Summary : Embark on an Antarctica Peninsula journey featuring an Antarctic Circle crossing, extraordinary birding and whale watching opportunities. Sail south across the mighty Drake Passage to Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Ronge Island, where you will attempt your first landing. Marvel at Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. In Neko Harbor and Paradise Bay, with its myriad iceberds and deep cut fjords, you will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Travel onward through the narrow Gullet between Adelaide Island and the Antarctic Continent with spectacular scenery all around. Visit Wilhelmina Bay with truly excellent whale watching opportunities. Numerous Humpbacks and Minke can be sighted here. In the South Shetland Islands, look forward to wildlife encounters from Elephant Seals to Gentoo Penguins.
Activities : Birding, Diving, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$8,300 to $12,400
In the afternoon, you will embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
Spend the next two days of your adventure sailing across the mighty Drake Passage. When you cross the Antarctic Convergence, you will arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area you may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey-Headed Albatrosses, Black-Browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Albatrosses, Cape Petrels, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, you will spot your first icebergs.
Sail directly to “High Antarctica”, passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. The Antarctic Peninsula is famed for its icy beauty and bountiful wildlife. During the days here, you will optimize the experience to get the best of everything. Sites that may be visited include: Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island where you will find a large colony of Gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of Brown skuas. In Neko Harbour, you may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. Zodiac cruising offers a spectacular way to enjoy the landscape surrounded by ice encrusted alpine peaks. In Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs, you may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Again, you may have the opportunity for a Zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing waterway. In this area, you will have good chances to see Humpback whales and Minke whales before heading south though the spectacular Lemaire Channel. After a long night of sailing west around the myriad of islands south of Lemaire Channel, you will find yourselves near the Antarctic Circle. If ice conditions allow, you will hope to sail through the narrow Gullet between Adelaide Island and the Continent with spectacular scenery all around. Hopefully you will get permission to land at Rothera, which is the primary British research station in Antarctica. Alternatively, you will explore the area and make a landing one of the many islands in the area. Depending on the ice conditions, you may circumnavigate Pourqoui Pas Island named after the ship of the famous French explorer Charcot. The area is spectacular with narrow fjords and high mountains with cascading glaciers all around. On Horseshoe Island you will find the former British Base Y from the 1950s, which now stands unmanned but almost fully equipped from the time it was in service. Stonington Island is home to the former US East Base (1939-41) and later the British Base E. Base E was occupied until 1975. You may attempt a landing here which will also mark your southernmost landing site of the trip. In the morning of Day 9 you will aim to find yourself near the Antarctic Circle once again as you head north into Crystal Sound. You will have an excellent chance to see humpback whales here as you approach Fish Islands for a Zodiac cruise and possible landing. As always, the scenery is unparalleled in beauty and you may well see more Adélie penguins among the myriads of icebergs large and small. Petermann and Pléneau Islands offer a great variety of bird life and some excellent opportunities to Zodiac cruise amongst icebergs with good chances to see both Leopard seal and Crabeater seals. Minke whales and Humpback whales are also often spotted in this area along with Gentoo penguins and Leopard seals. Further north, you will reach the Melchior Islands; a beautiful landscape with icebergs, where you may encounter Leopard seals, Crabeater seals and more whales. From there you will depart into the Drake Passage around noon.
On your way north you will discover a great selection of seabirds that will follow the ship while you make the Drake Passage crossing.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning for disembarkation.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; seeing the emperor penguins is not guaranteed. 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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Snowshoe walking is easy and does not require any technical skills. With the use of snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snow surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board.
Dive under shallow water, down along walls, from the beach, or from a Zodiac. You will reach a maximum of 60 feet. Unlike no other dive – the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Participants will dive in group of eight divers per guide, with a maximum of 24 divers per excursion. Compressors and weights are provided. Participants must bring their own dry suit with hood and additional equipment. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a complete list. This activity is available for experienced divers. Participants are required to present their internationally accepted diver certificate, diver's logbook, and a statement from their doctor (not older than two years) that demonstrates they are in a good state of physical health allowing them to scuba dive. Experience with both cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 30 dives) is required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
For beginners and advanced photographers, photo workshops are held under the supervision of a photo expert on board. Everybody is welcome to participate, no previous experience required. The workshop group (20 max) will be accompanied by a photo expert during shore landings. Participants should bring their own photo equipment. The workshop does not intend to instruct on how to use specific camera models, but more to give an insight on better photo results by respecting basic rules of photography.
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); shore excursions by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; comprehensive pre-departure material; gear on loan (rubber boots and snowshoes). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Dietmar Denger; © Franco Banfi; © Sandra Petrowitz; © Richard Wadey