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Antarctica In Depth – Air-Cruise

Antarctica Air Cruise Information

Summary : This voyage encompasses two additional days of exploration in Antarctica without adding to the total length of the voyage by flying from South America to King George Island, Antarctica at the beginning of the voyage, saving two days on the sea crossing. This allows the expedition to journey far to the south with the objective of crossing the Antarctic Circle. The extra time also allows for greater flexibility in daily programming and ultimately equals more time onshore, in the Zodiacs, and in the company of your guides. Always anticipate exciting navigation as you head for the Antarctic Circle. The region is home to several fascinating historical sites including the old British Antarctic Survey hut, Base W, situated on Detaille Island. Encounter sizable Adelie penguin rookeries here. The low-lying Fish, Argentine, and Yalour Island groups provide fantastic options for Zodiac cruising and wildlife observation. Many classic locations are also included, and a day in the South Shetland Islands rounds out the experience. A full range of activities will be offered on this voyage. Take a walk onshore and visit wildlife colonies, historic sites, and possibly even a working science station. Zodiac cruising among icebergs is another memorable activity. For the more adventurous, optional sea kayaking is a wonderful way to discover Antarctica. Or—if weather conditions permit—why not spend the night camping on shore?

Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise, Antarctic Circle

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Itinerary
Day 1
Punta Arenas, Chile

Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. Gather at a central location and transfer to the airport for the included two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. Upon arrival at King George Island, embark your ship via Zodiac. After settling into your cabin and exploring your new surroundings, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome refreshment and set sail.

Day 2
Gerlache Strait and Cuverville Island

Overnight the ship has navigated across the Bransfield Strait. You'll wake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent laid out before you. The first objective will be Cuverville Island, situated in the Errera Channel. Venture onshore and observe a substantial colony of gentoo penguins as well as nesting Imperial cormorants. A stroll along the rocky beach here watching the penguins come and go is a memorable experience. The sea kayakers may take to the water for the first time to enjoy paddling around the island. The ship navigates into the Gerlache Strait, aiming south for the Antarctic Circle.

Day 3
Antarctic Circle

With favorable ice conditions, hope to reach Matha Strait overnight and attempt a shore landing at Detaille Island, below the Antarctic Circle. A now-abandoned British science station, ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. This is a fascinating place for history buffs, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Toast to the success of crossing the Antarctic Circle and turn your gaze northwards, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration.

Day 4 – 7
Antarctic Peninsula and Gerlache Coastline

Overnight the ship has navigated north towards the low-lying Yalour Island group. Hope to visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut. Nearby Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies, the smallest of the Antarctic penguins, nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel.

Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just offshore in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action has sculpted these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a Zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the entire voyage.

Ice conditions permitting, transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbor. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbor offers another continental landing. Both locations offer hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless.

It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that the crew will plan a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. You'll have all the right gear and equipment and a knowledgeable team to make it happen - all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and is never guaranteed on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit the requirements, the crew will always go for it. Camping is included, and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book.

The huge snow-covered outcrop of Danco Island looms over the ice-choked waters and the hike to the summit is well worth the effort for the epic views. The ship will navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island, a little-visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and you might encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbor also allows for another off-ship excursion.

After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, the ship will head north, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor, so expect sightings of humpbacks or the resident pod of orcas that inhabit this stretch of water.

Day 8
South Shetland Islands

The adventure is not over. Plan for an additional day of exploration in the South Shetlands. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate your landing locations. Aitcho Island is a possibility and a good spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetlands, including Half Moon Island or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor, where you might encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another good spot for a hike. Hannah Point, with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels, could also feature. In the evening, navigate north and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South
America.

Day 9 – 10
Drake Passage

As you make your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you'll enjoy a memorable voyage recap by your expedition leader. Join your photography guide in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It is a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship.

Day 11
Ushuaia, Argentina

In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.

Notes

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 Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance. The travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects, and personal liability. It is strongly recommended that you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Medical Documentation:
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar Regions, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed, and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.

Important Voyage Logistics:
Trip Planning: This trip commences in Punta Arenas, Chile. It is recommended that you arrive in Punta Arenas at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure as a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home, voyage embarkation, and departure. From Punta Arenas you will fly to King George Island, Antarctica via a special (included) charter flight where you will board the ship. The voyage ends in Ushuaia, Argentina. A transfer from the ship to the airport (or local hotels) is provided upon disembarkation. It is recommended that you make return travel plans from mid-morning onward or consider spending a night in Ushuaia at the conclusion of your voyage.

Luggage Limits: Different luggage limits apply to the special charter flight between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, Antarctica. Please observe a limit of 20-kg / 44-lb. There is no facility to purchase excess luggage on this flight. Excess baggage can be stored in Punta Arenas for the duration of your voyage for a small fee. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Camping: 

No pre-booking required. Subject to weather conditions. If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent, all the required gear such as bivy sacs and sleeping bags (no tents) will be provided. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. If weather and ice conditions permit and you are near a suitable location, your expedition leaders will make their best effort to facilitate this activity. Please inquire.

Hiking:

No pre-booking required. Trekking poles are available onboard for passenger use and instep crampons will be provided if necessary to improve traction on slick surfaces. Sturdy hiking boots and warm hiking socks are needed to join this activity. Hikes will be 2-3 hours in duration and will involve negotiating challenging terrain without the assistance of trails. Antarctica hiking rewards with images of snow, ice, mountains, and glaciers.

Photography:

A resident photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage. The photographer will help improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in different ways in order to capture them digitally. Also available is an onboard multimedia lab with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.

Kayaking: 

Pre-booked option for up to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their prior paddling experience. You must also attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:

Special charter flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, Antarctica on Day 1; transfers in Punta Arenas to the airport on Day 1 and from the port to the airport or a downtown hotel in Ushuaia at the conclusion of your voyage on Day 11; shipboard accommodations; camping; experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides; assistance of resident photographer; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings; guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and science stations; educational presentations and talks by polar specialists onboard or ashore; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician on every voyage; use of onboard library, sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; end of voyage video, photos and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew. Fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © Amanda Zeisset, Boomer Jerritt, Ira Meyer

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