South American Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Chile, Peru, Argentina and Antarctica

Sailing the Strait of Magellan
Wildlife at the End of the World.


In Brief

On this journey we will discover the southernmost marine wildlife of the American continent amidst one of the wildest landscapes on Earth, Tierra del Fuego. This area has a considerable history, and this aspect adds to our understanding of this magnificent region. Our transport to this incredible and remote world is the SS Chonos, a 56' motor-sailer specifically designed to explore these waters, both above and below.

Beginning in Punta Arenas, we will cross the Strait of Magellan, enjoying the company of Peale’s Dolphin and the graceful flight of Black-browed Albatrosses and Antarctic Giant Petrels. In addition to the beautiful Peale's Dolphin, marine mammals include Humpback Whale, Southern Elephant Seal, South America Sea Lion, Southern Fur Seal and the distinctive black and white Commerson's Dolphin. A special effort is made to see the rare Striated Caracara, and we visit a colony of Magellanic Penguins, Rock and King Cormorants. A variety of seabirds and waterfowl will also be seen as well as Andean Condors.


  • Black-browed Albatross and Antarctic Giant Petrel

  • Andean Condor

  • Magellanic Penguin

  • Southern Elephant Seal, the world's largest pinniped

  • Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins in the Strait of Magellan

  • Actively calving glaciers of Tierra del Fuego


Day 1: Santiago / Punta Arenas
Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your flight there may be time to look around this small city. The cemetery holds considerable interest, and all travelers should visit the Plaza de Armas, where legend has it if you kiss (or rub) the foot of the Indian on the statue of Magellan, you will return to Patagonia.

Day 2: Punta Arenas / Carlos III Island
We start our sailing from Port Famine, a sadly famous Spanish settlement of the XVIth century, then turn towards the western branch of the Strait of Magellan at Cape Froward, where there is an imposing cross dominating the hilly coastline. Here the Strait is narrow and deeper, the coast is rugged and wooded and it rains almost constantly. During the afternoon we reach Carlos III Island where we visit a South American Sea Lion rookery.

Day 3: Carlos III Island / Ballena Sound
Ballena Sound is located in the huge Santa Inés Island. This great bay is surrounded by the Andes, which at these latitudes extend from the west to east, from which flow magnificent glaciers, scarcely visited by humans. It is in these waters and in the Strait where we hope to watch Humpback Whales. It is a truly moving experience to see these animals dive, at first continually breathing at the surface and then starting an extended dive showing their impressive tail. To maximize our chances we can observe from the coast, aboard the SS Chonos or by zodiac; all or any may present the best opportunities to experience these magnificent leviathans.

Day 4: Ballena Sound / Fortescue Bay / Gabriel Channel
Today we sail the southern coast of the Brunswick Peninsula, visiting the historic Fortescue Bay. During 1599, a Dutch expedition led by Simon de Cordes entered the Strait of Magellan, in an enterprising and distressing journey, during which starvation, scurvy, bad weather and fights with local Indians caused the loss of more than a hundred sailors. It was at Fortescue Bay they spent the winter while awaiting better conditions, which would allow them to leave for the Pacific Ocean. We will also study the history of some of the numerous wrecks of this area whilst sailing the scenic and narrow Gabriel Channel, towards the heart of Tierra del Fuego.

Day 5: Marinelli Glacier, Ainsworth Bay
The Southern Elephant Seal is the world’s largest pinniped and also one of the best divers, capable of reaching depths of more than 3,000 feet deep. Ainsworth Bay is possibly the only place in Chile where they gather during the long moulting period. The landscape is magnificent and comprises sandy beaches, dense and pristine forests, the impressive Marinelli Glacier and the Darwin Range. In addition to the Elephant Seals we will look for Kelp Goose, Oystercatcher, Caracara and the colorful Serra Finches. Here we also expect to see the huge Andean Condor as it sails the updrafts of the Andean cliffs.

Day 6: Ainsworth Bay / Tucker Isles
Today we start our trip back, first visiting the fascinating Tucker Isles. These are covered by trees and tussock grass and are the ideal breeding habitat for two species of cormorants - rock and King, and the Magellanic Penguin. We also hope to find one of the world’s rarest birds of prey, the Striated Caracara. We should also see the slim Southern Fur Seal and Peale’s Dolphin.

Day 7: Punta Arenas
Today we return to Punta Arenas, where depending on your forward itinerary and/or flights, either overnight in Punta Arenas or fly to Santiago to overnight.

Day 8: Punta Arenas or Santiago
Transfer today to your next flight, or continue your stay in Chile.


Tour Details

What is included: all guiding, flights Santiago-Punta Arenas-Santaigo, airport transfers in Santiago and Punta Arenas, ground transportation, cabin charge, 7 nights accommodation including 5 nights aboard SS Chonos, all meals with the exception of dinner Day 7, from dinner Day 1 to breakfast Day 8, service charges, port fees, entrance fees, and local guide services. Tipping on the Chonos, at restaurants and for porters is also included. This is a very inclusive tour.

What is not included: flights to/from Chile, entrance tax to Chile, tipping for drivers and local guides, travel insurance, private excursions, à la carte dishes, snacks, drinks, laundry, telephone calls and anything else of a purely personal nature.

Departures: tours depart with a minimum of two guests, and operate from September to April.

Cost: $TBA per person based on double occupancy.

Please call for current international airfares to Chile - there can be distinct price advantages when we combine US domestic, international and internal Chilean air using LAN, the national carrier of Chile and one of the world's premier airlines - a Oneworld Member.




For more information call toll free on 1 877 9CHILE9, or email us