Summary : Cross the Polar Circle in Antarctica and explore the South Shetland Islands on this epic exploration of the vast great white wilderness. Sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island where you will meet Adelie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. Watch for Humpback and Minke Whales, Southern Elephant Seals, and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Enjoy shore walks, travel by Zodiac, kayak, or join a polar diving excursion!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
$7,950 to $11,700
Embark in Ushuaia, Argentina in the afternoon. Enjoy the scenic sail through the Beagle Channel in the evening as you make your way out on the open ocean.
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 waves, maybe even a fin whale blasting up a column of 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.
You may start your first day in Antarctica with a landing at Hannah Point, where you will find a nice variety of Gentoo Penguins, Chinstraps and southern Giant Petrels, as well as Elephant Seals hauling out on the beach.
At Deception Island is a subducted crater, which opens into the sea creating a natural harbor for the ship. Here you will find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. On your way further South you will call at Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island. It contains a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. In Neko Harbor and Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, you will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Board a Zodiac for a cruise between the icebergs in the inner parts of the amazing water way of Paradise Bay.
Sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island offering Adélie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. You will also try to land at Pléneau Island with a fair chances to encounter Humpback and Minke Whales. Overnight, head south along the Argentine Islands to Crystal Sound, and cross the Polar Circle in the morning.
Your ship captain will aim to make a landing at the abandoned British station on Detaille Island which is likely to be your furthest south. The landscape is very impressive with very high mountains and huge glaciers. You may reach the Fish Islands on the way northwards where you will encounter one of the southernmost Adélie Penguin and Blue-eyed Shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing north again through Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Strait, you will arrive at the Melchior Islands with a very beautiful landscape with icebergs, where you may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and whales. Throughout this area offers excellent opportunities for kayaking and diving in the pristine Antarctic environment.
Make your way north again back across the Drake Passage.
Arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark.
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.
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.
Dive under shallow water, down along walls, from the beach, or from a Zodiac. You will reach a maximum of 60 feet. Unlike no other dive – the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Participants will dive in group of eight divers per guide, with a maximum of 24 divers per excursion. Compressors and weights are provided. Participants must bring their own dry suit with hood and additional equipment. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a complete list. This activity is available for experienced divers. Participants are required to present their internationally accepted diver certificate, diver's logbook, and a statement from their doctor (not older than two years) that demonstrates they are in a good state of physical health allowing them to scuba dive. Experience with both cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 30 dives) is required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; 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; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; gear on loan (rubber boots). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; camping and kayaking; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Franco Banfi; © Dietmar Denger; © Sandra Petrowitz; © Richard Wadey