May 18, 2018|
For those looking to experience the fjords of Chile, for those who want to reach the absolute end of the world, or for those that just want to experience Patagonia from another perspective, the Australis Cruise is a must.
The 4-night cruise, which sails between Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world, and Punta Arenas, Chile (and vice versa) takes travelers to experience parts of Patagonia that very few can reach. With a concentration on the fjords, glaciers, and wildlife of the region, the cruise is complemented perfectly by land tours to other parts of Patagonia to experience the rolling valleys, the dramatic, jagged mountain peaks, and the brilliant blue lakes of the region.
Here are my suggestions for the best tours and destinations to combine with your Australis Cruise, to make the most out of your time in Patagonia across Argentina and Chile.
Torres del Paine
Arguably the most picturesque and wild part of Patagonia, Torres del Paine, on the Chilean side, is the perfect addition to land to your Australis Cruise. Torres del Paine brings together all of the elements of the region to give travelers an incredible experience of the mountains, glaciers, valleys, and lakes. Torres del Paine is also home to the famous ‘W Trek,’ a challenging yet rewarding 4-day hike through the national park.
The best way to tour Torres del Paine National Park is through an all-inclusive lodge, where you can base yourself inside the park, taking daily excursions to experience the different areas. I like to recommend the excellent Hotel Las Torres, a beautiful lodge located at the base of the hike to the towers themselves. You couldn’t be any more immersed in the park.
Torres del Paine is also perfectly located to combine with the Australis cruise, as transfers are easily arranged between the park and Punta Arenas. Transfers to the pier are included in packages at the Hotel Las Torres.
Ushuaia, located in the very south of Argentina, is another excellent place to spend a couple of days to complement your Australis Cruise. In Ushuaia, you do feel like you are at the end of the world, with imposing mountains and wild forests stretching down to the sea. The city of Ushuaia itself is a wonderful and intriguing place to explore, with the excellent local cuisine and fascinating museums such as the Maritime and Prison Museum. Travelers can also spend the day exploring the incredible Tierra del Fuego National Park, filled with picturesque landscapes and easy hiking trails through its valleys.
With the Australis cruise finishing or beginning from Ushuaia’s main port, located in town, a couple of days exploring the city and its surroundings is easily combined with the cruise.
The Lakes Region
The Lakes Region can be accessed on the Chilean side, through Puerto Varas, or on the Argentine side in Bariloche. The nature of the lakes region is more centered around it’s charming, German-style towns and expansive lakes.
Puerto Varas is a picturesque and quaint town located on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. It is the gateway to exploring the imposing Osorno Volcano, as well as the surrounding forests and lakes. Travelers can easily spend a few days relaxing in the town and getting to know it’s surroundings. The quirky ‘Chiloe Island,’ known for it’s ‘palafittes’ (colored houses on stilts over the water) and its culture of mythology, is also reachable via a day trip. Puerto Varas is connected to Punta Arenas by a daily direct flight on LATAM Airways, so it is easily combined with the Australis Cruise.
Bariloche, on the Argentine side of the Andes, is another beautiful, German-style town, and is a little bigger than Puerto Varas. Bariloche is the chocolate capital of Argentina, and the city is filled with small, artisanal chocolate shops and excellent local breweries. The city itself is the gateway to the ‘route of 7 lakes’, a winding road through the region’s picturesque lakes and different landscapes, which is one of the most famous driving routes in Argentina (and indeed the whole of South America). Flights connect Bariloche from Ushuaia (via El Calafate) and onto Buenos Aires.
International Connections to Chile
International connections to the Australis Cruise are through Santiago, Chile (for routes starting in Punta Arenas, and Buenos Aires (for courses starting in Ushuaia). Spend a couple of days in each city before or after the cruise is also a great way to cap off your time in Patagonia, with a good dose of local arts and culture in both cities. Ask us how best to set up your land package to complement your Australis Cruise and make the most of your time in Patagonia!