This is sponsored content for Aurora Expeditions.
It takes a while to sink into the silence. When you're in Patagonia, cruising the fjords or trekking the pampas, hiking up mountains or boating through channels, it can take time to get used to the lack of the noises that you're so used to in the modern world; the cars, the trains, the buses, the people.
Patagonia has none of those things. It has, instead, the sound of wind rustling through long grass. It has the distant cries of circling condors. It has the gentle lap of waves on shorelines.
If you're hoping to get away from the world, to find a quiet place to rejuvenate and reconnect, to explore both by land and by sea, then this is the place to do it – and this is what you'll find when you get there.
Photo: Aurora Expeditions
On a small ship adventure, travellers will explore destinations from a thrilling angle and cover more ground as they frequent the fjords, remote islands, glaciers, channels, archipelagos and mountains. Exploring Patagonia and the Chilean Fjords by sea allows you to reach places such as the rugged mountainous island of Santa Ines and remote islands such as Wellington Island, cascading glaciers including Romanche Glacier, Corcovado Gulf and remote Chilean communities. Accompanying Zodiac cruising or kayaking is an excellent way to discover a variety of local wildlife such as killer whales, blue whales, rich birdlife and marine animals. Explore these channels, fjords, marine parks and more.
The Beagle Channel
Romanche glacier Photo: Aurora Expeditions
This stunning 240-kilometre stretch of water is known as the "Avenue of the Glaciers", and was once sailed by a young Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle. Making your way by small ship through the channel now, you see glacier after glacier stretching its icy fingers towards the coast, with snow-capped peaks soaring in the distance. There's a beautiful stillness to the Beagle Channel, a silence broken only be the sound of cracking ice and frozen sculptures calving into the water – and an experience you can only have by sea.
Sunrise in the Chilean Fjords Photo: Aurora Expeditions
The mosaic pattern of a thousand islands and inlets that makes up Chile's Patagonian coastline provides the location for some amazing sailing, with small ships able to access wilderness areas that remain almost untouched by humankind. In the fjords of the far south, wind whips across rugged scenery as glaciers appear seemingly around every bend. Further north, whales, dolphins and seabirds can usually be spotted as you navigate the maze of channels and islands. Finally, in the far north of Patagonia, the Andes mountains appear in the distance.
Francisco Coloane Marine Park
There's no other way to experience Chile's first marine reserve than by small ship, sailing through the waters of southern Patagonia to access this stunning playground for seabirds, penguins, seals and humpback whales. The waterborne adventure doesn't have to end at the railing of a small ship, either: Francisco Coloane is ideal for exploration by kayak and Zodiac, the smaller vessels allowing a closer brush with the likes of Magellanic penguins, cormorants, fur seals, and if all goes well, majestic humpback whales.
There are few wilderness experiences that can match motoring up the Serrano River in a Zodiac. This area is as remote as it is beautiful, a body of water that snakes its way from the Balmaceda Glacier in Chile towards Torres del Paine National Park, taking passengers ever further away from civilisation, further away from everything they know. Though technically a land-based option, travellers in this area can take to the river by boat to see parts of Patagonia that are normally inaccessible, and to catch the unforgettable sight of the "torres" appearing on the horizon.
For the physically adventurous, exploring by land allows an immersive experience with the diverse geography, the wildlife and the unique. Here are some of the exceptional locations you can choose to traverse.
Torres del Paine National Park
Trek through Torres del Paine National Park. Photo: Aurora Expeditions
There's an almost savage beauty to Chile's famed Torres del Paine National Park. Everything here is rugged and intense, from the jagged, towering peaks of the Torres themselves, to the pale-blue glacial lakes dotted with icebergs, to the remote hiking trails, where you'll have the pleasure of spotting native wildlife such as guanacos (similar to llamas), foxes and deer. Torres del Paine is the ideal place to stretch your legs, to breathe in the clear air, and to reconnect with nature by exploring it in the most natural way.
Perito Moreno glacier
Perito Moreno glacier. Photo: Aurora Expeditions
To get an idea of the enormity of Perito Moreno, consider this: this glacier covers 250 square kilometres, and it's the world's third largest reserve of fresh water. The only way to truly appreciate the size of Perito Moreno, however, is to set out on foot and see it for yourself, to get as close as possible to the 75-metre-high wall of ice that marks the glacier's terminus, to watch in awe as great chunks crash into the water below. Argentina's entire Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is an extraordinarily beautiful hiking location.
FitzRoy and Cerro Torre
Red fox in front of FitzRoy peak. Photo: Aurora Expeditions
Los Glaciares National Park isn't just remarkable for the ice floes from which it takes its name. This is also the home of the FitzRoy and Cerro Torre peaks, an area that lends itself perfectly to exploration on foot. These are some of the most visually spectacular mountains you're ever likely to see, jagged fingers of rock that are supremely challenging for climbers, and yet wonderfully photogenic for those happy to remain a little closer to sea level by making treks to both mountains' base camps to view them in all their glory.
Want to experience beautiful Patagonia by land or sea for yourself? Aurora Expeditions is an Australian-owned company with over 27 years specialising in small group ship expeditions and trekking in Patagonia, as well as travel to the polar regions. Founded by the well-known explorer and mountaineer Greg Mortimer they have a history of pushing the boundaries of expedition travel with voyages offer adventure options such as mountain climbing, ski and snowboard touring, sea kayaking, snorkelling, photography and camping in various locations. Onboard Aurora Expeditions' expert naturalists, historians, staff and crew are there help to unlock the wonders of these special places. Plan your Patagonia adventure of a lifetime here