Journey through the historic Beagle Channel, looking out for rare birdlife from deck with the help of your expedition team. Get up close to an incredible range of wildlife, such as minke, humpback and orca whales or gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins. Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent, but you’ll be one of them. A diversity of possible landing sites and activities allows you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives
Experience an adventure tour of Antarctica and explore the unique conditions at the end of the Earth. Embark from Ushuaia, travelling through the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands to see the incredible landscapes created by the Antarctic climate. See multiple species of playful penguins, the imposing and graceful frames of Antarctica’s whales and a frenzy of feeding birdlife. Benefit from the navigational expertise and local knowledge of a professional crew and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience to Antarctica to see the exotic, alien nature of this frozen world for yourself.
Breakfast Included: 10 Lunches Included: 8 Dinner Included: 9
Welcome to Argentina. Transfer from the airport to the hotel and begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires. Meet your leader and shipmates for a welcome meeting this evening at the hotel. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception.
If you have time during the day, explore the boulevards, galleries and European architecture of Buenos Aires. In the evening, you may like to head out for a steak dinner with your new travel companions.
Notes: A transfer from Buenos Aires airport to the hotel is not included.
Buenos Aires to Ushuaia
In the morning take a charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, which should take around three hours. On arrival, explore the town before meeting your shipmates for embarkation. Cruise through the Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. The channel is rich with birdlife, so keep an eye out for penguins, cormorants, petrels and black-browed albatross. Members of the expedition team will help you spot wildlife from the deck.
Sail into the Drake Passage. This wide channel separates the bottom of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and was named after the English explorer, Sir Frances Drake. We hope for smooth sailing through the waterway, but be prepared for possible rough seas. Onboard lectures and presentations by the expedition team will provide you with an insight into the locations you'll be visiting.
Welcome to the Antarctic Peninsula. The next few days form the core of your Antarctic adventure. Changing conditions mean that each voyage is different, but your expedition team will make the most of whatever conditions occur to make sure you have a truly fulfilling trip. Here are just a few of the things you might find yourself doing:
* Sitting quietly on a pebbled beach, waiting for a curious penguin chick to approach
* Taking a 'polar plunge' in the icy waters of Neko Harbour
* Listening to the boom and crack of a calving glacier near Petermann Island
* Cruise in a Zodiac among grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay
* Scrambling to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of Port Lockroy
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you visit, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls also breed on the island.
If you're lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point. This is the northern entrance to the harbour on which Port Lockroy is located.
This small island, 1.6 km (one mile) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. Visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch out for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes by a wrecked whaling ship.
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, and is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 11 km (6.8 mile) channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
This is a group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy.
This bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You may see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There's an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Adelie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island. The dome of the island rises 200 meters (650 feet) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views.
Journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built here during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It's now designated as a historic site, featuring a museum and the world's southernmost post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
At low tide this historic point is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs can be used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behaviour lived in a water boat on the point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated as an Antarctic historic site.
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, including at the established rookeries of gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too.
Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge, which dominates a natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
HALF MOON ISLAND
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike the sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from 10 January onwards.
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, which was named after observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water.
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes.
A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Your expedition team will point out where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries are found on this point, which is situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.
To reach Whaler’s Bay, sail through the narrow passage of Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the rusty remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam rising from geothermally-heated springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, which is situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. You can also see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a huge glacier stretching along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned try-pot is all that remains of the sealing activity that brought men thousands of miles to seek their fortune.
The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.
KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
MOUNTAINEERING – There are many unclaimed or rarely climbed peaks in Antarctica. Imagine standing on an icy ridge looking at the ship in amongst the icebergs far below. This is a once in a lifetime experience. To take part in mountaineering, you must have a good level of fitness as excursions can last up to 5 hours. A fitness waiver form must be completed before taking part in this more challenging option.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING - Cross-country skiing is one of the most efficient ways to travel over ground that is covered in snow and ice, enabling you to travel in Antarctica the same way that pioneering explorers like Amundsen and Shackleton did. With journeys taking a few hours, it is imperative to be in good physical shape. Ideally, you’ll have cross-country skiing experience to partake in this activity, however exceptions may be made for those deemed physically capable. While Quark provides the essential gear, you will be responsible for certain extras such as additional warm clothing and a pair of good sunglasses.
CAMPING – Spend the night under the Antarctic sky with a hardy group of your shipmates. Numbers are limited so book early. The crew will determine the best location and conditions for your overnight adventure. Dress warmly and eat a hearty meal before you head out as no meals are permitted onshore.
STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING - Combining surfing with kayaking or canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding will give you a very personal and unique perspective on Antarctica. This activity is taken in small groups in good weather conditions on calm bays and harbours, with a Zodiac following for your safety.
INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape, and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as we’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes we use today are much lighter and more
forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.
PHOTOGRAPHY - Antarctica is one of the most abundantly photogenic destinations in the world. Penguins amble across pebbled beaches, whales spy-hop from the crystal blue sea and sparkling icebergs tower in this serene, yet dramatic environment. Whether you own a serious SLR or a simple point-and-shoot, our on-board photography expert provides you with hands-on instruction and technical tips to ensure that you capture the best of your Antarctica experience.
Wind down your Antarctic adventure with a voyage back across the Drake Passage. This is another great opportunity to look out for wildlife from the deck with a hot drink in your hand. You will also be able to attend more presentations by onboard experts focusing on the history and wildlife of the Antarctic region.
Ushuaia to Buenos Aires
After a shipboard breakfast and a short excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Your Antarctic adventure comes to an end here.