Combining a visit to Patagonia and Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime. As expedition vessels depart for the continent from Patagonian towns, it makes sense to plan a few days to experience the wider region.
Shared by Argentina and Chile and dissected by the Andes mountain range, Patagonia encompasses the southernmost tip of the South American continent. While much of the Argentine side is characterized by grasslands and deserts, it eventually melts into a realm of glacial fjords and rainforests alongside the Chilean segment.
Chile’s southerly city is the gateway to Patagonia and Antarctica. The city is rich in heritage with museums offering insight into the lives of 16th-century seafarers as well as the indigenous cultures.
Scenic cruises are the best way to appreciate the local surroundings. Board a craft and sail through the channels and fjords of the glacial archipelago, Tierra del Fuego. These take you as far as the southernmost headland, Cape Horn.
Meanwhile, Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan provides a habitat for one of Chile’s largest colonies of Magellanic penguins as well as migratory birds.
Planes depart Punta Arenas to King George Island where you will board your Antarctic expedition vessel. This option is suitable for travelers prone to seasickness who would rather avoid crossing the Drake Passage.
Torres del Paine National Park
Another definite sight of Patagonia, the Torres del Paine National Park is one of the top 5 experiences in Chile. The region offers exceptional hiking, kayaking, and wildlife watching. Meanwhile, luxury eco-hotels inspired by the landscape provide a sanctuary.
Ushuaia is the Argentine launchpad for onward travel to Antarctica. The vast majority of cruise vessels depart from Ushuaia – traversing the Drake Passage before reaching the polar regions.
Nicknamed the “End of the World”, Ushuaia is located 155 miles southeast of Punta Arenas. However, the journey requires a lengthy drive.
The city is part of the Tierra del Fuego with cruises taking you along the Beagle Channel. Home to a colony of Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, Isla Martillo is a popular spot for wildlife enthusiasts! You can also look out for the resident sea lions of Isla de los Lobos – “Wolf Island”.
Another highlight of staying in Ushuaia is the opportunity to ride the Southern Fuegian Railway, or the “Tren del Fin del Mundo”. Originally used to transport criminals to Ushuaia Prison, the gauge steam railway is now a tourist attraction that provides an incredible perspective on the landscape and teaches you about the indigenous Yagán people.
Antarctic expeditions typically navigate the scenery, wildlife, and communities of South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and the South Shetland Islands. You will live aboard your selected vessel and explore the ice via Zodiac rafts and on foot.
It is advisable to spend at least 5 days/4 nights exploring Patagonia. Antarctica cruises typically range from 10 to 21 days. They take place during the South Hemisphere summer (November to March). You can read more about what to expect from traveling to Antarctica.
Now is the golden moment to start planning this ultimate adventure. Contact me to discuss the various cruise expeditions for Antarctica and to find out how you can extend your visit to Chilean and Argentine Patagonia.
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