Summary : Explore the iconic sites of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. Visit the Gentoo penguins of Cuverville Island, and the Weddell and Crabeater seals of Danco Island. Set foot on the Antarctic Continent in Neko Harbor in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. Zodiac cruising and kayaking offers a spectacular ways of enjoying the landscape surrounded by ice encrusted alpine peaks.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$7,200 to $10,650
In the afternoon, embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
During these two days you will sail across the Drake Passage. When you cross the Antarctic Convergence, you will arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area, you may see wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black- browed albatrosses, light- mantled albatrosses, Cape petrels, Southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, you will spot your first icebergs.
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. Sites you may visit include:
Cuverville Island – Stabbing up between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, Cuverville houses a massive colony of gentoo penguins as well as pairs of breeding brown skuas.
Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby.
Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. Opportunities for Zodiac cruising and kayaking provide you the closest possible view of the ice-crusted alpine peaks.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales.
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. There are great opportunities also for kayaking and camping here, and when conditions are right, you can even snowshoe around the shore.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. In Deception Island your ship braves through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. 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. Alternatively, you may try to conduct activities near Half Moon Island. Here you will find Chinstrap Penguins and Weddell Seals that often haul out on the beach near the Argentinean station Camara. Around noon you will depart for the Drake Passage.
On your way north a great selection of seabirds will follow the ship while crossing the Drake Passage.
You will arrive in the morning in Ushuaia 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.
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.
Enjoy walking excursions of 2-3 hours with knowledgable, experienced guides. Sturdy, knee-high boots are provided. Groups of 10-20 passengers per excursion.
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.
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; Zodiac rides; 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; kayaking and camping; 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: © Franco Banfi; © Hanneke Dallmeijer; © Dietmar Denger; © Erwin Vermeulen; © Sandra Petrowitz