Ushuaia – Punta Arenas
This new voyage encompasses two additional days of exploration in Antarctica – without adding to the total length of the voyage. We achieve this by flying back from King George Island, Antarctica to South America at the end of the voyage in just two hours – saving
two days on the return sea crossing. Those two days saved, are spent exploring in Antarctica. This equals more time on shore, more time in the Zodiacs and more time spent in the company of our expert guides.
In early December, Antarctica’s snow and ice will be in pristine condition, the penguin rookeries are busy with parents guarding precious eggs and in some locations, we witness nature at it’s very best – observing young penguin chicks emerging into the icy Antarctic world. Towering snow-covered mountains surround us and the sea ice is starting to break up, opening even more potential landing locations for us to explore.
Our full range of activities will be on offer on this voyage – walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, cruising amongst icebergs, visits to historic sites and possibly even a working science base.
For the more adventurous, sea kayaking is a wonderful way to discover Antarctica – and if weather conditions permit – why not spend the night, camping on shore? This trip is the perfect way to maximise your time down ‘on the ice!’
While travelling along the shorelines of Antarctica, we visit many of the classic landing locations along the Antarctica Peninsula such as Paradise Harbour, Neko Harbour and the Errera Channel. In the company of our expert guides, we spend our days exploring in
small groups, by zodiac boat and on shore, enjoying walks and hikes to scenic locations and visiting busy wildlife colonies.
Sea kayaking and overnight camping are also popular activities on this itinerary
1 Ushuaia, Argentina
Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
2-3 Drake Passage – at sea towards Antartica
Sailing south towards Antarctica we will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
4-9 Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
We awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. We frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Our activity program is in full swing and we encourage all guests to choose how their adventure unfolds. Every day we plan an exciting range of activities, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides, as well as Zodiac cruising. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice, searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity.
Meanwhile, our sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. Our resident photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, simply watching the penguins come and go from the water. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.
Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula may include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands and Fournier Bay – or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity.
It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that we will we plan a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. We have all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and we can never guarantee it on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, rest assured, we will always go for it. Camping is included and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book.
10 Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, we head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and, if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station. On a sunny day, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience.
There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This evening we enjoy a special diner attended by the ship’s Captain, and we spend our final hours cruising towards King George Island. Upon arrival at King George Island, we drop anchor and will be in position for disembarkation in the morning.
11 King George Island – return to Punta Arenas, Chile
This morning we say goodbye to our expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. We walk from the landing site up towards the airstrip preparing to board our flight. The two-hour journey from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided. We include a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas at the end of the voyage This evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes and bars – including the historic ‘Shackleton Bar’ at the Hotel Jose Nogueira – a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctica.
12 Punta Arenas
After a leisurely breakfast and check-out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. (We recommend you book flights after midday). Otherwise, why not continue your exploration of Patagonia. Just a few hours north, lies the celebrated Torres del Paine National Park – home to towering peaks, glaciers and spectacular wilderness – a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.
4th – 15th December 2017
- Shipboard accommodation
- All shipboard meals
- All shore excursions
- Basic medical services, if required
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Return flight from King George
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