Best experiences, onboard different kinds of ships
Chile is home to over 3700 islands, most of them in Patagonia. All kinds of stories were built around the inhospitable and virgin landscapes that conform them. First by the Kawesqar (Alacalufes) and Yaganes (Yámanas), and then by the European sailors that got astonished by the beauty of this region.
Nowadays, hundreds of kilometers shared by islands and continental territory, allow travelers to enjoy the most spectacular landscapes of Chilean Patagonia. From the endless Pacific Ocean to narrow channels and picturesque sounds, these islands are home to forests, rivers, glaciers, mountains, lakes, and pristine landscapes.
The idea of this post is to share some of the best cruises (including journeys in small boats) that navigate between the Chilean Fjords.
1). “Australis”: from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia (and vice versa) through Cape Horn the Chilean Fjords.
This is probably the most popular and fancy alternative of them all. Onboard a modern state-of-the-art cruise, one can enjoy some of the best views of Patagonia. Australis counts with different ships and different itineraries, all of them around the southernmost part of Patagonia, including also Argentinean territory.
The most popular itinerary is the Ushuaia to Cape Horn Cruise (which is also done in the opposite direction, from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia). It takes 4 nights, includes many disembarks/landings during the journey, and the highlights are:
- Beagle Channel (shared between Argentina and Chile).
- Chilean Fjords
- Cape Horn (southernmost land point before Antarctica, and a legend among sailors!).
- Wulaia Bay
- Pia Glacier & Garibaldi Glacier
- De Agostini Sound, Aguila Glacier & Cóndor Glacier
- Magdalena Island (where you can walk among penguins, depending on which way you take) & Magellan Strait.
Another very important fact of this Cruise is that it has a very strategic connection between Argentina and Chile. Sometimes it can get tricky to have suitable logistics between the two sides of Patagonia, and this one is an epic way to join Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. Furthermore, Ushuaia and Punta Arenas are strategic hubs with flights to different parts of Argentina and Chile, besides offering themselves activities to do.
2). “Expedición Fitz Roy”: discovering the Chilean Fjords onboard a small vessel
This is a small company with great value. Onboard a relatively small ship, that hosts up to 20 people during the journeys (unless you join a full-day excursion, which is for more), this cruise navigates across the area that surrounds Punta Arenas.
It offers cruises from 2 to 7 nights, with different topics. Some of them are:
- Looking for Humpback Whales (and other animals) in the Magellan Strait & Francisco Coloane Marine Park (2 nights).
- Glaciers of D’agostini Sound (2 nights).
- Discovering the corners of Skyring Sound (2 nights).
- Nature & Photography Cruise (7 nights).
- Almirantazgo Sound & Fjords of Tierra del Fuego (3 nights).
- Whales & D’Agostini Sound (3 nights).
3). “Patagonian Fjords”: navigation, trekking & adventure
This is a family-run business based in Puerto Natales. From there, they run expeditions to the Chilean Fjords in the Kawesqar National Park and other areas. Furthermore, they have created a new route in the National Park, which consists of a multiday trekking & navigation tour. For this purpose, they have created a floating refuge (called Explorador) and two campsites (“Resi” and “Kiara”), since there are no facilities neither infrastructure along the way.
They offer different kinds of adventures, including kayaking, tailor-made private expeditions, and scouting trips to virgin areas. Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and other pristine areas are also part of the places that they can reach, and they use different kinds of boats to do it. Usually, they use small boats, which is an advantage for those who don’t want to travel with a lot of people.
4). “Skorpios”: tourism & cargo in northern, central, and southern Patagonia
Founded by a shipbuilder and well-known entrepreneur from the south of Chile, Skorpios has become one of the companies with the largest shipping fleet in South America. They offer both cargo and touristic services, in different kinds of vessels of different sizes (depending on the purpose).
They offer two itineraries: the “Chonos” route, which navigates the area between Puerto Montt and San Rafael (northern and central Patagonia), and the “Kaweskar” route (southern Patagonia, in the Chilean Fjords near Puerto Natales).
5. Other Cruises
Besides those mentioned above, there are other cruises that navigate along the Chilean fjords, some of them combining with Argentina, Antarctica, and other parts of South America.
- NAVIMAG: ferry from Puerto Montt Puerto Natales.
- LAKES CROSSING: it navigates lakes (more than fjords) and goes from Puerto Varas to Bariloche, in Argentina. An amazing experience of 1 or 2 days (depending on the option)!
- ANTARCTICA CRUISES: there are different cruises that depart from Punta Arenas, and on the way to Antarctica you pass by the fjords of Tierra del Fuego.
The list continues with companies such as Ponant and Celebrity, with long itineraries, or Catamaranes del Sur San Rafael, with a short itinerary.
6. The right experience for you
We know that there are many options and different ways to discover the Chilean Fjords. In Beyond BA Latam, we offer tailor-made trips in Argentina and Chile, and we would love to help you design the right trip for you. Don’t hesitate in contacting us to get a trip proposition, and to start planning your next great adventure to Patagonia!0