This carefully curated expedition offers the peak experiences of Patagonia and its surrounding environs in a compact timeframe. Discover the fjords, glaciers, and panoramic vistas that make Chilean Patagonia one of the most lauded nature destinations on Earth. Exposing you to the ‘best of’ highlights, like the stunning Beagle Channel, massive glaciers and snowcapped peaks, this perfectly-paced voyage also brings you into the seldom-seen natural splendors of natural parks Yendegaia and Karukinka. Cap off your expedition by exploring Argentina’s rugged, seldom-seen Isla De Los Estados (Staten Island), a land of mythic wildness that has been largely off limits to travelers since 1923.
Venture into incredible wildlife reserves for up-close exploration
Tuck deep into fjords and venture into seldom-explored channels that are only accessible by expedition ship. Here you’ll discover the bright blue glaciers and near-mythic wildness. Explore vast areas of snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes, soaring granite walls, and waterfalls provides days of spectacular adventure. And through our worldwide network of friends, we’ve arranged to explore private wildlife reserves to see the famous guanacos and rheas of the Patagonian steppes and Andean condors soaring overhead. Look for Magellanic penguins, albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters, and more.
Explore Argentina's seldom-seen Isla de los Estados
By special permission, our ship will call at Isla de los Estados, a wild island largely untouched by humans in decades, it has only a naval outpost with four guardians. Walk its wild beech forests, look for penguins, see the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, plus explore the ruins of a penal colony. And, conditions permitting, explore a very rarely seen archeological site where native people lived 1,500 years ago.
Actively explore: Hike, kayak & Zodiac cruise
You’ll get out on adventures often in Patagonia, sometimes twice a day. Explore the towering fjords by Zodiac and kayak; hike to the terminus of massive glaciers; walk the spongy, vegetation-covered ground surrounded by the immensity of a wild pristine landscape. Because Explorer has a fleet of both Zodiacs and kayaks, the entire expedition community can embark at once on forays, no waiting around for returning parties. You’ll have a choice of activities each day, and the option to join any naturalist whose interests mirror yours. Your choices also include opting to enjoy the view from the all-glass observation lounge, the library, or the chart room. To visit the fitness center with its panoramic windows, or ease into the sauna, or have a massage in the wellness center.
Take advantage of superb photo ops
You’ll have a National Geographic photographer as your traveling companion, to inspire you and provide tips in the field. And the services of a National Geographic certified photo instructor, as well–to help you turn your point-and-shoot camera into an aim & create. You’ll find no end of subjects, and the help you need to return home with your best photos ever.
Arrive in Santiago, Chile and check in to our centrally located
hotel, and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly
surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to
our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the
Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential
Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the
Today we fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, Chile’s southern gateway to Patagonia, drive to the outpost of Puerto Natales, and embark our ship. (B,L,D)
Be on deck to look for condors and other wildlife on our way out of Puerto Natales as our ship transits the narrow sliver of water known as the Kirke Narrows—always a challenge to navigate because of the powerful currents that flow through its pinch point. Today and during the following days you’ll be treated to the spectacular features of an active glaciated landscape with hanging valleys and tributary glaciers. This region was navigated by Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition and it took most of November 1520 for his ships to find a way through the channels that lie between the continental mainland and Tierra del Fuego to the south. Our Captain and local pilots guide us through Kirke Narrows, accessible only to a small ship as National Geographic Orion. We’ll look to make a first stop in the extensive maze of channels and islands of the Chilean fjords, where we may go out by Zodiac and kayak. (B,L,D)
Tierra del Fuego is one of Patagonia’s crown jewels. We visit its newest and largest protected area: Karukinka Natural Park. Established in 2004 through a gift from Goldman Sachs, Karukinka is one of the largest donations ever made for conservation. We’re thrilled to have special permission from the Wildlife Conservation Society to visit this private reserve, which spans 1,160 square miles and harbors endangered culpeo fox, Andean condors, albatross, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and many other kinds of wildlife. We may explore Jackson Bay, backed by a skyline of rugged mountains and look or wildlife including black-browed albatross that nest on one of the nearby small islands. We may walk a trail to a lovely waterfall and look for elephant seals resting on not only the beach but also high in the grass meadows and even in the small river draining the valley inland. (B,L,D)
We’ll explore more stunning wilderness as we see the fjords and glaciers of the region by Zodiac, kayak and on foot. A vast area of soaring, snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of verdant islands, serene lakes, and waterfalls—the archipelago is scarcely touched by man. Take Zodiacs out to explore these protected waters and rugged shores, the blue and white of ice contrasting with greens of the forest highlighted by splashes of flowering plants. Look for the Andean condors, albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and many other birds that inhabit this otherworldly realm. Then we sail the Beagle Channel and will look to hike and kayak one of the wild areas in this region of beech forests, mountains and wild rivers. (B,L,D)
Today we visit Cape Horn, near the southernmost tip of the South American continent, named in 1616 for the Dutch town of Hoorn. These waters are famously difficult to navigate, and over the centuries have been the graveyard of many ships—which before the opening of the Panama Canal had to round the Cape to sail between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Of course, we'll use our modern equipment to explore safely. Weather permitting, we'll take our Zodiacs ashore and walk to the top of the hill for panoramic views and to see the memorial placed there in 1992, showing an albatross in silhouette. (B,L,D)
We have been given special permission to visit extraordinary Staten Island, and our ship will be one of the only expedition ships ever allowed here. It’s a place of superlatives, barely touched in recent decades and visited primarily by a few scientists and those who man the tiny naval observatory. The island was named by Dutch explorers in 1615. Its mountainous, forested landscapes and rugged fjords are beautiful, and we’ll find a great deal of interest here. Our exact schedule will remain flexible to take best advantage of conditions. We’ll see southern rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, many other water birds, and fur seals and sea lions. We’ll also look for otters on our landings ashore, and we’ll see the replica of the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, perhaps along with the ruins of a penal colony. There will be chances to walk in the southern beech forests. These days are bound to stand out as a unique chance to explore a very remote place. Read Eric Guth's account from our inaugural 2015 visit at www.expeditions.com/si_first. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Take a charter flight to Santiago and connect to flights home. (B,L)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
26 February, 2022 to 07 March, 2022 (reverse)
These cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These roomy cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 3 Suite with Window #401-412, 414-419 These suites have a comfortable sofa in the sitting area with a large window and plenty of storage. They have a variety of bed configurations (call for details) plus a writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 4 Deluxe suite with Window #511, 515 - These two suites feature separate sleeping and sitting areas, with a two-seater sofa that looks out a large rectangular window. Beds are configurable. You'll find storage, climate controls, reading lamps, a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These solo cabins feature a window or two portholes, a queen-size bed, writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall
Cat 5 Suite with Balcony #501, 503-506, 508 - These spacious suites feature open living areas and sliding glass doors that open to a private French balcony. Beds are configurable, and you'll find sitting chairs or a couch, a writing desk, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 3S Suite with Window #512 - This solo suite features two beds and a large window, plus a bucket chair and small table, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 6 Owner’s suite with Balcony #502, 507, 509*, 510 - These large, owner's suites feature a balcony (Cabin 509 does not have a balcony), a spacious bathroom with a large shower and separate soaking tub with a window, and a large separate living area with a couch and two bucket chairs, plus climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
National Geographic Orion
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 103 metres
Passenger Capacity: 102 (in 53 cabins)
Built: 2003 / Refurbished 2014
Engineered for maximum comfort and safety, Orion is equipped with the latest technology including large retractable stabilizers, sonar, radar, and an ice-strengthened hull. A shallow draft plus bow and stern thrusters provide the convenience of being able to maneuver close to shore. 14 Zodiacs ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration.
National Geographic Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection and the on board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling us to travel to the most pristine environments. A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices.
National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins, including several with balconies. She is spacious and modern, with a variety of public rooms that offer panoramic views of the passing landscape. Friendly and informal, Orion fosters a welcoming atmosphere where like-minded guests share in exceptional experiences and enrichment.
Her public rooms include a dramatic window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library perched at the very top of the ship, with plentiful observation decks. The spacious lounge is the heart of our expedition community, and is suited for spirited cocktail hours, informative presentations and our nightly tradition of Recap. In addition, a dedicated theater provides a unique setting for specialist presentations or films and slideshows. Both the main dining room and outside buffet easily accommodate all guests at once for open seating dining. On selected nights, weather permitting, our dining room menu is also available on the outside deck.
While Orion interiors are elegant, life aboard is always casual, with no need for formal clothing. And you’ll find shipboard services like laundry, in-room cabled internet, and public-area wifi.
• 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
Trip specific inclusions;
Alcoholic beverages included (Premium brands may be excluded)
Gratuities included on NG Orion
• 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
Trip specific exclusions;
Flights between Santiago and Embarkation/Disembarkation points as per the itinerary