This carefully curated expedition offers the peak experiences of Patagonia and its surrounding environs in a compact timeframe. Discover the fjords, glaciers, and panoramic vistas that make Chilean Patagonia one of the most lauded nature destinations on Earth. Exposing you to the ‘best of’ highlights, like the stunning Beagle Channel, massive glaciers and snowcapped peaks, this perfectly-paced voyage also brings you into the seldom-seen natural splendors of natural parks Yendegaia and Karukinka. Cap off your expedition by exploring Argentina’s rugged, seldom-seen Isla De Los Estados (Staten Island), a land of mythic wildness that has been largely off limits to travelers since 1923.
Venture into incredible wildlife reserves for up-close exploration
Tuck deep into fjords and venture into seldom-explored channels that are only accessible by expedition ship. Here you’ll discover the bright blue glaciers and near-mythic wildness. Explore vast areas of snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands of islands covered with vegetation, lakes, soaring granite walls, and waterfalls provides days of spectacular adventure. And through our worldwide network of friends, we’ve arranged to explore private wildlife reserves to see the famous guanacos and rheas of the Patagonian steppes and Andean condors soaring overhead. Look for Magellanic penguins, albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters, and more.
Explore Argentina's seldom-seen Isla de los Estados
By special permission, our ship will call at Isla de los Estados, a wild island largely untouched by humans in decades, it has only a naval outpost with four guardians. Walk its wild beech forests, look for penguins, see the 1884 San Juan de Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, plus explore the ruins of a penal colony. And, conditions permitting, explore a very rarely seen archeological site where native people lived 1,500 years ago.
Actively explore: Hike, kayak & Zodiac cruise
You’ll get out on adventures often in Patagonia, sometimes twice a day. Explore the towering fjords by Zodiac and kayak; hike to the terminus of massive glaciers; walk the spongy, vegetation-covered ground surrounded by the immensity of a wild pristine landscape. Because Explorer has a fleet of both Zodiacs and kayaks, the entire expedition community can embark at once on forays, no waiting around for returning parties. You’ll have a choice of activities each day, and the option to join any naturalist whose interests mirror yours. Your choices also include opting to enjoy the view from the all-glass observation lounge, the library, or the chart room. To visit the fitness center with its panoramic windows, or ease into the sauna, or have a massage in the wellness center.
Take advantage of superb photo ops
You’ll have a National Geographic photographer as your traveling companion, to inspire you and provide tips in the field. And the services of a National Geographic certified photo instructor, as well–to help you turn your point-and-shoot camera into an aim & create. You’ll find no end of subjects, and the help you need to return home with your best photos ever.
Arrive in Santiago, Chile and check in to our centrally located
hotel, and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly
surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to
our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the
Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential
Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the
Today we fly from Santiago to Puerto Natales, one of Chile’s
southern gateways to Patagonia. Time permitting we’ll explore
Puerto Natales before we embark National Geographic Orion.
Be on deck to look for condors and other wildlife on our way out
of Puerto Natales as our ship transits the narrow sliver of water
known as the Kirke Narrows—always a challenge to navigate
because of the powerful currents that flow through its 650-foot
wide pinch point. Today and during the following days you’ll be
treated to the spectacular features of an active glaciated
landscape with hanging valleys and tributary glaciers. This
region was navigated by Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition and it
took most of November 1520 for his ships to find a way through
the maze of channels that lie between the continental mainland
and Tierra del Fuego to the south. Among our many possibilities
are exploring Estero las Montañas, with a chance to go for an
adventurous walk to a lake through beautiful muskeg and forest, with cypress trees coated with many species of lichens; and
Bahía Ainsworth in Seno Almirantazgo, where we may go out by
Zodiac and kayak and look for elephant seals. (B,L,D)
Tierra del Fuego is one of Patagonia’s crown jewels. We visit its
newest and largest protected area: Karukinka Natural Park.
Established in 2004 through a gift from Goldman Sachs,
Karukinka is one of the largest donations ever made for
conservation. We’re thrilled to have special permission from the
Wildlife Conservation Society to visit this private reserve, which
spans 1,160 square miles and harbors endangered culpeo fox,
Andean condors, albatross, grebes, petrels, fulmars,
shearwaters and many other kinds of wildlife. We may explore
Jackson Bay, backed by a skyline of rugged mountains and look
or wildlife including black-browed albatross that nest on one of
the nearby small islands. We may walk a trail to a lovely waterfall
and look for elephant seals resting on not only the beach but
also high in the grass meadows and even in the small river
draining the valley inland. (B,L,D)
We’ll explore more stunning wilderness as we see the fjords and
glaciers of the region by Zodiac, kayak and on foot. A vast area
of soaring, snowcapped mountains, gigantic glaciers, thousands
of verdant islands, serene lakes, and waterfalls—the archipelago
is scarcely touched by man. Take Zodiacs out to explore these
protected waters and rugged shores, the blue and white of ice
contrasting with greens of the forest highlighted by splashes of
late-season flowering plants. Look for the Andean condors,
albatrosses, grebes, petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and many
other birds that inhabit this otherworldly realm. Then we sail the
Beagle Channel to Yendegaia, a stunning wilderness that covers
95,000 acres on Tierra del Fuego. This newly established
national park was formerly a private reserve. It has beech
forests, mountains and wild rivers. (B,L,D)
Today we visit Cape Horn, near the southernmost tip of the
South American continent, named in 1616 for the Dutch town of
Hoorn. These waters are famously difficult to navigate, and over
the centuries have been the graveyard of many ships—which
before the opening of the Panama Canal had to round the Cape
to sail between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Of course, we'll
use our modern equipment to explore safely. Weather
permitting, we'll take our Zodiacs ashore and walk to the top of
the hill for panoramic views and to see the memorial placed
there in 1992, showing an albatross in silhouette. (B,L,D)
We have been given special permission to visit extraordinary
Staten Island, and National Geographic Orion will be one of the
only expedition ships ever allowed here. It’s a place of
superlatives, barely touched in recent decades and visited
primarily by a few scientists and those who man the tiny naval
observatory. The island was named by Dutch explorers in 1615.
Its mountainous, forested landscapes and rugged fjords are
beautiful, and we’ll find a great deal of interest here. Our exact
schedule will remain flexible to take best advantage of
conditions. We’ll see colonies of southern rockhopper and
Magellanic penguins, many other water birds, and large
assemblages of fur seals and sea lions. We’ll also look for otters
on our landings ashore, and we’ll see the 1884 San Juan de
Salvamento “lighthouse at the end of the world,” which inspired
Jules Verne’s novel by the same name, along with the ruins of a
penal colony, and perhaps an archaeological site occupied 1,500
years ago by Native Americans. There will be chances to walk in
the southern beech forests. These days are bound to stand out
as a unique chance to explore a very remote place. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Take
a charter flight to Santiago and connect to flights home. (B,L)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
These cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These roomy cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 3 Suite with Window #401-412, 414-419 These suites have a comfortable sofa in the sitting area with a large window and plenty of storage. They have a variety of bed configurations (call for details) plus a writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 4 Deluxe suite with Window #511, 515 - These two suites feature separate sleeping and sitting areas, with a two-seater sofa that looks out a large rectangular window. Beds are configurable. You'll find storage, climate controls, reading lamps, a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These solo cabins feature a window or two portholes, a queen-size bed, writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall
Cat 5 Suite with Balcony #501, 503-506, 508 - These spacious suites feature open living areas and sliding glass doors that open to a private French balcony. Beds are configurable, and you'll find sitting chairs or a couch, a writing desk, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 3S Suite with Window #512 - This solo suite features two beds and a large window, plus a bucket chair and small table, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 6 Owner’s suite with Balcony #502, 507, 509*, 510 - These large, owner's suites feature a balcony (Cabin 509 does not have a balcony), a spacious bathroom with a large shower and separate soaking tub with a window, and a large separate living area with a couch and two bucket chairs, plus climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
National Geographic Orion
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 103 metres
Passenger Capacity: 102 (in 53 cabins)
Built: 2003 / Refurbished 2014
Engineered for maximum comfort and safety, Orion is equipped with the latest technology including large retractable stabilizers, sonar, radar, and an ice-strengthened hull. A shallow draft plus bow and stern thrusters provide the convenience of being able to maneuver close to shore. 14 Zodiacs ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration.
National Geographic Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection and the on board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling us to travel to the most pristine environments. A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices.
National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins, including several with balconies. She is spacious and modern, with a variety of public rooms that offer panoramic views of the passing landscape. Friendly and informal, Orion fosters a welcoming atmosphere where like-minded guests share in exceptional experiences and enrichment.
Her public rooms include a dramatic window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library perched at the very top of the ship, with plentiful observation decks. The spacious lounge is the heart of our expedition community, and is suited for spirited cocktail hours, informative presentations and our nightly tradition of Recap. In addition, a dedicated theater provides a unique setting for specialist presentations or films and slideshows. Both the main dining room and outside buffet easily accommodate all guests at once for open seating dining. On selected nights, weather permitting, our dining room menu is also available on the outside deck.
While Orion interiors are elegant, life aboard is always casual, with no need for formal clothing. And you’ll find shipboard services like laundry, in-room cabled internet, and public-area wifi.