13 nights onboard SH Vega

In the Wake of the Beagle through the Chile's Fjords

8
Leaving from: Ushuaia
Cruise ship: SH Vega
Visiting: Ushuaia Puerto Natales Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Swan Hellenic Logo
Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic cruise line takes pride in providing elegant cruises that sail their guests to far-flung destinations across the world such as New Zealand and the Arctic. With over 70 years of experience, enjoy a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere onboard Swan Hellenic cruises, with some truly remarkable visits to less-accessible polar regions and plenty of lesser-visited ports worth seeing.

152
Passengers
120
Crew
2022
Launched
10500t
Tonnage
115m
Length
23m
Width
15kts
Speed
9
Decks
USD
Currency
Cruise Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina
Days 2 - 3
River travel
Days 3 - 5
Puerto Natales, Chile
Day 6
River travel
Day 6
Puerto Natales, Chile
Day 7
River travel
Day 7
PIO X Glacier, Chile
Day 8
Caleta Tortel, Chile
Day 10
Castro, Chile
Day 11
Puerto Montt, Chile
Day 14
Valparaiso, Chile
Ushuaia, Argentina image
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina
At 55 degrees latitude south, Ushuaia (pronounced oo-swy-ah) is closer to the South Pole than to Argentina's northern border with Bolivia. It is the capital and tourism base for Tierra del Fuego, the island at the southernmost tip of Argentina.Although its stark physical beauty is striking, Tierra del Fuego's historical allure is based more on its mythical past than on rugged reality. The island was inhabited for 6,000 years by Yámana, Haush, Selk'nam, and Alakaluf Indians. But in 1902 Argentina, eager to populate Patagonia to bolster its territorial claims, moved to initiate an Ushuaian penal colony, establishing the permanent settlement of its most southern territories and, by implication, everything in between.When the prison closed in 1947, Ushuaia had a population of about 3,000, made up mainly of former inmates and prison staff. Today the Indians of Darwin's "missing link" theory are long gone—wiped out by diseases brought by settlers and by indifference to their plight—and the 60,000 residents of Ushuaia are hitching their star to tourism.The city rightly (if perhaps too loudly) promotes itself as the southernmost city in the world (Puerto Williams, a few miles south on the Chilean side of the Beagle Channel, is a small town). You can make your way to the tourism office to get your clichéd, but oh-so-necessary, "Southernmost City in the World" passport stamp. Ushuaia feels like a frontier boomtown, at heart still a rugged, weather-beaten fishing village, but exhibiting the frayed edges of a city that quadrupled in size in the '70s and '80s and just keeps growing. Unpaved portions of Ruta 3, the last stretch of the Pan-American Highway, which connects Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, are finally being paved. The summer months (December through March) draw more than 120,000 visitors, and dozens of cruise ships. The city is trying to extend those visits with events like March's Marathon at the End of the World and by increasing the gamut of winter activities buoyed by the excellent snow conditions.A terrific trail winds through the town up to the Martial Glacier, where a ski lift can help cut down a steep kilometer of your journey. The chaotic and contradictory urban landscape includes a handful of luxury hotels amid the concrete of public housing projects. Scores of "sled houses" (wooden shacks) sit precariously on upright piers, ready for speedy displacement to a different site. But there are also many small, picturesque homes with tiny, carefully tended gardens. Many of the newer homes are built in a Swiss-chalet style, reinforcing the idea that this is a town into which tourism has breathed new life. At the same time, the weather-worn pastel colors that dominate the town's landscape remind you that Ushuaia was once just a tiny fishing village, snuggled at the end of the Earth.As you stand on the banks of the Canal Beagle (Beagle Channel) near Ushuaia, the spirit of the farthest corner of the world takes hold. What stands out is the light: at sundown the landscape is cast in a subdued, sensual tone; everything feels closer, softer, and more human in dimension despite the vastness of the setting. The snowcapped mountains reflect the setting sun back onto a stream rolling into the channel, as nearby peaks echo their image—on a windless day—in the still waters.Above the city rise the last mountains of the Andean Cordillera, and just south and west of Ushuaia they finally vanish into the often-stormy sea. Snow whitens the peaks well into summer. Nature is the principal attraction here, with trekking, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife spotting, and sailing among the most rewarding activities, especially in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (Tierra del Fuego National Park).
River travel image
Days 2 - 3
River travel
Puerto Natales, Chile image
Days 3 - 5
Puerto Natales, Chile
With a population of roughly 18,000, Puerto Natales is the capital of the Ultima Esperanza Province. Founded in 1911, it quickly developed into a major residential center and shipping port for the area’s products. Nestled on a gently-sloping point amid spectacular scenery, the town overlooks the Ultima Esperanza Gulf and has a nice view of the Balmaceda Mountain. It provides services for the region’s intense livestock activity. Many of its inhabitants work at the Argentinian coal mines in Rio Turbio and return home over the weekend. A growing number of tourists are using the town as a jumping-off point for visiting the spectacular Torres del Paine and Balmaceda National Parks, and the nearby fjords. In 1892 and 1897, two geographic surveyors mapped the area and ascertained its potential for livestock farming. The first expedition was led by Capt. Eberhard, while the second, a Swedish one, was led by Otto Nordenskjöld. Eberhard discovered the Milodón Cave and was one of the first settlers in the area. A German-born immigrant in transit along the Strait of Magellan, he disembarked in Punta Arenas and decided to stay in this area. His brother continued to California, their original destination, where he later founded the renowned Eberhard Faber pencil making company. When the area opened to settlement in 1893, the lands lying along the coast were occupied mostly by German and English settlers who had previously come to Punta Arenas. There still remain a few interesting buildings dating from the estancia heydays. Pier Information The ship will remain at anchor. Guests will be brought ashore by ship’s tenders to the jetty located close to the center of town, which can be reached on foot. Shopping The main shopping area is located about 11 blocks from the landing jetty. Cuisine Two of the better restaurants in town are Tranquera and Circulo Español. Other Sites Cerro DoroteaA walk up this hill rewards with superb views of the whole Ultima Esperanza Sound.Milodón Cave National MonumentAbout 15 miles out of Puerto Natales stands this monument near the cave, where in 1895 Capt. Eberhard found the nearly intact remains of a prehistoric animal called milodón, a type of ground sloth. The finding caused such a stir that Wellington Furlog, a scientiest at Cornell University, set out in 1907 to comb Patagonia in search of living specimens of this species.
River travel image
Day 6
River travel
Puerto Natales, Chile image
Day 6
Puerto Natales, Chile
With a population of roughly 18,000, Puerto Natales is the capital of the Ultima Esperanza Province. Founded in 1911, it quickly developed into a major residential center and shipping port for the area’s products. Nestled on a gently-sloping point amid spectacular scenery, the town overlooks the Ultima Esperanza Gulf and has a nice view of the Balmaceda Mountain. It provides services for the region’s intense livestock activity. Many of its inhabitants work at the Argentinian coal mines in Rio Turbio and return home over the weekend. A growing number of tourists are using the town as a jumping-off point for visiting the spectacular Torres del Paine and Balmaceda National Parks, and the nearby fjords. In 1892 and 1897, two geographic surveyors mapped the area and ascertained its potential for livestock farming. The first expedition was led by Capt. Eberhard, while the second, a Swedish one, was led by Otto Nordenskjöld. Eberhard discovered the Milodón Cave and was one of the first settlers in the area. A German-born immigrant in transit along the Strait of Magellan, he disembarked in Punta Arenas and decided to stay in this area. His brother continued to California, their original destination, where he later founded the renowned Eberhard Faber pencil making company. When the area opened to settlement in 1893, the lands lying along the coast were occupied mostly by German and English settlers who had previously come to Punta Arenas. There still remain a few interesting buildings dating from the estancia heydays. Pier Information The ship will remain at anchor. Guests will be brought ashore by ship’s tenders to the jetty located close to the center of town, which can be reached on foot. Shopping The main shopping area is located about 11 blocks from the landing jetty. Cuisine Two of the better restaurants in town are Tranquera and Circulo Español. Other Sites Cerro DoroteaA walk up this hill rewards with superb views of the whole Ultima Esperanza Sound.Milodón Cave National MonumentAbout 15 miles out of Puerto Natales stands this monument near the cave, where in 1895 Capt. Eberhard found the nearly intact remains of a prehistoric animal called milodón, a type of ground sloth. The finding caused such a stir that Wellington Furlog, a scientiest at Cornell University, set out in 1907 to comb Patagonia in search of living specimens of this species.
River travel image
Day 7
River travel
PIO X Glacier, Chile image
Day 7
PIO X Glacier, Chile
Caleta Tortel, Chile image
Day 8
Caleta Tortel, Chile
Tortel is a commune located in Southern Patagonia, a spectacular wilderness region of rugged mountains, glaciers, rivers and forests of infinite beauty. The uneven geography of Tortel shapes a unique landscape, characterized by an archipelagic area with numerous islands and channels. Tortel is known as the “footbridge city” for the unique beauty of its wooden walkways that connect the piers and houses of this quaint place through bridges and stairs, built from cypress wood, that run for four and a half miles around the cove and that respect the rich vegetation that grows under them. Even though it is the sixth largest commune in Chile, it has the lowest population of all with roughly 531 people. The history of the town dates back to 1520 when it was inhabited by nomadic Kawesqar, now extinct. Its definitive foundation was in 1955, after numerous attempts to populate the area. In 2001, it was declared by the Chilean government as a Picturesque Zone of National Heritage.
Castro, Chile image
Day 10
Castro, Chile
Bright, wooden huts teeter on stilts over Castro's estuary waterfront, inviting you into a patchwork of colour that’s sure to brighten any day. These traditional palafitos give the warmest of welcomes, as you prepare to experience Chile at its most vibrant. Castro has faced something of a tumultuous past, having been hit by a by a succession of earthquakes and fires - the most recent a devastating earthquake in 1960. But this city is incredibly resilient, and today the capital of Chiloe Island makes for a fantastic base for exploring the archipelago that surrounds it.  
Puerto Montt, Chile image
Day 11
Puerto Montt, Chile
For most of its history, windy Puerto Montt was the end of the line for just about everyone traveling in the Lake District. Now the Carretera Austral carries on southward, but for all intents and purposes Puerto Montt remains the region's last significant outpost, a provincial city that is the hub of local fishing, textile, and tourist activity.Today the city center is full of malls, condos, and office towers—it's the fastest-growing city in Chile—but away from downtown, Puerto Montt consists mainly of low clapboard houses perched above its bay, the Seno de Reloncaví. If it's a sunny day, head east to Playa Pelluco or one of the city's other beaches. If you're more interested in exploring the countryside, drive along the shore for a good view of the surrounding hills.
Valparaiso, Chile image
Day 14
Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaíso's dramatic topography—45 cerros, or hills, overlooking the ocean—requires the use of winding pathways and wooden ascensores (funiculars) to get up many of the grades. The slopes are covered by candy-color houses—there are almost no apartments in the city—most of which have exteriors of corrugated metal peeled from shipping containers decades ago. Valparaíso has served as Santiago's port for centuries. Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaíso was the busiest port in South America. Harsh realities—changing trade routes, industrial decline—have diminished its importance, but it remains Chile's principal port. Most shops, banks, restaurants, bars, and other businesses cluster along the handful of streets called El Plan (the flat area) that are closest to the shoreline. Porteños (which means "the residents of the port") live in the surrounding hills in an undulating array of colorful abodes. At the top of any of the dozens of stairways, the paseos (promenades) have spectacular views; many are named after prominent Yugoslavian, Basque, and German immigrants. Neighborhoods are named for the hills they cover. With the jumble of power lines overhead and the hundreds of buses that slow down—but never completely stop—to pick up agile riders, it's hard to forget you're in a city. Still, walking is the best way to experience Valparaíso. Be careful where you step, though—locals aren't very conscientious about curbing their dogs.
Ship Details
Swan Hellenic
SH Vega

Making her maiden voyage in July 2022, our 5 star elegant Scandi-design boutique ship offers you an intimate setting from which you will be fully immersed in all the sights and scenery of your voyage.

For now, sit back, relax and take a moment to get to know your expedition ship.

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