Summary : Don’t miss the chance to see one of Earth’s most wondrous cosmic events in one of Earth’s most fantastic places! A total solar eclipse will affect Antarctica on December 4, 2021. Though total solar eclipses occur roughly every 18 months, they can only be properly seen along a few key path locations. And what better location than one of the wildest and least-known places on the planet? To witness the total eclipse, the Hondius will be in the center of the moon shadow, at the edge of the sea ice in the Weddell Sea, between the South Orkneys and South Georgia. Along the way, experience the abundance of wildlife in the Falkland Islands; the Victorian-era charm of the Port Stanley; visit South Georgia with its massive penguin colonies and the world's largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals; and, if ice conditions permit, sail into the Weddell Sea where colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$16,400 to $33,500
Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you'll enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence—Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas—you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. Wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds you might see.
This extended voyage gives you the chance to sail even farther down the icy coast of the western Antarctic Peninsula. In the Gerlache Strait are several opportunities for great landings where you might set foot on the Antarctic Continent, surrounded by an epic landscape of alpine peaks and mammoth glaciers calving at sea level. Gentoo penguins, leopard seals, Weddell seals, humpback whales, and minke whales are often seen here.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist but they nonetheless offer many subtle pleasures. A wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels) live here.
On Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you can find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels. A number of kelp gulls, brown skuas, south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns can be spotted here too.
If ice permits, you sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. You might visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you might get the chance to set foot on the continent. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is another possible stop.
Giant icebergs and a good chance of fin whale sightings enliven this segment of the voyage. Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here. Depending on ice and weather conditions, the aim is to venture into the pack ice to find the best possible position for viewing the solar eclipse.
The ship positions itself in the center of the shadow of the moon and, if possible, some distance into the Scotia Sea drift ice. The ice edge will be about 60°S, 41°W.
Some coordinates for the path of the moon’s shadow:
7.06 UTC: 58.47.7 S – 42.45.2 W, 1.39 minutes, 8 degrees above horizon
7.08 UTC: 60.42.4 S – 40.59.8 W, 1.42 minutes, 9 degrees above horizon
7.10 UTC: 62.22.3 S – 39.48.0 W, 1.44 minutes, 11 degrees above horizon
There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds trailing the vessel north.
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
You may visit the following sites over the next few days:
Cooper Bay – A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a great opportunity to see macaroni penguins below a large rookery. Numerous fur and elephant seals are found on the beach while majestic light-mantled albatrosses can be seen gracefully gliding above.
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place—because they basically do. Here you might see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Fortuna Bay – Along beaches inhabited by penguins and seals you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall. The terrain is partly swampy—be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbor – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).
The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Port Stanley offers a little Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, well- tended gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Port Stanley. Feel free to wander at will, though be aware that admission fees to local attractions are not included in the voyage.
The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), largely unknown gems, offer an abundance of wildlife. Not only do various species of bird live here but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Note that the goal of this itinerary is to see the total solar eclipse, but please keep in mind the polar regions are known for their unpredictability. There’s always the chance overcast skies may hinder visibility and that adverse conditions may alter certain details of the pre-planned route. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes or failure to witness the eclipse.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. 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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Hondius Special Activities:
Each voyage aboard the Hondius includes an extensive array of activities unique to the ship itself. Interactive workshops, captivating exhibitions, and vibrant performances are planned both on board the ship and ashore. Special activities are as engaging as they are informative, covering a kaleidoscope of subjects that vary based on voyage and embarkation point. Navigation, astronomy, art, geology, and botany are just a few of the topics that might be covered, along with presentations that explore the fascinating world of whales, land mammals, birds, and the other species that call the polar regions home. In addition to colorful musical performances, Hondius offers dynamic courses in language, cooking, and mixology taught by authorities in their field. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Pre-scheduled group transfer from the ship to the airport in Ushuaia directly following disembarkation; luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on day of embarkation in Ushuaia; shipboard accommodations; Hondius special activity program; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship including snacks, coffe, and tea; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any airfare on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; admission fees to local attractions in Port Stanley; mandatory travel insurance; baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges, and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided); fuel surcharge may apply.
Please note: Rates, inclusions, and other trip information are subject to change as this trip's departure date (11/26/2021) nears.
PHOTOS © Erwin Vermeulen, Arjen Drost