Contrast the sophisticated Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires with the Patagonian outpost of Ushuaia – two totally different locations. Take the chance to kayak, stand-up paddle board or even camp overnight in Antarctica with an active twist on your adventure.. Encounter whales, seals and penguins on regular Zodiac excursions along the plunging coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. On-board lectures by polar experts provide great insight into the unique history, geology and wildlife of the region
Be delighted by penguins, seals and whales on our most comprehensive expedition of Antarctica yet. After making shore visits at Elephant Island and crossing the Weddell Sea, arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula and be immediately dazzled by some of the most dramatic scenery to be found anywhere on Earth. Head onwards to the South Shetland Islands and explore the caldera surrounding Deception Island. Sailing aboard your well-appointed expedition vessel, witness Antarctic nature in all its glory. Take the chance to kayak across unspoiled Antarctic waters or even spend a night camping out on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Arrive Buenos Aires
You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary.
Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its soaring architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to the group hotel (pre-night hotel included).
Fly Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and embark
After breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board
our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Upon arrival, you will have a little time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier. Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will
sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the
Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you’ll see land you’ll be in the world’s most southern continent!
Crossing the Drake Passage
The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies
and a calm ocean. You’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the sea, get to know
your fellow shipmates and chat with your Expedition Team. You will spend this time preparing for the exciting days ahead, with numerous educational and informative lectures presented by your Expedition Team. You’ll learn about everything from safety procedures to the history of whaling in Antarctica.
Mountainous and ice-covered Elephant Island is the first land you’ll visit following the crossing. Named by early explorers for the elephant seals that dotted its shoreline, the island is best known as the refuge for Ernest Shackleton’s crew. Point Wild, the site of the crew’s camp, is an Antarctic Historic site.
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.
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 offered on some or all departures of this itinerary
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.
The Weddell Sea
Battered with ocean currents all year long, the remote east side of the Antarctic Peninsula is completely different to the more commonly visited west coast. Here, you’ll see mile-long tabular icebergs formed over hundreds or even thousands of years and broken off of ice shelves further south.
Paulet Island is volcanic and thermal heat keeps part of it ice free. Over 100,000 pairs of Adélie penguins make it a popular visiting point.
The wooden hut on Snow Hill Island was built in February 1902 by the main party of the Swedish South Polar Expedition led by Otto Nordenskjöld. This historic hut contains original objects from the expedition and functions as a living museum. Brown Bluff, formed by a single volcanic vent, is the perfect place to experience Antarctic flora and fauna.
Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Circle
Travel around the Peninsula includes a variety of experiences, including Cuverville Island and the largest colony of gentoo penguins in the region—more than 6,500 breeding pairs. Other possible landing sites include Melchiors, Cuverville Island and Orne Harbour. Glaciers, penguin colonies and breaching humpback whales will highlight your days, while friendly seals are plentiful in these waters. You can also expect to encounter what is arguably the most formidable Antarctic predator, the leopard seal.
You’ll have drinks to celebrate crossing the Antarctic Circle, and you may visit the Vernadsky Lounge, the Peninsula’s southernmost bar. A sure highlight is Wilhelmina Bay—one of our expeditions once spotted 50 whales in three hours! We’ll spend a full seven days exploring as many sites as we can, ensuring you the most comprehensive Antarctic experience possible.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES ON THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on a rocky beach at the north end of the island. Depending on when in the season you arrive, you may see the penguins building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.
If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbor where Port Lockroy is located.
Home to gentoo penguins, this small island is easy to explore, at only one mile (1.6 km) long. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut, where you can watch 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 a wrecked whaling ship.
You’ll see firsthand why this strait, which runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, is one of the most scenic locations on the peninsula’s west coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow 6.8-mile (11 km) long passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
This group of low islands in Dallmann Bay is where you may see hauled-out male fur seals as they recuperate from their battles for supremacy at the end of their breeding season.
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see whale vertebrae being used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There is an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbor.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. The dome of the island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island.
Port Lockroy is a “fun” destination of sorts, so we always strive to journey to this sheltered harbour, located on the west side of Wiencke Island, if weather permits. As part of Operation Tabarin during the Second World War, a secret British base was built here. Now a designated historic site, the base is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases in Port Lockroy support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
You may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the historic area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the point from 1921 to 22. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site.
A possible exposed volcano, Brown Bluff towers 2,225 feet (678 meters) over the rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins, which number in the thousands. These penguins will create a symphony of background noise while you explore the bluff.
Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large Adélie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone that rises 1,158 feet (353 meters), the island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to penguins, you may be interested in visiting a historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04. A cross marks the gravesite of Ole Wennersgaard, a member of the crew.
Although not a typical landing, the crossing of the Antarctic Circle is a moment to remember. The event will usually happen while at sea, so be sure to head up to the bridge and snap your photo of the GPS reading 66°33´ S.
South Shetland Islands
In 1819, the British explorer William Smith described the South Shetland Islands as ‘barren and covered with snow, with seals in abundance.’ Places such as Half Moon Island or Livingston Island support huge numbers of nesting chinstrap, gentoo and even some macaroni penguins. Giant and cape petrels, blue-eyed shags and kelp gulls nest in the cliffs. Mosses, lichens and Antarctica’s only two flowering plants thrive during the short summer on the low-lying peninsulas of these rugged maritime islands. You will explore the busy penguin and seabird rookeries and marvel at the huge elephant seals that wallow along the shore.
Deception Island is the caldera of an active volcano, where sealing and whaling operations were based in the past. Several microclimates can get quite warm, and there is a large colony of chinstrap penguins. Half Moon Island is a significant area for birds and it features a 2,200 yard (2 km) walking track to give you a close view of the wildlife.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES - SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
This group of small islands, some still unnamed, is situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife in the area, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries on the islands. Southern elephant and fur seals frequently haul out here, too.
Also known as Rancho Point, Bailey Head is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the 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 sealers, who tried 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 this 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
January 10 onward.
Geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding 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 petrels breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Your Expedition Team will be happy to point out that this is where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur and Weddell seals hauling out on the rocks.
To reach Whaler’s Bay, it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbor created by the formation of the circular flooded caldera known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbor, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here, you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.
Crossing the Drake Passage
Use your second passage across the Drake to put your newfound Antarctic knowledge to use; spend time on deck, spot icebergs and name seabirds. Enjoy presentations by our onboard experts and bond with your shipmates.
Disembark in Ushuaia and fly to Buenos Aires
We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning, after breakfast.
After disembarking, you will get a little taste of Patagonia, touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.