Follow in the path of legendary explorers as you cross the (sometime turbulent) Drake Passage. Weather permitting, squeeze through the photogenic Lemaire Channel between the mountains of Booth Island and the Antarctic continent. This is one for the wildlife lovers too – get up close to minke, humpback and orca whales, gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, with albatross overhead. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a leopard seal. Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent or venture as deep into Antarctica as past the Antarctic Circle, but you’ll be one of the unique few. There are lots of possible Zodiac landing sites and activities, allowing you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives
Cast off from Ushuaia, Argentina, to embark on an adventure to one of the most beautiful and remote locations on the planet. Sail across the notorious Drake Passage bound for the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore a world covered in ice and snow; marvel at the odd shapes and spectacular hues of drifting icebergs; spot albatross, cormorants, seals, penguins and whales; and discover the land of the midnight sun – the blues and whites of Antarctica are truly breathtaking.
Breakfast Included: 13 Lunches Included: 11 Dinner Included: 12
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Argentina.
Begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Ushuaia – capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, and southernmost city in the world.
Ushuaia, affectionately known as 'fin del mundo' (end of the world) due to being the southern most city of the world, has a lot to offer. A relatively small city of 42,000 people, it is easy to find your way around. Av. San Martin and the surrounding streets is where you will find most hotels and tourist services. Here you can stroll along and visit the shops, museums and restaurants. From Av. San Martin the streets start to run uphill. From the top of these streets you will have a good view of the Beagle Channel. Another option if you arrive early is a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which is located 11km (7 miles) west of the city.
Today you join your ship and begin your trip by cruising through the beautiful Beagle Channel. Named for the British ship HMS Beagle, this channel is particularly rich with birdlife, and you may sight penguins, cormorants, petrels, and Black-browed Albatross.
Prepare for rough seas, but don’t be disappointed if you experience smooth sailing across this legendary waterway. The 500-mile-wide passage separates the bottom of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and was named for famed English explorer (and sometime pirate) Sir Frances Drake.
With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make a final approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready, as the continent’s coastline will make its first appearance. Plentiful icebergs float by, and watch the ocean surface for curious whales spouting and breaching before your eyes.
As exciting as it can be from onboard the ship, our true exploration occurs when we disembark and set foot on the great continent. There are several potential landing sites we may visit, including Neko Harbor, Orne Harbor or Paradise Bay. While weather dictates which specific landing sites we can visit, each one presents a new collection of wildlife and natural attractions.
These days will be busy spotting wildlife and being mesmerized by the beauty of Antarctica. Watching penguins waddling on the beach and listening to the crackling and crumbling sounds of icebergs and glaciers will become your daily entertainment, while kayaking with whales and camping in Antarctica are a couple of optional activities available on selected voyages.
These days form the heart of your Antarctic adventure, and changing conditions mean each expedition is different. Your Expedition Team will make the most of whatever weather, ice or wildlife conditions present themselves to make sure you have an unforgettable visit. 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
* Zodiac-cruising among grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay
* Scrambling to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of Port Lockroy
Possible Landings and Wildlife Sightings
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you arrive, you may see them 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 on which Port Lockroy is located.
This small island, one mile (1.6 km) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, the island was used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula; you’ll see that this is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 6.8 mile-long (11 km) Channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
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.
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae 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 harbour.
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.
A ‘fun’ destination of sorts, we always strive to journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbour during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It is now designated as a historic site, where Port Lockroy is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the
Heroic Age of Exploration.
Of historic interest, you may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the Point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site.
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries. 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 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 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 January 10 onwards.
Hot 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 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 be happy to point out that it is here 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 hauled-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 a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated water springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, 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.
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.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement. Few other expeditions to the Peninsula reach the imaginary line at 66° 33’ S. You may wish to celebrate with your shipmates in style with a glass of champagne.
This is a part of the world still visited by very few people and is home to the midnight sun, Weddell seals, and some of the most magical, odd ice formations you'll see anywhere in Antarctica.
THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE
While 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.
We spend the next two days travelling north along the western Antarctic Peninsula back up to the Drake Passage. We'll continue to journey onto land and out by Zodiac twice daily along the way. You Expedition Team will continue to be on the lookout for any species of penguins, seals or whales that you may have missed on the journey south.
We leave Antarctica behind and head back across the Drake Passage. The Expedition Team will round up their series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of some of the great landing sites and wildlife you’ve visited over the course of your voyage before we cruise back to Argentina.
Disembark in Ushuaia
In the morning we arrive back in Ushuaia where we have a shipboard breakfast before the trip ends. If you are flying out today you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
When booking your flight please remember that delays can occur, so we recommend not booking a flight before about midday.