As tourism in Chile continues move past the recent earthquake that devasted regions of the country, Cruise West is giving the nation's travel industry a boost as it prepares to venture to the rugged and mysterious Patagonia in 2011 with four departures aboard the 64-cabin mv Via Australis. The new eight- or 10- night journey highlights hotspots in Chile by land and cruising through renowned channels, scenic bays and glaciated fjords from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. Those who pay in full by April 30 can save $600.
The journey includes two nights in the thriving city of Santiago where guests will partake on a private walking tour, lively folkloric dinner show and a full day touring Casablanca Valley, one of Chile’s supreme wine regions, and historic Valparaiso, once the residence of poet Pablo Neruda. Board the mv Via Australis in Punta Arenas, an included flight away, and head out to sea on a custom-designed five-night voyage, cruising through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel that separates the islands of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, making a stop at Magdalena Island to visit the immense colony of Magellanic Penguins.
Continue onto Ainsworth Bay located inside the Alberto De Agostini National Park that offers a sun-polar Magellanic forest and, if the timing is right, elephant seals lounging on the beach. Explore a scenic amphitheatre of glaciers via Zodiacs in Brookes Bay and search for marine mammals around Carlos III Island and Rupert Inlet, known for its biodiversity. After navigating across Desolation Bay en route Pia Fjord, explore smaller inlets by Zodiac, stopping to hike to a look out point offering spectacular views of the entire glacier tongue of Pia Glacier.
Last day of exploration includes a trip to Glacier Alley, Cape Horn National Park and Wulaia Bay, once the site of the largest Yamana aboriginal settlement. Disembark in Ushuaia and continue by plane to Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires for one last night of fun including a farewell Tango dinner show and city tour.
The 10-night program includes two extra nights in Puerto Natales with private escorted tours of majestic Torres Del Paine National Park and Milodon Cave, where in 1895 the remains of extinct animals such as the Sabre Tooth Tiger and the Milodon (giant sloths) were found.
Departure dates are January 26, January 31; February 5 and February 10 in 2011. Prices start at $6,095 per person for the eight-night and $6,795 for the 10-night program, before savings, and include internal flights, all excursions and hotel nights as listed.