Summary : Save two days on the return crossing from Antarctica on this epic Antarctic Peninsula expedition with an included return flight from King George Island. Join this early December expedition, when Antarctics's snow and ice will be in pristine condition, the penguin rookeries busy with parents guarding precious eggs and, in some locations, witness nature at it's very best—observe young penguin chicks emerging into the icy Antarctic world. Towering snow-covered mountains will surround you as sea ice starts to break up, opening even more potential landing locations for you to explore. A full range of activities will be on offer on this voyage, including walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, cruising amongst icebergs, visits to historic sities and possibly even a working science base. For the more adventurous, sea kayaking is a wonderful way to discover Antarctica—and if weather conditions permit—why not spend the night, camping on shore? This trip is the perfect way to maximize your time down 'on the ice'!
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
NEW – Complimentary post-cruise hotel night in Punta Arenas, Chile
$999,999,999 to $0
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. You will gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier, where you will 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, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime!
Sailing south towards Antarctica you will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill. An onboard 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 your modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day, your onboard experts will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history and the locations you will hopefully visit in the coming days.
You will awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. Even your experience expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrive. This is Antarctica!
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as 'nunataks' are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. You will frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whale are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Your activity program is in full swing now and you will be encouraged by your expedition team to choose how your personal adventure unfolds.
Every day there are a range of activities planned, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with your expert naturalist guides, as well as Zodiac cruising. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice, search for seals and whales, is certainly a most memorable activity!
Meanwhile, sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. A resident photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, simply watching the penguins come and go from the water. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show!
Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula may include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbor, Danco Island, the Melchoir Island and Fournier Bay – or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where you frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbor is a particular highlight and offers and excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive view. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbor provide yet another continental landing opportunity.
Somewhere along this stretch of coastline you will have the opportunity to spend the night on shore – camping in Antarctica! Your expedition team has all of the right gear and equipment to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and you cannot guarantee it on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suite the requirements, rest assured, you will camp. Camping is included and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book this option.
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over yet! If weather conditions allow, you will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around you here as you explore the old whaling station. On a sunny day, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience.
There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor, where you often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This evening you will enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship's captain, and you will spend your final hours cruising towards King George Island. Upon arrival at King George Island, you will drop anchor and will be in position for disembarkation in the morning.
This morning say goodbye to your expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. You will walk from the landing strip up towards the airstrip preparing to board your flight. The two-hour journey from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile, is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided.
New for 2017-8: A complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas is included at the end of the voyage for all guests returning from King George Island. This evening is for you to enjoy at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes and bars – including the historic 'Shackleton Bar' at the Hotel Jose Nogueira – a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctica.
After a leisurely breakfast and check out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. It is advisable to book your flights after midday. Otherwise, why not continue your exploration of Patagonia? Just a few hours north lies the celebrated Torres del Paine National Park – home to towering peaks, glaciers, and spectacular wilderness – a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance which must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter) and personal liability. 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 you with this. 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.
Sea Kayaking Option: $795 per person
Pre-booked option for up to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFD's, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies and many other vital paddling accessories.
Camping: No additional supplement (highly weather dependent activity)
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 Excursions: No additional supplement
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 books 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.
Photography: No additional supplement
An onboard photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage to help you improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in a different way 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.
Charter flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile; post-cruise hotel night in Punta Arenas, Chile; accommodation aboard the ship; meals during the voyage prepared by onboard professional chefs; afternoon tea with fresh snacks each afternoon; coffee, tea, hot chocolate throughout the day; Zodiac excursions; extensive program of relevant educational presentations; advice from experienced team of naturalists; overnight camping gear; foul weather gear set (pants/jacket/wellington boots OR waterproof backpack/waterproof binoculars/wellington boots); use of multimedia station; welcome reception; welcome dinner; farewell dinner hosted by Captain; 'Memory Book' (log book chronicling your trip, includes photos); onboard medical officer; pre-departure information; hairdryers available on request at no charge; transfers from the meeting point in Ushuaia to the pier to board the ship on day 1 of the cruise and transfers from the pier to the meeting point or airport on the last day of the cruise. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare not specified in the itinerary; visa and passport fees; airport departure taxes; pre-cruise or post-cruise meals, transfers, and hotel accommodation; personal laundry charges; postage; telephone calls; drinks; medical expenses; trip interruption and cancellation insurance; travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (required); gratuities to staff and crew; private fitness sessions; massage therapy; fee for optional programs; fuel surcharge may apply.