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Patagonia & Chile: Total Solar Eclipse

December 7 – 15, 2020

Faculty Host

George “Pinky” Nelson, Former Astronaut and SAS Faculty Member

Dr. George D. Nelson is emeritus Director of Science Mathematics, and Technology Education and Full Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Western Washington University. From 1978 to 1989 he was a NASA Astronaut and flew as a Mission Specialist on three Space Shuttle missions. During these missions, he performed an untethered spacewalk, the first on-orbit satellite repair, and was part of the crew of the first mission following the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Dr. Nelson was a faculty member on the Fall 2013 Semester at Sea voyage and hosted a trip to Chile in 2019. He has received many honors and awards including the NASA medal for Exceptional Engineering Achievement, the Faculty Outstanding Service Award from Western Washington University. He is an elected member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the AAAS, and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2009. He earned his B.S. in physics from Harvey Mudd College and M.S. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife, Susie.

Day 1: December 7

Arrive in the morning in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Meet our bilingual guides who will take you to our centrally-located hotel to freshen up from the journey south.

Explore some of Santiago’s most important historic and architectural highlights on an interactive walking tour ending with a welcome reception.

Evening Reception & Dinner | Lodging: Doubletree Hilton

Day 2: December 8

Chilean Wine Country and the Elevators of Valparaiso

Drive through Chile’s San Antonio Valley, one of the most important grape-growing regions in the country. Journey to one of the most colorful and historic port cities on the planet, Valparaiso, and ride the funiculars and amble amongst the steep hills and multi-hued buildings.

Take in the graffiti and murals that dot this gorgeous and once-thriving trade center—now a UNESCO world heritage site. Learn about the hip, creative, graffiti culture and its power to shape a city.

On the way back to Santiago, stop at a winery for a tour and tasting. Arrive back in the early evening for some self-exploration and dinner on your own.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch | Lodging: Doubletree Hilton

Day 3: December 9

Patagonia Palaces – to the gateway of Torres del Paine

Say goodbye to Santiago as we head to the airport for our next adventure to the wilds of Patagonia. Upon arrival in Torres del Paine National Park, settle in to our accommodations. Enjoy dinner and the beautiful landscape of this magical place.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Hotel Las Torres

Day 4: December 10

The Grey Glacier

After a filling breakfast, walk through the nearby Magellanic Lenga forest, listening to the birds chirp as we approach Lago Grey Beach. Take in the floating icebergs that dot the horizon—all sourced from the magnificent Grey Glacier beyond.

Board our expedition vessel, for a three-hour journey through the lake, beholding the imposing mountains that surround us in every direction. Cruise right up and marvel at their magnificent heights, amazing colors and shapes, and even the mysterious sounds that come from within their coves.

Return to the hotel for lunch and afternoon at leisure.

After dinner, gather for an interesting lecture on the region and short walk to view sunset and the stars. Once the stars come out, test your newfound knowledge of the southern sky as you take turns pointing out the Southern Cross and Jewel Box—only visible on this side of the equator. Spend the evening taking advantage of our position within the midst of one of the largest dark sky reserves in the world!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Hotel Las Torres

Day 5: December 11

Behold the Towers

Hikes and other excursions of every activity level are available today. In the evening join our hosts for a discussion on the storied history and unique natural splendor of the region.

Retire to the dining room for a fantastic meal before cozying up by the fireplace and enjoying the panoramic views seen right through the windows!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Hotel Las Torres

Day 6: December 12

Geothermal Paradise

Take in our last views of Lake Nordenskjöld and the Horns of the Paine before catching our flights to Temuco in the heart of Chile’s stunning lakes and volcanos region. Transfer to our eclipse camp site which will be our home for the next few days.

Settle into our cabins before gathering around a warm fire, sip a cold pisco sour, and enjoy a delicious meal.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Exclusive Cabins

Day 7: December 13

Campsite wonder

Choose from a few activities today or relax in our serene private campsite.

In the evening, have a delicious dinner and enjoy the fire and witness a marvel of the skies, Geminid, one of the largest meteor showers, which will be visible in the Southern Hemisphere at that time.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Exclusive Cabins

Day 8: December 14

In the Path of Totality

Enjoy a leisurely morning at the campsite as well as a special cultural surprise to be revealed.

Later, set up your equipment anticipating the afternoon’s event. With a pisco sour in hand, while we take in 2 minutes and 9 seconds of an awe-inspiring, knee-weakening, breathtaking wonder. The Total Solar Eclipse is a moment not to be missed.

After totality, celebrate a delicious farewell feast and fiesta, Chilean style.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Lodging: Exclusive Cabins

Day 9: December 15

Hasta Luego!

Enjoy a final breakfast before saying adios to friends old and new as we fly back to Santiago, and onwards to destinations homeward.

Meals: Breakfast

Important Information

Intimate Group Size

This trip is capped at 20 travelers, ages 18 to 80. One Semester at Sea home office staff member will travel with the group along with experienced local guides.

Alumni & Friends Welcome

While Semester at Sea trips are designed primarily for alumni of Semester at Sea, these programs are open to family and friends who wish to experience educational travel.


This trip is fast paced to include three different hotels and timed around the Total Solar Eclipse on December 14, 2020. We offer optional activities and we do our best to build in sufficient free time for personal exploration. Just like on the ship, we encourage independent travel as a part of your experience. Feel free to make it your own while having the comfort and structure of a group program.

Travel Information

Semester at Sea tries to give you as much information as possible, but the onus is on you to make sure you are complying with international regulations. Below are a few suggestions.

  1. Airfare to Chile and back home are your responsibility. We do not work with an airline.
  2. Passports must be in good condition and valid for the period of your stay. One and one half blank visa pages are also required.
  3. Medication and vaccinations are your responsibility. We ask that you consult with your physician or the CDC.
  4. Insurance – We strongly recommend that participants also purchase travel insurance, which covers cancellations due to illness, injury, loss of employment, etc. Insurance policies vary widely. We suggest purchasing these policies via a travel agent or insurance carrier.
  5. Please consult your medical insurance provider concerning your international coverage.

Itinerary is subject to change. 

Trip Costs & Registration

Trip prices are per person, based on double occupancy and does not include international airfare to/from trip, or expenses of a purely personal nature. For single travelers, a single supplement applies. If fuel prices change, there could be additional surcharges for internal flights.

Itinerary is subject to change. Trip will not be confirmed until 60 days from departure date – subject to cancellation if minimum participant count is not met. 

What’s included:

  • All activities, sightseeing, and entry fees listed in the itinerary
  • Accommodations as described in the itinerary
  • All meals listed in the itinerary – One glasses of wine (or soda, beer) and water at included lunches and two glasses at all included dinners
  • Transportation by private, air-conditioned motor coach as appropriate
  • Individual airport transfers from Santiago International
  • Bottled water during all excursions
  • Comprehensive cultural information and reading materials
  • The services of an exceptional, bilingual local guide as described in the itinerary
  • All gratuities for participants and staff to cover drivers, wait staff at group meals, guides, and tour directors

What’s not included:

  • International flights to and from Santiago International Airport
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature (including cab fares, laundry and other personal items, room service charges, passport application fees)
  • Transportation of luggage in excess of weight allowance
  • Travel insurance (we strongly advise that each participant arrange for their own travel insurance)
  • Food and beverage other than that specified in the itinerary
  • Medical expenses
  • Costs associated with trip interruption or modification due to weather, travel conditions, political/civil disputes, medical emergencies or other causes beyond our control

 $9,250/person for double occupancy

 $14,140/person for single occupancy

This trip will sell out, as it did in 2019.

Registration and full payment required by August 15, 2020 to reserve your spot. You must submit full payment upon registering to be considered a confirmed participant.

You may use a credit card or mail a check to

Semester at Sea
Office of Advancement
2243 Centre Avenue, Suite 300
Fort Collins, CO 80526

Be sure to include your selected Alumni Trip in the memo line. 

Register Now

Cancellation Policy

There is a $500/person penalty for cancellations before June 1, 2020, and a 100% penalty for cancellations after June 1, 2020.