Fram, In-Depth Antarctica & Patagonia ex Valparaiso to Santiago

Antarctica

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21 Night Cruise sailing from Valparaiso to Punta Arenas aboard Fram.

21 Night Cruise sailing from Valparaiso to Punta Arenas aboard Fram.

This is an expedition where the elements rule. The weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount, and the captain decides the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Day 1 Valparaíso, Chile - Embarkation
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.

Day 2-3 At sea
Your expedition cruise has finally begun, and you can enjoy two days of sailing along the scenic Pacific coast of Chile. Spending your days on deck as we glide by the exceptional scenery is always a good idea. You might even spot wildlife such as migrating whales and even albatross. This is also when the Expedition Team start their lecture programme to prepare you for the experiences that await you. Learn about the science, the wildlife and the history of the area, and take part in Citizen Science projects in the Science Center. You can also attend art classes where you among other things can draw or sculpt your favourite penguin. There is always plenty to do. And if you don’t really want to do anything, the Explorer Lounge & Bar is the perfect place for doing – or rather not doing – just that.

Day 4 Castro - Full Day
Castro is the capital of Chiloé Island, set among windswept hills and green vegetation. Most visitors immediately make a beeline to the wharf at Gamboa district to see brightly painted wooden houses, called ‘palafitos’, mounted on stilts along the Fiordo de Castro. But this little big city has more to offer. If you head down to the central town square, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Iglesia San Francisco, an old wooden Neo-Gothic church that dates back to the founding of the city in 1567. If you fancy something more modern, the Museum of Modern Art of Chiloé is also worth a visit. And should you get hungry on your way through town, there are many great restaurants here, making Castro a surprisingly culinary destination.

Day 5 At sea
We continue south, making our way 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 to be giants of up to 5 metres tall. While we can’t promise you giants, the iconic Andean seascapes of undisturbed nature and spectacular mountain peaks are definitely both great and grand.

We are getting closer to one of the world’s most remote and beautiful places; the province of Última Esperanza, meaning Last Hope. Spanish navigator Juan Ladrillero named it so 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 mini-village of Puerto Edén sits on a bay, on the edge of a peninsula, in the middle of a fjord in Bernardo O´Higgins National Park. The comparisons to the Garden of Eden apply more to the park than to the hamlet itself, but, needless to say, this place is hard to get to. While the surrounds are certainly a paradise off the beaten path, there are actually no roads that lead here and Puerto Edén is only accessible by sea.

However, the isolation suits the dozen indigenous Kawéskar people who gave up their canoe-faring nomadic lifestyle to settle here a generation ago. And because of the unusually humid climate and high rainfall, there are no roads around the hamlet either. To move around and visit the small arts and crafts shops, you must use the pedestrian boardwalks that connect the houses and buildings of the 250 people living here.

Day 7-8 Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine National Park
Thanks to its proximity to Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales has swapped the sheep from its former agricultural industry for fleece-wearing hikers who stream here for a Patagonian adventure. You’ll see many corrugated tin shops catering to this new clientele, stocking up on all sorts of outdoor clothing and offering an increasingly diverse selection of cuisine.

Over the two days we spend here, you’ll have the option to join an excursion to the park itself or to enjoy the atmosphere and attractions of Puerto Natales. Go for drinks at one of the many quiet bars and chat to locals and other international adventurers. The Last Hope is both bar and gin distillery and reputedly the southernmost distillery in the world. Strolling along the waterfront next to Última Esperanza fjord, you’ll likely take photos at the old pier and a few other monuments dotted on the way.

Day 9 Chilean fjords
Glacial ice once scoured its way through the landscapes, creating the deep and beautiful Chilean fjords and canals and the tall mountains that surround them. Even though the area seems almost untouched by humans, these canals have been used for fishing and hunting by the canoe-faring indigenous people for centuries.

Now you can enjoy the serenity of this maze of waterways between islands, mountains and glaciers. If time and weather permit, you might be taken on a scenic cruising of the fjords aboard our small explorer boats or join a landing ashore. Keep your eyes on the sky to look for birds following the ship. In the water, you might get to see dolphins and even whales.

Day 10-11 At sea
In the morning, we will sail through the scenic Beagle Channel, where you can watch for rare, endemic Peale’s dolphin and other wildlife. Once we exit the channel, we journey down to Cape Horn. This headland on Hornos Island was discovered in 1616 by the Dutchman Willem Schouten, who named it Kaap Hoorn after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands. The waters around the cape are typically choppy with strong wind and large waves and therefore rarely favourable for landings. If, however, the weather allows us to land on the island and go up to the cape, it will surely be something to remember.

When we enter the Drake Passage, our Expedition Team will continue their lectures, providing food for thought to further prepare you for your adventure ahead. You will learn how to make your visit in Antarctica as safe and sustainable as possible by reviewing key IAATO guidelines. The team might cover the sterilisation procedure for our special shore boots or why we always vacuum our clothes and backpack before we go on landings in Antarctica. For better photos, our onboard photographer will tell you how to adjust the white balance and when best to reduce the exposure. Stay active in the gym or soothe in the sauna but don’t forget to scan the horizon out on deck or in the Explorer Lounge for signs of that first iceberg.

Day 12-18 Antarctica
This is the final frozen frontier; an unspoilt, vast, white desert teeming with life at the bottom of the world. Majestic mountains rise up from the icy sea, coated in thick snow. Glaciers creep across the landscape, cracking and calving icebergs along the coast. The scenery is almost silent, save for the shrill of lovesick penguins, splashes from courting seals, and the sound of crumbling ice. The 46 species of birds living here, like terns, petrels and jaegers may also take up a lot of your attention.

During the seven days we spend around the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, we will likely go ashore at several places, allowing you to experience the region’s wildlife and landscapes first-hand. The Expedition Team will lead on landings where they will create a perimeter for you to move around freely at your own speed. They will also direct ice-cruising in our small expedition boats to tour icebergs and glaciers from a safe distance. Added to that, there are sometimes optional activities like kayaking, camping and snowshoeing which you may be lucky enough to join in on. You can also take part in a varied choice of Citizen Science projects like photographing whales and collecting water samples. Uploading your photos to a global database helps scientists around the world to study migration patterns and microbiology. You will get an even better understanding of the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica when we study the 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 foreign element here, so it is important to make as little impact as possible. The wildlife is used to the ice and cold weather, but not human interference. We want to 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 falling into them and getting stuck. Being Antarctic ambassadors, we want future explorers to have the same experience you have when it is their turn to be amazed by this pristine continent.

Day 19-21 Drake Passage & Beagle Channel
Inspired. That’s how many of our guests feel after seven fascinating and unforgettable days exploring Antarctica. You, and undoubtfully also the memory card in your camera, will be filled with memorable moments that will stay with you forever.

MS Fram will turn around, point north and begin to take you safely back across the Drake Passage and on through the Beagle Channel. The Expedition Team will continue their lectures in the Science Center and also recap the experiences from your cruise. If you start to feel a little sad your cruise is coming to an end, that’s absolutely normal. But there is still plenty of time to enjoy yourself. Go on a foodie frenzy in the onboard restaurants, savouring all your favourite dishes one last time. Count the stars from the hot tub on the observation deck and add your new friends to your preferred social media channel.

Day 22 Punta Areans/Santiago - Disembarkation
When we arrive in Punta Arenas in the morning, your cruise has come to an end. We transfer you to the airport, where you will fly to the capital, Santiago de Chile.

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