Summary : Challenge. Desolation. Unlimited wonder. It’s not difficult to grasp what attracted the great explorers to Antarctica. Get a personal appreciation for the struggle to tame the bottom of the world on this 22-day adventure to the land that entranced Ernest Shackleton and countless others since. Down here, you’ll explore the Falkland Islands, encounter abandoned whaling stations on South Georgia Island, and pay your respects at Shackleton’s grave. Elsewhere, you’ll catch up with penguins (king, chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie varieties) and learn all about them through daily lectures, get close to whales and cavorting seals from a Zodiac boat, and keep an eye peeled for towering icebergs and massive glaciers. Prepare to be astonished.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Montevideo at any time. Arrival transfer included. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Uruguay's capital city.
Embarkation on the Expedition begins in the afternoon at the port of Montevideo.
Embark on the Expedition. Transfer as a group in the early afternoon. The morning is free, take the chance to explore one of Montevideo's colorful neighborhoods. The evening is spent onboard the ship sailing southwards towards the Falkland Islands.
With course set southeast, become acquainted with the ship. Enjoy the lecture and educational sessions about the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region.
Spend time on deck to spot wildlife including albatross and possibly whales and dolphins. Relax in the library, grab a drink in the Polar Bear Pub, or make some new friends in the Discovery Lounge.
The Falkland Islands provide a rare opportunity to witness the biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the southern islands. Penguins are abundant here, and the Falklands have the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world. In Stanley, meet the hardy local inhabitants whose colorful houses provide contrast to the long, dark winters.
With course set for South Georgia, days at sea are filled with historical and biological lectures to prepare for landings. Look out for the many whales that inhabit these waters.
Our lecture series resumes to prepare us for South Georgia, spend plenty of time on deck to identify the abundant sea birds of the South Ocean.
Home to many interesting sites (including the grave of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton), South Georgia has several former whaling stations and boasts plenty of wildlife. Visit a huge colony of king penguins, a major highlight of this part of the journey. South Georgia is also the home over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant pups. Weather permitting, enjoy 3-4 days free to explore this island.
South Georgia Island is home to many marvels including former whaling stations, incredible scenery and prolific wildlife. On nearby islands look out for the wandering albatross in their nesting grounds.
South Georgia is also home to over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant pups alongside their mothers.
Plotting a southwesterly course across the Scotia Sea, sail for two days, retracing Shackleton's route backwards in the South Shetland Islands. The waters are rich with nutrients and the long summer days provide the ingredient that is missing most of the year. The result is a complex food chain topped by several species of whales, seals, and seabirds.
Experience some of the most unique wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery in the South Shetland Islands, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Attempt two shore landings per day (weather permitting), and encounter gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguin rookeries; Weddell, crabeater, and leopard seals; and orca, humpback, and minke whales in the cold Antarctic waters. The ship will attempt to reach the Antarctic Peninsula for a landing, weather and ice-permitting.
The peninsula also has a remarkable human history; during the voyage we will learn about some of the most important and dramatic expeditions to this remote corner of the world.
Reflect on a memorable adventure and take in some final lectures en route to Ushuaia. Keep a careful look out for a last chance to spot whales.
Turning north, embark upon the 400 mile crossing of the passage that bears the name of the 16th century English explorer Sir Francis Drake. The Expedition is at home in this part of the Southern Ocean, known for the unimpeded never ending fetch of the winds that encircle the Antarctic.
At some point on the first day, cross the Antarctic Convergence, a meeting of cold polar water flowing north and warmer sub-antarctic water moving in the opposite direction. It is the largest biological barrier on earth and is marked by a change in temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels. The north flowing Antarctic waters predominantly sink beneath southward moving sub-antarctic waters. While further south associated areas of mixing and upwelling create an ocean very high in marine productivity.
Wandering, black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatross, Prion's and Cape Petrels are among some of the species of seabirds that may join the Expedition on the journey towards the South American continent.
Your adventure comes to a close. Have a final breakfast on the expedition ship before saying your goodbyes as you disembark in Ushuaia in the morning.
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:
As a requirement of participation on the expedition, all passengers must purchase medical and emergency evacuation insurance with a minimum medical coverage of $200,000 and this insurance must cover personal injury, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, and evacuation expenses. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Clients must be able to provide proof of insurance purchase and adequate coverage as per the required amounts above. We also strongly recommend that all passengers purchase comprehensive travel insurance which would include coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options
Venture out to sheltered bays and areas known for calmer waters on small group kayaking excursions led by expert kayaking guides. The number of participants is restricted to a maximum of 20 passengers and 2 guides per outing in Antarctica. Passengers who participate in the sea kayak program should have a working knowledge of sea kayaking strokes, entries, exits, including a “wet exit.” Normal duration of an outing is approximately 2-4 hours, and is guided and supervised by professional kayak guides with experience in cold-water regions paddling near ice and marine mammals. The sea kayaking guide will also have previous experience in Antarctica, and be certified in advanced wilderness first aid, and is responsible for accompanying and supervising all kayak operations. Booking in advance is highly recommended. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Montevideo; arrival and departure transfers; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; coffee, tea, and water; shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; services of the Expedition staff and naturalists; lecture and educational programs; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots for US sizes 6-16); parka. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; travel insurance (required); passport and visa fees; gratuities are at your discretion; items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except coffee, tea and water); optional excursions; kayaking; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Wendy Ronksley (Gentoo Penguin), © Paul Teolis (Leopard Seal)