Day 1 Valparaíso, Chile
This expedition starts in the wonderful, colourful and poetic city of Valparaíso. One of the best ways of seeing this scenic town is through its funiculars. These constructions, which are scattered around the entire natural amphitheatre surrounding the city, allow sweeping views of the bay, and highlight the multi hued houses, creating a rainbow of colour and light. Stroll Valparaiso´s narrow streets, climb its endless staircases and discover something new at every turn: a beautiful building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’. Don’t forget to explore the port and fishing piers, where you’ll get a real feel for Chile’s quirky seafaring side. Buy or sample freshly caught seafood at the market and enjoy the fishermen’s banter. We also recommend a visit to the UNESCO-listed Historic Quarter before embarking on MS Fram.
Day 2-3 At sea
As we make our way along the Pacific coast of Chile the expedition team will start the lecture program to prepare you for the experiences ahead. Enjoy priming your knowledge about the history and wildlife of the area. There will also be various workshops and presentations. Make sure to spend some time on deck to enjoy the fresh sea air and look out for wildlife. Familiarize yourself with our expedition vessel and take advantage of all the facilities on board.
Day 4 Castro
Located on Isla Grande de Chiloé, Castro is set among windswept hills and green vegetation. The city is known for its colourful “palafitos”, wooden houses mounted on stilts along the water's edge. Come ashore and enjoy the local Chilote character and curious energy, mixed with a dash of modern development. The Iglesia San Francisco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is a visual delight: bright yellow and orange with a lavender trim. The varnished-wood interior is stunning. On a sunny day it is illuminated by the rows of stained-glass windows. Other sights include Plazuela del Tren a small plaza right by the waterfront with an odd collection of old trains. A stroll in the Cementerio Parroquial is actually pleasant. Some of the tombs here are quite grand and ornately decorated. Feria Campesina Yumbel is a bustling fruits and vegetables market. There are also household goods and fish stalls here. In the shop Feria Artesanal Lillo, located just south of the port, you can buy excellent hand-knitted woollen goods and handicrafts. Most of the restaurants and cafes in Castro are concentrated along the Calle Blanco, running from the southern end of the plaza down to the waterfront, this is where you can get a taste of the renowned meat, potato and seafood stew. Join the excursion to the Chiloé National Park and go trekking in this evergreen forest. The area is largely unexplored by man and harbouring flora and fauna unique to the archipelago, as well as wide deserted beaches and long stretches of rugged coastline, home to dozens of seabird species, penguins and sea lions.
Day 5 At Sea
The expedition continues south through the fabled waters of Patagonia and onwards to one of the world’s most remote, undisturbed and beautiful places: the southern province of Ultima Esperanza, meaning Last Hope. We are sailing through iconic Andean seascapes and you have plenty of time to gaze out on the glassy expanse of nature uninterrupted. There might also be trivia contests covering questions about explorer history and Antarctic wildlife. We might also hold auctions to raise money for specific causes. These on board auctions have contributed to the most ambitious habitat restoration project on Earth; South Georgia, protection of the Albatross and maintenance of research stations in Antarctica. With the help of our guests, we will continue to raises funds and awareness of opportunities and challenges in the areas we visit.
Day 6 Puerto Edén
After an unforgettable cruise through the Patagonian waters, the unique village of Puerto Edén will enchant you. It is a tiny village in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Puerto Edén is known for its geographical isolation, situated at the end of a deep fjord and surrounded by mountains. Its population of 250 people includes the 15 remaining members of the Kawéskar people. Puerto Edén is a great place to experience the traditional indigenous culture of Patagonian tribes. The villagers sell fish, mussels and shellfish products, which are taken to markets by a weekly transport boat. For souvenirs, buy traditional Kawéskar crafts such as wicker baskets and boats made from sea lion skins and tree bark. Enjoy a stroll among the laneways, and maybe you will spot one of the many Magellan hummingbirds that you find here when you join the expedition team for hiking or kayaking.
Day 7-8 Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is the gateway to the world-renowned Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most attractive national parks in the world. Its main attraction, the “towers” themselves, is the impressive rock formation, both colossal and unique, called “Torres del Paine” (Towers of Paine). The towers are made up of the Torre Central (9,186 feet high), Torre Sur (9,350 feet) and Torre Norte (7,375 feet). The park encompasses azure lakes, trails that meander through emerald forests, roaring rivers you'll cross on rickety bridges and one big, radiant blue glacier. Variety spans from the vast openness of the steppe to rugged mountain terrain topped by looming peaks. This diversity of environments here has led to a very rich fauna and flora. While we are here you might see llamas, pumas, chilla foxes and skunks in addition to more than 100 species of birds like the Andean condor and black-chested buzzard eagle. Enjoy hiking in these amazing surroundings.
Day 9 Chilean fjords
The Chilean fjords will excite nature enthusiasts with its channels, fjords and mountains plunging into the icy water. This wild and remote area seems almost untouched by humans. The ice has scoured its way between the mountains, creating the isolated islands and hidden bays that form the unique fjord landscape of Chile. The snow-capped mountains and steep valleys make a striking contrast to an otherwise very green area that is rich in wildlife.
Day 10-11 At Sea
In the morning we will be sailing through the Beagle Channel, named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his voyage of discovery – HMS Beagle. We continue into open waters, and if conditions allow we will make an attempt to land on Cape horn – the southernmost tip of South America. Going ashore can be very difficult because of the sometimes-extreme weather in this area. This is the southernmost point of Chile and South America and lies almost 56 degrees south, marking the boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the northern end of the Drake Passage. The region is of great significance on account of its location, history, discoveries and trade routes. If we anchor off Cape Horn, you will be able to go ashore to explore this deserted and yet romantic piece of land at the end of the world. Then we continue over the Drake Passage, where two oceans meet, on our way to Antarctica. On the way through the straits you can learn a great deal about Antarctica’s fantastic animals and history. This sea passage was notorious among the early polar explorers and is a unique voyage which only a few have the chance to experience. The Drake Passage connects the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Here the warm water from the north meets the cold, less salty water from the south. This makes the ocean particularly rich in nutrients and is the basis of the unique marine life here.
Day 12-16 Antarctica
This unending, white wilderness of a continent is full of overwhelming impressions on an impressive scale. Weather, wind and ice conditions will of course have a great influence on our programme and schedule and your experienced expedition team will select possible landing sites that will provide you with the best experiences available. With long hours of daylight that we have in Antarctica this time of the year it is easy to make the most of your days. While in Antarctica, we will attempt to land on sites both on the South Shetland Islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Flexibility allows us to take advantage of the unexpected and wildlife will be at the forefront of our mind. We will bring you on shore for close up exploration. We might call at the Gentoo penguin rookeries on Cuverville Island and Neko Harbour. We hope to sail through the incomparable Lemaire Channel and take on the challenging hike on Petermann Island to get rewarded with panoramic views. Another fun destination if weather permits is Port Lockroy, an old British base with a museum. Sailing through the Antarctic Sound offers spectacular views of tabular icebergs and glacial landscapes, and Brown Bluff has a distinct rock formation. Our sturdy PolarCirkel boats will enable us to go ashore almost anywhere and explore bays and channels. The expedition team will explain what you see and ensure we do as little as possible to disturb the local wildlife. Enjoy experiencing Antarctica with all your senses. Kayaking in untouched waters with icebergs floating by, guided hikes up snowy pathways to spectacular viewing points, listening to the sounds of glaciers calving or penguins squabbling, spending the night on deck or in a tent on this remote and untouched continent, or perhaps for the most daring, taking the polar plunge swim. Every day will be different, carefully crafted by our expedition team to educate you and create lasting memories.
Day 17-18 At Sea
After four unforgettable days in Antarctica, MS Fram takes us safely back across the famous Drake Passage. The voyage from the Antarctic Peninsula to the southern tip of Argentina is roughly 950 km (600 mi) or 40 hours sailing time in good weather. During the voyage north, we will continue our lecture series and recap our experiences of Antarctica.
Day 19 Ushuaia/Buenos Aires
Sadly, every expedition must come to an end. When we reach the southernmost town in the world, Ushuaia, it is time to say goodbye. Your journey home continues with your flight to Buenos Aires, where you have a chance to extend your stay and enjoy our optional post extension programs.