Summary : This is your ultimate chance to sail to the southern parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, Peter I Island, the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas and into the Ross Sea. Visit Shackleton’s and Scott’s huts, McMurdo Station, the Dry Valleys and Campbell Island on a vessel equipped with helicopters for excursions to attempt to land on the Ross Sea Ice Shelf. Observe wildlife like nowhere else on this planet – elephant seals, royal albatross, gentoo and adelie penguins, polar skuas, orca and minke whales. Learn of important historical figures in the early era of Antarctic exploration and visit their rustic huts. Be prepared for unforgettable memories and the trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking
$999,999,999 to $0
Embark the vessel in the afternoon and sail through the scenic Beagle Channel.
Sail across the Drake Passage and cross the Antarctic Convergence. Arrive in the Antarctic upwelling zone. You may encounter Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels.
Arrive in the Antarctic Peninsula sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel early in the morning. Land on Pléneau Island, where Elephant Seals haul-out on the beaches and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas breed. Pléneau Island was first charted by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05 of Jean-Baptiste Charcot and was named after his expedition’s photographer Paul Pléneau. Visit Petermann Island with colonies of Adélie and Gentoo Penguins and Imperial Cormorants (Blue-eyed Shags). Petermann Island was named after the German geographer August Petermann who was a member of a German Expedition in 1873-74.
Sailing south through the Penola Strait and arrive at the Fish Islands. These small islands lying east of Flouder Island are called the Minnows, first charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (1934-37) of John Rymill. Observe Adélie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags among myriads of large icebergs. You may set foot on the Continent for the first time in the stunning setting of Prospect Point.
Sail the Bellingshausen Sea where you may see your first pack-ice on the way to Peter Island.
Peter I Island is an uninhabited volcanic island (19 km long) in the Bellingshausen Sea. It was discovered by Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1821 and was named after the Russian Tsar Peter I. It is claimed by Norway and considered a territory on its own. Sporadically visited by passenger vessels, Elephant Seals and colonies of Southern Fulmars and Cape Pigeons have been observed here. If weather conditions allow, attempt a helicopter landing on the glaciated northern part of the island.
Sail through the Amundsen Sea along and through the outer fringes of the pack-ice. Watch for solo traveling Emperor Penguins, groups of seals on ice-floes, and also Orca and Minke Whales along the ice-edge, which are often accompanied by different species of fulmar petrels.
Approach the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating mass of land-ice, with a front 30 meters high. In the Bay of Whales at the eastern side of the shelf, close to Roosevelt Island (named by the American aviator Richard E. Byrd in 1934 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt), Roald Amundsen gained access to the Shelf and ventured to the South Pole, where he finally arrived on December 14, 1911. Japanese explorer Nobu Shirase had his camp in this area at Kainan Bay in 1912.
Attempt a helicopter landing on the Ross Ice Shelf if conditions allow for it.
Sail to the west along the Ross Ice Shelf.
In the Ross Sea, the intention is to visit Ross Island, guarded by Mount Erebus, Mount Terror and Mount Byrd. Experience the famous spots which played such an important role in the dramatic British expeditions of the last century – Ernest Shackleton’s cabin at Cape Royds, and Robert Falcon Scott’s cabin at Cape Evans. Visit the US-station McMurdo and Scott Base (New Zealand).
If ice and weather conditions are favorable, ride in a helicopter to land at favorite locations such as Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys which is reminiscent of Mars. From McMurdo Station, there may be the chance to partake in a substantial 10 km hike to Castle Rock with a great view across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole.
Sailing north along the west coast of the Ross Sea, pass by the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the Italian Station in Terra Nova Bay. Should the ice prevent entering Terra Nova Bay, the ship may progress further north to find the specially protected area of Cape Hallet with a large Adélie Penguin rookery.
Known as the place where people wintered on the Antarctic Continent for the very first time. This hut where the Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed in 1899 is surrounded by the largest colony of Adélie Penguins in the world.
The ship makes its way through the sea-ice at the entrance of the Ross Sea starting its journey north through the Southern Ocean. Depending on weather conditions, the captain may opt to set a course sailing by Scott Island.
Campbell Island is a sub-Antarctic New Zealand Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with flourishing vegetation. The fauna on Campbell Island is fantastic with a large and easily accessible colony of Southern Royal Albatrosses on the main island, as well as breeding colonies of Wandering, Campbell, Greyheaded, Blackbrowed, and Lightmantled Sooty Albatrosses on its satellite islands. Watch for the three penguin species that breed here: Eastern Rockhopper, Erect-Crested and Yellow-Eyed Penguins. In the 18th century, seals were hunted to almost extinction, but Elephant Seals, Fur Seals and Sea Lions have recovered.
Set sail toward the South Island of New Zealand.
Arrive in Bluff and disembark the vessel.
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.
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.
The vessel will be equipped with two helicopters. The use of helicopters helps to try to reach scheduled landing sites that otherwise are inaccessible and are included in the price of the trip. However, every passenger who participates understands and accepts that no guarantees can be given in regards to reaching sites or specific amount of helicopter time they will experience.
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; free use of rubber boots on loan; ship-to-shore helicopter transfers if weather permits; shore excursions by Zodiac; program of lectures by naturalists; leadership by expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; comprehensive pre-departure material. 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: © Rolf Stange, © Delphine Aures, © Hans Murre, © Fred van Ophen