Cruise Patagonian Fjords and Glaciers - Part 1

Written by Peter Lauffer
March 9, 2022

Chilean Patagonia is an impressive natural spectacle and a place everyone should visit at least once in life. With a unique, incomparable appeal, the Chilean Patagonia offers visitors a wide variety of landscapes and areas to discover. A cruise is the only way to access some of the more remote areas of southern Chile that feature spectacular glaciers, lakes, and snow-capped mountains. The southern Chilean Fjords are far from civilization and not accessible by road. 

Scorpios Cruise Ship at San Rafael Glacier - Southern Icefield - Patagonia - Chile

Patagonia is rich in fauna such as the wild cat, huemul deer (the national animal of Chile), foxes, swans, flamingos, sea lions, penguins, humpback whales, and much more. The Chilean Patagonia is also home to a rich and diverse flora. 

There are a variety of cruise lines and ferry companies offering expeditions to Chilean Patagonia. Our own tour, "Patagonian Rail & Cruise," includes a cruise around Cape Horn.

Navimag Ferry Between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales

Navimag Ferry route Puerto Montt - Puerto Natales

On this unique journey, you can sail along the Chilean Patagonia coast for four days viewing spectacular fjords and channels onboard the ferry Esperanza. The marvels and beauty of untouched fjords, forests, glaciers, and mountain peaks await.

One can reach southern Patagonia very quickly by plane, but choosing the 4-day ferry cruise gives you time to unwind and discover uninhabited regions with unique flora and fauna. You can then travel Patagonia overland and experience its immensity.

The route from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales (or the reverse) is an excellent alternative for reaching the southern part of Patagonia if you have the time. Puerto Montt lies about 1000 km south of Santiago de Chile, from which it is accessible by road or air. 

Navimag Ferry between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales
Esperanza Ferry Service between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales - Chile

The large ferry Esperanza is operated by Navimag. The journey between the two cities lasts 4 days and 4 nights. Keep in mind that a trip on a ferry is not a cruise because the ship travels the shortest way between two destinations. Still, it is an exciting trip, and the second part can be especially scenic.

The ferry Esperanza offers many comfortable cabin options which you can book as shared or private. As a passenger, you can only book the passage from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, and there are no intermediate stops available.

The ferry can be booked at the Navimag Website.

Ferry Lake Todos los Santos - Chile

Navigate the Andes from Puerto Varas to Bariloche

Another unforgettable experience is to cross the Patagonian Lakes that connect Chile with Argentina. The trip can be completed in one day and extends between Puerto Varas in Chile and Bariloche in Argentina. 

Puerto Varas - Bariloche

From Puerto Varas, you will travel by bus to Petrohue at Lake Todos Los Santos, then board a ferry and sail along the lake while admiring the spectacular landscapes. After traveling for around two hours, you arrive at Peulla, where you change to a bus which will take you across the border to Argentina at almost 1000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level. From the border post, the bus travels down to the banks of Lake Frías.

Lake Frias Ferry Terminal - Argentina

There, you board a catamaran for a short but thrilling cruise to the other end of the lake. Arriving at Puerto Alegre, the journey continues by bus to the municipality of Puerto Blest, located in Nahuel Huapi National Park. In Puerto Blest, another ferry carries you across Nahuel Huapi Lake to Puerto Pañhuelo. This crystal-blue glacial lake, surrounded by lush green forests and snow-capped mountains, is one of Argentina's most spectacular locations. From Puerto Pañhuelo it is another 25-km bus ride to Bariloche.

The best way to travel this route is with an organized tour on which private transportation is provided between the boat trips. 

Scorpio Cruiseship at the San Rafael Glacier

Skorpios Cruises

Skorpios Cruises offers two cruise routes. The Chronos Route takes you to the northern icefields and leaves from Puerto Montt, whereas the Kaweskar Route goes from Puerto Natales to the southern icefields. 

The Cronos Route has departures between September and April and sails for 6 days to the San Rafales Glacier about 400 miles south of Puerto Montt. The cruise on the Chronos Route includes calls at various picturesque villages on Chiloé Island and enters breathtaking Fjords farther south.

The San Rafael Glacier from the Scorpios Cruise - Chile

The Kaweskar Route cruise begins in Puerto Natales, 2800 km south of Santiago de Chile. Puerto Natales is only accessible via a 4-day ferry journey, by air, or by driving over Argentinean territory. Kaweskar Cruise has departures between October and April and lasts four days. The cruise takes you to the Southern Icefields, entering very remote fjords. From the cruise ship, you will be able to observe 15 separate glaciers during the cruise. 

Both Skorpios Cruises can be booked online at the Skorpios website.

In the second part of this blog post, we will discuss the journey between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia as well as the journey to the Antarctic. 

Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
Liked this post? Share this post with your friends on social media!