Summary : This voyage encompasses two additional days of exploration in Antarctica without adding to the total length of the voyage by flying from King George Island, Antarctica to South America at the conclusion of the voyage—saving two days on the sea crossing. This allows for more time onshore, in the Zodiacs, and in the company of guides. In early December, Antarctica’s snow and ice will be in pristine condition, the penguin rookeries are busy with parents guarding precious eggs and, in some locations, you'll witness nature at it’s very best—observing young penguin chicks emerging into the icy Antarctic world for the first time. Towering snow-covered mountains surround you, and the sea ice is starting to break up, opening even more potential landing locations. A full range of activities will be offered on this voyage. Take a walk onshore to visit wildlife colonies, cruise in a Zodiac among icebergs, or visit historic sites and possibly even a working science station. 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 onshore?
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise
$10,095 to $16,695
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. Gather at a central location and transfer to the pier to embark your expedition ship. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Sailing south towards Antarctica you will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill. Your photography guide will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of a modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day your onboard guides will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, history, and the locations you'll hope to visit in the coming days.
Awaken today to the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. Even your experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves, inlets, and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie, and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. You may encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Your activity program is in full swing and you’ll be encouraged to choose how your adventure unfolds. Every day there is an exciting range of activities, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with your naturalist guides, and Zodiac cruising. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice, searching for seals and whales, is a memorable activity.
Meanwhile, sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. Your resident photography guide will be on hand to help with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, watching the penguins come and go from the water. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.
Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula may include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbor, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands, and Fournier Bay - or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where you might encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbor is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbor provide yet another continental landing opportunity.
It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that your expedition team will plan a night onshore, camping in Antarctica. You’ll have all the right gear and equipment and an experienced 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 team will always go for it. Camping is included, and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book.
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, you'll head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around as you explore an old whaling station and airport hangar. There are several superb hikes and an opportunity for a swim - the 'Polar Plunge'! You'll head northeast, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is always a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in this vicinity including Half Moon Island and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor where you'll often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship’s captain, cruising towards King George Island.
This morning, say goodbye to your expedition team and fellow travelers and transfer ashore by Zodiac. You'll walk from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up toward the airstrip to board a special charter flight back to South America. This flight takes a little over two hours and is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas, a transfer from the airport into town is provided.
This itinerary includes a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas for all guests returning from King George Island at the end of the voyage. This evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes, and bars – including the historic ‘Shackleton Bar’ at the Hotel Jose Nogueira – a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctica.
After check out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. It is recommended that you fly out after midday.
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.
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.
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 Ushuaia, Argentina and returns to Punta Arenas, Chile. It is recommended that you arrive in Ushuaia 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. At the end of the voyage you will fly from From King George Island, Antarctica to Punta Arenas via a special charter flight. Upon arrival, a transfer is provided from the airport to downtown Punta Arenas. This itinerary includes an additional hotel night in Punta Arenas at the conclusion of your voyage. It is recommended that you make your onward travel plans for the following day.
Luggage Limits: Different luggage limits apply to the special charter flight between King George Island, Antarctica and Punta Arenas, Chile. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Special charter flight from King George Island, Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile on Day 11; hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas for one night at the conclusion of voyage; transfers from central meeting point to the ship on Day 1 and from the Punta Arenas airport to a downtown hotel 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.
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