Summary : Explore the epic White Continent after sailing through the famous Drake Passage. Experience Neko Harbour discovered by the Belgian explorer, Adrien de Gerlache, and visit spectacular Paradise Bay as you look for leopard seals, and gentoo penguins. You'll see the ancient whaling station of Deception Island revealing its endearing colony of chinstrap penguins. Sail through waters often populated by orcas, humpback whales and other amazing cetaceans on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Board your flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina. Considered to be the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, lying at the very tip of Argentina looking out over the Beagle Channel. This surprising little town of 45,000 people is surrounded by mountains and fertile plains. Tierra del Fuego's forests cover the lower slopes of the Andean mountains which are crowned with snow-capped peaks - a unique and unforgettable sight!
Upon arrival in Ushuaia, embark the vessel, or join an optional tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park (must pre-book, fee applies).
Crossing the Drake is a rite of passage and commences your journey to the White Continent. Located exactly between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake Passage extends from Cape Horn to Livingston Island. You may have plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities including sea birds such as petrels and albatross that follow in your wake, and maybe even a whale. Attend lectures on the history, environment, and wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula in preparation for your first excursions.
Visiting Antarctica means exploring the largest, wildest and most extreme of all the continents. Discover a land dominated by white - a mysterious stretch of ice with seemingly infinite nuances of color. At the gateway to this final frontier, surrounded by the vast expanse of sea ice, get as close as possible to the most unspoiled nature and vast animal colonies. Set off to meet peaceful penguins, the emblem of these icy regions, and journey through their colonies with their constant movement to and from the sea. During your trip, you may encounter majestic humpback whales whose huge and powerful blue tail fins pound the surface of the water. Dependent upon sea and ice conditions, your expedition explores a variety of destinations, which may include Neko Harbour, Paradise Bay, Pleneau Island, Port Lockroy, Deception Island and the Weddell Sea.
Nestled at the heart of the South Shetland Islands, in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, Deception Island is easy to recognize for its horseshoe shape. This island was once an active volcano whose crater collapsed some 10,000 years ago, producing a caldera which was then flooded by the sea, creating a natural port. Entrance to the port is via a narrow channel called Neptune’s Bellows. For a long time, this was an important whaling port and the intensity of this activity has left traces that have withstood time. On the black sand of the volcanic beaches, there are remains of abandoned huts that have been overrun by the extraordinary wildlife. It is on these beaches of ash that the largest colony of chinstrap penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula has taken up residence. Excursions aboard Zodiac will allow you to set foot on this expanse of land where more than 100,000 pairs of penguins nest.
Deep in Andvord Bay, find this little corner of paradise at the foot of an immense glacier. Neko Bay is one of the most beautiful sights of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by the Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache during his 1897-99 Antarctic expedition. Mountains, snow, ice and unspoiled nature combine to offer a unique landscape. Wildlife is as abundant as it is exceptional: sea birds such as gulls, Cape Petrels and Cormorants, as well as marine mammals including seals, orcas and whales. Excursions aboard Zodiacs allow you to sail close to blue icebergs or disembark near colonies of penguins, observe leopard seals basking on the shore or watch the Antarctic Terns flying overhead.
With its spectacular landscapes composed of towering glacial peaks plunging down into the icy waters of the Antarctic, Paradise Bay is true to its name. Discovered and named by whalers in the early 20th century, this protected natural site is currently home to a wide variety of fauna, from Antarctic cormorants and leopard seals to sheathbills and gentoo penguins, who mingle on the long stretch of rocky beaches. With some luck, you'll even be privy to an unforgettable underwater dance between passing humpback whales. During your excursion, head off to discover the old Argentine base Almirante Brown, which is only occupied for a few weeks each year, during the austral summer.
On the small island of Goudier, you will have the opportunity to visit Port Lockroy, discovered by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot in 1903. Initially it served as a relief and repair base for whalers, but in 1944 Port Lockroy became a British base. It owes its name to Edouard Lockroy, a French politician and the partner of Jean-Baptiste Charcot during his expedition. You will be able to visit the small museum that retraces the life of the base in the 1950s. Since 1996, it has been open to the public during the short Southern Summer and is used for carrying out research on gentoo penguins. This base is one of the most visited sites of the White Continent. While you're here, don't miss the chance to send your loved ones a post card from the southernmost post office in the world!
Amidst the quietness of the Weddell Sea, you'll wind your way through a veritable labyrinth of majestic table icebergs. Sweeping ice platforms sculpt a landscape unlike any other, populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds. The Weddell seal with its dark grey coat and spotted belly may welcome you with its call, breaking the surrounding silence. Weddell seals have the impressive distinction of being able to stay underwater for more than an hour!
Seasoned navigators will tell you that you must earn your visit to the White Continent! As a convergence zone where cold currents rising up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, Drake Passage harbors a very diverse marine fauna. Don't forget to look to the sky to catch a glimpse of elegant albatross and cape petrels, playfully floating about in the wind around your ship.
Disembark in Ushuaia and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures French/English.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase medical evacuation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Round-trip flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and return in Economy class; meet and greet by representatives in Ushuaia; transfers between the Ushuaia airport and the ship; meals on board the ship; captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; mineral water, tea, filter coffee, a selection of white, red and rosé wines offered during meals, afternoon tea; open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); parka; 24-hour room service; butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6; boot rental. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare except as mentioned; passport and visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned; optional Tierra del Fuego tour; spa charges; beverages other than those mentioned; laundry services, hair salon; personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions; cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Lorraine Turci, © Nath Michel, © Olivier Blaud, © Ponant