7 days from £1720pp plus international flights.
A thousand miles south of Santiago, Puerto Montt is the capital of the Lake District in southern Chile - northern Patagonia. This is where you start and end this scenic cruise taking you from the lake region through fjords and channels, past archipelagos and the island of Chiloe, and down to the northern Ice Field of Chilean Patagonia, including the magical San Rafael Glacier. It's a varied round trip of some 800 nautical miles which runs from September to April.
You set out from near Puerto Montt on your purpose-built ship, Skorpios II. Before you reach the spectacular highlight of the icefields, you will explore northern Patagonia's beautiful rainforest-backed fjords, tranquil lagoons, and stop at fishing villages and islands to see something of life in this remote part of the world. Chiloe Island has a rich history and is one of the few places where you'll be able to get an idea of the culture of the region. Each day you explore by small boat and on foot, led by a knowledgeable guide. Take walks in rainforest and boat rides in the fjord, as well as watching Magellanic penguins, fur seals, numerous seabirds and, with luck, spot blue and humpback whales. Excursions are preceded by on-board presentations providing valuable background information and insights.
The highlight of the cruise is reaching the stunning San Rafael Glacier and Lagoon. You'll be bowled over by the scenery: blue-hued glaciers and beautiful icebergs. It's here that our A1 Ice Class vessel comes into its own as it can get close to the incredible glacier (local conditions permitting). In the morning the Skorpios II anchors just 2 miles from the glacier, and small boats take you on trips among the vast, multi-coloured icebergs. Then in the early afternoon, as the ships gets closer to the glacier. It's breathtaking.
After your day surrounded by ice, the following day you will be at the Quiltralco Fjord enjoying hot springs before heading north once again.
We've included a pre-cruise night on board the ship, to give you time to settle in and find your bearings and enjoy an unhurried start to the voyage. All meals, drinks from the bar and excursions are included, making this excellent value for money. The Skorpios has 53 cabins over 5 decks, all with private facilities, and there are two comfortable lounges and a large dining room.
Please note: All the programme and timings shown below may vary acrosding to weather conditions or force majeure. Likewise, debarkation and durations will depend on the authorisation of the captain who will evaluate safety and ice conditions in each place.
Photographs courtesy Chronos Cruises
Friday: Arrive at the Skorpios pier in Chinquihue, 7 kilometres from Puerto Montt at the southern end of Chile's Lake District. You can board your cruise ship, the Skorpios II, from 6.30pm. Once on board, make your way to your cabin and settle in ahead of tomorrow's departure. This evening you have dinner on board, a chance to get to know fellow passengers and settle into life on a cruise ship. Dinner.
Enjoy breakfast on Skorpios II as the anticipation builds towards departure, scheduled for noon. The route takes us through the Llanquihue archipelago and within sight of the city of Calbuco. By late afternoon you reach Quemchi on Chiloe Island where small boats will take you to the village so you can explore the handicraft market, museum, attractive buildings and cafes. In the early evening Skorpios II continues to sail south as you enjoy your evening meal. Tonight, the ship crosses the Gulf of Corcovado. Full board.
As you enjoy breakfast Skorpios II is making her way through the Moraleda and Ferronave channels towards the Chronos islands, arriving at the fishing port of Puerto Aguirre by late morning. Leave the ship for a guided walk through the town and rainforest to a viewpoint where you can appreciate the remote setting and scenery to the full. Back on board you have lunch as we continue to the island of Barrientos. Here smaller boats take you to see the huge colony of seabirds including rock, imperial and red-legged shags and kelp gulls. You should spot fur seals, too. The southward voyage continues around 5pm, tonight mooring at either Caleta Quesahuen or Punta Leopardos. Full board
Today promises to be one of the highlights of the cruise as you visit San Rafael lagoon and glacier. First the vessel navigates the Rio Tempanos, known as Iceberg River, before emerging into the wide San Rafael Lagoon. The ship anchors here to allow you to board a smaller boat for close-up views. You'll want your camera within reach to capture the almost ethereal beauty of the icebergs, their shapes and colours reflected in the water. Back onboard ship, you approach the spectacular San Rafael Glacier. It sheer size is breath-taking, and you have time to take it all in before Skorpios II gets underway again around 4pm towards Quiltralco Fjord. Full board
This morning the ship moors at Quiltralco. Having breakfasted you can go ashore to sample the hot springs. There's a covered and an open air pool with water temperatures ranging from 32°c to 38°c. It's a wonderfully indulgent way to start your day. If weather conditions permit, you can travel by small boat into Quitralco Fjord. This tranquil channel is bordered by green forests and you can glimpse snow-covered mountain peaks in the distance. By late afternoon you are back on board heading north once again towards Chiloe. Full board
Enjoy an easy morning on board watching the changing scenery and keeping an eye out for humpback and blue whales which are sometimes seen in this area. Around 11am we will reach Conejos Island, east of Chiloe, where you once again set out in small boats to land on the island, home to a wide range of birds including Magellanic penguins. You are back on Skorpios II for lunch as the ship passes the islands of Lemuy and Chelin, aiming to arrive at the port of Dalcahue by about 4.30pm. There's time to stroll along the promenade, visit the market and church. Back on board you shower and change into your finery for the farewell party and Captain's dinner, a fitting way to round off your cruise. Full board.
Skorpios II arrives back in Puerto Montt early this morning. You enjoy a final ship-board breakfast before saying farewell to the crew and your fellow passengers and disembarking around 9am to continue your travels. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £1720 (ex. international flights)
2020 Guide price per person based on 2 sharing a lead in grade cabin:
21 Dec 2019 - 29 Feb 2020 from £1880
6 nights accommodation on Skorpios II based on twin share cabin; full board during the cruise (4 meals a day); drinks from the bar; excursions as described in the itinerary; bilingual (English and Spanish) presentations; basic medical service on board.
International and domestic flights and taxes; port taxes (currently US$35 per person), transfers to and from the ship in Puerto Montt; optional activities; tips; personal expenditure; travel insurance; visas; vaccinations.
The cruise starts and ends at the Skorpios pier in Chinquihue, 7kms from Puerto Montt. We will tailor your itinerary in Chile to fit with the cruise departure. This would normally involve flying in to Puerto Montt.
Departure dates: The cruise has set departures between the months of September and April each year. Cruises depart from Puerto Montt on most Saturdays. Our itinerary outlined above includes the Friday night on board prior to the Saturday sailing.
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Time: GMT -4 hours
Flight time: There are direct flights from London Heathrow to Santiago, which operate 4 times a week and take 14 hours 40 minutes. The Chilean airline, LATAM, flies via Madrid.
Language: The official language is Spanish. but other local languages are also spoken. English is spoken quite widely.
Visas: Visas are not currently required for British passport holders staying for up to 90 days, who are issued with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo-Tourist Card’ on arrival. You must retain this and present it to immigration on departure.
Health: Generally none is compulsory but we recommend the following: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, tetanus, rabies and polio. There is no malaria in Chile. A yellow fever certificate is required if you are coming from an infected area.