Cruises the Patagonian Fiords from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas.
When you travel in Patagonia there are numerous places that create a sense of awe; the formidable peaks of the Andes, the solitary expanse of the Steppe or monstrous glaciers feeding into ocean like lakes from the Southern Patagonian Ice-field. One place, however, combines all of this with a hint of time gone by, when uncharted exploration was met with courageous men of the sea…… the Cape Horn.
Trading in our seat-belts and steering wheel for a life-jacket and sea legs we, Mel and Franco, boarded the Via Australis (Southern Way) for a 4Day/3Night all-inclusive cruise to the Cape Horn.
I’m not going to lie…… we were pretty excited and not just about the open bar. We have been working in Patagonia for quite some time and this was our first chance to set sail south.
Unlike the early explorers who often faced hardships and uncertainty, we boarded the Via Australis to find welcome drinks and a detailed itinerary of the adventure that lay ahead. An excited investigation of our accommodation found a surprisingly spacious room (with compact ensuite) fitted with all the hooks, locks and catches one needs to keep everything in its place while on the high seas.
We explored the many levels of our vessel and found the glass windowed Yamana Lounge, an area used for afternoon tea as well as informative presentations and relaxing. On the Bridge level we found the Sky Lounge, an extensive social area with central bar saloon and fantastic views on either side of the ship. Heading up and outside onto the Panoramic Deck we had a 360 degree view of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel.
Meal times on board the Via Australis were an exercise of self-control. Buffet breakfasts and lunches provided a sea of tables covered in hot, cold and deliciously scrumptious desserts. At dinner time we were provided with a 3 course menu selection with personal waiter service.
Now Franco and I have little to no cruising experience. We figured we would spend all of our time on the ship just viewing from the deck. We were amazed to get off and into the zodiacs twice a day (weather permitting). This allows you to get up close and personal to glaciers and hike through some of the sub-Antarctic forest areas. We also explored Wulaia Bay, an area with historic importance regarding the indigenous Yamana people.
When the ship was moving we were entertained with presentations and documentaries about Darwin, Shackleton and the variety of flora and fauna we were seeing along the way. Experienced crew were also available for informative explanations not only about where we were but about life on the ship and personal expeditions they may have been involved in.
Of course, the highlight of our cruise was the early morning arrival at Cape Horn. With 150km winds unfortunately we were unable to go ashore and walk up to the lighthouse and the Cape Horn monument. We did navigate up and down the east coast of the island and were able to clearly see the powerful influence of the winds coming off the Drake Passage.
The Cape monument, a steel structure of diamond shape with an albatross cut out of the middle had been ripped in half and was now more of a mangled piece of scrap metal than a monument. A powerful reminder of how savage the elements can be.
If you have ever wanted to sail the high seas but prefer luxury and comfort to walking the plank then this cruise is a great experience of what the end of the world has to offer.
Melinda Cleaver & Franco de Antoni - Viva Expeditions
For more information about the Australis Cruises please contact us.