you to these special protected marine parks where you can get up close to these magnificent creatures and take some fantastic photos to remember them by.
Cruises for whale watching
What our customers think
The Whale Watching was incredible, we saw over 40 whales in just 3 days!
Eddie March 2016
Patagonia is home to four penguin species - Magellanic, Humboldt, gentoo and king penguins. There are a few day trips that take you to see these curious birds by boat, but they can be quite touristy experiences, and being on a multi day adventure cruise allows you to get to more remote colonies and see the penguins in their natural habitat with few people around. There are a number of adventure cruises that incorporate penguin colony visits by zodiac boat or on foot, but in most cases you'll also see them bobbing around in the waters of the fjords and pottering along the coastlines too!
Cruises for penguin spotting
A number of our cruises and boat trips are specifically designed to get you to the best wildlife spotting locations, at the perfect times of day, making for the optimum photography opportunities - perfect for the real wildlife photography fanatic! If you want a more general cruise that's more diverse, perhaps with a little more hiking/activity, then a more general wildlife cruise can still get you your fix. On most of our boat trips and cruises, you're pretty much guaranteed to see a whole host of other wonderful wildlife too. The waters are teeming with sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, and diverse bird life. You won't be short of creatures to spot, so keep your eyes peeled and binoculars at the ready!
Cruises for wildlife watching
For the most diverse wildlife sightings and best photography opportunities with experienced expert guides, choose our 8 day Tierra del Fuego photography cruise in the Chilean fjords.
Patagonia Cruises: FAQs
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be. If you plan in advance and book early, you can snap up a cabin in the cheapest category before anyone else. We work very closely with a range of cruise and operators in Patagonia and know the best early booking discounts. There are some excellent low season rates too, if you’re willing to travel at the start/end of the season.
We offer cruises and boat trips to suit a wide spectrum of budgets, from around $600 USD for a 1 day whale watching trip to $4,000 for the best cabin in high season on a luxury adventure cruise vessel.
Our Adventure Cruises have been described as ‘cruises for people who don’t do cruises’. Basing yourself from a boat is a great way to explore deep into the sparkling, mountain-lined fjords, both on and off the vessel, to watch crashing glaciers calve before you and wildlife going about their business, and experience the peaceful channels as the pioneers once did - with barely anyone else around.
We work with 15 different ships, small boats and sailboats, with capacity of between 10 to 210 passengers. Each ship has a different style and focus and we can talk you through the pros and cons of each, to help you to choose the best cruise for you.
We can help you choose the right cruise to suit you, depending on how active you want to be. All of our cruises and boat trips offer the opportunity to be active, but it’s not compulsory; excursions are optional and there are different effort levels available on some cruises, so that you can mix challenging hikes with more relaxed excursions - the choice is yours.
The most popular Patagonia cruise routes run between Ushuaia (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (Chile), and are a great alternative to flights or bus journeys as they combine border crossings with sightseeing along the way. There are also a number of ‘there and back’ trips, for example from/to Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Ushuaia, Puerto Montt and Puerto Aysen - great if you want to start and end in the same place.
The wildlife experiences I've had on larger Patagonia cruises have been equally as diverse as on the smaller trips. I am always astonished by how much wildlife activity there is in the fjords! For the best chances of sighting whales or penguins though, definitely go on a dedicated trip - it's worth it, to get those up close encounters.
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
Patagonia is an area of fabulous biodiversity, home to many species classified as endangered or vulnerable. We work with carefully selected local partners to get you close to the animals in the wild without risk to their environment. The season and the region will determine what Patagonian wildlife you'll encounter.
Other ways to explore Patagonia
Adventure Cruises in Patagonia
Access areas of Patagonia's rugged landscape that even the hardiest hiker can't reach. Patagonia cruises take you to remote corners of the Chilean fjords teeming with marine …
Whale Watching in Patagonia
The waters around Patagonia are home to four types of whales: the orca, humpback, southern right and the blue whale. There are a number of dedicated whale watching cruises and …
Patagonia is famous for its many glaciers, and some of the most interesting and stunning can only be accessed from the water, by boat. The wild and remote scenery will make you …