The dawning of a New Year brings the opportunity to consider a host of exciting travel plans for 2020. Whether impassioned by a spirit for adventure or a long-term wanderlust, exploratory experiences are becoming a bucket list headline. Far flung destinations, perhaps not previously considered, are becoming far more accessible and a voyage of discovery on the water can offer a fantastic chance for immersive fulfillment.
Boasting raw nature amidst a spectacular network of fjords and islets, the treasures found in Patagonia’s waterways are incomparable. In the most southerly part of the South American continent, this is a landscape of contrasts where the western coast is strewn with dense, temperate rainforests while the eastern plains are conversely flat and arid. Most striking the high Patagonian Andes, with deeply carved glacial fjords and valleys, home to the Patagonian Icefields. Sail into the heart of the Alacafules National Park, where uninhabited atolls burst with flora and fauna, and kayaking around protected coves in Puerto Profundo offers exciting discovery. Watch the incredible sight of migrating humpback whales basking in the nutrient-rich and protected waters of the Magellan Strait, a prime nesting and feeding ground for a variety of species, together with elephant seals and sea lions. For fishing and hiking enthusiasts, the 80km long fjord of Admiralty Sound is an outdoor haven of glacial lakes and sparkling glaciers, set on the western perimeter of Tierra del Fuego.
In the heart of the Agostini National Park is the beautiful Marinelli Glacier, the largest and fastest moving in the Cordillera Darwin icefield; an area packed with biodiversity, it is worth a trip ashore at the beautiful sub-polar Magellan Forest to enjoy a walk and view the beaver dams. In the Beagle Channel the famous stretch known as Glacier Alley is a visual feast like no other with vertiginous ice walls and the opportunity for helicopter excursions for a whole new birds’ eye viewpoint. Cruising beside the immense striated Garibaldi Glacier as it cascades into the sea is a humbling experience while the moving Pia Glacier can be viewed from several anchorage points in the surrounding fjord.
View dramatic scenery, towering icebergs and untouched wild lands in the frozen wilderness where sailing beneath clear starry night skies, far from civilization, brings a truly incredible feeling. The startling white continent of Antarctica, strewn with shimmering blue bergs is home to fascinating wildlife and delivers the ultimate voyage of discovery. The closest thing on earth to being on another planet, Antarctica is a life-changing experience for those who like to venture off the beaten track. Stretching at the very northern tip of Antarctica, on the edge of the Drake Passage, the South Shetland Islands are rich with wildlife. With a detailed history of sealing and whaling, this is also where most of the research stations are situated and are fascinating to visit. Home to Mount Erebus, this is the southernmost active volcano in the world and also where you will find the only known lava lakes filled with liquid magma for eons, despite the frozen conditions.
As the flooded caldera of a volcano, having last erupted in the 1970’s, Deception Island is packed with exciting geology and more. Home to the region’s largest chinstrap penguin colonies, the island has a history of shore-based whaling. Warmed slightly by the hot rocks below, this is apparently the warmest place for a swim in the Antarctic – up to you whether you want to try it! As well as watching nature undisturbed as colonies of penguins frolic in their icy home and hear seals bark across the bay, at certain times of year you can also dive, fish and climb. The southern lights or Aurora Australis are visible in the night, diamond dust clouds can be seen under clear skies and sun dogs are an optical phenomenon viewed beside the sun. Take in the full beauty of the magical landscape; walk around the Ceremonial Pole marking the southernmost spot on earth and technically this is a circumnavigation of the world by crossing the 360 lines of longitude!
These are just two of many remote travel destinations with countless unique and fascinating sights to see. Whether hoping for sun or snow, it remains to say that, moving into the next decade, adventures can be as thrilling as you wish. With exciting and diverse options, stepping outside the box to become an explorer, and not a tourist, is a realistic travel opportunity to consider.
Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a global leader in luxury yachting, providing a bespoke experience across yacht charter, sales and management.