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The best way to follow in Darwin's Footsteps

The best way to follow in Darwin's Footsteps.jpg

Charles Darwin is certainly best known for his study of the wildlife in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador which led him to write the ground-breaking “The Theory of Evolution” but his travels also took him far afield in South America and most especially to Patagonia.

Darwin’s vivid and adventurous travel journal “The Voyage of the Beagle” describes his travels around the coastline, encountering not just wildlife species as he developed his theories regarding evolution but also native people who, undisturbed, still inhabited the wild lands of Tierra del Fuego.

A wonderful way to follow the route of the Beagle as it sailed through the channels of Patagonia is by embarking one of two specially designed cruise journeys aboard the Stella Australis as it sails between Punta Arenas in southern Chile and Ushuaia in southern Argentina. This delightful small cruise ship, where you are one of only 200 guests, has designed two special voyages in January 2015 that take you to some of the landing sites that Darwin visited on his own voyage of discovery in the early 19th century.

During these unique departures, you have the opportunity not only to follow Darwin’s journeys in Patagonia, often overlooked in favour of his more famous studies in the Galapagos, but also to meet some wonderful guest lecturers who have studied Charles Darwin. John Woram, author of “Charles Darwin Slept Here” and “Here be Giants: Travellers Tales from the Land of Patagons” will be hosting lectures onboard as will Gerardo Bartolomé, who has led expeditions to recreate some of Darwin’s Patagonian journeys.

You are sailing down to the very bottom of the continent as the Andes peter out into the southern oceans and the Atlantic meets the Pacific at the dramatic Cape Horn. You will board small zodiac boats to sail into deep and uninhabited fjords to observe colonies of elephant seals, sealions, Magellanic penguins and, occasionally, cetaceans such as Humpback whales from Carlos III Island, in January or March.

Take hikes through glades of forest and sit in front of vast swathes of millenary glacial walls, as the southern silence is broken only by the creaking of the glacier itself or the occasional crash of ice into the waters below.

This 3-4 night voyage makes a wonderful way to combine with a visit to the dramatic peaks and glacial lakes of Torres del Paine, perfect for jeep self-drive adventures, challenging hiking and horse-riding over the Patagonian steppe. Then board the Stella Australis to journey through the southern fjords to arrive in Argentina and continue your journey perhaps to the wild Atlantic Coast at Peninsula Valdes to continue your wildlife odyssey.

Or journey north to San Carlos de Bariloche in the Lakes District to stay at a traditional working estancia where you can ride out with the gauchos, learning to herd the cattle and then relaxing over an asado barbeque and a glass of delicious Malbec.

Give us a call to help you design a bespoke journey to Patagonia, including a voyage to Cape Horn.