Summary : Travel in the footsteps of legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton to the extremes of the Southern Hemisphere. Start with a convenient flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island. Cruise between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, sailing along ice-filled fjords populated with spectacular icebergs as you enjoy the company of seabirds, penguins, seals, and whales. Journey to South Georgia where you can pay your respects at Shackleton's grave. Enjoy views of spectacular mountains and towering icebergs, visit extraordinary snowy landscapes, and marvel at tremendous penguin rookeries. Each day, disembark by Zodiac and explore with experienced polar guides. Optional kayaking and hiking/snowshoeing available.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise, Antarctic Circle
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Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, before 2 p.m., where you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel. Attend a mandatory briefing that provides important information about your voyage and reviews the essential guidelines for Antarctic visitors. A welcome dinner introduces you to the local gastronomy as you meet fellow adventurers from around the world.
A two-hour flight takes you from Punta Arenas to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands). Your Antarctic adventure begins as you exit the airplane and the clear Antarctic air fills your lungs for the first time. A 1.25-mile walk takes you to the shore where you board a Zodiac to embark your vessel.
Cruise between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, sailing along ice-filled fjords and among spectacular icebergs. Each day, disembark by Zodiac and explore the landscape with experienced and knowledgeable polar guides.
No journey is the same. Flexibility is the key to success in Antarctica. Your expedition team plans the voyage route to take advantage of the ever-changing opportunities provided by Nature. You will explore several spots in the Gerlache Strait that offer the best possible overview of the varied Antarctic environment.
Sailing north of the Antarctic Peninsula, the expedition hopes to stop at Elephant Island. It was here that the crew of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance found refuge while he and five handpicked men carried out a rescue mission in a small open lifeboat, crossing over 800 miles of open sea to South Georgia. While the stormy conditions of this area rarely allow a shore landing, you will be able to see the island from the ship.
As you sail on northward, your historian and naturalists offer presentations and informal chats. There is time to socialize in the ship’s lounge and to be inspired by tales of exploration, while keeping an eye out for the region’s abundant birdlife.
The island of South Georgia is a diverse landscape of majestic mountains, massive glaciers, grassy uplands, and deep fjords. Visit the former whaling outpost of Grytviken, where you may pay your respects at the simple grave of Ernest Shackleton. At St. Andrew’s Bay take in the sight of 150,000 king penguins. At Cooper Island, the nesting home of thousands of black-browed albatrosses, see a large colony of macaroni penguins. If the weather is favorable, visits are also planned at Fortuna Bay, Salisbury Plains, Prion Island, and Elsehul Bay.
As the ship heads to South America, the program of presentations continues. Use this time to enhance your understanding of the region and its history.
Approach South America and sail along the Beagle Channel. Take in the beauty of Tierra del Fuego and Navarino Island as you head to Ushuaia.
Arrival to Ushuaia, where your journey ends at the pier upon disembarkation.
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.
Getting There & Getting Home:
Arrive in Punta Arenas on Day 1, no later than 2 p.m. The same deadline applies to travelers arriving directly to the hotel on Day 1. That afternoon, all travelers must attend a mandatory safety and Antarctic briefing session covering important practical details. You must also attend a fitting session for your expedition boots. Participation in these activities is essential for the success of the expedition. Travelers who miss the 2 p.m. deadline will be considered 'no shows'—they will not be able to participate in the expedition and will not receive a refund. Tight connections during an Antarctic expedition are not recommended. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a flexible air ticket be held for your journey home. In addition, booking a departing flight on the same day as the return flight from Antarctica is not recommended.
The BAE 146-200 was manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace and is equipped with 4 turbofan Honeywell engines. It is a high-wing aircraft with very short runway requirements which makes it particularly suited for this kind of destination. It is operated by Aerovías DAP, which has more than 20 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)
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 p.m. on Day 4 of the itinerary it is still not possible to reach Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted and the cruise fare will be refunded. Between Day 1 and until 2 p.m. on Day 4, every effort will be made to transport passengers to Antarctica, taking into consideration their safety and the safety of the aircraft. The daily program described below will apply: Days 2-3: Guided tours to sites of historic and wildlife interest in Punta Arenas will be provided. Meals are included as well as accommodation at the same hotel included on Day 1 of the itinerary. Day 4: If by 2 p.m. the shipping company cannot transport passengers to Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted. Accommodation with breakfast in a 3-star hotel in Punta Arenas will be provided. No other services or meals will be included. The shipping company will refund each passenger 100% the cruise fare paid for the expedition. Day 5: Group airport transfers are provided. No other services or meals are included.
Limited to 10 participants per cruise. 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. Space is limited, however, so be certain to book in advance. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Hiking & Snowshoeing:
Limited to 12 participants, 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.
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.
One-way flight from Punta Arenas to Frei Station on King George Island; one pre-expedition hotel stay with breakfast in Punta Arenas at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar, with welcome dinner and drinks on Day 1; group transfer airport/hotel on Day 1; shipboard accommodations; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots); all meals aboard the ship; wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner aboard the ship; complimentary coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccinos, water, and snacks aboard the ship throughout the expedition; onboard lectures and entertainment; comprehensive pre- and post-voyage information material; contingency plan (outlined below); IAATO passenger fee. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare except flights specified in the inclusions; visa and/or passport expenses; arrival and departure taxes, if applicable; transfers other than those offered in the program, lodging and meals other than those offered in the program; mandatory evacuation insurance; recommended travel protection policy; personal expenses, such as beverages from bar; laundry service, telephone calls, use of Internet or other means of communication, etc.; gratuity to ship's crew at the end of the voyage; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Nicolas Gildemeister (Hikers, Seal, kayak and ice), Vladimir Seliverstov (Whale tails), Philip Stone (kayaker and whale)