Summary : Embark on the ultimate adventure to Antarctica, where towering icebergs and massive glaciers set the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon: a total solar eclipse. Discover rare yet abundant wildlife on a voyage timed with the peak of the austral summer; explore the Antarctic Peninsula with action-packed daily excursions; and enjoy an immersive pre-cruise stay in Santiago, Chile, complete with expert-led tours of the artistic city.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive this morning in Chile’s capital and transfer to your hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, located in Santiago’s Las Condas district. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Tonight, gather with your fellow adventurers and the team for a welcome reception at the Observatorio Astronómico Andino, located in the outskirts of Santiago. Chile boasts some of the clearest skies in the world, making the country a natural habitat for astronomical observations. Join solar and space experts, who discuss the exciting itinerary of this once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse voyage.
Ringed by the Andes Mountains and shaped by the contributions of a dozen different European cultures, Santiago is one of South America’s most interesting cities. The city was founded in 1541 by Spanish captain Pedro de Valdivia and is nestled some 2,000 feet above sea level in Chile’s great central valley. Today, choose from a number of included excursion options, such as an active walking or bicycle tour of the city, an insider art walk with a visit to an artist’s studio, a visit to Santa Rita winery located in the Maipo Valley, or a stroll through the city’s famed graffiti street art district. This evening, relax and enjoy the amenities of your hotel and prepare for tomorrow’s charter flight to Ushuaia.
Fly to the charming port town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. On arrival, enjoy lunch at the Arakur resort and — time and weather permitting — take a guided trek in the Cerro Alarken Nature Reserve. This afternoon, arrive at your ship and settle in for your first night on board. Stylish and comfortable, ‘Le Lyrial’ features all-balcony staterooms and suites only on its journey to Antarctica. Wander the decks to become acquainted with the ship, or relax in the lounge and mingle with fellow guests in anticipation of your voyage. On departure, enjoy cruising through the beautiful Beagle Channel before heading out to sea.
Relax and enjoy the special touches and amenities available on board stunning ‘Le Lyrial’ while getting to know your fellow explorers and enjoying the many enrichment programs offered. Weather permitting, the ship's seasoned expedition staff will lead the Zodiacs towards Signy Island and the rarely visited South Orkney Islands. Typically only traversed by British and Argentine scientists, the archipelago comprises four main islands and supports a wide variety of tundra vegetation, plus offers breathtaking polar scenery. Attend a special presentation from guest lecturer Kathy Sullivan, who shares what it was like to be the first American woman walking in space and how the earth looked from the space shuttle ‘Challenger’ — 140 miles above the earth. Later, your Expedition Leader confirms the plan for the total eclipse viewing.
Weather, sea and ice conditions permitting, your Captain navigates ‘Le Lyrial’ to the center of the eclipse’s path of totality, which is the very narrow track on the surface of the earth where the radiating “circle of light” is best seen. This is caused by turbulence and refraction in the atmosphere, which results in shimmering bands of light and shadow. The proposed positioning of ‘Le Lyrial’ would allow for a remarkable viewing time of approximately one minute and 40 seconds. The next total eclipse in this part of the world isn’t until 2061, which makes this a truly once-in- a-lifetime trip for many travelers.
As the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands appear on the horizon, a sense of excitement begins to build. Dependent on weather, sea ice and wildlife conditions, Antarctic expeditions demand spontaneity and no two are ever the same. With that in mind, your Captain and Expedition Team carefully plan your active, curated itinerary and daily excursions that may include the following areas:
Bordering the South Shetland Islands along the Antarctic continent, the Danco Coast is famed for its scenic, jaw-dropping waterways. From the comfort of ‘Le Lyrial,’ you may sail through some of its most stunning and photogenic channels, straits and bays.
Located in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands, Elephant Island is a mountainous and ice-covered islet. The island gained fame after British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton rescued himself and 22 of his crew from the remote island after his ship, ‘Endurance,’ was stranded by ice. Now, only the luckiest get to land on Elephant Island due to challenging currents and weather.
At the northernmost tip of the Antarctic mainland, this body of water features some of the best sightseeing on the peninsula and a proliferation of giant icebergs. Noted for its vast numbers of bird species, the sound is home to the largest breeding colonies of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Look forward to opportunities to land on remote, wildlife-laden islands as well as possible opportunities to experience a continental landing on the northwest tip of the Antarctic peninsula.
South Shetland Islands:
Antarctic research stations, remarkable history, amazing geological features and abundant wildlife define these islands off the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. The expedition team looks for opportunities to visit a wide range of sites including working research stations, volcanic islands, and historic sites as well as gentoo, Adélie and chinstrap penguin rookeries.
Each cruise day begins with an early breakfast followed by a morning excursion on swift Zodiacs. Excursions are accompanied by lecturers and joined by groups of no more than 10 guests. After mornings discovering native species and striking terrain, return to ‘Le Lyrial’ for lunch and time to relax and observe the wildlife. The rich waters that surround you allow for excellent viewing of everything from fin whales, humpback whales and orcas, to Antarctic and imperial shags. By afternoon, set out for the day’s second excursion, which may include visiting a scientific research station, hiking on a sheltered beach packed with basking Southern elephant seals, or circumnavigating colossal icebergs that serve as floating homes to seals and penguins. After full days of adventure, evenings aboard your luxury cruiser invite you to unwind over cocktails in the cozy lounge before dinner in the elegant dining room. At night, choose to recap the day’s discoveries with your naturalist guides; chat on deck with fellow guests; or seize the opportunity to capture photos in the stunning low light characteristic of Antarctica’s long, ethereal twilight.
The ship’s return through the Drake Passage is an interlude for recap and reflection, with time to compare notes with your expert lecturers on the wildlife, history and geology of the White Continent. Spend time on board with newfound friends in the comfortable common spaces of ‘Le Lyrial,’ enjoy quiet relaxation on your own private balcony or absorb more fascinating lectures by your captivating Expedition Team. While cruising through this historic passage, you may spot various species of whales and seabirds. The immense albatross is an especially stunning sight to behold. These wandering birds boast a wingspan approaching 12 feet and are capable of gliding through the air for hours at a time in search of food.
Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your 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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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.
Special Onboard Guest: Kathy Sullivan
She shares what it was like to be the first American woman walking in space and how the earth looked from the space shuttle ‘Challenger’ — 140 miles above the earth.
Experience an enhanced photography departure, enjoying added programming led by dedicated photo coaches.
Optional Pre-Tour Extension: Atacama
Explore Chile’s Atacama Desert with active explorations, from hikes to see the flamingos in Laguna Chaxa to horseback rides through the lunar landscapes of the Moon Valley. In addition, enjoy a tour of the Paranal Observatory with founder and astronomical photographer Dr. Massimo Tarenghi. 6 days from $5,795 per person. Single Supplement from $1,195 per person.
Optional Post-Tour Extension: Iguazu Falls
Discover Iguazu Falls, visiting the Argentine and Brazilian sides of one of South America’s greatest natural wonders.4 Days from $2,995 per person. Single Supplement from $995 per person. Internal air from $685 per person.
Two pre-cruise hotel nights in Santiago; pre-cruise tour of Santiago; transfers between airport/hotel/ship; lunch at the Arakur Hotel in Ushuaia; local beer and wine for included meals onshore; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; valet laundry service onboard ship (limited amount, excludes dry cleaning); gear to keep (parka, backpack, water bottle); gear on loan (boots, walking poles, pants); all meals onboard ship; 24-hour room service onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities for crew and pre-cruise tour guide; memory book upon return (one per booking). Guest staying in Categories 4-9 suites also receive: Room upgrade at the pre-cruise hotel, and butler service onboard the ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; laundry other than mentioned as included; meals not mentioned as included; premium wines, spirits, liquors and champagnes and other beverages not mentioned as included; communication charges not mentioned as included; all items of a personal nature; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; spa charges; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © A&K Image Library