Tierra del Fuego has inspired scientists and nature lovers for centuries. The endemic species, snow-capped mountains, and majestic glacial landforms provided inspiration for some of history’s most significant scientific discoveries. For instance, it was in this wild and windswept place that Charles Darwin gathered research for his most important work, On the Origin of Species. Now, the Tierra del Fuego archipelago is one of the few places on Earth where you can encounter nature in its raw, untouched form. Undoubtedly the best way to see this stunning landscape is to retrace Darwin’s journey by boat. Aboard a Patagonia passenger ship like those operated by Australis, you can follow in Darwin’s footsteps and have your own special encounter with Tierra del Fuego’s breathtaking scenery.
A brief history of Darwin in Patagonia
On the Origin of Species laid the foundations for evolutionary biology. Published in 1859, the book provided one of the first substantial theories as to how life on Earth began. It’s popularly believed that the Galapagos Islands were the primary inspiration for Darwin’s theory – however, this isn’t the case. Although his experience in the Galapagos was important, he gathered much of his research in Tierra del Fuego. Consequently, the ‘eureka moment’ that Darwin had in the Galapagos was largely as a result of his fieldwork in Patagonia.
Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle, departed from Plymouth in December 1931 and landed at San Salvador, Brazil, in February the following year. The journey would continue south along the Argentine coastline towards the Tierra del Fuego. Darwin would land at Navarino Island and continue his journey into the heart of Patagonia. From here, the HMS Beagle would navigate the Avenue of Glaciers – otherwise known as the Beagle Channel – and pass numerous landforms that would inspire Darwin to lay the foundations of modern glaciology. After this stretch, Darwin would disembark and continue his fieldwork inland, rejoining the Beagle at Montevideo.
The Australis Patagonia passenger ship experience
If you have the opportunity to visit Patagonia passenger ship is undoubtedly the best way to travel. After all, what better way to experience this awe-inspiring landscape than to follow Darwin’s route? Australis offer a comprehensive cruise experience which re-traces the HMS Beagle’s path from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas and back. This nine-day, eight-night adventure includes visits to a number of scientifically and historically significant locations, including Wulaia Bay, the Magdalena Islands, and the spectacular Chilean fjords.
After setting sail from the world’s most southerly city, Ushuaia, our ships travel towards the legendary Cape Horn. Our first landing is at Wulaia Bay, where passengers can learn more about indigenous Fuegan cultures. From here, the voyage continues through the Beagle Channel and past the Pía and Garibaldi Glaciers. At the Garibaldi Glacier, passengers can disembark and explore virgin Magellanic forest, leading to stunning views of the glacier. Once the ship clears Glacier Alley we make for the Agostini Sound past the Cóndor and Águila Glaciers. Here, passengers can spot Andean condors before seeing more incredible wildlife at Magdalena Island. Halfway through the voyage, we stop at the historic city of Punta Arenas, before heading back to Ushuaia.
Book now your trip to Patagonia
Australis cruises retrace Darwin’s journey through Patagonia almost exactly. As part of one of our Patagonia passenger ship voyages, you can experience Patagonia through the eyes of the crew of the HMS Beagle. For more information and to book, click here.