Summary : The far-reaching expedition includes a one-way flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands). Witness Antarctica's extraordinary landscapes and icy waters, then follow in the footsteps of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton to one of the planet’s most significant biological hotspots. South Georgia is often referred to as the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ for its massive numbers of birds, elephant and fur seals, and prolific king penguin colony. Go ashore at pivotal historic sites from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Throughout the adventure, enjoy a thoughtfully designed expedition ship, experienced guides, exploration by Zodiac, and excursions on shore.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise
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Staff members welcome you in Punta Arenas, Chile, before 2 p.m. Transfer to your hotel then attend a mandatory briefing. A welcome dinner introduces you to the local gastronomy as you meet fellow adventurers.
A two-hour flight takes you from Punta Arenas to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands). Walk 1.25-miles to reach the shore and board a Zodiac that will take you to your expedition vessel.
As you navigate historic waterways and visit prime sites along the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring South Shetland Islands, the goal is to attempt 1-2 excursions per day. Your Captain and Expedition Leader continually monitor weather and ice conditions, working together to insure you experience the best of Antarctica whether you’re exploring Paradise Bay, the Lemaire Channel, Port Lockroy, Deception Island, or the many other locations available for landings and Zodiac cruising in the region.
Sailing in the wake of the 19th century’s great explorers—Sir Ernest Shackleton, Adrien de Gerlache, Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen (to name just a few)—you’ll photograph the same towering mountain peaks they saw, hear raucous penguin colonies as you go ashore, see dazzling shades of blue and white as you navigate bays with impressive ice sculptures, and gain a new perspective of what it takes for wildlife—from penguins and giant petrels to elephant seals and humpback whales—to thrive in the beauty of this environment.
Sailing north, you might stop at Elephant Island if conditions allow. It was here that the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance found refuge while he and five handpicked men carried on to South Georgia. While stormy conditions rarely allow a shore landing, you will see the island from the ship.
Sail northward and enjoy onboard presentations. There is time to socialize in the ship’s lounge. Keep an eye out for the region’s birdlife.
Often referred to as the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’, South Georgia is one of the planet’s most significant biological hotspots. Imagine tens of thousands of King penguins—stretching as far as the eye can see from the ocean to the base of alpine peaks—and going ashore at pivotal historic sites from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. It is simply spectacular and not to be missed.
Landing sites on South Georgia are varied and are largely determined by the weather and sea conditions on your voyage. Whatever sites you visit—such as Grytviken, Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbor, Fortuna Bay, and Stromness—you’ll have wildlife encounters unrivaled anywhere else on earth.
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.
Three similar aircraft are used for flight operations: the BAE 146-200, the AVRO RJ 85, and the AVRO RJ 100. These aircraft were manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace (which later became part of BAE Systems). They are high-wing aircraft with short runway requirements, which make them particularly suited for this kind of destination. They are operated by Aerovias DAP, which has more than 25 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)
In some cases, it may be necessary to move forward the Antarctic flight to the afternoon or evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. This will result in early departure from Punta Arenas and early arrival in Antarctica. In case the outbound flight to Antarctica is delayed, 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 PM on Day 4 of the itinerary it is still impossible to depart for Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted and the cruise fare will be refunded. Please refer to the Contingency Plan section of Antarctica21's Terms and Conditions for further details.
Limited to 10 participants per cruise; pre-booking highly recommended. 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. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.
Hiking & Snowshoeing:
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.
From whale sightings and identification to seabird surveys, each trip offers the opportunity to assist in data collection to benefit a variety of research studies. 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 in Punta Arenas, dedicated group airport transfer, breakfast, and a drink voucher. Available as a pre- or post-expedition package.
One-way flight Punta Arenas/Frei Station, King George Island; one pre-expedition hotel night with welcome dinner, drinks, and breakfast at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar in Punta Arenas on Day 1; group transfer airport/hotel on Day 1; shipboard accommodations; guided shore excursions; onboard lectures and entertainment; gear on loan (waterproof boots); all meals onboard the ship; wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner aboard ship; coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccino, water, and snacks aboard ship throughout the expedition; contingency plan; IAATO passenger fee. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare, accommodation, meals, excursions and transfers other than those included in the itinerary and Contingency Plan; preferred seating on Antarctic flights; optional activities such as sea kayaking or hiking and snowshoeing; mandatory evacuation insurance; personal travel insurance; personal expenses (beverages purchased at the ship’s bar, communication, laundry, souvenirs, etc.); gratuities; visas for Chile and/or Argentina; passport expenses; any arrival and/or departure tax, if applicable; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Ruslan Eliseev, © Antarctica21