Summary : As the Antarctic summer comes to a close in March, migratory whale species like the humpback are very active, socializing and feeding in preparation for the long journey ahead. Resident whale species like the Minke and Orca are abundant, and you stand a good chance of encountering Southern Right whales and some of the larger pelagic species. Leopard seals are also very busy in March, hunting naive penguin chicks as they mature, develop their waterproof feathers, and make their first journeys to the sea.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Ushuaia anytime today, or take advantage of a complimentary arrival program and arrive up to 24 hours in advance. You'll be staying at the beautiful Arakur Hotel & Resort. Explore the trails, relax and enjoy a spa day, or head into Ushuaia and browse the Argentinean leather markets. Join an optional evening briefing to ask questions and meet some of your fellow travelers.
This morning, you're free to explore Ushuaia or unwind at the resort until your mid-afternoon transfer to the ship. On board, you'll be greeted by your expedition team and the ship's officers. After dinner, you'll have a chance to relax and take in the scenery on an early evening sail through the Beagle Channel, past Magellanic penguins, rock cormorants, and sea lion colonies.
As you make your way ever closer to the white continent, your Expedition Team and Marine Mammal experts will be out on deck and on the bridge, looking for the whales and dolphins that may be seen as you travel south. They will prepare you with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history, including helpful briefings on environmental regulations and expedition safety. Eventually, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence where you’ll notice a distinct drop in temperature as you enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean.
Those interested in Citizen Science can take part in sea bird sighting surveys, or help collect salinity samples and weather data along the way. The length of your journey depends on sea conditions, but you should approach the South Shetland Islands in the evening of Day 4. Keep an especially keen watch for pelagic whales as you approach the nutrient rich upwelling areas of the Continental Shelf.
Exploring the South Shetland Islands, you may visit Half Moon Island with its stunning backdrop or mountainous and glaciated Livingston Island. Or perhaps you will sail the ship into an active volcano with an opportunity to take a dip in the relatively balmy waters that surround Deception Island. Bransfield Strait, once the site of an abandoned whaling station, gives you an excellent chance to see whales, who often return to its rich waters.
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, your expedition leader, captain, and marine mammals experts will create a flexible itinerary based on weather, ice, and previous sightings to maximize your whale watching opportunities, while also exploring some of the lesser traveled areas of the Peninsula. You will aim for the most scenic bays and channels, with stops at penguin rookeries, seal wallows, bird colonies, and whale feeding areas, as well as sites of historic and scientific interest.
Heading further South, you will be sure to explore the Gerlache Strait and its surrounding channels and islands. They may include trips to picturesque Neko Harbor, sheltered Paradise Harbor, the humpback whale-favored Wilhelmina Bay, the striking Lemaire Channel, the wildlife-filled Penola Channel, or the majestic Neumayer Channel. You may stop at an active scientific base such as Poland's Arctowksi or Ukraine's Vernadskiy, as well as a historic base such as U.K.'s Port Lockroy or Wordie House.
At this time of year, most areas have amazing marine mammal viewing opportunities with Weddell, Crabeater, and Elephant Seals often found hauled out to rest along with predatory Leopard seals and the assertive Antarctic Fur Seal. Minke and Humpback Whales are frequent visitors during this season and Orca sightings are also common.
As you leave this magical place and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage, you will continue your presentation series and wildlife spotting. Sailing back to Ushuaia through the Beagle Channel, you will celebrate the conclusion of you expedition with a special slideshow.
A morning disembarkation in Ushuaia will let you catch a flight to Buenos Aires or stay in Ushuaia for more sights and adventures.
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: All passengers are required to carry valid travel insurance. This insurance must contain medical and evacuation coverage. Cancellation and trip interruption insurance are strongly recommended as well. As any potential evacuation from Antarctica can cost up to $200,000, it is recommended that no policy carry less than this amount of coverage. Pre-departure forms will require information as to travel insurance carrier, policy number, and a 24 hour contact number. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that the travel insurance policy covers trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Get a taste of Antarctica as it was experienced by the early explorers. After a delicious dinner onboard, jump back in the Zodiacs and head ashore for a night of camping in Antarctica! Help to set up camp, then enjoy the sounds of the waves, the creaking of the glaciers, and perhaps even the blow of a passing whale. Anyone 12 and older can participate (with additional fee). Included: insulated sleeping bags, rated -20° F, a sleeping bag liner, one dry bag for a pillow and a change of clothes, 4-season mountaineering tents, a limited number of mountaineering bivy sacks, and insulated sleeping pads. Booking in advance is highly recommended. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Participate in active scientific research projects by helping to collect data on everything from water salinity to penguin behavior. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Kayaking offers an opportunity to participate in the most intimate Antarctica encounters. Basic paddling experience is highly recommended. Participants should be capable of getting in and out of a kayak, doing a wet exit, and performing forward and back strokes. Maximum participants: 16 passengers per voyage. Included: kayaks (mix of tandems and singles), dry suits, paddles, personal flotation devices (PFDs), and Pogies (neoprene gloves). Booking in advance is highly recommended. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Get the most out of your photography and bring home memories that will last a lifetime. On every voyage there is a dedicated photography coach who is experienced in the unique weather and lighting conditions that make Antarctica the most special place on earth while sometimes challenging to capture on film. Everyone on board is welcome to take advantage of this included service. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
One pre-voyage hotel night at the Arakur Ushuaia Resort and Spa; transfer from the Ushuaia airport to the group hotel (if arriving on Day 1 of the itinerary); transfer from the group hotel to the ship for embarkation; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; scheduled landings and excursions; 24/7 complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate; welcome/farewell cocktail; citizen science program; complimentary house beer/wine/soft drink with dinner; WiFi from the public computers in the library; 100-minute Wi-Fi card (for use on your personal device); daily international news service; digital voyage log; gear on loan (a pair of boots); and a waterproof jacket (yours to keep). Owner's Suite, Penthouse, Veranda, Deluxe, and Promenade categories: champagne and chocolates on arrival, an en suite Nespresso machine (available on request), and a complimentary mini-bar. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any airfare or travel expenses associated with arrival in Ushuaia or Puerto Madryn; transfer from airport to group hotel, unless arriving on day 1 of the itinerary; pre- or post-voyage expenses in Ushuaia or Puerto Madryn; laundry and personal expenses incurred on board; alcohol and soft drinks (except as listed in the inclusions); onboard communication charges such as phone calls; Wi-Fi from personal devices in excess of 100 minutes provided; staff gratuities; fuel surcharge (may apply in the event of significant fuel price increases).