Summary : This voyage gives you the best of the stunning Antarctic Peninsula, and on this special departure, the chance to land at the historical landmark of Cape Horn, and potentially visit albatross nesting grounds at Diego Ramírez Islands. Conquer the famed Drake Passage; explore majestic natural environments by Zodiac and on foot; get up close and personal with penguins, whales and other wildlife; and enjoy talks on history, biology and glaciology by onboard polar experts. Expand the boundaries of polar exploration with a range of included or optional activities, including flightseeing, heli-landing, alpine heli-trekking, stand up paddleboarding, and kayaking.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins
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You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (a pre-expedition hotel night is included in the mandatory transfer package; see Rate Notes).
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. (See mandatory transfer package details under Rate Notes)
Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.
After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America.
Depending on conditions, aim to start your journey to the “edge of the earth” with a visit to historic Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). At the southernmost point of the Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire”) archipelago, the most isolated place in the Americas, this steep, rocky headland on Hornos Island marks the northern boundary of the famous Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. From the 1700s to the early 1900s, prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this cape was part of a major global trade route. If sea and weather conditions allow, you may go ashore for a hike out to the lighthouse, the tiny Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”) Chapel, and the albatross-shaped monument honoring the many mariners who lost their lives attempting to “round the Horn.” Atop the 1,394-foot-high windswept promontory, pause for a moment to take in the panoramic view and to enjoy the peaceful solitude that can only be found at one of the most southern stretches of land in the world.
Your ship will then continue cruising farther south, to the Diego Ramírez Islands, the most southern point of South America and one of the least-explored places on the planet. This small archipelago was actually thought to be the southernmost land mass in the world when it was discovered in 1619 by the Spanish Garcia de Nodal expedition. Named after the expedition’s cosmographer, the archipelago held this distinction for 156 years, until Captain James Cook’s discovery of the South Sandwich Islands in 1775. Weather-permitting, Zodiac cruise around these tussock grass-covered islands to admire the abundant birdlife. A designated Important Bird Area, and part of the recently-designated Diego Ramírez Islands and Drake Passage Marine Park, the archipelago is home to millions of breeding seabirds, and an exceptional place for birdwatching. Binoculars in hand, birders will marvel at the sight of multiple species of albatross (these islands are the southernmost albatross breeding ground in the world), including black-browed albatross, shy albatross and grey-headed albatross. Sightings of dolphins, South American fur seals, and rockhopper, macaroni and Magellanic penguins are also possible here.
If conditions look more promising toward the end of your expedition, this itinerary day may take place after your Antarctic Peninsula exploration.
The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage is an adventure unto itself. As onboard staff and leaders take care of you, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the ocean, take pictures of seabirds swooping around the ship, and get to know your expedition team and fellow travelers.
Once the Drake Passage is left in your wake and the South Shetland Islands come into view, your Antarctic adventure truly begins. You will begin to appreciate why this region has long captivated the attention of explorers and travelers alike. On every visit to Antarctica there is something new or unexpected to witness, which means your expedition will be unlike any other—a unique, personal experience.
Each day, you will take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore local bays, channels and landing sites. With wildlife always top of mind, you will visit penguin rookeries, scout for humpback and minke whales, and search for a number of southern seal species, including the cunning leopard seal.
The majesty of the Antarctic Peninsula’s mountains will enchant as you hike snowy pathways to vantage points offering panoramic views of your surroundings. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete isolation and silence, and the next you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into a brilliant blue sea or a penguin waddles by to inspect your footwear.
Amid the serene silence of Antarctica, noisy interludes become indelible memories, such as penguins
squabbling over prized pebbles.
Each day will be different, carefully crafted by your expedition team to inspire and educate you about this wonderful part of the world.
The journey back across the Drake Passage provides a final opportunity to enjoy the invigorating Antarctic air. Spend time on the deck, watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your expedition team and celebrate the experiences you’ve shared exploring the remarkable world of Antarctica.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a taste of Patagonia with a Tierra del Fuego National Park tour before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
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 2021/2022 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:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must have a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. 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. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Luggage Weight Restrictions:
Due to the limited capacity of the aircraft, there is a strict luggage limit of 15kg/33lb for checked luggage and 5kg/11lb for carry-on luggage. Additional luggage can be stored at the hotel in Punta Arenas. There is NO option to pay for additional luggage. Weight limits are subject to change.
Experience remarkable aerial perspectives on a 10- to 15-minute flightseeing excursion included in the cost of your voyage. Additional helicopter activities may also be available for purchase onboard. Please note all helicopter operations are weather- and logistics-dependent. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Camping: (only on 11/9/2021)
Experience Antarctica in an intimate manner and take your expedition to the next level by sleeping on the continent under the stars. All equipment and instruction is provided, no tent required. This popular camping option has limited availability, so book early. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Limited availability; pre-booking required. A small group of kayakers will attempt multiple outings per voyage in lieu of shore landings. The number of opportunities is weather dependent; kayaking will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior experience is required. Participants must be capable of a wet exit in order to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the Paddling Excursion described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than kayaking, consider a Paddling Excursion. Sign up for a one-time paddle using a stable, unencumbered sit-on-top kayak—perfect for anyone with little to no kayaking experience. Rotating groups will venture out on calm days with expert guides to connect with the sea. Space is limited. Pre-booking required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Stand Up Paddleboarding:
Small groups explore calm waters in good weather conditions accompanied by a Zodiac. Stand up paddleboarding can be booked in advance (limited availability), and will be also be offered via sign-up onboard the ship on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Exclusive Heli-Landing: (only on 2/20/2022)
Set foot in an area of the Antarctic that can only be safely accessed by helicopter. With a small group of fellow passengers and expert guides, you’ll board one of Ultramarine’s two twin-engine helicopters to soar off to an exclusive polar site where no ships can navigate. Expect stunning bird’s-eye views during your flight, and then, upon arrival, simply sit back, relax and take in the splendor of the Antarctic from “the best seat in the house”: glacial amphitheaters, breath-taking summits, and more. Each heli-landing experience is uniquely curated by your expedition team, taking conditions and location capacity into consideration. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Exclusive Alpine Heli-Trekking: (only on 2/20/2022)
Join an intimate group of adventurers for a trekking excursion in an area only safely accessed by air. The helicopter flight alone rewards guests with unforgettable views of the expansive polar landscape down below. On land, during an invigorating walk, hike or snowshoe trek (depending on conditions), you’ll be rewarded with equally stunning views of remote ridgelines, glaciated terrain, and snow-topped peaks. This once-in-a-lifetime heli-adventure will leave you marveling at the overwhelming beauty of the Antarctic. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Shipboard accommodations with daily housekeeping; one 10- to 15-minute helicopter flightseeing excursion (weather and logistics permitting); all luggage handling aboard the ship; Zodiac transfers, cruising, and shore landings as per the daily program; Emergency Evacuation Insurance* to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person; photographic journal; gear to keep (parka); gear on loan (walking poles, waterproof expedition boots); all meals and snacks onboard the ship; select beer and wine during dinner onboard ship; soft drinks and juices onboard ship; coffee, tea, and cocoa around the clock; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges. Subject to change without notice.
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned; meals ashore unless specified; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, except for those included; baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage fees; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac landing and cruising excursions or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, massage services or other personal charges, unless specified; phone and Internet charges; gratuities; additional overnight accommodation; arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated; Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. This shipping company strongly advises that all passengers purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.
Photos: © Cindy Miller Hopkins, © Acacia Johnson, © Quark Expeditions