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Day 1 Valparaíso, Chile
Estimated time of departure is 10:00 PM
Your adventure starts in Valparaíso, also called ‘Valpo’ for short by the locals. This was once a major seaport for ships crossing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, that golden age of commerce came to a halt. But if you take a stroll along the port before embarking on MS Fram, you will definitely get a feel for its old greatness.
Thankfully, the city has much more going for it. A diverse arts scene, thriving foodie culture, vintage funiculars and hill-top neighbourhoods covered in colourful houses means it has enviable comparisons with San Francisco. Alegre district seems to encapsulate each one of those elements. Hop between the cafés and restaurants here and enjoy views over the city and nearby sea. Make sure you also visit the UNESCO-listed Historic Quarter where you can admire beautiful buildings and street art.
If you would like more time to explore this Chilean port city, we recommend coming a few days early. How about also adding an optional 4-day pre-programme to Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world?
Day 2-3 At sea
Your expedition cruise has finally begun. Now comes two days of enjoyable sailing along the scenic Pacific coast of Chile. Spend your days on the deck as we sail by the exceptional scenery. You might even spot wildlife such as migrating whales and albatross. The Expedition Team also starts their lecture program to prepare you for your upcoming experiences. Learn about the science, wildlife, and history of the area, and visit the Science Center to participate in Citizen Science projects..There are also art classes on offer, where you can draw or sculpt your favorite penguin, among other projects. There is always plenty to do during days at sea.. If you just want to relax, the Explorer Lounge & Bar is the perfect place, where you are sure to find other explorers. )
Day 4 Castro
Castro is the capital of Chiloé Island, set among windswept hills and green vegetation. Most visitors make a beeline to the wharf at the Gamboa district to see thebrightly painted wooden houses, called ‘palafitos’, raised on stilts along the Fiordo de Castro. This small city has many things to offer. Head to the town square to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Iglesia San Francisco, a Neo-Gothic church build from wood that dates back to the city’s founding in 1567. If you like modern art, the Museum of Modern Art of Chiloé is well worth a visit. After you work up your appetite on your way through town, head to one of the many of the great restaurants that make Castro a surprise culinary destination.
Day 5 At sea
We then continue southward through the fabled waters of Patagonia. When Magellan sailed here in 1520, he used the term ‘Patagon’ to describe the indigenous tribes of the region, which he and his expedition believed were giants more than 16 feet tall. We can’t promise you giants, but we can offer iconic Andean seascapes, whose undisturbed nature and spectacular mountain peaks defy the greatest of tall tales.
Our approach continues toward one of the world’s most remote and beautiful places: the province of Última Esperanza, meaning ‘Last Hope’. Spanish navigator Juan Ladrillero named it ‘Last Hope’ in 1557 after several failed attempts to reach the Strait of Magellan. You’ll be happy to know that he did go on to successfully find and navigate the strait.
Day 6 Puerto Edén
The tiny village of Puerto Edén sits on a bay at the edge of a peninsula, which lays within a fjord in Bernardo O´Higgins National Park. The comparisons to the Garden of Eden apply more to the national park than to the village itself, but, needless to say, this place is hard to get to. While its surroundings are a paradise off the beaten path, no roads lead here. Puerto Edén is only accessible by sea.
The isolation suits the dozen indigenous Kawésqar people just fine, who gave up their canoe-faring nomadic lifestyle to settle here a generation ago. Given its unusually humid climate and high rainfall, there aren’t any roads around the town either. In order to visit the small arts and crafts shops, you will have to walk over the pedestrian boardwalks that connect the houses and buildings to the 250 people living here.
Day 7-8 Puerto Natales
Due to its location on the doorstep to Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales has swapped out its sheep, and its former agricultural industry, for fleece-wearing hikers streaming in for a Patagonian adventure. Many corrugated tin shops now cater to this new clientele and have stocked up on all sorts of outdoor gear. The town also offers an increasingly diverse selection of restaurants.
Over our next two days here, you can join in on an optional excursion to the national park itself, or simply enjoy the atmosphere and attractions of Puerto Natales. Go for drinks at one of the many quiet bars and perhaps chat with locals and other international adventurers. The Last Hope is both a bar and a gin distillery, supposedly the southernmost distillery in the world. Stroll along the waterfront next to Última Esperanza fjord; take some photos at the old pier and at some of the other monuments dotted along your route.
Day 9 Chilean fjords
Glacial ice once scoured its way through this land, carving out the deep and beautiful Chilean fjords and canals, and the tall mountains that surround them. Even though the area seems almost untouched by humans, the canoe-faring indigenous people from these lands have for centuries used these canals for fishing and hunting.
Now it’s your turn to enjoy the serenity of this maze of waterways between islands, mountains, and glaciers. Time and weather permitting, we may take you on a scenic cruise of the fjords aboard our small boats (RIBs), or join a landing on shore. Keep your eyes on the sky for the birds following the ship. In the water, you might spot dolphins and even whales.
Day 10-11 At Sea
As we sail through the scenic Beagle Channel in the morning, watch for the rare, endemic Peale’s dolphins and other wildlife. Once we leave the channel, our journey down to Cape Horn begins. Dutchman Willem Schouten discovered this headland on Hornos Island in 1616. He named it ‘Kaap Hoorn’ after the city of Hoorn, in the Netherlands. The waters around the Cape are typically choppy with strong winds and large waves, making it generally unfavorable for landings. If the weather allows us, however, we will land on the island and go up to the Cape, which will surely be something to remember.
The Cape marks our entry into Drake Passage. During our crossing, the Expedition Team will continue their lectures to offer contextualknowledge to your voyage and prepare you for your adventures ahead. They will explain how to make your visit in Antarctica as safe and sustainable as possible and review key IAATO guidelines. Topics will range from the sterilization procedure for our special shore boots to why we always vacuum our clothes and backpack before our landings in Antarctica. To take better photos, our onboard photographer will explain how to adjust the white balance and when best to reduce the exposure. Stay active in the gym or relax in the sauna, stand out on deck or enjoy your new friends in the Explorer Lounge, but never stop scanning the horizon for signs of that first iceberg.
Day 12-18 Antarctica - The White Continent
This is the final frozen frontier—an unspoiled, vast, white desert at the bottom of the world, teeming with life. Majestic mountains rise from the icy sea, covered with thick snow. Glaciers creep across the landscape, destined to crack and calve icebergs along the coast. The scenery is almost silent, except for the shrill cries of lovesick penguins, splashes from courting seals, and the sounds of calving ice. The 46 species of birds living here, such as terns, petrels and jaegers, might also catch your attention.
During our seven days around the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, we will likely go ashore at several places, giving you a first-hand look at the region’s amazing wildlife and landscapes. The Expedition Team will guide landings, where they will create a perimeter for you to move around freely at your own speed. They will also lead ice-cruising in our small boats (RIBs) to admire icebergs and glaciers from a safe distance. There are also optional activities such as kayaking, camping, and snowshoeing available on occasion when there are suitable conditions, which you may be lucky enough to experience. You can also participate in a wide variety of Citizen Science projects, such asphotographing whales and collecting water samples. By participating in Citizen Science projects, you can assist scientists around the world by uploading your photos to a global database, where they can study migration patterns and microbiology. You will gain an even better understanding of Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem by studying samples in the Science Center.
As outlined in the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica is dedicated to peace, science, and tourism. That’s why we adhere to very strict environmental guidelines in this area. We are the outsiders here, so it is important to make the smallest impact as possible. The wildlife is used to the ice and cold weather, but not human interference. Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures! In fact, in many of the areas we visit, we even wipe out our footprints to prevent penguins from falling into them and getting stuck. As Antarctic ambassadors, we want future explorers to have the same opportunities as you do to experience this pristine continent.
Day 19-21 Drake Passage & Beagle Channel
Inspired. That’s the typical feeling from our guests after seven fascinating and unforgettable days exploring Antarctica. You (and your camera’s memory card!) will be filled with unforgettable moments that will stay with you forever.
MS Fram will now turn back northward and take you safely back across the Drake Passage and through the Beagle Channel. Expedition Team’s lectures continue in the Science Center, where they will also recap the experiences from our cruise. If you start to feel a little nostalgic about the cruise, even before it ends, that’s absolutely normal. Thegood news is that there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy yourself. Enjoy the onboard restaurants while you savor your favorite dishes there one the last times. Count the stars from the hot tub on the observation deck and swapcontact information with your fellow explorers.
Day 22 Punta Arenas/Santiago de Chile
Estimated time of arrival is 8:00 AM
In the morning, when we arrive in Punta Arenas, your cruise has officially come to an end. We will provide a transfer to the airport, where you will fly to the capital, Santiago de Chile. If you have some extra time on your hands before heading back home, considerextending your journey and enjoy the Chilean capital before heading home. We also recommend extending your vacation with a Post-Program to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Easter Island, where you can admire and try to make sense of the mysterious statues of giant heads.
Say farewell to the ship, the captain, the crew and the Expedition Team, but don’t leave your sense of adventure behind, as well. When one chapter ends another begins, and there are more destinations—and expedition cruises—to explore.
Most of all, we hope that you will cherish all the magical moments you experienced on this expedition—that these moments will stay vivid in your mind and heart. May the awe of beauty of Antarctica continue to inspire you long after your adventure.