The southernmost realms of the planet are places of unimaginable beauty, where humpback whales breach and penguins gather by the thousands, where icebergs shimmer and sapphire-hued fjords harbor snowcapped peaks and virgin forests. Join us on an odyssey aboard the National Geographic Orion that combines the celebrated wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, southern Patagonia, and the Chilean fjords—all in a single, epic voyage. Follow in the wake of legendary explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Ferdinand Magellan to encounter otherworldly icescapes and calving glaciers, remote reserves and pristine parks, and the incredible creatures that thrive at the edge of the world.
• Seek out Antarctica’s iconic wildlife—including penguins, seals, and killer whales—and marvel at incandescent icebergs using our fleet of kayaks and Zodiacs.
• Navigate Chile’s coastal fjords and explore spectacular Glacier Alley, where monumental glaciers calve into the sea.
• Hike among the snowcapped “horns” of Torres del Paine National Park, and enjoy special access to Karukinka Natural Park, the largest protected land area in Tierra del Fuego.
• Cruise the waters of Francisco Coloane Marine Park, searching for the humpback whales and dolphins that inhabit this vast marine reserve.
Arrive in Santiago. Settle into the Hyatt Centric Hotel (or similar) before heading out on a guided overview of the vibrant Chilean capital backed by the Andes. (Day 2: L)
Fly to Ushuaia, a colorful mountain town perched at the southernmost tip of South America. Embark National Geographic Orion. (B,L,D)
Sail to Antarctica via the Drake Passage, named after 16th-century English admiral Sir Francis Drake. Watch for dozens of species of seabirds gliding alongside our ship—including the albatross, which boasts the longest wingspan of any extant bird—and enjoy talks from our onboard naturalists about the wildlife and geology that await us on the Antarctic Peninsula. (B,L,D)
With long hours of daylight at this time of year, we have ample opportunities to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. Our schedule is flexible, allowing us to take advantage of unexpected wildlife sightings and fortuitous weather conditions, whether we’re watching whales at play off the bow of our ship or enjoying an evening Zodiac cruise amid glittering icebergs.
One day, we might set out by kayak to encounter towering icebergs at water level; embark on a Zodiac excursion in search of seals and blue-eyed shags; or walk on a beach amid thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins, learning about how climate change is affecting resident penguin colonies. The next, we might experience the thrill of the ship crunching through pack ice.
As we explore Antarctica’s ethereal icescapes, our expedition team will enrich our experiences with their intimate knowledge of the region. A National Geographic photographer and Certified Photo Instructor provide guidance on how to capture stunning images; our undersea specialists share fascinating video from their dives and reveal underwater footage taken some 1,000 feet below the surface using the ship’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV); and our expedition leader is always on the lookout for thrilling ways to appreciate the wonders of the Earth’s coldest continent. (B,L,D)
Relax onboard and enjoy the ship’s amenities as the coast of Antarctica disappears from view. Round the southernmost tip of South America at Cape Horn and witness the dramatic meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans en route to the Chilean fjords. (B,L,D)
Sail into southern Patagonia’s vast wilderness of forested isles, mirror-like lakes, and snowcapped peaks. In this pristine landscape, myriad fjords cut between soaring granite walls and waterfalls tumble from high above. Explore the region known as Chile’s Glacier Alley, part of the UNESCO-recognized Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Cruise into the secluded Pia fjord, admiring views of the massive glacier at its terminus; and glide into Garibaldi fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park, where the formidable Andes meet the sea. Get up close to the monumental wall of ice that marks the edge of Garibaldi Glacier, exploring by Zodiac or kayak. Continue to Agostini fjord, where numerous glaciers originate from the nearby mountains, for a chance to witness thunderous glacial calving. (B,L,D)
Cruise to Tierra del Fuego and venture into the archipelago’s largest protected land area: Karukinka Natural Park. Karukinka, meaning “our land” in the language of the area’s ancient inhabitants, harbors over a hundred species of wildlife as well as the world’s southernmost old-growth forest. Visit this private reserve by special permission, searching for Andean foxes, guanacos, black-browed albatross, and more. Then sail to Ainsworth Bay, a stunning fjord perched at the mouth of the Marinelli Glacier and surrounded by subpolar forest, keeping an eye out for elephant seals sunbathing along the shore. (B,L,D)
Today, we enter the Strait of Magellan—which separates mainland South America from Tierra del Fuego—to explore Francisco Coloane Marine Park. One of the largest marine protected areas in Chile, the park covers more than 165,000 acres of land and sea and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including humpback whales, two species of sea lion, and Magellanic penguins. Cruise along the coastline by Zodiac and kayak to spot black-and-white Peale’s dolphins and keep a lookout for the endangered Chilean dolphin. Step ashore to spot the Andean condor, one of the largest of all flying birds, soaring overhead. (B,L,D)
Continue our discovery of the Chilean fjords and their spectacular maze of channels and islands, where we may explore by ship or take a walk in the surrounding forest. As we continue to Puerto Natales, local pilots will join our captain on the Bridge to guide us through the winding Kirke Narrows, accessible only to small expedition ships. We dock for the night in Puerto Natales, a picturesque port town located at the head of a glacially carved fjord. (B,L,D)
Spend our final day in Patagonia exploring majestic Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Set out by foot or by vehicle across the windswept, rugged landscape, which spans more than 550,000 acres and harbors an astounding variety of geological forms, from soaring granite pillars and windswept grasslands to rivers, glaciers, and gem-colored lagoons. As you explore this natural wonderland, keep an eye out for guanaco and flocks of rhea—a flightless bird distantly related to the ostrich—and smaller creatures like foxes and armadillos. Celebrate our epic adventure at a farewell dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Puerto Natales and take a charter flight to Santiago. (B,L)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
03 November, 2021 to 20 November, 2021
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.
• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• All meals while on board
• Non alcoholic beverages
• Experienced expedition team and leader
• All excursions
• Zodiac and kayak exploration
• Snorkeling, including wetsuits, masks, fins & snorkel where relevant
• Lectures and presentations on board
• International and domestic flights unless otherwise stated
• Travel insurance
• Passport and visa costs if applicable
• Alcoholic beverages on board unless otherwise stated
• Gratuities unless otherwise stated
• Wifi on board
• Any items of a personal nature including laundry