Check in at the Australis travel center at 409 San Martín Ave. in downtown Ushuaia between 10:00 and 17:00 (10
AM-5 PM) on the day of your cruise departure. Board the M/V Ventus Australis at 18:00 (6:00PM). After a
welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the most remote corners of
planet Earth. During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentine into Chilean territorial
waters. The lights of Ushuaia disappear as we turn into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste
By early morning, Ventus Australis is cruising across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes Cape
Horn National Park. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that
harbors legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition — and named
after the town of Hoorn in West Friesland — Cape Horn is a sheer 425-meter (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory
overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage. For many years it was the only navigation route between
the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the “End of the Earth.” The park was declared a World Biosphere
Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by
a lightkeeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.
Sailing back across Nassau Bay, we anchor at fabled Wulaia Bay, one of the few places in the archipelago where
the human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. Originally the site of one of the region’s
largest Yámana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain
FitzRoy in the 1830s during their voyages on the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for its mesmerizing
beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station —
which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area — passengers have a
choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the
bay. On all of these you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns,
and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay. Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop
something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum – letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by
future travelers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.
Casting off from Wulaia Bay, we retrace our route to the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern
edge of Tierra del Fuego into a section of Alberto de Agostini National Park called Glacier Alley or Avenue of the
Glaciers. Flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet are a number of impressive tidewater
glaciers, most of them named after European countries — Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. In amongst
this frozen league of nations we enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia
Glacier. No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was
named for princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king. After disembarking we take a
hort hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountaintops down to the
sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier.
Making our way further west along the Beagle Channel, we enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass
rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking. This time we hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial
waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord.
The walk is demanding — very steep, negligible trail, rough footing — and not for everyone. For those who choose
to stay onboard, our captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can
enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.
Early in the morning, we will sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is
possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range — some of them
reaching the water. This morning, we will disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed
by the melting of the Águila Glacier. We will reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views. In the
afternoon, we will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac — and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean
Condors in the area.
The following morning we sail into Argentine waters and dock in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. Australis
is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 or 9:30 AM depending on the date of departure.