The southernmost realms of the planet are places of unimaginable beauty: Patagonia and Antarctica. Humpback whales breach and penguins gather by the thousands. Icebergs shimmer and sapphire-hued fjords harbor snowcapped peaks and virgin forests. Join us on an odyssey aboard the National Geographic Orion that combines the celebrated wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, southern Patagonia, and the Chilean fjords—all in a single epic voyage. Follow in the wake of legendary explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Ferdinand Magellan to encounter otherworldly icescapes and calving glaciers, remote reserves and pristine parks, and the incredible creatures that thrive at the edge of the world.
Seek out Antarctica’s iconic wildlife—including penguins, seals, and killer whales—and marvel at incandescent icebergs using our fleet of kayaks and Zodiacs
Navigate Chile’s coastal fjords and explore spectacular Glacier Alley, where monumental glaciers calve into the sea
Hike among the snowcapped “horns” of Torres del Paine National Park and enjoy special access to Karukinka Natural Park, the largest protected land area in Tierra del Fuego
Cruise the waters of Francisco Coloane Marine Park, searching for the humpback whales and dolphins that inhabit this vast marine reserve
Experience two iconic regions on one adventure that unites Antarctica and Patagonia. Flexibility is a hallmark of our expedition style, and often the shipboard day-by-day itinerary will change—so we may take full advantage of rare wildlife sightings, watching whales feed off the bow, or perfect conditions for a late day Zodiac excursion. Our Captain, expedition leader and expedition team will craft a journey that allows you to see more, learn more, and experience more.
Iguazú Falls Post Voyage Extension for Explorer and Endurance
Iguazú Falls Post Voyage Extension for Explorer and Endurance
$3,170 per person
Taller than Niagara, Iguazú Falls is also twice as wide, with 275 cascades spread in a horseshoe shape over nearly 2 miles of the Iguazú River. Situated in Iguazú National Park in northeastern Argentina, this natural sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage site owing to its beautiful landscapes and subtropical forest, with 450 species of birds, including toucans and parrots, and butterflies, orchids, and endangered jaguars.
Note: On select National Geographic Endurance departures this may run as a pre-voyage extension. Please call for details.
We attempted a landing at Right Whale Bay today, but unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. Intense gusts of wind from the land made launching a Zodiac impossible. However, it did make for wonderful photography, whipping up sea spray. We found less windy conditions further offshore where we spent some time watching blue whales, before heading west for the Falkland Islands some 770 nautical miles away.
We made the most of our day today, beginning with a pre-dawn landing, paired with an outing after breakfast at Gold Harbor, where tens of thousands of king penguins nest. Elephant seals and fur seals are also commonly seen here. The elephant seals we saw today were molting—after the breeding season these massive beasts must replace their pelage prior to the winter months. They do so by slumbering around on the beaches heaped in piles to assist in the process.
For the afternoon we added another significant feather in our caps by landing at St. Andrew’s Bay, where over 200,000 pairs of king penguins nest, spread out over the vast alluvial landscape. Some guests participated in our citizen science bio-blitz with a longer hike to the colony, while the remainder of our guests hiked a little over half a mile to the viewpoint overlooking the sprawling masses of penguins below.
We wake up crossing the Errera Channel, through ice of all sizes and varieties adrift with the area’s tidal current. Weather: foggy visibility with rain, but free of wind. The islands around us disappear in the mist, before reappearing again after a while. We land on Danco Island, named after the geophysicist who died from heart trouble during his winter aboard Belgica led by Adrien De Gerlache in 1898.
We walk following a scree slope that leads to the top of the small island. We pass by a few rookeries of gentoo penguins and stop to watch their interactions. That one is feeding its chicks, quite big already, around 1.5 months old on this island. Another one still maintains its nest by bringing some pebbles. Once on top, the silence takes over the excitement of the rookery. The views of the surrounding glaciers come and go with the mist. As it is raining, the ice cracks in the glaciers weaken, and we can hear them roaring and calving in the distance.
Early in the afternoon, we attend a presentation of Tom Ritchie about the famous explorers of the area: De Gerlache, Charcot and Nordenskjold. Then, we approach Dallman Bay and immediately we observe two humpback whales. The light is fantastic, the visibility excellent, we even have blue skies! We start Zodiac cruising around the Melchior Island group, beginning with whale watching around the feeding humpbacks for a while.
We are surrounded by rocky islands that are permanently covered by ice cliffs. Some surprises wait for us around each corner of the islands. A few chinstrap penguins here, there some Antarctic fur seals, a leopard seal on an ice floe, some shags and gulls nesting, some Weddell seals hauling out. We arrive back aboard late for our recap, one ultimately interrupted because of humpback whale breaching and orcas spotted from the bridge!
This is how our last day of activity ends in Antarctica! And now, we take on the Drake…
Our final morning on the White Continent was spent in light snow and, sadly, the sunny skies from the day before had disappeared. Nevertheless, it was exciting just to wander among the three species of brush-tailed penguins for one last time and take a Zodiac through the magnificent iceberg graveyard.
The ship was docked really close to the landing at Port Charcot on Booth Island. Half of the guests walked to the top of the ice-covered hill, watching penguins and learning of Charcot’s expedition. Gentoo, and even some chinstrap, penguins entertained guests, providing them with their final “penguin fix.” Meanwhile, Zodiacs zipped around magnificent old icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Many groups spotted gentoo penguins swimming, crabeater seals sleeping on flat, floating ice, and Wilson’s storm petrels delicately dancing on the surface of the water.
The afternoon was spent cruising north-north-west into Dallman Bay, searching for more wildlife like humpback whales, before heading towards Ushuaia.