Summary : Skip the Drake Passage by flying from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island in less than two hours where you will embark the all-suite Hebridean Sky at the gates of the White Continent. From King George Island, explore the Antarctic Peninsula for six days and five nights. See peaceful bays dotted with colossal icebergs, cruise along deep fjords, and discover massive glaciers and sharp snowy peaks jutting out of the sea. Experience the environment at sea level in Zodiac boats and feel the spray of saltwater on your cheeks. Follow in the footsteps of early explorers while enjoying daily excursions, informative lectures, and a knowledgeable naturalist team. Optional sea kayaking and hiking/snowshoeing programs available.
Includes round-trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile with 6 days in Antarctica. Time spent in Antarctica is equivalent to an 11-day traditional ship cruise.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise
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Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, before 2 p.m. where you are welcomed by staff members and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, you'll attend a mandatory briefing that provides important information about your voyage and reviews the essential guidelines for Antarctic visitors. Later, gather for a welcome dinner and meet your fellow adventurers while enjoying a typical regional menu.
Begin your Antarctic adventure with a two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands). As you exit the airplane, the clear Antarctic air fills your lungs for the first time. A 1.25-mile walk to the shore, where you'll board a Zodiac to embark your expedition vessel, takes you through Chile’s Frei Station and Russia’s Bellingshausen Station.
As you navigate historic waterways and visit prime sites along the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring South Shetland Islands, the goal is to attempt 1-2 excursions per day. Your Captain and Expedition Leader continually monitor weather and ice conditions, working together to insure you experience the best of Antarctica whether you’re exploring Paradise Bay, the Lemaire Channel, Port Lockroy, Deception Island, or the many other locations available for landings and Zodiac cruising in the region.
Sailing in the wake of the 19th century’s great explorers—Sir Ernest Shackleton, Adrien de Gerlache, Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen (to name just a few)—you’ll photograph the same towering mountain peaks they saw, hear raucous penguin colonies as you go ashore, see dazzling shades of blue and white as you navigate bays with impressive ice sculptures, and gain a new perspective of what it takes for wildlife—from penguins and giant petrels to elephant seals and humpback whales—to thrive in the beauty of this environment.
Return to King George Island and bid farewell to Antarctica before boarding the flight back to Punta Arenas. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for the night. (Note: Meals in Punta Arenas are at your leisure and not included in the program.)
After breakfast, transfer to the Punta Arenas airport for your onward flight.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance that includes medical evacuation and repatriation in remote areas, including Antarctica. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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.
Three similar aircraft are used for flight operations: the BAE 146-200, the AVRO RJ 85, and the AVRO RJ 100. These aircraft were manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace (which later became part of BAE Systems). They are high-wing aircraft with short runway requirements, which make them particularly suited for this kind of destination. They are operated by Aerovias DAP, which has more than 25 years of experience flying in Patagonia and Antarctica.
Luggage Weight Restriction:
Due to the limited carrying capacity of the aircraft, passengers can only carry 20-kg / 44-lbs of personal luggage, including carry-on. This weight restriction is strictly enforced—it is not possible to purchase extra allowance. Note that ALL luggage will be weighed. Soft-sided luggage is recommended.
Some departures in the past have experienced delays. Based on past experience, the estimated chance of delay is very low. Still, it is important that prospective participants understand that flights to and from Antarctica operate based on weather conditions. Travelers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of airline tickets or onward travel plans. In the unlikely event that the flight to Antarctica cannot operate due to unfavorable conditions, whether at point of origin in Punta Arenas and/or at the destination in Antarctica, the following contingency plan applies.
Antarctica-bound Flight: (Flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island)
In some cases, it may be necessary to move forward the Antarctic flight to the afternoon or evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. This will result in early departure from Punta Arenas and early arrival in Antarctica. In case the outbound flight to Antarctica is delayed, the group will remain in Punta Arenas while waiting for an improvement in the weather and for the opportunity to fly to Antarctica. Included are accommodations at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar, meals, and guided excursions to local attractions. If by 2 PM on Day 4 of the itinerary it is still impossible to depart for Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted and the cruise fare will be refunded. Please refer to the Contingency Plan section of Antarctica21's Terms and Conditions for further details.
Return Flight: (Flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas)
In those cases when the forecast suggests the likelihood of unfavourable weather conditions in Antarctica persisting for several days, the flight back to Punta Arenas may be moved forward to the previous evening as a way to avoid a protracted delay in Antarctica. Accommodation at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar is included upon arrival. All other inclusions will remain per the original itinerary. In case the return flight to Punta Arenas is delayed, the group will remain in Antarctica and wait for the opportunity to fly to Punta Arenas. In the extremely unlikely event that the delay exceeds 2 days and the weather forecast indicates the impossibility to fly over several more days, for safety reasons the captain of the vessel may decide to sail back to South America. Included are meals and accommodation on the ship, and local excursions. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, the trip will end at the airport. Travelers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of their airline tickets or onward travel plans. Please refer to the Contingency Plan section of Antarctica21's Terms and Conditions for further details.
Limited to 10 participants per cruise; pre-booking highly recommended. Prior kayaking experience and the ability to swim are required. Kayakers will be under the guidance and leadership of an experienced Kayak Master at all times. Minimum age for participation is 16. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Hiking & Snowshoeing:
No previous experience required. Available on a per excursion basis. No advance payment; must be paid onboard the ship. Participants will be led by an experienced mountain guide. Requires a good level of physical fitness. Minimum age for participation is 12. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
From whale sightings and identification to seabird surveys, each trip offers the opportunity to assist in data collection to benefit a variety of research studies. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Single Hotel Accommodation:
Single travelers who book a shared twin cabin will be accommodated in single rooms at the hotel and must pay a single hotel room supplement. Note: Passengers who use CPAP machines or other assistive devices, as well as those with conditions that could disturb their traveling companion, cannot book on a twin-share basis. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Antarctic Flight Preferred Seating:
Travelers can purchase preferred seats on their Antarctic flight. This option offers travelers an extra level of comfort and a guaranteed aisle or window seat at the front of the aircraft, as well as a guaranteed empty middle seat. Priority boarding in Punta Arenas and an amenities kit are included. Capacity is limited to a maximum of 8 aisle seats and 8 window seats (aisle 2, 3, 4, and 5). Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Additional Hotel & Transfer Package:
Travelers can purchase a hotel and transfer package that includes: one night hotel accommodation at the Cabo de Hornos (or similar) in Punta Arenas, shared airport-to-hotel transfer, breakfast, and a drink voucher. Available as a pre- or post-expedition package.
Round-trip flights Punta Arenas/Frei Station, King George Island; one pre-expedition hotel night with welcome dinner, drinks, and breakfast at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar in Punta Arenas on Day 1; one post-expedition hotel night with breakfast at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar in Punta Arenas on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer airport/hotel on Day 1; group transfer airport/hotel on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer hotel/airport on last day of air-cruise; shipboard accommodations; guided shore excursions; onboard lectures and entertainment; gear on loan (waterproof boots); all meals onboard the ship; wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner aboard ship; coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccino, water, and snacks aboard ship throughout the expedition; contingency plan; IAATO passenger fee. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare, accommodation, meals, excursions and transfers other than those included in the itinerary and Contingency Plan; preferred seating on Antarctic flights; optional activities such as sea kayaking or hiking and snowshoeing; dinner in Punta Arenas upon return from Antarctica; mandatory evacuation insurance; personal travel insurance; personal expenses (beverages purchased at the ship’s bar, communication, laundry, souvenirs, etc.); gratuities; visas for Chile and/or Argentina; passport expenses; any arrival and/or departure tax, if applicable; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Ben Jackson