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Antarctic Peninsula – Off the Beaten Track

Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : Designed for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers, this trip also has great appeal to those who wish to experience Antarctica at a magical time of the season. Early season is a time of intense activity in Antarctica. The wildlife migrations have commenced and the sea ice is quickly receding, allowing access to locations which have been ice-choked since winter. You can anticipate exciting ice navigation on the ship and will be among the first to visit many well-known sites this season. For all these reasons, it's one of the best times of the year to visit Antarctica. What makes this journey so special is the enhanced program of off-ship activities offered on this departure. Taking advantage of optimal snow and ice conditions in November, you can experience a range of additional activities which complement regular programming. For those with some technical ability and experience, there is back-country ski touring. Snowshoeing is another exciting option. If you have some experience sea kayaking, why not enjoy this unique activity? Accompanied by a small group of paddlers, your knowledgeable guides will allow you to experience Antarctica in a very different way. Camping is yet another great activity. All this is complemented with a fascinating series of onboard presentations, led by adventurers, marine biologists, naturalists, glaciologists, historians, and an onboard photographer.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina

Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier to embark on your expedition ship. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, you will 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.

Day 2 – 3
At Sea

The captain charts a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill. A resident photography expert 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 research vessel. Throughout the day, onboard experts will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife, and history of the locations you hope to visit in the coming days. As you approach the coastline of Antarctica, anticipate an increase in whale sightings.

Day 4 – 5
South Shetland Islands / Antarctic Peninsula

Awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of the South Shetland Islands laid out before you. Depending on ice and weather conditions, plan on entering the McFarlane Strait, which separates Greenwich and Livingstone Islands. Half Moon Island or nearby Yankee Harbor are possible landing sites. A short way to the southwest lies Deception Island, a flooded volcanic caldera. Navigating the ship into the narrow passage takes great skill. The old whaling station here begs exploration and there are some fantastic hikes available along the black sand beach to investigate an old aircraft hangar and other relics. A hike of several miles up to a high point known as Neptune’s Window is another option.

Overnight you'll cross the Bransfield Strait, along the coastline of continental Antarctica. Over the following days, the itinerary is deliberately flexible to account for early season ice conditions, and to take advantage of optimal snow conditions at several favorite landing sites. Your planned exploration starts in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbor and neighboring Cierva Cove—both beautiful locations and the perfect introduction to Antarctica.

Day 6 – 9
Gerlache Strait / Antarctic Peninsula

Heading south along the coastline of the continent, your busy program of activities will now be in full swing. Days are spent exploring on and off the ship. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is always a memorable activity.

Based on site characteristics, the ski touring group may set off to explore the pristine terrain and range several miles inland with experienced mountaineering guides. What a unique thrill it is to carve "fresh tracks" in the virgin snow of Antarctica. The expedition snow shoe group may follow in the tracks of the skiers, climbing to high points which afford breathtaking views. If you are not up to the more strenuous snow shoeing program, you will be able to try this unique activity at other landing sites.

Expedition sea kayakers will head out on excursions which may last all day. An overnight kayaking/camping excursion is available to the more adventurous in the group. Everyone aboard will have an opportunity to camp onshore for the night in Antarctica if the weather conditions cooperate. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the chance to spend an entire day with the expedition photographer on an all-day field workshop.

The ship will range as far south as ice conditions permit and hope to navigate as far as Neko Harbor and into the Errera Channel. Witnessing the migration of penguins early in the season as they busily reestablish their rookeries and prepare nests is a fascinating experience.

Day 10
South Shetland Islands / Antarctica

The adventure is not over and an additional day of exploration is planned in the South Shetlands. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate landing locations. Aitcho Island is a possibility and a great 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 great spot for a hike. Hannah Point with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels could also feature. In the evening, the ship will navigate north and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.

Day 11 – 12
Drake Passage

Making your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you'll enjoy a memorable voyage recap by your expedition leader. Join the resident photographer 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 13
Ushuaia, Argentina

In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia and say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. You will be transported to your hotel or to the airport for your return flight 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:
This trip commences in and returns to Ushuaia, Argentina. 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 and voyage embarkation. A transfer from the ship to the airport or local hotel is provided upon disembarkation. It is advised that you book your outward flight from Ushuaia from mid-morning onwards, or consider spending a night in Ushuaia at the conclusion of your voyage.

Camping:
Included
No pre-booking required. 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.

Hiking:
Included
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.

Overnight Kayaking Program: 

Pre-booked option for up to 6 guests (4 guest minimum required). The overnight sea kayaking adventure with camping is available for those already enrolled in the standard sea kayak program. Participation is dependent upon guide approval onboard.

Expedition Sea Kayaking:

Pre-booked option for up to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, this option must be booked in advance. You cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers for review beforehand. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak-specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and many other vital paddling accessories.

Backcountry Ski Touring:
Pre-booked option for up to 12 guests. Backcountry ski experience is essential, you must bring your own ski gear, and participation is dependent upon guide approval onboard. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a required gear list prior to departure.

Expedition Snowshoeing: Included
Pre-booked option for up to 12 guests. Snowshoes and trekking poles provided. Traveling by snowshoes offers a new view of Antarctica! Snowshoe hikes will be 1-3 hours in duration and will at times be on challenging terrain without the assistance of trails. Come prepared with warm socks and comfortable clothing. In addition, a small knapsack to carry water and an extra layer of clothing are recommended.

Traditional Snowshoeing:
Included
No pre-booking required. Snowshoes and trekking poles provided. Ten pairs of snowshoes will be available.

Photography: Included
All guests will have access to a resident photography guide and access to the multimedia lab for the duration of the voyage.

Included: 
Transfers from central meeting point in Ushuaia on Day 1 and from port to airport (or a downtown hotel) at conclusion of voyage on Day 13; shipboard accommodations; expedition snow shoeing; overnight 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; guided hikes and walks; 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, 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.

Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); early morning adventure concierge coffee service; in-room mini bar, single brew coffee machine, mini-stereo, and iPad with reference and fictional content; complimentary field guide to polar region visited. 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; © Paul Zizka

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