Summary : Take advantage of the fastest, most direct way to Antarctica—flying. A short flight takes you to the White Continent where you will enjoy all the Antarctic has to offer. Cruise south to explore some of Antarctica’s most pristine and rarely visited areas including the incredible wildlife colonies along the Antarctic Peninsula and in the South Shetland Islands. Navigate through some of the world’s most scenic waterways and attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle. Take in the full Antarctic experience without having to cross the Drake Passage. Skip extra days at sea while enjoying beautiful scenery and incredible wildlife experiences.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise, Antarctic Circle
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Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, the most populated city in southern Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy. By early afternoon, a representative will meet you at the official starting point hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and briefing to prep you for embarkation day.
Your charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will have you crossing the legendary Drake Passage in only a few hours. Far below, the ship will approach King George Island for your arrival. Your first glimpse of dramatic Antarctic landscapes will be from a unique perspective, as your plane descends for landing in the South Shetland Islands. After landing, stretch your legs with one-mile walk to shore, before transferring by Zodiac to your ship. From there, set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula!
There are few places in the world as evocative as Antarctica. As your ship approaches the White Continent, you may feel excitement and awe. Much of Antarctica is indescribable and can only be fully appreciated through your own eyes.
As your captain and expedition team keep a lookout for whales and seabirds, you’ll be alerted to any new sightings. Your team of expert lecturers will also provide in-depth explanations of the glaciology, history and wildlife of the region.
Even more exciting are your land excursions. Your first Zodiac landing is something you’ll never forget! Walking on a beach dotted with penguins is the most intimate way to experience the unique wildlife of Antarctica. Each landing is different and dependent on weather, but every day presents new sightings and photo opportunities, and it won’t be long before you can tell the difference between an Adélie, gentoo and chinstrap penguin.
One day you may take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs; the next, you might hike to a penguin rookery. From the booming sound of a calving glacier to the thrill of spotting apex predators like leopard seals and killer whales in action, you’ll wake up early and welcome each day with a sense of adventure and a desire to explore this unrivaled travel experience. Your expedition team will accompany you along the way, ensuring safety and providing insights into the places you visit.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula do not reach 66°33´ South. If conditions allow you to cross this famed line, you and your shipmates will celebrate in style with a well-earned glass of sparkling wine. As you toast the first explorers who ventured this far south, you can take pride in knowing you’ve made it to a part of the world visited by very few people. This is raw Antarctica, home of the midnight sun, Weddell seals, and some of the most peculiar yet magical ice formations you’ll see anywhere on the continent.
If you haven’t had your fill of Antarctic wildlife and icebergs by now, you’ll surely be satisfied by the time you return to King George Island. You will continue to explore by Zodiac or on land as you travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Your expedition team will always be on the lookout for species of seabirds, seals, and whales that may have eluded you on your journey south.
After a week of exploration, say goodbye to your expedition team and disembark at King George Island. Your two-and-a-half-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas, Chile brings your adventure to an end. After your group transfer to the hotel, you are free to explore and enjoy an evening on your own, in the city or at the hotel to reminisce about the sights and sounds of Antarctica.
After breakfast, you are welcome to continue your own travels or make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your homeward flights.
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:
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.
Charter Flight Contingency Plan:
In the unlikely event that the plane is unable to depart on the planned date of the charter flight, you will be provided with a night of hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas, meals included. You may be required to be on standby and remain close to the hotel, as a weather window may open with very little notice. If the weather is not suitable on Day 3, 4 or 5, you will enjoy an additional night’s accommodation and meals in Punta Arenas. On Day 6, should the charter flight not be able to take off by 2:00 p.m., the shipping company will officially cancel the voyage and provide a letter for you to submit to your travel insurance provider for coverage of flight changes and other associated non-cruise costs under the trip delay/interruption and cancellation clause. The shipping company will make every effort to ensure that your program takes place, but due to complex and variable weather conditions, flying in this region is challenging and is beyond their control. Safety is paramount to your expedition, and the pilots follow strict weather assessment procedures. The shipping company will offer a refund of your cruise package and any adventure options in the event of a trip delay or cancellation as a result of the charter flight being unable to depart as planned. It is strongly recommended that all expedition guests purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy, including trip delay, cancellation and interruption insurance, in addition to the required medical coverage. Please note that international airfare may not be covered by insurance in the event of a cancellation. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
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.
A small group of kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required for you to feel comfortable on the water, and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the Paddling Excursion described below.
If you’re interested in kayaking and would like to try something less in-depth than kayaking, you can still enjoy the benefits of adding an on-water experience to your expedition with a Paddling Excursion. Sign up for a one-time paddle on sit-on-top kayaks, which are stable and unencumbered—perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. Passengers are taken out in rotating groups on calm days with expert guides to connect with the sea. Space is limited. Pre-booking required.
Round-trip flight Punta Arenas, Chile/King George Island in economy class; one pre-voyage hotel night in Punta Arenas with breakfast; one post-voyage hotel night with breakfast in Punta Arenas; pre-expedition group transfer airport/hotel on Day 1; group transfer hotel/Punta Arenas airport; post-expedition group transfer Punta Arenas airport/hotel; shipboard accommodations with daily housekeeping; photographic journal; gear to keep (parka); gear on loan (walking poles, waterproof boots); briefing dinner on Day 1 in Punta Arenas; all meals onboard the ship; domestic beer and wine during dinner onboard ship; soft drinks onboard ship; coffee, tea, and cocoa available around the clock aboard ship; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare except the flights mentioned as included; additional overnight accommodation; transfer from the hotel to the airport at the end of the expedition; 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: © Quark Expeditions