Patagonian Explorer by Sea

Buenos Aires, Santiago, Ushuaia, Valparaiso
plus Iguazu Falls optional extension

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our current tour & cruise packages in South America.

Photo by Brad Crooks Explore amazingly diverse and fascinating Patagonia, a magnificent "off-the-beaten-path" region spanning portions of Chile and Argentina, where you'll find soaring mountains, windy plains that stretch endlessly toward the distant horizon, lush forests filled with ancient flora and fauna, and pristine glaciers. It is an enchanted voyage filled with contrast and beauty, excitement and adventure, and one that you will never forget.

Begin in Buenos Aires, the beautiful and diverse capital city of Argentina, where a rich history and culture, world-class cuisine and spirited nightlife make this one of the world's most exciting destinations. You'll also visit Santiago, Chile's charming capital city, where Spanish colonial buildings and old churches are juxtaposed against the spectacular, snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains.

Patagonian Explorer by Sea tour itinerary At Ushuaia, you'll board your cruise ship, the Via Australis, and sail around the inlets and waterways of Tierra del Fuego and through the Strait of Magellan. The ship's fleet of zodiac boats will whisk you to shore at various points along the way, and en route, you'll enjoy fascinating presentations by the ship's naturalist-guides, all of whom are involved in the study of Patagonia and its natural treasures as well as its preservation.

If you enjoy cruising, you won't want to miss this very special opportunity. Your ship, the Via Australis, provides all the modern comforts you'll need or want, plus important extras that you'll be glad to have—even high-top rubber boots to borrow if you don't bring your own! Delicious and bountiful meals are served three times daily in the ship's dining room that is encircled by huge picture windows so you don't miss a single view. Hot beverages, snacks and even wine and other alcoholic beverages are served, free of charge, each day. Space on the Via Australis is extremely limited, so we strongly recommend early booking.

Want even more? Add a 3-night optional pre-tour extension to Iguazu Falls (also known as Iguazú or Iguaçu), one of the largest waterfalls in the world and very likely the most impressive.


Itinerary at a Glance

Patagonian Explorer by Sea
Day Destination
+ Optional Iguazu Falls Pre-Tour Extension
1 Depart USA
2 Buenos Aires
3 Buenos Aires, Estancia Visit
4 Buenos Aires
5 Buenos Aires, Ushuaia
6 Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego
7 Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay
8 Piloto & Nena Glaciers
9 Magdalena Island, Punta Arenas, Santiago
10 Santiago
11 Valparaiso, depart Chile
12 Arrive USA

Detailed Itinerary

Avenida 9 de Julio & obelisk, Buenos Aires  © Secretary of Tourism Day 1: Depart USA. Your fascinating journey to South America begins as you depart from Miami this evening on your overnight flight to Buenos Aires.

Day 2: Buenos Aires. After arrival formalities, set out on a tour of the city and discover why Buenos Aires is so often referred to as "the Paris of the South."

Casa Rosada presidential palace Your exploration begins at the Plaza del Mayo, historic and political center of the city. Here is located the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace from which Juan and Eva Perón spoke to throngs of adoring Argentinians. Continue to the Obelisk landmark on the Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world.

La Boca District  Photo by Luis Argerich
La Boca District   Photo by Luis Argerich
Then to the crowded Florida Street, a true shopper's paradise. Pass through the colorful neighborhood of La Boca and the charming San Telmo area. Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavor, but everywhere you go, the people are warm, welcoming and happy to see visitors.

Recoleta Cemetary, Buenos Aires Admire the French architecture in the exquisite Recoleta neighborhood, including the beautiful Cemetery of La Recoleta, where Evita Perón is buried. It is one of many ironies of this complex city that Evita, heroine of the poor, is buried in the city's most elegant (and expensive) section. Dazzler Tower San Martin

A group of gauchos Day 3: Buenos Aires and Estancia Visit. After breakfast this morning, travel outside the city for a full day excursion to the Argentine Pampas. Visit a traditional estancia (ranch), where you'll discover the life of the Argentine cowboys known as "gauchos." After a sumptuous barbecue lunch including delicious local wine, you'll enjoy a folkloric show with typical Argentine dance, song, and dress. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner and an exciting performance of the tango, Argentina's passionate national dance. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

A couple performs the tango  Photo by Toshi Hirasawa
A couple performs the tango   Photo by Toshi Hirasawa
Day 4: Buenos Aires. Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore the city on your own. Your tour guide will gladly make suggestions for independent exploration. We recommend that you take advantage of the early evening hours to stroll the colorful streets and shops around your hotel to scout the amazing bargains that will make shopping for souvenirs (and that gorgeous leather bag) a pleasure. Breakfast provided.

Ushuaia, southernmost city in the world Day 5: Buenos Aires & Ushuaia. Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Ushuaia, the most important city in the Tierra del Fuego province and the southernmost city in the world. The landscapes in this fascinating region range from barren, windburned plains to quiet pine and beech forests, pristine blue lakes, and snowcapped mountains. Learn about the history of this region during your visit to the Museum of the End of the World. Los Yamanas or Fueguino Hotel Breakfast provided.

Tierra del Fuego, looking towards Martial Glacier Day 6: Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego. Morning excursion to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, home to the Martial Glacier. When Ferdinand Magellan first sailed along these shores in 1520, he saw fires lit by the Yaghan Indians, giving the region its name: Land of Fire.

Mare Australis  Photo by Mc Manus Later today, board your expedition cruise ship, the Via Australis, the National Geographic Channel's preferred vessel for sailing through Patagonia. The captain and crew will welcome you with a cocktail reception on board. Set sail through the waterways of Tierra del Fuego as you make your way to the mythical Strait of Magellan. Via Australis. (Passengers on the Sept. 24 departure sail on the Mare Australis.) Breakfast & dinner provided.

Monument at Cape Horn, southern tip of South America - Photo by Malte Sieber Day 7: Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay. Today's voyage brings you to the legendary Cape Horn, a treacherous milestone on the clipper route for centuries. Sail through the Beagle and Murray Channels to disembark in Cape Horn National Park.

King Cormorant colony, Beagle Channel The Horn, a sheer 1400 foot promontory, marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean merge, only 400 miles from Antartica. The Horn was discovered in 1616 by a Dutch commercial expedition and owes its name to the Port of Hoorn, the expedition's departure point. The Horn was originally believed to be part of Tierra del Fuego, then discovered some time later to actually be an island.

Wulaia Bay  Photo by Malte Sieber
Wulaia Bay   Photo by Malte Sieber
By afternoon, reach Wulaia Bay, once home to the region's largest aboriginal settlements. Wulai is also renowned for the mesmerizing beauty of its vegetation and geography. Walk through a Magellanic forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns and other native vegetation to a breathtaking lookout point. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

A zodiac boat  Photo by N. Piwonka
A zodiac boat   Photo by N. Piwonka
Day 8: Piloto & Nena Glaciers. This morning, sail through the Brecknock and Ocasion channels, arriving at Cockburn Channel in the afternoon. After lunch, continue to Chico Sound,where you'll disembark in Zodiac boats to explore Alakaluf Fjord and see its beautiful waterfalls. You'll also have the opportunity to observe the Piloto and Nena glaciers and to learn about the formation of glaciers and their influence on the unique geography of the region’s channels. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Magellanic Penguins  Photo by Mc Manus Day 9: Magdalena Island, Punta Arenas & Santiago. Early this morning, go ashore at Magdalena Island, home to an immense colony of more than 120,000 Magellanic Penguins and cratered with their burrows. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year, with the male reclaiming his burrow and waiting for the female, who can find her mate through his call alone. Reaching 24-30 inches tall when full grown, the penguins provide quite a spectacle, which you'll see up close during a walk to the picturesque lighthouse that guides ships on their way through the Strait of Magellan.

South American Sea Lions near Ushuaia The penguins migrate in early April, so passengers traveling between April and September get a different treat—a visit to the sea lion colony on Marta Island. After this visit, sail to Punta Arenas, disembarking late this morning and transferring to the airport for your flight to Santiago.

Arrive in Santiago, the bustling capital of Chile, located between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Andes Mountains. Your guide will escort you to your centrally located hotel where you'll meet up with your fellow passengers from the land tour to share stories and experiences of your Patagonian explorations. Crowne Plaza Hotel Breakfast provided.

Casa de la Moneda, Santiago Day 10: Santiago. This morning, enjoy an orientation tour that showcases both the colonial and modern highlights of the city. Begin at Santiago's famed Jockey Club and then proceed to Centro Civico and Plaza de la Constituci├│n. See the Casa de la Moneda, one of Spanish America's most stunning examples of colonial architecture and the current seat of the Chilean government.

Plaza de Armas, Santiago  Photo by Peanno
Plaza de Armas, Santiago   Photo by Peanno
Continue to the the bustling Plaza de Armas, the heart of Santiago and home to the ornate baroque Cathedral Metropolitana, the magnificent Post Office building, the Natural History Museum, and the best place to view the dozens of lively street artists and mimes and busy "Santiaguinos" on their way to and from work. End your tour with a spectacular panoramic view of Santa Lucia Hill, site where Santiago was founded in 1541. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the city independently.

Tonight, enjoy dinner and a colorful folklore performance at Buenos Muchachos, a restaurant decorated in traditional Chilean farm style. Sample local wines and regional cuisine as you experience live music and dance from Chile’s northern and central regions and the Chiloe and Easter Island zones. Breakfast & dinner provided.

Valparaiso Historic Quarter on Cerro Alegre Hill Day 11: Valparaiso. Today's excursion takes you to Valparaiso, a vibrant port city and UNESCO World Heritage site founded in 1536. Valparaiso brims with charming colorful neighborhoods nestled in the hills. More than a dozen cable cars that connect the port with other areas in the city.

Calfulafquen Bar Restaurant & hillside tram, Valparaiso
Hillside tram, Valparaiso
On today's tour, you'll have the opportunity to ride one of these hillside tramcars—the Ascensor Artilleria—to the Mirador Paseo 21 de Mayo, where you'll take in stunning panoramic views of the port. You'll also visit some of Valparaiso's most interesting sights, including the Plaza Victoria, the handicraft market, and the Muelle Prat, an excellent spot for viewing the bustling port activities. Continue to the lively Central Market before concluding your tour at the University of Valparaiso.

Later today, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided..

Day 12: Arrive USA. Your exciting South American adventure ends today as you arrive in the USA this morning.

Important Note: This tour involves some hiking and walking, and as the Via Australis does not have an elevator aboard, you must be able to walk up and down several flights of stairs.


Iguazu Falls Optional Pre-Tour Extension

Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.

Iguazu Falls  © Brazilian Tourism Office Day 1: Depart USA. Your journey begins as you depart from Miami this evening on your overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Day 2: Buenos Aires/Puerto Iguazú. After arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the national airport for your flight to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls. Check in at your hotel, the only one located within the Park.

Aerial view of Devil's Throat at Iguazu - Photo by Mario Robert Duran Ortiz Upon seeing Iguazu, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" You'll soon discover why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world! Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts that cascade down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rises up to 500 feet in the air. Iguazu boasts the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world.

Take the remainder of the day to explore Iguazu on your own. There's plenty of well-marked trails through the rainforest around the Falls that afford multiple views of the roaring water and excellent picture-taking (be sure to protect your camera if it's not waterproof). Later, relax and cool off at your beautiful hotel pool. Sheraton Iguazú Hotel Breakfast provided.

Iguazu Falls rainbow  Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Iguazu Falls rainbow   Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Day 3: Iguazu Falls. This morning, you'll get a fantastic close-up view of the falls and their dazzling and awesome display of power. Travel through the rain forest to the most spectacular sight at Iguazu: Devil's Throat, a massive U-shaped cataract that measures 270' high, 490' wide and 2300' long. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional nautical adventure along the Lower Iguazu River, sailing under the Falls. Later this afternoon, be sure to take time to stroll through the laid-back town of Puerto Iguazú. Breakfast provided.

Exploring the Falls by boat  Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen Day 4: Depart Iguazu. Enjoy a morning at leisure to take advantage of the lovely resort activities at your hotel. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. You'll enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Buenos Aires, before beginning the next leg of your tour tomorrow. Dazzler Tower San Martin Breakfast provided.


Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Argentina, click here.

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Chile, click here.

Tour & Cruise Packages Our specialty for 30 years! Find one now:
choose a region Europe Mediterranean Asia Middle East Africa Central America Caribbean South America South Pacific
  • Follow Friendly Planet Share the love of travel
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
Great Greece Giveaway: You could win a trip for 2 to Greece worth up to $6100!