Summary : Skip the Drake Passage in less than two hours by flying from Punta Arenas, Chile to arrive at Frei Station on King George Island where you will embark the Magellan Explorer at the gates of the White Continent. From King George Island, explore the Antarctic Peninsula for six days and five nights. See peaceful bays dotted with colossal icebergs, cruise along deep fjords, and discover massive glaciers and sharp snowy peaks jutting out of the sea. Experience the environment at sea level in Zodiac boats and feel the spray of saltwater on your cheeks. Follow in the footsteps of early explorers as you hike on Antarctic soil. You'll take daily excursions and receive lectures from a knowledgeable naturalist team who will introduce you to this stunning continent. Optional sea kayaking and hiking/snowshoeing programs available.
Includes round-trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile with 6 days in Antarctica. Time spent in Antarctica is equivalent to an 11-day traditional ship cruise.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise
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Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, before 2 p.m. where you are welcomed by staff members and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, you'll attend a mandatory briefing that provides important information about your voyage and reviews the essential guidelines for Antarctic visitors. Later, gather for a welcome dinner and meet your fellow adventurers while enjoying a typical regional menu.
Begin your Antarctic adventure with a two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands). As you exit the airplane, the clear Antarctic air fills your lungs for the first time. A 1.25-mile walk to the shore, where you'll board a Zodiac to embark your expedition vessel, takes you through Chile’s Frei Station and Russia’s Bellingshausen Station.
Cruise between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, sailing along ice-filled fjords and among spectacular icebergs, while enjoying the company of seabirds, penguins, seals, and whales. Each day you'll disembark by Zodiac and explore the landscape with knowledgeable polar guides. On board the ship, attend an engaging program of lectures and presentations, and enjoy spectacular views from the lounge while sharing your daily adventures with fellow guests.
No journey is the same—flexibility is the key to success in Antarctica. Your expedition team plans the voyage route to take advantage of the ever-changing opportunities provided by Nature, crafting a unique and extraordinary experience each time. While the exact itinerary changes with each expedition, you will explore several spots that offer the best possible overview of the varied Antarctic environment.
Return to King George Island and bid farewell to Antarctica before boarding the flight back to Punta Arenas. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for the night. (Note: Meals in Punta Arenas are at your leisure and not included in the program.)
After breakfast, transfer to the Punta Arenas airport for your onward flight.
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 is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance that includes medical evacuation and repatriation in remote areas, including Antarctica. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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 U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Three similar aircraft are used for flight operations: the BAE 146-200, the AVRO RJ 85, and the AVRO RJ 100. These aircraft were manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace (which later became part of BAE Systems). They are high-wing aircraft with short runway requirements, which make them particularly suited for this kind of destination. They are operated by Aerovias DAP, which has more than 25 years of experience flying in Patagonia and Antarctica.
Luggage Weight Restriction:
Due to the limited carrying capacity of the aircraft, passengers can only carry 20-kg / 44-lbs of personal luggage, including carry-on. This weight restriction is strictly enforced—it is not possible to purchase extra allowance. Note that ALL luggage will be weighed. Soft-sided luggage is recommended.
Some departures in the past have experienced delays. Based on past experience, the estimated chance of delay is very low. Still, it is important that prospective participants understand that flights to and from Antarctica operate based on weather conditions. Travelers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of airline tickets or onward travel plans. In the unlikely event that the flight to Antarctica cannot operate due to unfavorable conditions, whether at point of origin in Punta Arenas and/or at the destination in Antarctica, the following contingency plan applies.
Antarctica-bound Flight: (Flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island)
Between Day 1 and until 2 p.m. on Day 4, every effort will be made to transport passengers to Antarctica, taking into consideration weather conditions, their safety, and the safety of the aircraft. The daily program described will apply: Day 2 / Day 3: Guided tours to sites of historic and wildlife interest in Punta Arenas will be provided. Meals are included as well as accommodation at the same hotel included on Day 1 of the itinerary. Day 4: If by 2 p.m. the shipping company cannot transport passengers to Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted. Accommodation with breakfast in a 3-star hotel in Punta Arenas will be provided. No other services or meals will be included. Passengers will be refunded 100% the cruise fare paid for the expedition. Day 5: Group airport transfers are provided. No other services or meals are included.
Return Flight: (Flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas)
In case the return flight to Punta Arenas is moved forward, passengers will disembark the ship and fly to Punta Arenas up to one day earlier than indicated in the itinerary. Upon arrival hotel accommodations will be provided. All other inclusions will remain per the original itinerary. If the return flight from Antarctica to Punta Arenas is delayed, passengers on board the ship will continue cruising to nearby places until the return flight to Punta Arenas is authorized. In such case, shipboard accommodations, full board, and all excursions are included. No refund will be extended for any reason whatsoever.
Limited to 10 participants per cruise; pre-booking highly recommended. Prior kayaking experience and the ability to swim are required. Kayakers will be under the guidance and leadership of an experienced Kayak Master at all times. Minimum age for participation is 16. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Hiking & Snowshoeing:
Limited to 12 participants, no previous experience required. Available on a per excursion basis. No advance payment; must be paid onboard the ship. Participants will be led by an experienced mountain guide. Requires a good level of physical fitness. Minimum age for participation is 12. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
From whale sightings and identification to seabird surveys, each trip offers the opportunity to assist in data collection to benefit a variety of research studies. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Single Hotel Accommodation:
Single travelers who book a shared twin cabin will be accommodated in single rooms at the hotel and must pay a single hotel room supplement. Note: Passengers who use CPAP machines or other assistive devices, as well as those with conditions that could disturb their traveling companion, cannot book on a twin-share basis. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Antarctic Flight Preferred Seating:
Travelers can purchase preferred seats on their Antarctic flight. This option offers travelers an extra level of comfort and a guaranteed aisle or window seat at the front of the aircraft, as well as a guaranteed empty middle seat. Priority boarding in Punta Arenas and an amenities kit are included. Capacity is limited to a maximum of 8 aisle seats and 8 window seats (aisle 2, 3, 4, and 5). Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Additional Hotel & Transfer Package:
Travelers can purchase a hotel and transfer package that includes: one night hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas, dedicated group airport transfer, breakfast, and a drink voucher. Available as a pre- or post-expedition package.
Round-trip flights Punta Arenas/Frei Station, King George Island; one pre-expedition hotel night with welcome dinner, drinks, and breakfast at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar in Punta Arenas on Day 1; one post-expedition hotel night with breakfast at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar in Punta Arenas on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer airport/hotel on Day 1; group transfer airport/hotel on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer hotel/airport on last day of air-cruise; shipboard accommodations; guided shore excursions; onboard lectures and entertainment; gear on loan (waterproof boots); all meals onboard the ship; wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner aboard ship; coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccino, water, and snacks aboard ship throughout the expedition; contingency plan; IAATO passenger fee. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare, accommodation, meals, excursions and transfers other than those included in the itinerary and Contingency Plan; preferred seating on Antarctic flights; optional activities such as sea kayaking or hiking and snowshoeing; dinner in Punta Arenas upon return from Antarctica; mandatory evacuation insurance; personal travel insurance; personal expenses (beverages purchased at the ship’s bar, communication, laundry, souvenirs, etc.); gratuities; visas for Chile and/or Argentina; passport expenses; any arrival and/or departure tax, if applicable; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Ruslan Eliseev (group kayaks, nesting penguin), Nicolas Gildemeister (penguin close-up), Jamie Watts (hikers), Sandra Walser (group Zodiac, plane), Ben O (whale tail)