Summary : Explore the mythical White Continent on a voyage over the holidays. See the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia, a sub-Antarctic region formed by an underwater mountain chain that extends from the Andes to the Antarctic Peninsula. All the wildlife of the Far South can be found there. You will go ashore at the splendid sites of Gold Harbor and Fortuna Bay, walk amongst the penguins and the elephant seals basking in the southern sun. The highlight will come at Salisbury Plain which is home to more than 250,000 king penguins with their orange-yellow feathered crowns. The ancient whaling station of Deception Island will reveal its amazing colony of chinstrap penguins. Sail the famous Drake Passage and carve through waters populated by orcas, humpback whales and other cetaceans – an amazing sight.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$14,830 to $56,000
Board your flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. Considered to be the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, lying at the very tip of Argentina looking out over the Beagle Channel. This surprising little town of 45,000 people is surrounded by mountains and fertile plains. Tierra del Fuego's forests cover the lower slopes of the Andean mountains which are crowned with snow-capped peaks - a unique and unforgettable sight. Embark the vessel in the afternoon.
As you sail towards the Falkland Islands, your lecture series will begin, educating you about the wildlife, environment and history of the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Sea birds may accompany your ship and provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
Conquered, abandoned, recaptured and coveted, the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas) had a romantic history until the war of 1982. This remote archipelago, near the tip of the South American continent is home to beauty that is unique in the world. The relief of these islands was carved over the centuries by the harsh and very windy climate. Yet, the Falkland Islands are home to a fantastic range of wildlife, a sanctuary of the elegant albatross soaring graciously against the blue sky, with colonies of elephant seals basking at the foot of rocky cliffs.
Sailing to South Georgia, you'll cross the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where the warmer waters of the north meet the cooler waters of the south. This creates a zone with more abundant marine life where you may see whales feed.
South Georgia is an unparalleled destination within Antarctica. This sub-Antarctic region is a peak emerging from the Scotia Arc, an underwater mountain chain that extends from the Andes to the Antarctic Peninsula. Salisbury Plain will be the arena for the most memorable and the most authentic display of nature. Formed by the withdrawal of the Grace Glacier, high mountains dominate time and space; the blue-tinged landscape demonstrates all the strength and beauty of the unspoiled nature all around. At the heart of this wildlife haven, on the beaches of the bay, a colony of approximately 250,000 king penguins has taken residence. In the midst of all these orange-headed couples, fur seals try to beat a path to feed with their young. Under the southern sun that lights this glacial plain, spectacular flocks of birds fly on the wind.
Visit Grytviken, a former Norwegian whaling station, and follow in the footsteps of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and visit the tiny cemetery where he is buried. After Roald Amundsen conquered the South Pole in 1912, Sir Ernest Shackleton turned his attention to what he considered to be the last great challenge in Antarctica: The crossing of the continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the Pole. To achieve this he organized the Endurance expedition. This expedition was dogged with bad luck and his ship, Endurance, was a prisoner of the ice for many months and was slowly crushed, obliging the crew to disembark. A series of adventures followed that would cement Shackleton’s myth.
Explore Gold Harbour Island by Zodiac excursion. Everything you would expect to see is present at this site: magical landscapes, a majestic blue-tinged glacier, and waterfalls sparkling in the sun, pouring down. The beach here is made of volcanic black sand, heading out towards a milky blue sea. The beach swarms with wildlife, colonies of king penguins, fur seals and elephant seals.
As you voyage farther south, ever nearer to the Antarctic Peninsula, your expedition leaders and naturalist guides continue their lecture series, expanding your knowledge of this unique part of the world.
Visiting Antarctica means exploring the largest, wildest and most extreme of all the continents; discover a land dominated by white, a mysterious stretch of ice with seemingly infinite nuances of color. At the gateway to this final frontier, surrounded by the vast expanse of sea ice, get as close as possible to the most unspoiled nature, composed of millions of animals living in vast colonies. Set off to meet peaceful penguins, the emblem of these icy regions, and journey through their colonies with their constant movement to and from the sea. During your trip, you may encounter majestic humpback whales whose huge and powerful blue tail fins pound the surface of the water. Dependent upon sea and ice conditions, your expedition explores a variety of destinations, including Deception Island and the Weddell Sea.
A lengthy sail in the Weddell Sea will allow you to experience true silence, an extraordinary and enchanting atmosphere of unrivaled calm. Discover a secret reserve of preserved treasures: fur seals, penguin colonies, wandering albatross and other giant petrels. Here the huge icebergs and endless ice cap sculpt a landscape beyond compare. The lord of the manor is known as the Weddell Seal. It is a record breaker, able to remain submerged for more than an hour. Its pelt is dark grey with a spotted belly. To maintain access to the sea and ability to fish, the Weddell Seal has special teeth allowing it to make a hole in the thick ice.
Nestled at the heart of the South Shetland Islands, in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, Deception Island is easy to recognize for its horseshoe shape. This island was once an active volcano whose crater collapsed some 10,000 years ago, producing a caldera which was then flooded by the sea, creating a natural port. Entrance to the port is via a narrow channel called Neptune’s Bellows. For a long time, this was an important whaling port and the intensity of this activity has left traces that have withstood time. On the black sand of the volcanic beaches, there are remains of abandoned huts that have been overrun by the extraordinary wildlife. It is on these beaches of ash that the largest colony of chinstrap penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula has taken up residence. Excursions aboard Zodiac will allow you to set foot on this expanse of land where more than 100,000 pairs of penguins nest.
Crossing the Drake is a rite of passage and concludes your journey to the White Continent. Located exactly between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake Passage extends over 800 kilometers from Cape Horn to Livingston Island. You may have plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities, provided by sea birds such as petrels and albatross that follow in your wake. Return to Argentina as you reflect on your Antarctic adventure with fellow passengers.
Disembark in Ushuaia and transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires.
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.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures French/English.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase medical evacuation insurance, and a primary health insurance policy. 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.
Round-trip flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and return in Economy class; meet and greet by representatives in Ushuaia; transfers between Ushuaia airport and the ship; meals on board the ship; captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; mineral water, tea, filter coffee, a selection of white, red and rosé wines offered during meals, afternoon tea; open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); evening entertainment and events, English speaking lecturer on selected sailings, 24-hour room service; butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6; parka; boot rental. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare except as mentioned; passport and visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned; optional spa charges; beverages other than those mentioned; laundry services, hair salon; personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions; cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Lorraine Turci, © Olivier Blaud, © Nathalie Michel, © Ponant