Summary : This exciting Antarctic expedition provides a modern twist on a much-loved classic. Utilizing decades of experience exploring Antarctica, this voyage allows you to reach your goal of the Antarctic Circle in just 11 days. From Punta Arenas, Chile you'll fly to the embarkation point of Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Crossing south to Antarctica, witness the magnificent pelagic seabirds of the Southern Ocean, including the wandering albatross. This ocean habitat is a fascinating ecosystem in its own right. Navigating towards the Circle, enjoy several days of off-ship exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, visiting a large number of landing sites and cruising among the ice floes in Zodiac boats. Hope to reach the Antarctic Circle in the vicinity of Detaille Island. Over the course of the voyage, plan to visit several classic locations such as Petermann Island and the iceberg ‘graveyard’ at Pleneau Island. Transit the Lemaire Channel if ice conditions permit and make continental landings at Paradise Harbor or nearby Neko Harbor. Each day, explore onshore by foot, observing wildlife colonies, visiting historic huts and science bases, photographing icebergs, and soaking up the incredible landscapes. Complete your voyage with visits to several locations in the South Shetland Islands, including Deception Island. From King George Island, fly back to South America in just two hours. For a relatively short voyage, this trip offers fantastic diversity of scenery, wildlife, historic and scientific interest.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise, Antarctic Circle
$11,695 to $18,895
Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. Meet at a central location before transferring to the airport for your scheduled flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. (This flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute journey, you'll be met on arrival and transferred to the pier.
Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal Britain. It is charming with brightly-colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. There is time to explore the town before making your way to the ship for embarkation. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner, and cast off, bound for Antarctica—and the adventure of a lifetime.
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its biodiversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds, including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill. Your photography guide will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of a modern research vessel. Throughout the day, onboard specialists educate with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife, and history of the locations you hope to visit in the coming days.
If the sailing conditions are good on the crossing to Antarctica, you may have a chance to visit the historic location of Elephant Island, a place central to the Shackleton story. From this location, Shackleton and five of his companions set off on their epic ocean crossing to South Georgia 100 years ago. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swells onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless, this a thrilling place to visit.
This morning, the ship is positioned at King George Island, the largest in the South Shetlands group. There are two landing sites here and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls, and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. This afternoon, continue your journey south, as the ship navigates into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Strait, making its way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife. Keep a lookout for whales in the waters surrounding the ship. Large icebergs will be present from this point onward and make for striking photographs in the evening light. By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and you should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. Sizable pods of humpback whales are often encountered in this spectacular location. Navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island, home to a rookery of gentoo penguins. It’s a fantastic location for a Zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.
Spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery as you navigate south. Pass through the ice strewn waters making your way towards your ultimate objective: the Antarctic Circle. Given favorable ice conditions, the first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950s.
This vicinity marks the turnaround point; from now on the ship will return in a northerly direction, exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. Hope to visit a working scientific base to learn something of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore a historic British Antarctic Survey hut, Wordie House.
If the conditions are right, overnight camping with be available somewhere in this vicinity to all adventurers. All the gear is available onboard and an experienced team will make this a night to remember!
Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies—the smallest of the Antarctic penguins—nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run aground in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpts these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you can possibly imagine. For many, a Zodiac cruise here might be a highlight of the voyage.
Aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on the way north towards Paradise Harbor. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbor offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic viewpoints. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless.
By morning, arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. In this dramatic place history is all around as you explore an old whaling station with rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.
On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor, where Weddell seals are sometimes encountered while sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Charting a course for King George Island in the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship.
This morning, say goodbye to your expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. Walk from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up towards the airstrip where you will board a special charter flight. This flight takes a little over two hours and is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided.
This itinerary includes a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas for all guests returning from King George Island at the end of the voyage. This evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes and bars—including the historic ‘Shackleton Bar’ at the Hotel Jose Nogueira—a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctica.
After check out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. It is recommended that you book flights after midday.
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.
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance. The travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects, and personal liability. It is strongly recommended that you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar Regions, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed, and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.
Important Voyage Logistics:
Trip Planning: This trip starts and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile. It is recommended that you arrive in Punta Arenas at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure as a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home, voyage embarkation, and departure. From Punta Arenas, you will fly to Stanley, Falkland Islands where you will embark the ship and commence your journey. At the conclusion of the voyage you will fly from King George Island, Antarctica to Punta Arenas via a special charter flight. Upon arrival, a transfer is provided from the airport to downtown Punta Arenas. This itinerary includes an additional hotel night in Punta Arenas at the conclusion of your voyage. It is recommended that you make your onward travel plans for the following day.
Luggage Limits: Different luggage limits apply to the special charter flight between King George Island, Antarctica and Punta Arenas, Chile. Please observe a limit of 20-kg / 44-lb. There is no facility to purchase excess luggage on this flight. Excess baggage can be stored in Punta Arenas for the duration of your voyage for a small fee. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
No pre-booking required. Subject to weather conditions. If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent, all the required gear such as bivy sacs and sleeping bags (no tents) will be provided. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. If weather and ice conditions permit and you are near a suitable location, your expedition leaders will make their best effort to facilitate this activity. Please inquire.
Kayaking: pre-booking required
Limited to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home - you cannot book this activity once onboard. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their prior paddling experience and attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
A resident photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage. The photographer will help improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in different ways in order to capture them digitally. Also available is an onboard multimedia lab with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.
Scheduled flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Stanley, Falkland Islands; charter flight from King George Island, Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile; transfers in Punta Arenas to the airport on Day 1 and from Punta Arenas airport (to a downtown location) on arrival back from Antarctica on Day 11; one night hotel accommondation in Punta Arenas on Day 11; shipboard accommodations; camping; experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides; assistance of resident photographer; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings; guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and science stations; educational presentations and talks by polar specialists onboard or ashore; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician on every voyage; use of onboard library, sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; end of voyage video, photos and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew. Fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Joao Franco, Ira Meyer, Paul Zizka