Summary : Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands aboard a former research vessel, and venture farther south than most to attempt a crossing of the Antarctic Circle. Antarctica is among the most beautiful, pristine, and least explored places on the planet. Truly exhilarating, mysterious and alluring! For over two centuries, the 'White Desert' has attracted scientists and adventurers, drawn by its unmatched natural beauty. This largely untouched wilderness is now more accessible to a new generation of intrepid explorers. From the southern spring onward, large birds and sea mammals gather at breeding colonies and the ceaseless daylight of the southern summer makes exploration in this incomparable landscape a unique and unforgettable experience.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
$8,810 to $16,350
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Embark in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. Settle into your cabin and sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass.
Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients which sustains the biodiversity of this region.
The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As you sail across the passage, lecturers will be available to help in the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in your wake. The open bridge policy allows you to join the officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. A full program of lectures will be offered as well.
The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that you have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Capt. William Smith of the brig Williams. Lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with penguins and seals.
Exquisite beauty and pristine landscapes await you on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Icebergs of different shades and shapes float free in the waterways around the continent. The Antarctic Peninsula’s remarkable history provides the type of excitement often associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Adélie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins and other seabirds, you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater, fur and leopard seals, as well as minke and orca whales at close range. At this time of year, you are very likely to encounter large cetaceans, such as humpback and fin whales, in the area.
Navigate some of the most beautiful waterways the area has to offer, such as the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel, Neumayer Channel and the extremely narrow Lemaire Channel. Possible landing sites include Paradise Bay, which is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest gentoo penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post Office of Port Lockroy.
Further exploration will lead you far south of the Lemaire Channel in quest of the Polar Circle. You might also visit the Ukrainian Station Vernadsky, the former British base Faraday (where the hole in the ozone was first spotted), the rugged Yalour Islands, and—south of the Polar Circle—Detaille Island. On your way north, plan to explore the South Shetland Islands. The volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauled out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, as is visiting crescent-shaped Half Moon Island, home to chinstrap penguins and breathtaking surroundings.
Depart Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join your lecturers and naturalists on deck as you search for seabirds and whales. Enjoy some final lectures, relax, and reflect on the fascinating adventures of recent days on the way back to Ushuaia.
Arrive at Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark after breakfast.
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 emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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 U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Voyage as indicated in the itinerary; shipboard accommodations; shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; post-expedition log; gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals aboard the ship; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; comprehensive pre-departure material; coffee and tea throughout the day. Subject to change without notice.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post- land arrangements; transfers to / from the vessel; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; emergency evacuation / repatriation insurance (mandatory); baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as bar and beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyage (guidelines will be provided); fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Antarpply Expeditions; © Weisheng Lin, © Claudio Suter