Patagonia and Antarctica, fly and cruise
Description of Patagonia and Antarctica, fly and cruise
This Patagonia and Antarctica fly and cruise holiday is a two-week, tailor made trip which takes you through some of Chilean Patagonia’s most spectacular landscapes and then, after a flight further south, into Antarctica wilderness. This means that, unlike some journeys to Antarctica, you avoid the long sea voyage across the notoriously stomach churning Drake Passage.
The tour begins in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, where you will spend a night in a hotel to rest and acclimatise, before flying south to Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia, where you start the five hour drive to Torres del Paine National Park. The drive is worth it, with plenty of time to explore the park’s dramatic landscapes, its famous icy spires, glaciers, aquamarine lakes and wilderness wildlife. You can do so by whichever method you fancy: hiking or on horseback. Staying in a beautiful designer hotel on the edges of the park, you will have plenty of time to sit back and enjoy some spectacular views.
For the last leg of this adventure holiday, you take a two hour flight across the Drake Passage from Punta Arenas to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands. Just north of the tip of the Antarctica Peninsula, you will have time to explore this wild, historic outpost before boarding expedition vessel MV Ocean Nova for a four day, small ship cruise. Sleeping 78 guests, there are 38 outside cabins with exterior views and en suite facilities. Sailing around icebergs, cliffs, turquoise bays, snow laden mountains and wild animal habitats for three days really is an experience of a lifetime. It’s just as well that the last thing we have planned for you on this trip is a couple of days back in Chile, where you can enjoy some time to ponder your adventure in style, at a sunny Chilean vineyard. There will be a lot to toast.
PlanetThis holiday combines an environmentally friendly visit to Torres del Paine National park in Patagonia with an expedition cruise in Antarctica.
You fly into the capital, Santiago. Your hotel, Atton el Bosque, has attained the highly valued “Sello S” status recognising the property’s’ adherence to the principles and practices of sustainable tourism. The “stamp” is awarded to members of the Sustainable Tourism programme, a public/private initiative coordinated by the Chilean government which ensures that its members conform to legislation regarding both employment and environmental sustainability.
The administrative body of the Torres del Paine National park, a protected wilderness area of outstanding beauty, with its glacier-stubbed cobalt lakes, needle-sharp mountain peaks and wind-buffeted grassy plains, takes management of tourist visits extremely seriously. Torres del Paine gained national park status in 1959, and in 1978 was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. Simply by paying the entrance fee to visit these parks you are helping contribute towards the preservation and conservation of these fragile regions.
Your accommodation in the park has a strongly committed approach to sustainability, preserving and enhancing the environment. The hotel states that they strive to minimise the property's operational impact on the environment through resource conservation and best practices and have a 11 point plan to achieve this. The hotel also contributes financially to a not-for-profit organisation, Reforest Patagonia, which aims to plant a million trees in Chilean Patagonia.
An Antarctic cruise on our relatively small expedition ships is an informal, friendly affair. It’s assumed that all visitors will have a love of natural wilderness and wildlife. The staff and crew are highly trained and very experienced in travel in wilderness regions. Captains have spent years navigating polar regions. You will be informed by lecturers who specialise in the natural and human history of the region – many of them well known naturalists or former members of Antarctic scientific expeditions.
All vessels with which we work, including your cruise ship on this holiday - Ocean Nova, operate according to a stringent voluntary code of conduct developed by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators to minimise impact of visits to this fragile environment. The members of IAATO have created visitor guidelines to address the environmental protection of landing sites, the safety of all visitors, and the establishment of operational protocols to provide emergency assistance.
Our company is an associate member of IAATO which means you can be confident that your expedition to Antarctica will adhere to strict guidelines on responsible tourism and environmental protection. We are fully committed to protect this pristine wilderness for future generations.
The number of Antarctic tourism activities is increasing, as is their diversity (camping, climbing, kayaking and scuba-diving), activities which we encourage you to participate in to gain an even more intimate experience of Antarctica. These activities do, of course, present new management challenges. As a first step towards a more rigorous control of these activities, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs) have adopted resolutions to enhance information exchange and consultation and to further the development and implementation of site-specific guidelines. This process is on-going but you can rest assured that these activities are closely controlled by the cruise ships operating them and that no damage will be done to the environment.
Your cruise operator, Quark, supports a project to research the threat to Antarctic penguins, as well as a new piece of fishing equipment which will eradicate the problem of seabirds being caught up. Onboard auctions are held to raise money from passengers who wish to contribute to local environmental charities.
PeopleYour hotel in the Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia, seeks to build partnerships with local communities to share its sustainability message, raise awareness and create positive environmental change.
There are no settlements in Antarctica save those enabling research and scientific studies. Resource management issues at landing sites include environmental remediation, heritage conservation, visitor safety, and the creation of interpretive services which simultaneously preserve the story of these places and enlist the respect of their visitors.
Antarctic heritage sites are popular attractions because of their historical significance and because of family and cultural ties to the pioneering settlers who once worked there. Responses to requests for visits range from prohibited entry to conditional invitations. Beyond your itinerary on this voyage but none the less reassuring is the fact that, for example, despite the popularity of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s exploits, tourist access is denied to Stromness, South Georgia because of environmental protection concerns, while visitor access to Grytviken, is encouraged. Antarctic heritage sites in the Ross Sea are permitted with strict controls, and the refurbished 1940s research station at Port Lockroy, in the Antarctic Peninsula Region, actively promotes tourism to share its heritage and to support commercially its postal concession.
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