Discover the beauty of Patagonia's water landscapes and wildlife
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Eco-tourism | Expedition cruise | Natural world | Photography | Unique & unusual | Wildlife
One of the world’s great frontiers, Patagonia – dominated by its colossal Andes backbone – is a place that truly lives up to its much-authored reputation. Names with the cultural weight of Theroux and Darwin have all been inspired by its tumbling grasslands and undisturbed lakes, framed by immense, snow-capped peaks. And, one of the best ways to appreciate its monumental beauty is by cruise. Centred around its southern Tierra del Fuego archipelago where the tip of Argentina seems to drift off into the cold Atlantic, itineraries take you up close to the creaking glaciers of its fjords to make shore at remote locations.
Departing from Punta Arenas in Chile, the MV Stella Australis takes four nights to reach Ushuaia in Argentina, or three nights in reverse. On the journey, you’ll find everything from untouched sub-polar forests to curious wildlife; keep your eyes out for colonies of penguins as your small expedition ship is able to weave in and out through glacier-lined waterways. You can even follow in Darwin’s footsteps around Cape Horn towards the castaway beaches at South America’s southernmost extreme. Along they way, you’ll call at landings first discovered by the great naturalist on his HMS Beagle expedition. You’ll also be able to spot the creatures that call Patagonia home; as well as penguins, you’ll be able to sight whales, dolphins, condors and elephant seals. Or, discover the region’s fascinating human history dating back to the 13th millennium BC – archaeological evidence can still be seen to this day.
The MV Stella Australis – built in 2010 – is a modern cruise ship whose comfortable cabins feature plush bedding and a lounge area. And, to make the most of the superb Patagonia views, oversized floor-to-ceiling windows look out to crisp ocean waters, vast white icebergs and cragged coastlines. For more space, look to the larger AA Superior and AAA Superior cabins and for socialising there’s the excellent Sky Lounge where you can meet guests from across the world over fine drinks and snacks. The ship is particularly well known for its excellent gastronomy as dishes blend South American flavours with world influences. There’s also an on-board gym if you haven’t had enough exercise on the wide range of shore excursions as the ship is custom built for the narrow channels of southern Patagonia, able to dip in and out of its crags.
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