Summary : Antarctica at its most accessible! Cruise down to Antarctica and fly back on this time-saving ‘Sail/Fly’ voyage to the icy continent’s picturesque west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Witness mountains disgorging glaciers to the sea; photograph glistening icebergs, look out for humpback and minke whales feasting on krill; see penguins feeding their chicks—it all awaits you!
NOTE: This is ship is currently being built and all details are subject to change.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise
- Save up to 25% per person
$11,500 to $24,300
Arrive in Ushuaia where you’ll be met by an expedition representative and transferred to your downtown hotel (if taking the designated group flight).
This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before exploring Ushuaia on a half-day city tour.
The city tour will aim to visit The Mission, Brown and Solier neighborhoods, where you can see old houses belonging to the first families in Tierra del Fuego, such as the Beban, the Pastoriza, and the Ramos. Head 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) out of town to Martial Glacier. The ride in the chair lift to the trails leading up to the glacier provides wonderful regional views of Ushuaia, the Beagle Channel and its islands. Afterwards, continue to the End of the World Museum with exhibitions explaining the history of Tierra del Fuego.
Transfer to the pier where your expedition team will warmly welcome you on board the Greg Mortimer at approximately 4:00pm.
NOTE: Lunch is not included today.
As you commence the Drake Passage crossing, make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Your expedition team prepares you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and bio-security procedures, as well as start the lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Your wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in the ship's wake. They rise and fall skillfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks, watching for the first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once the ship is below the Antarctic Convergence and surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a long time. Weather permitting, your first landing in Antarctica could be in the late afternoon.
Over the next few days a host of choices are on offer, and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is there to explore. Your experienced expedition team will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day. This allows the best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Because you are so far south, you'll experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight each day. The aim is to try for two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul-outs, historic huts, and a few other favorite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
There are many exciting places to choose to visit and the itinerary is deliberately flexible to allow for the best spots of the day based on ice and weather conditions. A sample of some of the places where you may land, hike, or view spectacular wildlife follows:
A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, the rocky cliffs of this spectacular harbor provide perfect nesting sites for blue-eyed shags, terns and gulls. This is a haven for whales and keep your eyes open for humpbacks, orcas, minkes, and crabeater seals, as you explore the bay in Zodiacs.
This group of low-lying unprotected granitic rocks protrude from the sea, swept by ocean swells. At first these rocks appear uninteresting, but on closer investigation, calm channels lead to a hidden interior where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms. Hydrurga is the Latin family name for leopard seal (Hydrurga Leonina), and on occasions see some skulking in the shallows. There are many places to simply sit and watch the rise and fall of clear green water and listen to the magic sounds and calls of the wildlife.
Half Moon Island:
This wildlife-rich island is tucked into a neat bay at the eastern end of Livingston Island. On a clear day, the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the vista. There is a large chinstrap penguin colony tucked in between basaltic turrets colored by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and there are often fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. There is a large rookery of nesting blue-eyed shags at one end of the island, while at the other end of the island lies a small Argentinian station that is sometimes occupied by scientists conducting research on the penguin colony and surrounding waterways.
If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 meters / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for the Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct passage.
Located on Goudier Island, British Port Lockroy is an important site for both scientific research and visitors to the Antarctic continent. Designated a historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996, it was discovered in 1904 and used by the whaling industry in the first half of the 1900s. It was part of the British Operation Tabarin during World War II, and was later used as a British Research Station. Today, Pork Lockroy is manned by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and operates as a museum, gift shop and post office for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. You can even send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world’s most southern Post Office!
Located in Andvord Bay, Neko Harbour is an inlet home to gentoo penguins, and regularly welcomes Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic - towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbor. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve is sure to stop you in your tracks.
A fine example of the South Shetland Islands – tiny toes of land that are literally alive with wildlife. Here, there are two species of penguins breeding - chinstrap and gentoo. It is not uncommon to find wallows of elephant seals that are 60 beasts strong. Giant petrels nest on the ridgeline.
As you approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to farewell Antarctica and your amazing adventure before boarding your flight (approximately one-and-a half-hours) to Punta Arenas, Chile. On arrival at the Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to your included downtown hotel.
NOTE: King George Island is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote place on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required in order to take off and land safely. Please see the contingency plan in the Notes and Payment/Cancellation Policy section so you know what to anticipate should there be any delays due to weather.
After breakfast, bid a fond farewell to your fellow travelers as you continue your onward journeys with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature (breakfast included).
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. The information below is subject to change at any time.
NOTE: This is ship is currently being built and all details are subject to change.
Charter Flight Contingency Plan:
You acknowledge that weather conditions may delay or require a cancellation of this 'Sail/Fly' itinerary. Due to weather conditions, flying in some regions can be difficult and beyond the shipping company's control. If a voyage’s charter flight has been delayed due to weather conditions, the shipping company will attempt for up to 72 hours with the airline to fly to the destination. See Payment & Cancellation Policies page for more details regarding the 'Sail/Fly' charter flight continengency plans.
Charter Flight Luggage Weight Limit:
Punta Arenas/King George Island: 7kg per person carry on; 20kg per person checked
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $250,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Camping: Select Departures
All the equipment you need to experience the feelings of the early Antarctic explorers is provided—albeit in a more comfortable and civilized fashion. Camping is complimentary and is subject to weather, time and operational conditions. Places are limited to 40 campers on a first-come first-served basis, so early booking is encouraged. This activity will only be offered on board if there is still availability at the time of embarkation. If you are interested in the Camping activity, please contact ExpeditionTrips. PLEASE NOTE: Tents are not used for the camping experience as it is best enjoyed without blocking the amazing surrounds you've come to admire.
Kayaking: All Departures
Exploration by sea kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of Antarctica. Paddle among icebergs and brash ice, get up close to wildlife and observe in an unobtrusive manner. Some kayak excursions may be long in duration and on choppy water, so a reasonable level of kayaking experience is required to participate in this activity. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Alpine Trekking/Climbing: Select Departures
Stand atop an Antarctic summit for views few others have experienced. Internationally-qualified climbing guides plan to help you make at least two, one-day alpine ascents (weather dependent) as well as some ice-climbing. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Snorkeling: All Departures
Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you'll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs! Participant numbers are limited to ensure the highest safety standards and an experienced dive guide will oversee the program. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Snowshoeing: Select Departures
Snowshoeing makes walking up gentle slopes and across Antarctica’s soft, powdery snow a breeze, allowing you to explore places where others struggle to reach in boots alone. Armed with your very own set of snowshoes and ski poles, you’ll be led by guides who will provide all the instruction you need for a thrilling experience. No previous experience is required, but a good level of fitness is necessary. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Stand Up Paddleboarding: Select Departures
A hybrid of paddling and surfing, paddleboarding is absolutely thrilling for adventurous expeditioners who want to experience Antarctica up close from this unique vantage point. Some paddleboarding experience is required to participate in this activity as weather and sea conditions in Antarctica can be challenging and unpredictable. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Scuba Diving: Select Departures
Imagine exploring new dive sites, diving where very few have dived before with the chance to encounter beautiful sea stars, sea spiders, nudibranchs, soft corals, penguins, seals and whales. Diver numbers are limited to ensure the highest safety standards and an experienced dive guide will oversee the program. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Ushuaia with breakfast; group transfers from Ushuaia airport to hotel if on the group flight; half-day tour of Ushuaia before embarkation (lunch not included); one-way flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas on disembarkation day; transfer from Punta Arenas airport to hotel; one night post-voyage hotel in Punta Arenas with breakfast; shipboard accommodations; camping (12/27/2020 only, limited to 40 spots, pre-book); printed photo book from your voyage (post voyage, one per booking); gear to keep (expedition jacket); gear on loan (boots); all meals onboard ship; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with dinner onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; hotels and meals not included in itinerary; transfers not mentioned as included; optional activity supplements; alcohol and soft drinks not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as Wi-Fi, laundry service, spa charges, medical expenses, etc.; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport arrival or departure taxes; gratuities (Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Aurora Expeditions