Summary : This epic expedition brings you to a side of the Antarctic Peninsula even the luckiest of travelers don't often see. You'll experience the best of polar travel, including abundant wildlife, important historical sites, and ice—lots of ice. Embarking from Ushuaia, Argentina, you'll traverse the legendary Drake Passake to arrive at Elephant Island, which gave Ernest Shackleton's crew refuge in 1916. From this significant strait you'll move on to see enormous penguin colonies up close; Zodiac cruise among icebergs that look like art; walk around and explore historic and operating scientific bases; sail across the imaginary but important line of the Antarctic Circle; and take a Zodiac ride to see humpback and orca whales—all the while surrounded by the spectacular scenery of Antarctica.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
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You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arrival in this splendid city, known for its soaring architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to the group hotel for your included hotel stay.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will transfer with your group to the airport and board your private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will have some down time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier.
Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which time your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart – the next time you will see land you'll be on the world's most southern continent!
The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies and a calm ocean. You'll have plenty of time to gaze out at sea, get to know your fellow shipmates, and chat with your expedition team. Spend this time preparing for the exciting days ahead, with numerous educational and informative lectures presented by your expedition team. You'll learn about everything from safety procedures to the history of whaling in Antarctica.
Mountainous and ice-covered Elephant Island is the first land you'll visit following the crossing. Named by early explorers for the elephant seals that dotted its shoreline, the island is best known as the refuge for Ernest Shackleton's crew. Look forward to seeing Point Wild, the site of the crew's camp.
Battered with ocean currents all year long, the remote east side of the Antarctic Peninsula is completely different to the more commonly visited west coast. Here, you'll see mile-long tabular icebergs formed over hundreds or even thousands of years and broken off of ice shelves further south.
Paulet Island is volcanic and thermal heat keeps part of it ice free. Over 100,000 pairs of Adelie penguins make it a popular visiting point.
The wooden hut on Snow Hill Island was built in February 1902 by the main party of the Swedish South Polar Expedition led by Otto Nordenskjold. This historic hut contains original objects from the expedition and functions as a living museum.
Brown Bluff, formed by a single volcanic vent, is the perfect place to experience Antarctic flora and fauna.
Travel around the Peninsula includes a variety of experiences, including Cuverville Island and the largest colony of gentoo penguins in the region – more than 6,500 breeding pairs. Other possible landing sites include Melchoirs and Orne Harbor. Glaciers, penguin colonies and breaching humpback whales will highlight your days, while friendly seals are plentiful in these waters. You can also expect to encounter what is arguably the most formidable Antarctic predator, the leopard seal.
You'll have drinks to celebrate crossing the Antarctic Circle, and you may visit the Vernadsky Lounge, the Peninsula's southernmost bar. A sure highlight is Wilhelmina Bay – once 50 whales were spotted here in just three hours! You'll spend a full seven days here exploring as many sites as possible, ensuring that you have the most comprehensive Antarctic experience that weather and time permits.
In 1819, the British explorer William Smith described the South Shetland Islands as 'barren and covered with snow, with seals in abundance.' Places such as Half Moon Island or Livingston Island support huge numbers of nesting chinstrap, gentoo, and even some macaroni penguins. Giant and cape petrels, blue-eyed shags, and kelp gulls nest in the cliffs. Mosses, lichens, and Antarctica's only two flowering plants thrive during the short summer on the low-lying peninsulas of these rugged maritime islands. You will explore the busy penguin and seabird rookeries and marvel at the huge elephant seals that wallow along the shore.
Deception Island is the caldera of an active volcano, where sealing and whaling operations were based in the past. Several microclimates can get quite warm, and there is a large colony of chinstrap penguins. Half Moon Island is a significant area for birds and it features a 2,200 yard walking track to give you a close view of the wildlife.
Use your second passage across the Drake to put your newfound Antarctic knowledge to use; spend time on deck, spot icebergs and name seabirds. Enjoy presentations by your on board experts and bond with your shipmates.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning after breakfast.
After disembarking, you will get a little taste of Patagonia, touring Tierra del Fuego National Park 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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance coverage. 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.
Not included in cruise rate. See rates page for price. Minimum age 16 years. Space is limited; request at time of booking. No camping experience is necessary to participate in this program. Sleeping bags and all safety equipment are provided.
Not included in cruise rate. Must be pre-booked prior to the departure. Taken in small groups of 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Minimum age 16 years. It is recommended you have some prior kayaking experience,
including the capability to do a wet exit. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding Option:
Not included in cruise rate. All equipment, guides, and instruction provided. Must be pre-booked prior to the departure. Prior experience is necessary. Taken in small groups in good weather conditions on a calm bay or harbor, with Zodiac accompaniment. One session per person.
Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping; breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board ship; shore landings per the daily program; Zodiac cruising per the daily program; photographic journal; waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings; parka to keep; coffee, tea, and cocoa available around the clock; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; mandatory transfer package; arrival transfer in Buenos Aires from airport to hotel on Day 1; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; kayaking, camping, and stand-up paddleboarding; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, except for ones mentioned as included; baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance; excess baggage charges; laundry, bar, beverage, massage and other personal charges; phone and internet charges; gratuity for shipboard staff and crew; 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. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.