Buffet breakfast daily (B), 2 lunches (L), and 3 three-course dinners (D); Local Host service in each city; sightseeing with a Local Guide and transportation as outlined in the day-by-day itinerary (except intra-vacation flights, which are additional; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE).
Day #1 Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina. Welcome to Buenos Aires, proud capital of the vast country that occupies most of the southern part of the continent. After arriving at your central hotel you will have time to become acquainted with the “Paris of South America” and its wide boulevards and outdoor cafés. Enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day #2 Buenos Aires. Included SIGHTSEEING this morning starts in the colorful La Boca district, site of the city’s first port. Take a short walking tour of this unique neighborhood, then on to San Telmo, famous for its late-colonial buildings and a popular gathering spot for artists. At the Plaza de Mayo, see La Casa Rosada (the President’s Pink House) and the Metropolitan Cathedral, which houses San Martin’s Mausoleum. Drive past the ornate Colon Opera House before reaching the CEMETERY of the Recoleta, burial site of Eva Peron. Spend the afternoon at leisure. This evening, perhaps savor the city’s atmosphere on an optional dinner at a local restaurant followed by a performance of Latin America’s most sensuous dance—the Tango! (B)
Day #3 Buenos Aires–Ushuaia. Fly to the “End of the World,” Ushuaia, situated on the island of Tierra del Fuego. Once a secluded outpost and penal colony, Ushuaia is now a growing community thriving on timber, fishing, and tourism. This afternoon, visit TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK to learn about its bountiful flora and fauna. With the Chilean Andes as the backdrop, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. (B)
Day #4 Ushuaia (Embarkation). Embark on your 3-night CRUISE aboard the Stella Australis. The voyage will take you through channels, bays, fjords, and past massive glaciers, snowcapped mountains, and unexplored areas of incomparable beauty. (B,D)
Day #5 Cruising: Cape Horn & Wulaia Bay. Disembark in Cape Horn National Park (weather permitting) to see Cape Horn, a sheer, almost 1,394-foot-high rocky promontory where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans merge. In the afternoon, go ashore with your Naturalist in historic Wulaia Bay, once the site of one of the region’s largest aboriginal settlements. Here, walk through a Magellanic forest and keep an eye out for elephant seals! (B,L,D)
Day #6 Cruising: Piloto & Nena Glaciers. Sail through the intricate channels of Tierra del Fuego Island to reach Cockburn Channel. At Chico Sound, board Zodiac boats to explore Alakaluf Fjord, to see its beautiful waterfalls and the Piloto and Nena Glaciers from the sea. Learn about the formation of glaciers and their influence on the abrupt geography of the region’s channels. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Cruising: Magellan Strait–Magdalena Island–Punta Arenas, Chile (Disembarkation). This morning, go ashore on Magdalena Island (weather permitting). Located in the Strait of Magellan, it was an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers in the past. Here, see the immense colony of Magellanic Penguins during a walk to the lighthouse, which guides ships on their way through the strait. (In September and April this excursion is replaced by a Zodiac boat ride at Isla Marta to observe sea lions.) After our visit, sail to Punta Arenas and disembark. (B)
Day #8 Punta Arenas–Santiago. Fly to Santiago, Chile’s capital. This country is more than 10-times longer than wide, with 2,650 miles of beautiful Pacific coastline. (B)
Day #9 Santiago. Step back into the 16th century as your Local Guide traces the city’s history and heritage on today’s TOUR. Start at La Moneda, the official Government Palace, and nearby San Cristobal Hill with its landmark statue of the Virgin Mary. Your tour ends at the Plaza de Armas, the main square, with a visit to the 18th-century CATHEDRAL. The afternoon and evening are at your leisure. (B)
Day #10 Santiago–Calama–San Pedro de Atacama. Fly to Calama, where you will be met by your Local Host, who will transfer with you to San Pedro de Atacama, one of Chile’s most important archaeological centers. A guided walking TOUR of the village introduces you to this center of Indian culture in the Atacama Desert. Visit the FATHER LE PAIGE MUSEUM to see ancient artifacts and mummies. Later, experience MOON VALLEY, known for its moonscape at sunset. (B)
Day #11 Atacama Desert. Visit the huge ATACAMA SALT LAKE, an inland sea dating back millions of years. The flatness, clearness, and emptiness here are overwhelming. Next, see the Miscanti and Meñiques Lakes, set at the base of two immense volcanoes. These high plains lakes are fringed with salt deposits and surrounded by brilliantly colored clumps of coirón plants, creating a unique visual experience. (B)
Day #12 Atacama Desert. Very early, depart for a visit of the impressive TATIO GEYSERS at an altitude of 14,176 feet above sea level. On the way back to San Pedro, stop at the PURITAMA HOT SPRINGS, where you have the chance to relax in the hot spring water pools! (B)
Day #13 Atacama Desert. Transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)