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
This expedition offers the chance to discover the best of the Antarctic Peninsula, the last continent’s most northern region. You’ll be delighted by penguins, seals and whales as they accompany you on your journey along the Antarctic coastline. Landing on the continent itself is a memorable highlight, where you’ll explore the iconic sights that make this one of the world’s most pristine, exotic and unforgettable natural environments.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 7 Lunches Included: 8
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Welcome to Argentina. Make your way from the airport to the hotel and begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires.
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.
Ushuaia - Embarkation Day
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
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. On-board presentations and safety briefings by the expedition team will provide you with an insight into the locations you'll be visiting.
South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula
Welcome to the Antarctic Peninsula. The next few days form the core of your Antarctic adventure, as you take regular Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore different bays, channels and landing sites each day. Visit penguin rookeries, scout for humpback and minke whales and search for a number of the southern seal species, including the cunning leopard seal.
Let the majesty of the Peninsula’s mountains enchant you as you scramble up snowy pathways to vantage points offering 360° views of your surroundings. At Orne Harbour, you might visit a chinstrap penguin colony high up on a ridge or go for a mountain hike. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a 'polar plunge' in the icy waters of Neko Harbour. Changing conditions mean that each voyage is different, but your expedition team will make the most of whatever conditions occur to ensure you have a truly fulfilling trip.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN ANTARCTICA
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 harbor is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbor 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 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.
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.
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
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 journey back across the Drake Passage provides final opportunities to enjoy the crisp Antarctic air. Spend time on the deck, watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, or simply relax and reminisce about your experiences.
Disembark in Ushuaia
You 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.