Summary : On this Discovery and Learning voyage aboard a newly-built expedition vessel, enjoy a host of performances, interactive workshops, and activities—both on board and ashore. Sail through the spectacular Beagle and Lemaire Channels. Marvel at the wondrous landscapes found in one of the harshest environments on Earth. Witness numerous species of penguins and seals. Watch for whales. Choose to hike, camp or kayak. Take in scenes of the South Shetland Islands, from lichens and flowering grasses to chinstrap penguins and southern giant petrels. Here you'll find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of seabirds such kelp gulls, cape petrels, and Antarctic terns.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$7,950 to $16,650
Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is 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 mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder 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 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: wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds you might see.
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 be able to visit include:
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 Harbor – 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 may 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 also great opportunities for kayaking and camping here.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. A good hike is a possibility in this fascinating and desolate volcanic landscape.
As an alternative, you may be able to engage in activities near Half Moon Island. Here chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you're again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It's now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2019-2020 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.
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.
Must be pre-booked prior to departure. Camp out under the Antarctic skies. The camping group will be taken ashore via Zodiac after dinner, and returned to the ship just before breakfast. On shore a camp will be made in a place where wildlife will not be disturbed. Special gear and field equipment will be provided: tents, wind and waterproof bivouac bags, mattresses and polar sleeping bags provide comfort during the night. Campers must bring their personal warm and protective clothes. Experienced expedition guides will conduct the activity ashore. One night of camping is the goal; occasionally additional nights are offered when conditions allow. Camping is subject to weather, local site, and environmental regulations. No previous experience is required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Space is limited; must be pre-booked prior to departure. Polar cruise kayaking is an amazing way to slip into the white and blue beauty of the quiet ocean around you. Kayaking excursions are limited to 14 passengers. 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. Single seat and double seat kayaks, neoprene wet suits, and life vests are provided. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Hondius Special Activities:
Each voyage aboard the Hondius includes an extensive array of activities unique to the ship itself. Interactive workshops, captivating exhibitions, and vibrant performances are planned both on board the ship and ashore. Special activities are as engaging as they are informative, covering a kaleidoscope of subjects that vary based on voyage and embarkation point. Navigation, astronomy, art, geology, and botany are just a few of the topics that might be covered, along with presentations that explore the fascinating world of whales, land mammals, birds, and the other species that call the polar regions home. In addition to colorful musical performances, Hondius offers dynamic courses in language, cooking, and mixology taught by authorities in their field. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Pre-scheduled group transfer from the ship to the airport in Ushuaia directly following disembarkation; luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on day of embarkation in Ushuaia; shipboard accommodations; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; Hondius Special Activities: in-field and on-board discovery and learning workshops, exhibitions, and performances; leadership by experienced expedition staff; gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; snacks, coffee, and tea; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; 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, and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Dietmar Denger, © Erwin Vermeulen