The wildlife viewing opportunities are incredible in Antarctica, and the abundance of creatures is astounding for such a harsh, out-there location. Scan the ocean for seals; keep an eye out for minke, humpback and orca whales; clock rare birds soaring over Beagle Channel; and watch gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins out and about. Antarctic fauna is only part of the spectacle. The terrain of earth’s extreme south is like nowhere else, and the first sight of an iceberg calving into the ocean is a memorable moment. Those game can enjoy the most invigorating swim ever – a polar plunge in the sub-zero Antarctic waters. Presentations throughout the journey fill in crucial background information on both natural and human history of the area, from the legendary explorers to geology, flora and fauna
Embark on one of the most Intrepid experiences out there — a journey to Antarctica via the legendary Drake Passage. Departing from Ushuaia in late January, open your senses to the arrival of mid-summer and the full swing of the Antarctic season. At this time of year, ice and snow melts across the peninsula, giving way to glorious rocky beaches and prime opportunities for explorations by Zodiac. Every day on this continent this brings a new sight, sound and spectacle, as whales, penguin chicks and seabirds abound. With the comfortable and brand-new MV Hondius as a base, enjoy the benefits of an expert leader, full expedition crew, and onboard naturalists whose lectures elevate the experience of this great southern continent to new heights.
Breakfast Included: 10 Lunches Included: 9 Lunches Included: 10
Your adventure kicks off at the 'end of the world': Ushuaia, Argentina. Situated down on South America's far southern tip, this lively town is generally considered the southernmost city in the world. Climb aboard the ship mid-afternoon in the little resort town of Hondius, on Tierra del Fuego. The cruise begins across the beautiful Beagle Channel, flanked by majestic mountain scenery. As you sail away the rest of the evening, sit down to break the ice with your fellow adventurers over some dinner and welcome drinks.
Crossing the Drake Passage
As you enter the Drake Passage, following in the footsteps of the early polar explorers, soak up many a new sight and sound: the cool salty breezes, undulating waves, and maybe even a fin whale crashing through the spray. The route then passes across the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary which forms at the point where north-flowing cold waters meet with warmer subantarctic waters. Watch as the marine life and birdlife changes from here; seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels soar above, not to mention the likes of Cape pigeons and southern fulmars. Soon enough, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs burst into view, a joy to witness. The lecture program starts and will carry on for the length of the cruise. It's a crucial aspect of the journey, as legendary tales, wildlife facts and geological information deepen your experience of the continent.
Welcome to Antarctica. You've now arrived in the world's most pristine wilderness, where snowy grey stone peaks, dazzling towers of ice, and a diverse array of wildlife emerge in all their glory. You'll be passing the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. Throughout the journey you can enjoy plenty of free time to enjoy the warm hospitality on board.
Over the next few days we may visit any of the following areas:
Cuverville Island, which sits between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. This impressive isle plays host to several thousand gentoo penguins, plus pairs of breeding brown skuas.
Danco Island, where nesting gentoo penguins make for quite a cute scene. Weddell and crabeater seals might be found nearby.
Crystal Sound, whose ice-choked waters are an exciting place to land.
Port Lockroy, on Goudier Island, across the Neumayer Channel. The former British Research Station here now serves as a museum and, interestingly, a working post office.
Jougla Point, where gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags hopefully come out to play. The kayaking and camping opportunities over here are superb.
Paradise Bay, which offers the chance to walk on the great continent again. Zodiac cruises along the bay reveal humpback and minke whales.
Wilhelmina Bay & Guvernøren, another terrific area for humpback whale spotting and exploring by Zodiac.
Guvernøren, a historic location where a whaling vessel caught on fire in 1915.
The Melchior Islands, which boasts beautiful icebergs. Look out for whales, leopard seals and crabeater seals here also.
King George Island (South Shetland Islands). The plan here will be to land at the Chinese Great Wall Station. There are also Russian, Argentine, and Uruguayan research stations in this area.
Crossing the Drake Passage
As your return journey across the Drake Passage begins, set eyes on the same incredible seabirds you saw on the way through. Take the opportunity to look back on the adventure, sharing photos and experiences with your fellow explorers.
As the adventure wraps up, bid farewell to your crew and fellow travellers, disembarking in Ushuaia.