Beagle Channel and Cape Horn Cruise

Detailed Itinerary

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Introduction

Cruise the Beagle Channel, Magellan Straits and round Cape Horn in Patagonia.

Sail Ushuaia to Punta Arenas or vice versa on the Stella or Ventus Australis, past beautiful fjords, glaciers and wildlife.

This cruise takes in the iconic Cape Horn National Park, where you have the opportunity – weather permitting – to set foot on the final land mass before Antarctica.

The sailings follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps, and the modern Australis cruise ships means comfort and fine dining are your companions all trip.

 

More on Beagle Channel and Cape Horn cruises

There are daily shore excursions and informative evening lectures to enjoy, too, making your expedition cruise a great and pleasurable adventure.

Keep an eye out for penguins, leopard seals and more wildlife in this pristine environment, replete with icebergs and mountains.

The sailing season is from September to April and these cruises are a great way to move between Argentina and Chile while enjoying a fabulous tour.

Wonder at the majesty of Patagonia nature with its spectacular glaciers, fascinating wildlife and imposing scenery.

 

Trip Highlights

  • Beagle Channel and Cape Horn cruise from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia.
  • Takes in Cape Horn, Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego.
  • See remote glaciers, wildlife and sub-polar forests visited by less than 1,000 people every year.
  • Extraordinary and untouched wilderness that is untouched over millions of years.
  • Expert guides bring this incredible region to life – the flora, fauna, glaciers and geology, as well as human histories.
  • Gourmet cuisine on a ship of real comfort with a balance of exploration and relaxation.
  • Beautiful, cosy cabins from which to enjoy spectacular views, plus lovely social areas.

Punta Arenas to Ushuaia Itinerary

Day 1: Embark before 18.00 at Punta Arenas (D)

Check in at Magallanes 990, Punta Arenas, from 13.00 to 17.00. Cruise ship boarding at 18.00.

The Captain and crew give a welcome cocktail reception on board. Immediately afterwards, the ship departs for “the uttermost part of the earth”.

Our excursion takes us through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel to explore one of the most breathtaking wilderness regions in the world: Southern Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego.

Day 2: Ainsworth Bay – Tuckers Islets (B,L,D)

At dawn, we continue navigating through Almirantazgo Sound, arriving at Ainsworth Bay, inside the Alberto De Agostini National Park.

From a distance we may see the Marinelli Glacier which descends from the Darwin Mountain Range, and we learn how life begins after the retreat of the ice.

We also take a walk to discover a beaver dam in the marvellous sub-polar Magellanic forest.

On the beach, we look for elephant seals, but we cannot guarantee this as the precise location of the colony is unpredictable.

Back aboard to relax and for lunch, while we sale to Tuckers Islets.

In the afternoon, we board the Zodiac boats to view Magellanic Penguins (which only live in the southern hemisphere), and Cormorants.

(Note: In September and April this excursion is replaced by Brookes Bay, where we land for a short walk to approach a glacier.)

Day 3: Pia Glacier – Glacier Alley (B,L,D)

We navigate along the main part of the Beagle Channel to reach Pia Fjord, where we disembark near Pia Glacier.

We take a short hike to a look-out point with a spectacular view of the entire glacier tongue, stretching from high in the mountains all the way to the sea.

After this unforgettable experience, we continue sailing along the northwest arm of the Beagle Channel through majestic “Glacier Alley”.

From the boat, we look out for many of the incredible glaciers that descend from the mountains into the sea.

Day 4: Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay (B,L,D)

We sail through the Beagle and Murray channels to reach Cape Horn National Park, where we disembark (weather permitting) at one of the iconic landmarks of South America.

Cape Horn, is a sheer, 425m/1,394ft-high rocky promontory, and in the past it was the only entrance to the Pacific Ocean.

This place is known as the “End of the Earth”, and it’s the last territory before Antarctica. The park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in June 2005.

In the afternoon, we go ashore at the historic Wulaia Bay, once the site of one of the region’s largest Yamana aboriginal settlements.

Charles Darwin landed here on January 23rd, 1833, during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. This area is also renowned for the mesmerising beauty of its vegetation and geography.

We walk through a Magellanic forest of Lengas, Coihues, Canelos, ferns, and other native vegetation to reach a look-out point.

Day 5: Arrive Ushuaia, disembark 08.30 (B)

Arrival at Ushuaia, Argentina’s most important city on Tierra del Fuego, and the southernmost city in the world.

We disembark at 08.00, enabling you to get an early start on visiting the city and national parks, and on continuing your trip through Patagonia.


Ushuaia to Punta Arenas Itinerary

Day 1: Embark at 17.30, Ushuaia (D)

Check in at the Australis travel centre between 10.00 and 17.00 on the day of your cruise departure.

Board the ship at 18.00.

Welcome drink and set sail.

During the night we traverse the Beagle Channel and cross from Argentine into Chilean territorial waters turning into the narrow Murray Channel between Navarino and Hoste islands.

Day 2: Cape Horn – Wulaia Bay (B,L,D)

By early morning, we are  cruising across Nassau Bay into the remote archipelago that includes CapeHorn National Park.

Weather and sea conditions permitting, we shall go ashore on the windswept island that harbours legendary Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos).

Discovered in 1616 by a Dutch maritime expedition Cape Horn is a sheer 425m/1,394ft high rocky promontory overlooking the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage.

For many years it was the only navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic, and was often referred to as the “End of the Earth.” The park was declared a World BiosphereReserve by UNESCO in 2005. The Chilean navy maintains a permanent lighthouse on the island, staffed by a lightkeeper and his family, as well as the tiny Stella Maris Chapel and modern Cape Horn Monument.S

ailing back across Nassau Bay, we anchor at fabled Wulaia Bay, one of the few places in the archipelago where the human history is just as compelling as the natural environment. Originally the site of one of the region’s largest Yámana aboriginal settlements, the bay was described by Charles Darwin and sketched by Captain Fitzroy in the 1830s during their voyages on the HMS Beagle.

This area is also renowned for its mesmerising beauty and dramatic geography. After a visit to the Australis-sponsored museum in the old radio station – which is especially strong on the Yámana people and European missionaries in the area – passengers have a choice of three hikes (of increasing degrees of difficulty) that ascend the heavily wooden mountain behind the bay.

On all of these you will be strolling through an enchanted Magellan forest of lengas, coigües, canelos, ferns,and other endemic fauna to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the bay.

Before leaving Wulaia Bay, drop something into the wooden mail barrel inside the museum – letters or postcards meant to be hand delivered by future travellers – an ancient mariner tradition revived by Australis.

Day 3: Pia Glacier and Garibaldi Glacier (B,L,D)

Casting off from Wulaia Bay, we retrace our route to the Beagle Channel and sail westward along the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego into a section of Alberto de Agostini National Park called Glacier Alley or Avenue of the Glaciers.

Flowing down from the Darwin Mountains and Darwin Ice Sheet are a number of impressive tidewater glaciers, most of them named after European countries – Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. In amongst this frozen league of nations we enter the narrow Pia Fjord and board the Zodiacs for a shore excursion to Pia Glacier.

No one knows for certain how the hulking glacier got its feminine moniker, but one theory says it was named for princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of the Italian king.

After disembarking we take a short hike to gain a panoramic view of the spectacular glacier, which extends from the mountain-tops down to the sea or a longer much more difficult walk up a lateral moraine of the old Pia Glacier.

Making our way further west along the Beagle Channel, we enter another long fjord and drop anchor near Garibaldi Glacier for another shore excursion. Garibaldi is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass rather than staying the same or slowly shrinking.

This time we hike through virgin Magellanic forest to a glacial waterfall, a towering wall of ferns and moss, and spectacular viewpoints looking down on the glacier and fjord. The walk is demanding – very steep, negligible trail, rough footing – and not for everyone. For those who choose to stay onboard, our captain will point the bow towards the beautiful sky blue Garibaldi Glacier so everyone can enjoy the panoramic view from the upper decks.

Day 4: Agostini Sound – Aguila Glacier – Condor Glacier (B,L,D)

Early in the morning, we will sail through the Cockburn Channel and enter Agostini Sound. From there it is possible to see the glaciers that descend from the middle of the Darwin Mountain Range – some of them reaching the water.

This morning, we disembark and go for an easy walk around a lagoon, which was formed by the melting of the Águila Glacier. We reach a spot right in front of that glacier with stunning views.

In the afternoon, we will approach the Condor Glacier via Zodiac – and hopefully see some of the abundant Andean Condors in the area.

Day 5: Magdalena Island, disembark Punta Arenas at 11.30 (B)

After an overnight cruise that takes us back into the Strait of Magellan, we anchor off Magdalena Island, whichlies about halfway between Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean mainland.

Crowned by a distinctive lighthouse, the island used to be an essential source of supplies for navigators and explorers and is inhabited by an immense colony of Magellanic penguins. At the break of dawn, weather permitting, we go ashore and hike a path that leads through thousands of penguins to a small museum lodged inside the vintage 1902 lighthouse. Many other bird species are also found on the island.

In September and April – when the penguins dwell elsewhere – this excursion is replaced by a ride aboard Zodiacs to Marta Island to observe South American sea lions.

After a short sail south along the strait, disembarkation at Punta Arenas is scheduled for around 11.30.


What's Included?

Accommodation on board, sea transportation, meals as listed (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner), open bar when on duty (without additional cost for wines, beverages, and liquors), shore excursions, and onboard entertainment and lectures.

What's Not Included?

International flights, port taxes USD 50, transfers, optional tours, gratuities, extra services onboard, hotels in Ushuaia/Punta Arenas


Accommodation

Decks and cabin types (from top to bottom of ship)

Cabo de Hornos: 2  x AAA Superior, 23 x AAA Cabins

Tierra del Fuego: 2 x AA Superior, 36 x AA Cabins

Magallanes: 34 x A cabins, 3 x B Cabins

 

All cabins have private facilities, large windows, safety deposit box, independently controlled heating, closet and hair dryer.

 

Cabin sizes

Superior cabins: 20.5 m2 / 220 sq.ft

All other cabins: 16.5 m2 / 177 sq.ft

 

Passengers have access to a library with extensive literature on Patagonian flora, fauna and history, as well as board games and other onboard entertainment activities.

Tour Staff

English-speaking guides and guest lecturers deliver presentations and slide shows on various aspects of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

Through their constant study of glaciology, flora, fauna, history and traditions of the region, the guides will help you to understand all that you observe while visiting Patagonia.

The crew and sailors aboard are mainly Chilean, but also draw on sailors from around the world.


Meals

Eating is a treat on board the boats. You are served in the dining room with buffet breakfasts and lunches plus four-course dinners that blend continental and Chilean cuisine.

Some meals are buffet type, some are cooked to order, depending on the day. You are sometimes asked at lunch to select your dinner menu.

The galley also caters to special dietary requests – please ask for more information.

The all-inclusive bar features a wide selection of liquors, excellent Chilean wines and local craft beers, as well as the boat’s trademark Calafate Sour.

Activity Level

Shore excursions are carried out in Zodiac boats that can easily navigate remote bays and shallow water. You are helped in and out of the zodiacs by staff.

Walks are generally short albeit with some slopes, and the cruise is open to all fitness levels.

Read our blog about a day on board.



Practical Information

FAQs and extra information

Is there Internet connection onboard?

We do not have Internet or Wifi service aboard our ships.

 

Do we always disembark at Cape Horn National Park?

Shore landings at Cape Horn National Park is subject to weather conditions. The disembarkation success rate for this excursion last season was 70%.

 

Are there additional charges?

Yes. The cruise cost does not include visa fees, national park fees or Chile and Argentina port fees.

Total port fees per person for 2017-2018 bookings are as follows (subject to change)

– Punta Arenas to Ushuaia route: US$50
– Ushuaia to Punta Arenas route: US$50
– Punta Arenas to Ushuaia to Punta Arenas route: US$60
– Ushuaia to Punta Arenas to Ushuaia route: US$60

These fees may change at the discretion of port authorities. They are not included in the cruise rate and must be paid along with your final payment.

 

Should we tip on board?

Tips are at the discretion of the passenger. But we suggest US$15 per day per passenger for the staff and crew, handed in at the reception desk on the last day of the cruise.

 

How can I pay onboard?

Items from the onboard shop (such as souvenirs, books and sportswear) can be purchased with Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners credit cards, travellers checks, U.S. dollars, Euros, Chilean pesos or Argentinean pesos.

 

Can you use drones or camera extension poles?

According to the provisions of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), in the Protected Wild Areas of the Magallanes Region, the use of drones or any RPAS technology is prohibited.

On Magdalena Island the use of Selfie Sticks for cameras is prohibited, since they disturb the wildlife.

 

Extra information

 

On Board Lectures

During the cruise there will be interesting lectures on the wildlife, history and geography of this legendary region given by the Mare Australis and Via Australis Expedition Group. The lectures will take place both on board (with audio-visual support) and on land.

 

Geography and Navigation Route

You will learn about the geographic environment where our expedition cruiseship sails and each one of the channels, fjords and glaciers making this route a unique and mysterious place at the end of the earth.

 

Patagonia Ice Flowers

You will enjoy a beautiful audio-visual exhibition of the different species making up the Magellan forest. You will know trees and bushes that are characteristic of the region, such as Coigüe, Lenga, Ñirre, Maitén or leña dura, Canelo, and some fruits such as Calafate, Myrtleberry, Zarzaparrilla and Chaura, as well as one of the most delicate flowers in the world, the Orchid.

 

Beagle Channel

You will learn about the importance of Captain Fitz Roy, who carried out the first expedition to this region, exploring the islands near the Navarino Island. In 1830, he discovered the Beagle Channel, which owes its name to the brig called “Beagle”, which took them to these remote lands. You will also discover other adventurous voyages and the colonisation south of Tierra del Fuego.

 

Penguins

Penguins are one of the most characteristic birds of this region. You will be amazed to know the different species inhabiting the Patagonia, their reproduction process, how they feed, why they emigrate and come back to the same place every year and many other peculiar characteristics of this seabird.

 

The Native People

You will learn about the ethnography and some theories on the inhabiting of the American continent and the first contacts with the aborigines: Tehuelches or Aonikenk, Onas or Selknam, Alakalufes or Kaweskar, Yaganes or Yámanas and Haush, their customs, their way of living and their mythology.

Introduction to Patagonia

For most people, Patagonia evokes a vast, windblown plateau, jagged mountains and the life of the gauchos.

The steppe that occupies much of southern South America is only one aspect of a magical region, jam-packed with amazing and contrasting landscapes.

Patagonia (latitudes 40°-55°, approximately) embraces a vast portion of southern Chile and Argentina, from the Rio Colorado in the north, to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

For convenience, we have divided the region into three zones: the Lakes District of northern Patagonian, central Patagonia and southern Patagonia.

Geography of Patagonia

Southern Patagonia (latitudes 49° to 55°), encompassing the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina plus Tierra del Fuego, has an altogether more vertical aspect than the rest of Patagonia.

As the continent tapers towards its southern point, the Andes take on new characteristics and offer some truly impressive panoramas.

Much of southern Patagonia is characterized by virgin landscapes where man’s hand has either not been present or, because of the scale of the landscapes, goes almost unnoticed. To the west of the semi-arid Patagonian plateau, mile-high granite spires – e.g. Cerro Torre and Fitzroy in Argentina and the Torres and Cuernos del Paine in Chile – rise abruptly from the Andean foothills, while vast blue glaciers, fringed by southern beech forest, gouge out thevalleys below.

At the heart of these magnificent landscapes lies the South Patagonian Ice Field, an utterly remote icy wilderness spanning hundreds of kilometers, whose glaciers – including the Perito Moreno and Upsala – are tens of kilometres long by severalkilometers wide.

Also characteristic of the southern Patagonian Andes are its turquoise, iceberg-filled lakes. To the west lies the southern portion of the Chilean Archipelago, comprising snow-capped islands and fjords.

Across the Magellan Straits from mainland Patagonia lies Tierra del Fuego which, like the rest of Patagonia, is divided between Argentina and Chile.

The north and east of Tierra del Fuego is flat, but flanking the Beagle Channel in the south, the tail end of the Andes provide very dramatic mountain scenery.

 

The Lake District (latitudes 40° to 45°) or the Araucania, is a region of dramatic conical volcanoes, evergreen, high-canopy forests and, of course, lakes.

It straddles the Chile-Argentine border, and also takes in Chiloe island, in the extreme north of the Chilean Archipelago. This region stretches from Temuco in the north to Chiloe in the south.

 

Central Patagonia (latitudes 45 to 49) is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. The vast wilderness area can be divided in two:

  • The dry band of Andean foothills and wind-blown plateau lying on the Argentine side of the Andes. This remote area is traversed north to south by a gravel highway known as the Ruta Cuarenta (Highway 40).
  • The Chilean portion to the west of the Andean watershed, often referred to as the Careterra Austral (after the little-used gravel highway that crosses it from north to south).

This huge region, embracing the sparsely-inhabited southern Araucaria and Aisén Region, features temperate rainforests, snow-peaks (often extinct volcanoes), lakes and, to the west, the Chilean Archipelago: a labyrinth of fjords and mountain-islands. This, the Chilean portion of central Patagonia, boasts the northernmost of Patagonia’s many giant, sea-level glaciers.

The San Raphael Glacier, probably this region’s most famous landmark, is an immense hanging glacier whose seracs calve into an iceberg-filled lagoon.

 

Find out more about Patagonia with our blog about its wildlife.

Visas for Patagonia

UK and USA citizens do not require a visa to enter Argentina or Chile as a tourist.

Please ensure your passport has at least six months remaining validity.

On presentation of a valid UK or USA passport you will be granted a 90-day stay in either country. Please keep any tourist card you are given safe – you need this to leave the country.

Australians have to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina, and this must be obtained before travelling to Argentine.

Australians entering Chile at Santiago International airport must also pay a reciprocity fee, paying cash on arrival.

All non-UK nationals should check with their nearest Chilean/Argentine consulates for the latest visa and fee information.

All requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.

Weather

Patagonia, the very southern tip of South America, has a four-seasons-in-one day climate.

Summer (Nov-March) see temperatures reach up to 20°C, when glorious light pours over the region for up to 18 hours. This is the best time to visit, nevertheless, spring and summer is also when the central and southern Patagonian regions sometimes get buffeted by strong, westerly winds.

Summer days in national parks can also bring sunny, windless conditions, and you may well find yourself hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Afternoons can be warm with lots of sunshine. (Note: Patagonian UV rays are very strong).

It is usually cool and windy all year round but seldom does the temperature fall below freezing point. Some days start with snow and end in balmy sunshine. It is always interesting, and can range from 10°C-20°C in the summer, although the wind can make it feel chilly.

Even in summer (Dec-Mar) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min). It has been known to snow in camps in summer!

In general, the further south you go, the cooler it gets and the further west you go – towards the Andes and Pacific coast – the wetter and less predictable the weather is. The further east – towards and across the Patagonian plateau – the drier and more stable.

Winter (May-Sept) visits to these southern areas are possible, but many hotels close and not all trips are possible. Daylight hours can be very short and temperatures typically range from -2°C in the winter.

The lack of visitors can greatly improve chances of seeing wildlife in parks such as Paine. Winds tend to die down.

 

 

On the South Patagonian Ice Field (average height, 1,500 metres), the appearance of lenticular clouds – signifying changing conditions – can translate into extreme winds (up to 150 kmh) and heavy snowfall. Here, summer pre-dawn temperatures commonly reach -20°C, with wind chill lowering temperatures even more. However, on sunny, windless summer days, you might get away with wearing just a couple of thin layers.

In Peninsula Valdes, it does not rain much in the region on an annual basis, summers are usually mild, and the temperature sometimes gets very hot (touching 30ºC) and then eases off in the evening. The area does get very windy at times, especially on the peninsula, and warm and water/windproof clothing is recommended.

If you head to Ushuaia, due to its extreme southern location, temperatures may remain chilly during summer (Oct-March) the use of plenty of warm layers of clothing. Winter and Antarctic visits will require extreme clothing.

Vaccinations for Patagonia

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Patagonia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.

 

Recommended vaccinations

  • Up-to-date diphtheria and polio.
  • Tetanus or tetanus booster. (These three are effective for ten years.)
  • ‘Havrix’ for Hepatitis A. The course of two injections protects you for ten years. Gamma globulin is cheaper butless effective.
  • Typhoid vaccine is recommended by some doctors although it will not provide total protection and being careful about what you eat and drink is your best defence. It is given in two shots, four weeks apart and lasts for three years. Unless at exceptional risk, people over the age of 35 who have received four or more courses of typhoid immunisation need no more.
  • A pre-exposure rabies vaccination is worth considering if you are going to be in contact with animals or morethan 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine. Hikers are at some risk from rural dogs, certain of which carry rabies, and those visiting coastal or rainforest areas could be exposed to rabid bats.
  • Malaria is not a risk in Patagonia.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Overview

Be nice to your feet! Make sure hiking boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin, Second Skin (or similar) for fast foot treatment and blister prevention.

If you are bringing a camera, include plenty of film or digital cards with enough megabytes for hundreds of pictures and spare batteries. Please note, film and digital cards are difficult to find and often expensive to purchase in Patagonia.

Stuff sacks are great for sorting your gear. Use different sizes and colours to differentiate the contents in your duffel bag/backpack.

Typically, you will be carrying your water-bottle, fleece or wind stopper jacket, rain jacket & trousers, your camera and other small miscellaneous items in your daypack for landings.

Below is a more detailed guide.

 

Detailed kit list

  • Medium weight parka or a down jacket.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers. The jacket needs to be water proof and roomy. Side-zip pants are recommended.
  • 2-3 long-sleeve shirts – no cotton.
  • 2-3 short-sleeve T-shirts – no cotton.
  • 2 pair of hiking trousers – cotton or synthetic material (no jeans)
  • 1 fleece or sweat trousers (for cold evenings)
  • 2 pair hiking shorts
  • Long thermals – synthetic or wool – light to medium weight top & bottoms.
  • 2-3 mid-weight (wool or synthetic) socks.
  • 2-3 liner socks if needed
  • Athletic-type socks, several pairs, city use
  • Hiking boots that are waterproof and well broken-in.
  • Running/tennis shoes or sandals are very comfortable when you are in cities/relaxing aboard.
  • 1 lightweight wool sweater or windproof fleece
  • 1 wool or synthetic warm hat.
  • 1 light sun hat with a wide brim.
  • 1 pair of medium-weight wool or synthetic gloves.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, antibiotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent (just in case, not usually needed)
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). Print & slide film is available locally. Polarising filter is recommended for SLR cameras.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other to help pass the time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Large suitcase for main luggage items.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life, especially in big cities.

Quick facts about Patagonia

Chile

Official name: Republic of Chile

Country population: 17,000,000

Capital city: Santiago (6 million)

Largest cities: Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso

Languages: Spanish (official)

Official currency: Chilean Peso

Major industries: Copper mining, agriculture, fish

Time zone: GMT-5 in winter (Mar-Sep) and GMT-4 in summer (Sep-Mar)

 

Argentina

Official name: Argentine Republic Country

Population: 40,000,000

Capital city: Buenos Aires (11 million)

Largest cities: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario

Languages: Spanish (official)

Official currency: Argentine Peso

Major industries: Agriculture (Soy), motor vehicles, chemicals

Argentina: GMT-3

Flight advice

Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.

International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.

Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.

 

Flight connections

Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.

Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.

 

Tickets

Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.

The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.

 

How do I check in?

Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.

If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).

To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.

Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.

 

Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).

The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.

More information can be found on their ESTA website.

Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.

Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.

This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Be safe in Patagonia

Patagonia is a relatively safe region, but we still recommend that in large towns and cities you take certain precautions (see below).

Chile and Argentina are, overall, among the safest countries in South America.

However, in Buenos Aires and Santiago, muggings and opportunistic crime – although not common – do occur.

In Buenos Aires, ‘distraction muggings’ sometimes happen in quiet streets, in the daytime as well as at night.

We suggest that you take the following precautions:

  • Leave paper valuables in the hotel safe (caja fuerte), taking out with you only what you need for the day.
  • Carry a copy of passport (leave original in safe). N.B. When travelling, carry paper valuables in a money belt under clothing, not in a ‘bum-bag’.
  • Beware of distraction techniques, e.g. where X sprays you with mustard or similar substance, and accomplice Y comes up to offer to clean you off, but takes your bag or wallet while you’re distracted. If you do get sprayed, just walk straight on.
  • Avoid marginal areas and be alert in lonely streets in the day and at night. Also, always take special care in busy streets, around markets and in and around bus terminals; either avoid carrying a bag in such areas, or secure it, as bag-slashers and pickpockets sometimes operate.
  • NEVER leave your bag(s) unattended, especially in airports, bus terminals and hotel lobbies.
  • It’s best to use taxis at night, wherever you are.

Money matters

Foreign currency in Patagonia

Take US dollars with you (preferably new notes or at least unmarked and undamaged notes) in smaller denominations of 10s, 20s and maybe some 50s. Do not take USD 100 bills as they are unlikely to be accepted.

 

Argentina: Currency & Money Exchange

Argentina’s monetary unit is the “Argentina Peso”.

Argentina has had several years of economic instability and with a previous government there were tight exchange controls.

These have now been relaxed so payments with debit and credit cards are widely accepted.

However, there may be controls on ATM withdrawals (possibly a max of AR 1,000 / GB 50 per day and you may well be charged substantially for each withdrawal). ATMs can also be unreliable and we have had several reports of “empty” cash machines.  We suggest that you have enough cash to cover your needs, especially in more remote areas.

ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees).

On arrival to Argentina , at the airport/border, exchange US dollars so that you have some local peso. Some businesses, particularly in tourist spots may accept payment in US dollars – ask first.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 25 Argentine Peso (approx.), June 2018.

Peso banknotes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 pesos

Peso coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, 1 peso, 2 pesos

Chile: Currency & Money Exchange

Chile’s monetary unit is the “Chilean Peso”.

Most businesses (unless a tourist shop/restaurant) will only accept Chilean pesos. Note that the Peso comes in very high denominations (see below), so you’ll need to get used to very big numbers on bills that are not worth very much.

ATM debit/credit cards are widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees). There are plenty of ATMS (hole-in-the-wall) cash machines throughout the country, however check with your bank to see if there is a daily maximum you may withdraw.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 630 Chilean Peso (approx.), June 2018.

Peso banknotes: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 pesos

Peso coins: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 pesos

 

Tipping

Don’t forget to read out tipping guides for Argentina and Chile.

 

Eating and drinking

Argentina and Chile both have fantastic culinary and wine reputations.

There are more and more top-end restaurants almost everywhere, and you can easily spend USD 100pp and more on meals.

Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Argentina and/or Chile.

 

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 4

Menu del dia: USD 10-15

Coffee: USD 2

Bottle of wine: From USD 15 upwards

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 5-7

Main dish: USD 20 upwards

Coffee: USD 3

Bottle of wine: From USD 20 upwards

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

This is a rough guideline:

  • Airport porters: Minimum USD 1-2 per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: USD 1-2 per night, in the staff tip box.
  • Transfer drivers/taxis: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: USD 10-25 per day total from the group.
  • Specialist guides: USD 5-15 per person, per day.
  • Assistant guides: USD 5-7 per person, per day.
  • Tour leaders: USD 10-15 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: +10% for adequate to excellent food and service.

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

220 volts (110v in some hotels), 50 Hz, in both Chile and Argentina.

Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.

Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.

 

Plugs

If you go on a cruise boat in Patagonia, most boats take the two pin, round-pronged Type C plug show below.

Argentina uses Type i (I) plugs, although some Type C plugs can be found in older buildings and bathrooms.

 

Type I plug

Type i (I) plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type C plug

Type C plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chile uses Type C as above and Type L plugs.

Type L plug

Type L plug

Communication

Internet in Patagonia

Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi. In some towns and cities, main plazas have free, public Wi-Fi.

Internet cafes are slowly disappearing, but most towns and cities will have some in the main centres.

 

Post

Head to the state-owned Correos de Chile for postal services.

Correo Argentino is the national, state-run postal service.

 

ARGENTINA

Dialling codes in Argentina

To call Argentina from abroad, or using your mobile phone in Argentina, follow these steps.

Example number: Buenos Aires (0)11 1234-5678, you would dial:

  • +54 is Argentina’s country code
  • 11 is Buenos Aires’ city code, minus the (0)
  • +54-11-1234-5678 is the final number you dial.

 

Argentina mobiles start with the number 15. If using your mobile phone to call an Argentine mobile, follow these steps.

Example number: Buenos Aires mobile 15-8765-4321, you would dial:

  • +54 for Argentina’s dialling code
  • Remove the 15 from the start of the mobile number
  • Add in a 9, and the area dialling code minus the (0) – in this example Buenos Aires, code = 11
  • +54-911-8765-4321 is the final number you dial.
  • From an Argentine landline or mobile, simply dial 15-8765-4321.

 

Mobile phones in Argentina

If taking a mobile phone with you, check roaming rates with your operator before leaving – they can be very high.

A good way to avoid expensive charges is to bring own unlocked tri- or quad-band phone to Argentina and then buy an inexpensive SIM chip with a local number. These are available in many kiosks and locutorios and offer ability to make cheap calls as well as affordable data for the internet.

 

 

CHILE

Dialling codes in Chile

The international code for Chile is +56.

Regions have dialling codes.

Not all smartphones will work in Chile, it’s best to check with your operator before you arrive. Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.

 

Landlines in Chile

Chile’s landlines have 7 digits, apart from Santiago where they have 8 digits.

To call landline-landline in the same city, add the regional code and then the 7 or 8 digit number, e.g. Arica code is 58, to dial Arica-Arica, dial 58 – 1234567.

If calling landline to another regional landline/city, dial the area code (61=Puerto Natales) but eliminate the 0 e.g. dial 61 1234567.

If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Puerto Natales +56 61 1234567.

 

Mobiles in Chile

Mobiles have 8 digits.

If you are dialling a Chilean mobile from a Chilean landline, add 9 to the number, e.g. 9 1234-5678.

If using your own mobile phone to call a Chilean mobile, dial the country code, then a 9, then the 8 digit number e.g. +56 9 1234-5678.

If you wish call an Argentina mobile while you are in Chile, dial 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number (leaving out the 15 which most Argentine mobiles start with).

e.g. for Buenos Aires mobile 15 1234-5678

Dial: +54 9 11 1234-5678 (Buenos Aires code = 11).

 

 

Useful Spanish phrases

Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.

Below are some basics to get you started.

 

Greetings:

Good morning                                         Buenos días

How are you?                                         ¿Cómo estás?

Good afternoon                                      Buenas tardes

Good bye                                               Adiós

 

Most frequently asked questions (theirs):

Where are you (plural) from?                   ¿De dónde eres (son)?

What time is it?                                           ¿Qué hora es?

Where have you come from?                    ¿De dónde vienes?

Give me (frequent, unwelcome question)    Dáme / regálame

 

Most frequent questions (yours):

How much is it?                                      ¿Cuánto vale?

What is this place called?                       ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?

What’s your name?                                 ¿Cómo te llamas?

Do you have a map?                                ¿Tienes un mapa?

 

In the street / places:

Where can I find a currency exchange?    ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?

Where is there a cash machine?                ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?

Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?

Where can I find a taxi?                             ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?

Where can I find a Supermarket?            ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?

Where is the hospital?                               ¿Dónde esta el hospital?

Where can I find a restaurant?               ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?

 

In the hotel:

What floor am I on?                                   ¿En qué piso estoy?

Where are the elevators/lifts?                 ¿Dónde están los ascensores?

How do I access the Internet?                 ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?

How do I call for room service?                ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?

How do I call down to the front desk?      ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?

 

In the restaurant:

A table for two/four please                     Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor

I would like to drink…                             Me gustaria tomar….

May I see a menu?                                   Puedo ver la carta/menu?

I would like to order..                              Me gustaria pedir…

Can you bring me the check/bill please.     Me trae la cuenta por favor

 

Emergency:

I need help.                                              Necesito ayuda.

I have lost my passport.                        He perdido mi pasaporte.

Someone stole my money.                    Alguien robó mi dinero

I have been robbed.                                Me han robado

I need to call the police.                         Necesito llamar a la policía

I need to call the (country) Embassy     Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)

Help!                                                           ¡Socorro!

 

Responsible Travel - our ethos

Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.

Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.

We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.

We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.

With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.

Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.

Responsible Travel - travel tips

Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:

  • Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you are visiting.
  • Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
  • Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever possible – your support is often vital to local people.
  • Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the lowest price your bargain may be at someone else’s expense.
  • Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
  • Don’t undermine the local economic systems – we recommend you don’t give gifts, especially sweets as there are few dentists in the Andes. Much better to spend time chatting, playing and showing postcards of home. If you would like to donate clothes and shoes etc we are more than happy to do so through the relevant channels. Your tour leader can do this for you and some of the projects we support can be visited.
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
  • Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to experience.
  • Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about what you will do when you return home.
  • Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked routes, don’t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you bring.
  • Don’t pollute local water courses- use biodegradable products, and wash basins.
  • Slow down and enjoy the differences – you’ll be back with the familiar soon enough.

Our environmental policy

All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).

We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.

In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.

Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.

We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.

We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.

If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.

When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.

Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.

When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.

Health and Safety

A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.

You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

And lastly...

Many of our tours travel through remote areas.

We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.

Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.

This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

 

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