Summary : Spend five days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and become one of the privileged few who have set foot on the Great White Continent. Cruise through the Lemaire Channel, a supremely scenic strait where orca and humpback whales are frequently found. Board Zodiacs to search for humpback, minke, and orca whales; as well as leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals. Photograph a variety of subjects, from mighty glaciers descending from lofty peaks and electric-blue icebergs to an array of unique wildlife.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Transfer to Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa. The rest of the day is at your leisure with a welcome dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Today, enjoy a boat trip on the Beagle Channel and disembark in Tierra del Fuego National Park for nature hikes surrounded by dramatic scenery. Board the Island Sky this afternoon and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.
Named for the 16th-century English seaman, the Drake Passage is a deep waterway spanning 600 miles from the southern tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands. Join naturalists on deck to watch for wandering and black-browed albatross, pintado and white-chinned petrels. Attend informative lectures on the history, geology, and wildlife of the Antarctic realm.
As you cruise the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula and its adjacent islands, landings are dependent upon weather and ice conditions. Your leaders have been to Antarctica numerous times, and their experience in the region enables them to adapt quickly to change, making sure every option is considered, and every opportunity seized. If the weather is in your favor, landings may be offered before breakfast or even after dinner. There is also a possibility that you may visit a research station to witness the scientific activities conducted by the multi-national community of scientists working there. Though the expeditionary nature of your voyage precludes guaranteeing specific stops, plan to visit the following islands, bays, and coves where outstanding birdlife, dramatic scenery, and unique marine life can be seen close at hand. This list serves only as a guideline of the places you may experience.
Crystal Sound / Antarctic Circle – Dependent on ice conditions, attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle in Crystal Sound, so named for research conducted here on the structure of ice crystals. Board Zodiacs for a cruise among element-sculpted iceberg as you search for leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals hauled out on ice floes. Minke and humpback whales are also frequently sighted during this time of year.
Detaille Island – Conditions permitting, step ashore on Detaille Island and explore the remains of the British Antarctic Survey Base that was abandoned in 1959.
Vernandsky Research Base – Permission pending, visit the Ukrainian-operated Vernandsky Research Station. Take a tour of the station and meet with a group of scientists to learn about their research and life in the Antarctic.
Lemaire Channel and Pleneau Island – Cruising the beautiful Lemaire Channel, keep watch for the humpback and minke whales frequently spotted here. This narrow channel is one of the most visually impressive areas of the Antarctic Peninsula and is often referred to as the “Canon Channel” or “Nikon Niche” due to the wonderful photo opportunities it offers. Steep mountain peaks jut out of the sea on both sides, and the surrounding waters are often choked with icebergs and frequented by crabeater seals. A stunning labyrinth of grounded icebergs lies in the shallow waters west of Pleneau Island, presenting a superb Zodiac cruising experience. Crabeater and leopard seals haul out on the ice, and elephant seals and gentoo penguins may be found the island itself.
Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay – Weddell seals can occasionally be found hauled out on the beach here, and a gentoo penguin colony overlooks a spectacular glacier, which is sometimes quite active in calving icebergs. In Zodiacs cruise among these fantastic shapes sculpted by wind and water. Later, the ship navigates the scenic waters of Paradise Bay, where Chile and Argentina both maintain bases.
Deception Island – As you approach Deception through Neptune’s Bellows, a channel just wide enough for the ship to navigate, southern fulmars and pintado petrels soar overhead. Weigh anchor inside a volcano whose collapsed cone was filled by rushing seawater. Brave souls may want to take a “polar plunge” into the thermal waters near Pendulum Cove to experience swimming in the Antarctic!
Enjoy two days at sea to relax, sort through your photos, and attend lectures recapping your Antarctic adventures. On deck, keep watch for seabirds and the whales that are frequently seen in these waters.
Disembark in Ushuaia and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
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 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.
Accommodations and activites as per the itinerary; onboard meals and welcome dinner in Ushuaia, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; group transfers; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; landing and port fees; parka; gratuities; limited medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance*. Subject to change at any time.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; accident/baggage/cancellation travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges and alcoholic beverages other than those listed as included, email/Internet/fax/telephone charges, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.
Photos © Sergery Frolov, Jamison Surguy, Rick Price, Scott Bickell, Sam Crimmin, Sonia Surguy and Michael Moore.