Summary : This time-saving cruise features a flight to the Falkland Islands and a long list of classic highlights including a visit to Elephant Island (a location forever connected to the remarkarble story of survival by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men more than a century ago), a day spent exploring the icy Weddell Sea, and many well-known landing sites along the length of the Antarctic Peninsula. Add a few lesser-known hidden gems and this has all the makings of an exceptional and unique journey. Towering glaciers, amazing wildlife encounters, snowcovered landscapes, massive icebergs, and the option to choose your favorite activities every day make this popular voyage the perfect introduction to the White Continent. In the waters of the peninsula, break into small special-interest groups and discover Antarctica and its remarkable wildlife through photography, Zodiac excursions, hiking onshore and—for the more adventurous—camping and sea kayaking. Visits to historic sites and active scientific research locations add another dimension to the voyage. A final highlight will be a visit to the enchanting South Shetland Islands. Here, hope to visit Deception Island and other nearby locations such as the Aitcho Islands. This carefully designed itinerary provides an incredible diversity of both sights and experiences, and showcases many of the crew's favorite locations, discovered over their two decades of exploration.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
Save up to $1,200 per person
+ Complimentary Hotel Night
$11,295 to $17,995
Depart Santiago this morning on a special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands (see Additional Costs) not in. You'll be met on arrival and transferred from the airport into town. There is time to explore or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides your first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making your way to the port, board your expedition ship in the afternoon. 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 cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and your photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Throughout the day, onboard specialists will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history of the locations you hope to visit in the coming days.
There is great excitement when the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. This is one of Antarctica's most important historic locations and a fitting introduction. On the rocky beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and his men camped here, having lost their ship, HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. It was from this location that Shackleton and five companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard their tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, their epic ocean crossing and traversing of South Georgia on foot is considered one of the greatest tales in polar history. If weather conditions permit, aim for a Zodiac cruise to view the site from close proximity. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and sets the scene for an exciting expedition.
Navigating into Antarctic Sound you'll witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe- inspiring sight. You'll notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs entering the Weddell Sea. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south, drifting here on the prevailing currents. Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size exist here—some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. There are several fantastic locations to consider but the ice conditions will dictate your landing sites. Gourdin Island and Brown Bluff are two such locations featuring substantial penguin rookeries. The region is also full of history of early exploration and has fascinating geological sites with thousands of fossils strewn over the shoreline. You'll have a busy day of exploration onshore, in the Zodiacs, and on the ship.
The Gerlache Strait is an important whale migration corridor. You'll be encouraged to be on the bridge or outer observation decks looking for the tell-tale blows of migrating whale pods. With luck, you may even catch a glimpse of the resident orca group that inhabits this stretch of water. There are several interesting locations to explore over the coming days, such as Cierva Cove or nearby Mikkelson Harbor. This area provides great excursion options onshore, in the Zodiacs, and for the sea kayakers. You'll start to encounter much larger numbers of nesting gentoo penguins with their distinct orange beaks. Chinstrap penguins are another species you will begin to view in the coming days. Kelp gulls, skuas, and Imperial cormorants are just some of the sea birds you can expect to observe. It takes a sharp eye to spot the snowy white plumage of the Antarctic petrel, always a treasured sighting for bird lovers.
Anvers Island is one of the largest of the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several outstanding sites here as well as on neighboring Wiencke Island. These locations provide opportunities to venture onshore, breaking into smaller groups. Enjoy a short or longer hike, wander over to observe penguins guarding their precious eggs or newborns on the nest, cruise in the Zodiacs or just sit and soak it all in. The choice is yours.
A short transit across the Gerlache Strait brings you along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A potential shore landing at Paradise Harbor will be a highlight for many as they step foot on the continent proper for the very first time. A nearby hike up a snow-covered hill provides staggering 360-degree views. A Zodiac cruise or paddle into the nearby ice ‘cathedral’ of Skontorp Cove is another memorable experience. If the conditions are right, you may choose to camp overnight somewhere in this vicinity. All the gear and an experienced team is provided to make this a night to remember. However, camping always depends on the weather and this activity is never guaranteed on any voyage.
One of the largest gentoo penguin colonies along this stretch of coastline can be found on Cuverville Island, situated at the northern end of the Errera Channel. This is an important research site with the populations being carefully monitored by visiting scientists. Your naturalist guides will tell you more about this important work. Cuverville is a good location for a Zodiac cruise and a circumnavigation of the entire island is sometimes possible. Other locations you might explore include Willhelmina Bay. This is a known whale 'hot- spot' and a magnificent location with towering glaciers tumbling off the mountainous spine of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around as you explore an old whaling station. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. The nearby Aitcho Islands provide hiking routes that showcase the colorful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, and you might encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point, situated on Greenwich Island, is another possible location for a visit. Eventually you'll leave the snow-covered peaks of Antarctica behind, pushing northwards on your return trip to the Falkland Islands.
As the ship makes its way back to Stanley and the Falkland Islands, the educational presentations continue. Enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your expedition leader. Join your photography guide at the multimedia station and download your precious images. Approaching the coast of the Falkland Islands in the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship.
This morning you'll find yourself back in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to your crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for the return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago your journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.
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 and returns to Santiago, Chile. It is recommended that you arrive at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure as a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and trip departure time. From Santiago, you'll fly to Stanley in the Falkland Islands via a special charter flight (see Rate Notes). At the conclusion of the trip, you'll fly from Stanley back to Santiago. A transfer from the airport to a central downtown location is provided. It is advised that you book your outward flight from late afternoon/early evening onward—or consider spending a night in Santiago—to avoid missed connections.
Luggage Limits: Different luggage limits apply to the special charter flight between Santiago and Stanley. Please observe a limit of 20-kg / 44-lb for checked baggage and 5-kg / 11-lb for carry-on baggage. There is no facility to purchase excess luggage on this flight. Excess baggage can be stored in Santiago for the duration of your voyage for a small fee. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
No pre-booking required but please notify ExpeditionTrips of your interest at time of booking. 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. Please Note: Camping is unlikely to happen in March due to lower average night time temperatures on shore and available hours of light. 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.
Kayaking: pre-booking required
Limited to 30 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 and 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.
An onboard photographer is available throughout the voyage to 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 download studio with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.
Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport upon disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; camping (gear provided); experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides; adventure concierge staff; assistance of resident photographer; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac; guided hikes and walks onshore; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and science stations; educational presentations and talks by polar specialists; 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, Finnish 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. Subject to change without notice.
Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Exclusive check-in service on day of embarkation; deluxe welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); single brew coffee machine; mini-stereo; private in-room One Ocean Adventure Concierge service; in-room dining menu; early morning in-room café service; evening après dinner drink service; premium in-room mini bar replenished daily (including spirits); complimentary 1-hour massage/spa experience. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Charter flights; any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specific in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities; massages from registered therapist; personal laundry charges; 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: © Daisy Gilardini; © Renato Granieri; © Boomer Jerritt; © Jeff Topham; © Paul Zizka