Summary : Join an expedition where the ship is your basecamp offering included camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, and photo workshops to discover ice laden landscapes and abundant wildlife. Spend two to three days anchored at specific locations creating a comfortable hub allowing more time for exploration. Zodiac rides and shore excursions round out this once in a lifetime experience exploring Antarctica’s ice laden landscapes and discovering its abundant wildlife of penguins, seals and whales!
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$7,950 to $11,900
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego—nicknamed “The End of the World”—and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale blasting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence—Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas—you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars. Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. The basecamp concept lets you feel more like a resident than a visitor, getting the most out of all available activities. Here are all the places you might go:
Neumayer Channel – The vessel may position itself for the multi-activity basecamp here. The protected waters around Wiencke Island become a veritable playground for all manner of activities. You can enjoy the splendors of this alpine environment at sea, with Zodiac and kayaking trips. Or if you’re among the walkers, there are possible snowshoe hikes and mountaineering (soft climb) options farther inland. Naturally, favorable weather conditions determine the possible activities.
Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you get a chance to visit the former British research station—now a museum and post office—of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags.
Pléneau & Petermann Islands – If the ice allows it, you can sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and Minke whales here, as well as leopard seals. Kayaking, glacier walks, and more ambitious mountaineering are potential activities in this location.
Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. Opportunities for Zodiac cruising, kayaking, and walking provide you the closest possible view of this location’s ice-crusted alpine peaks.
Paradise Bay – You have the chance to pitch camp here like a true polar explorer (but with a better tent), enjoying the supreme overnight Antarctic adventure.
Errera Channel – Possible sites in this area include Danco Island and Cuverville Island, but also the lesser known (though equally picturesque) Orne Island and Georges Point on Rongé Island.
On your last day of near-shore activities, you pass the Melchior Islands toward the open sea. Keep a sharp lookout for humpback whales in Dallmann Bay. You might also shoot for Half Moon Island, in the South Shetlands, with further chances for activities. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Heading north, you’ll again be followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the infamous Drake Passage.
Arrive in the morning in Ushuaia, disembark and transfer to the airport.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. 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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Camp out under the Antarctic skies. After dinner participants will leave the ship and sail ashore via Zodiac. Participants will be accompanied by an experienced guide who will instruct participants on how to set up their tent and sleeping bag. Space is limited; request at time of booking. One night of camping is the goal, occasionally additional nights are offered when conditions allow. Special gear and field equipment will be provided, including: tents, wind and waterproof bivouac bags (lightweight alternative to a tent system). Camping is always subject to weather, local site and environmental regulations. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Polar cruise kayaking is an amazing way to slip into the white and blue beauty of the quiet oceans around you. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Kayaking excursions are limited to 14 passengers. Participants will have up to four scheduled kayaking sessions during the expedition. Kayaking groups will be accompanied by two guides, one leading in a kayak and one trailing nearby in a Zodiac. Kayaking is subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions. Basic kayaking experience is required and physical fitness is essential. Kayaks, neoprene wet suits, booties and gloves are provided. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Space is limited; request at time of booking. This is a technical and more strenuous activity for mountaineers who wish to walk beyond the shore radius in order to reach higher grounds and view points. Mountaineers walk in rope parties under the leadership of a certified mountain guide mostly across glaciated environment. Mountaineering knowledge is preferable, but not required. Physical fitness is essential. Special glacier equipment will be provided: ropes and carabiners, harnesses, helmets, ice axes and crampons. Participants will bring their personal protective outdoor clothes, mountaineering boots suitable for using crampons. Participants must be able to master techniques of alpine skiing in off piste terrain (ascent and descent).
Snowshoe walking is easy and does not require any technical skills. With the use of snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snow surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board.
For beginners and advanced photographers, photo workshops are held under the supervision of a photo expert on board. Everybody is welcome to participate, no previous experience required. The workshop group (20 max) will be accompanied by a photo expert during shore landings. Participants should bring their own photo equipment. The workshop does not intend to instruct on how to use specific camera models, but more to give an insight on better photo results by respecting basic rules of photography.
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation in Ushuaia; shore excursions by Zodiac; camping, snowshoeing, mountaineering, and kayaking; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; comprehensive pre-departure material; gear on loan (rubber boots and snowshoes). Subject to change without notice.
Any airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Dietmar Denger; © Elke Lindner; © Sandra Petrowitz; © Richard Wadey