Summary : Endeavour to cross the Antarctic Circle on a far-reaching journey along the Antarctic Peninsula. Daylight grows longer and the air gets colder as you head south across the Drake Passage accompanied by soaring albatross. Your first exploration of the White Continent is in the South Shetland Islands, historically important and rich with iconic Antarctic wildlife. Continue to Gerlache Strait where immense glaciers, towering mountains, and blue icebergs form a picture-perfect setting for amazing marine mammal and penguin encounters. Then head even further south into rarely visited territory, crossing the Antarctic Circle and exploring wherever the wind and ice will allow. This special, once-a-year voyage includes extra days in order to push deeply into rarely visited regions south of the Antarctic Circle. In so doing, you'll follow in the historic footsteps of legendary polar explorers and early scientific expeditions.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
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$10,995 to $24,195
Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of your Antarctic expedition. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by staff and transferred to your included hotel. For the rest of the day, you are free to explore this vibrant port city and adventure hub.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia. Explore the delightful waterfront and savor views of the snowcapped Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of shopping for souvenirs or some last-minute necessities.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the pier where you'll be warmly welcomed aboard. Settle into your suite and explore the ship that will be home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After the ship is underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After dinner, step out onto the open decks to admire the scenery as you pass through the Beagle Channel.
After passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, head south across the Drake Passage. Pelagic seabirds including the majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows and balconies. On the way, you will cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, orientations, and lectures prepare you for arrival in Antarctica.
During the next eight days, undertake an in-depth exploration of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land. Here you'll also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be your first area of exploration. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. You will also explore the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, marine mammals, and bustling penguin colonies. Plan to pass through the famous Lemaire Channel, also known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the narrow channel reflects the image of sheer snowy mountains.
This voyage includes additional days devoted to pushing even farther south in an attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle. The sublime icescapes in Crystal Sound and beyond are particularly austere, the weather is especially wild, and the waters are full of constantly shifting ice. Very few people have ventured this far south. This is a true expedition.
Throughout the islands and on the mainland you'll find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. It is a dramatic time at the colonies. While some parents remain at the nest to guard against skua attack, others go fishing in seas patrolled by predatory leopard seals and killer whales. Meanwhile, fluffy chicks are starting to explore away from their nests. Also at this time, humpback and minke whales have arrived and the feeding frenzy in is full swing. Crabeater and Weddell seals abound in these highly productive waters.
In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. Your knowledgeable guides will offer hiking and hill climbing for an even greater perspective of this raw polar wilderness. For sea kayakers*, the wildlife-rich waters of Antarctica offer many chances to paddle with seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways. To make the most of your time on the White Continent, you can also spend a night camping* ashore, surrounded by untamed Antarctic nature.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. The precise route and your exploration opportunities will be shaped by weather and ice. Your experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions in this challenging polar environment. With over 17 hours of daylight per day, seize every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery on shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
*Optional; see Additional Costs
It is now time to head back across the Drake Passage toward South America, but the adventure is not quite over. Seabirds are constant companions and there is always the possibility of whale encounters in these wild waters. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as the ship enters the calm Beagle Channel, enjoy a night of sailing toward Ushuaia.
After breakfast on board, say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, where you first started. A group transfer will be provided to the airport or to the town center. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!
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.
Bilingual Departures: All voyages are conducted in English and German.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to carry adequate travel insurance that must contain medical, evacuation and repatriation coverage. Passengers must ensure that their purchased insurance includes cruise travel in the polar regions, and has evacuation and repatriation coverage of no less than $200,000 per person. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Pre-booking required; space is limited. Participants must be at least 12 years old. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age at the time of their voyage must be accompanied and supervised at all times by a parent or guardian. Previous camping experience is not required, but good health and a spirit of adventure are necessary for getting the most out of this experience. Weather permitting, forgo the comforts of the ship and brave the elements of a polar night for an unforgettable experience!
Pre-booking required; space is limited. Weather permitting, experience the thrill and tranquility of sea kayaking in the polar regions as part of a guided paddling group. Participants must be at least 16 years old at the time of their voyage, in good health with appropriate physical fitness, and have previous kayaking experience. Children who are 16 to 18 years of age at the time of their voyage are allowed to participate if they are accompanied and supervised at all times by a parent or guardian.
Photography Program: Included
Learn and practice your photography skills alongside an experienced professional. An expert photographer will be available to answer your questions and give advice, both in the form of onboard lectures and workshops on shore. Explore the key elements of photography in a fun and relaxed setting with plenty of opportunities for questions and feedback. Learn how to see light in a new way and experiment with the techniques of composition and framing.
One pre-voyage hotel night in Ushuaia; group transfer airport/hotel on day prior to embarkation; group transfer to ship on day of embarkation; group transfer to airport or central location upon disembarkation in Ushuaia; shipboard accommodations; welcome and farewell cocktails on board ship; leadership throughout the voyage by experienced Expedition Leader and Expedition Team; scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions); Wi-Fi on board ship; digital voyage log; photography program; gear to keep (wind- and water-resistant parka); gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; 24-hour coffee/tea station on board ship; all port fees. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers to/from hotel if arriving prior to Day 1 of the program; visa and passport fees (if applicable); emergency evacuation insurance to a minimum benefit of $200,000 (required); luggage and trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended); excess baggage charges; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those mentioned as included; kayaking; personal expenses such as laundry and onboard communications such as telephone calls; gratuities; pre- or post-cruise travel expenses; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Poseidon Expeditions, © ExpeditionTrips