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Weddell Sea – Antarctic Discoverer Basecamp Ortelius

Antarctica Cruise

Summary : Embark on a special Weddell Sea basecamp expedition, with extended onshore excursions and a focus on witnessing the mighty Emperor Penguin in its natural habitat. Just south of Snow Hill lies an Emperor Penguin rookery of over 4,000 breeding pairs. Although the ice may not allow to reach as far south as Snow Hill, the hope is to situate between the Antarctic Sound and James Ross Island, close to the ice-edge and observe the Emperor Penguins on their way to the open water. Using your expedition ship as a basecamp, you will have excellent chances for a long glacier hike and kayaking along the ice filled shore line. Further into the Weddell Sea on the north-eastern most Antarctic Peninsula you will have a wide range of options depending on the ice conditions. James Clark Ross Island offers a number of rarely visited places that can be explored by kayakers, hikers, and mountaineers alike. Camping sites will be decided based on prevailing ice and weather conditions.

Activities : Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking

PRICING

Prices from
$7,950 to $11,850

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina

Embark the vessel in the afternoon and sail through the scenic Beagle Channel.

Day 2 – 3
Drake Passage

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.

Day 4 – 8
Antarctica / Weddell Sea

You will sail directly into the Weddell Sea through the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs will announce your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Weather permitting, you will visit Paulet Island with a huge number of Adelie Penguins and Brown Bluff where you may set foot on the Antarctic Continent.

On Dundee Island, you may reach the uninhabited Argentinean Petrel station with its large aircraft hangar, as well as a myriad of Antarctic fur seals and Southern Elephant seals along the coast line. There are excellent chances for a long glacier hike and kayaking along the ice-filled shore line.

Further into the Weddell Sea on the north-eastern most Antarctic Peninsula you will have a wide range of options depending on the ice conditions. James Clark Ross Island offers a number of rarely visited places that can be explored by kayakers, hikers, and mountaineers alike. Camping sites will be decided based on prevailing ice and weather conditions. Devil Island has a large Adelie penguin rookery and some stunning views of Erebus and Terror Gulf, while Snow Hill Island offers spectacular sedimentary rocks and tell tales of incredible Antarctic exploration in the early 20th Century. The Weddell Sea is prone to difficult ice conditions and it will demand and open and adventurous mind to embark on this journey in to the wild Weddell Sea.

Alternative Itinerary: Should you be prevented from penetrating into the northeastern most Weddell Sea due to adverse sea ice conditions, your will aim at exploring the Antarctic Sound on Day 4 and from there venture further southwest into the spectacular west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Departure into the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia will in this case not include South Shetlands but be via the Melchior Islands between Brabant Islands and Anvers Island on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Day 9
South Shetland Islands

The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. In Deception Island our ship braves into the entrance of the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Deception itself is a subducted crater which opens into the sea creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively we may try to land at Hannah Point at Livingston Island. The area is closed off to visitors for part of the season as it is a high density wildlife area with species such as Chinstrap Penguins, Gentoo Penguins, and Southern Elephant Seals. Around noon we depart for the Drake Passage

Day 10 – 11
At Sea

On your way north, you will once again be followed by a fantastic selection of seabirds while crossing the mighty Drake Passage.

Day 12
Ushuaia, Argentina

Arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark.

Notes

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.

Camping Option:
Space is limited; request at time of booking. An exciting option, which gives an intensive experience of the Antarctic wilderness. Special gear and field equipment will be provided: tents, wind and waterproof bivouac bags (lightweight alternative to a tent system). This shelter will protect you from the elements during the night in the open air of Antarctica. Mattresses and polar sleeping bags provide comfort during the night. Camping is always subject to weather, local site and environmental regulations. Group size: minimum 8, maximum 30 campers.

Kayaking Option:
Space is limited; request at time of booking. Kayaking is subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions. Basic kayaking experience is required and physical fitness is essential. Kayaks, neoprene wet suits, booties and gloves are provided. Group size: minimum 4, maximum 14 kayakers.

Mountaineering Option:
Space is limited; request at time of booking. This is a technical and more strenuous activity for mountaineers who wish to walk beyond the shore radius in order to reach higher grounds and view points. Mountaineers walk in rope parties under the leadership of a certified mountain guide mostly across a glaciated environment. Mountaineering knowledge is preferable, but not required. Physical fitness is essential. Special glacier equipment will be provided: ropes and carabiners, harnesses, helmets, ice axes and crampons. Participants will bring their personal protective outdoor clothes, mountaineering boots suitable for using crampons. Participants must be able to master techniques of alpine skiing in off piste terrain (ascent and descent).

Snowshoeing Option:
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. 

Photo Workshop:
For beginners and advanced photographers, these 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.

Included:
All offer activities including camping, kayaking, snowhoe/hiking, mountaineering, photography workshops; standard shore excursions and Zodiac rides; meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; free use of rubber boots and snowshoes on loan; 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. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
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, ©Rolf Stange, ©Richard Wadey, ©Sandra Petrowitz, ©Rinie van Meurs

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