Summary : Go beyond the Antarctic Circle on this expedition cruise to the heart of a very special place that is like nowhere you've ever been before. After experienceing the wildlife of the Falkland Islands and its undulating hills and moors, sail to South Georgia for an incredible wildlife experience. This sub-Antarctic region offers a wide variety of landscapes—long mountain chains and black sandy beaches—where huge colonies of king penguins have taken refuge. But the best is yet to come as you sail south to reach the Antarctic Peninsula! Floating ice floes, tabular icebergs, and high snow-capped peaks as you immerse yourself in this enchanting polar desert. To top it all off, you'll cross the Antarctic Circle and enter a region that few have had the opportunity to visit, as you celebrate your arrival in style!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
Inquire about special savings for honeymooners, wedding anniversaries, and groups of 6 or more.
$15,350 to $52,570
Board your flight in Buenos Aires and fly 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!
Upon arrival in Ushuaia, embark the vessel, or join an optional tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park (must pre-book, fee applies).
With its distinctive jagged relief, New Island is located on the western edge of the Falkland Islands and is home to a tiny village of two families. Step onto the golden sand of its flower-lined beaches, beside which an old stone house still stands, and you'll feel like you've entered a natural paradise. A narrow pathway weaves around typical Falkland moorlands. Follow it and in under 20 minutes you'll find yourself at the heart of a colony of southern rockhopper penguins, black-browed albatross and imperial shags. It's the perfect opportunity to watch the albatross swoop down from the cliffs and skim the waves that crash against the rocks on the exposed side of the island.
Make your way through Woolly Gut strait and emerge in the stillness of Grave Cove. Located in the northern edge of the Falkland Islands, this bay owes its name to the vestiges of whalers’ graves that overlook the beach. As you step off the boat and onto the white-sand beach, you might find yourself escorted by a few hospitable Commerson's dolphins, elegantly adorned in black and white. A stroll along the grassy dunes will lead you to a vast plain of lush green grass, tended by a few sheep. On the other side of the island you'll find one of the largest gentoo penguin colonies in the area. With some luck, you'll also glimpse a sea lion scouring the waves for his next meal.
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.
This mythic island, one of the northernmost of the South Shetland Islands, served as a refuge for part of the crew of Shackleton's Endurance expedition. From there, the James Caird, a rescue boat from the Endurance, embarked on the perilous journey to South Georgia to rescue the men left behind. All survived despite the inhospitable nature of the island. Indeed, Elephant Island's steep, ice-covered mountainsides bear no trace of man. Yet these rough conditions haven't deterred a colony of chinstrap penguins from settling at Point Wild or gentoo penguins and elephant seals from taking shelter at Cape Lookout.
Witness Astrolabe Island's ruggedness. Discovered by French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville and named after the ship aboard which he led multiple expeditions, its highest point offers visitors an impressive view of the surrounding blue icebergs. Though excursions are not always possible on this rugged terrain, a Zodiac tour will allow you to meet its local inhabitants - chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals.
A little corner of paradise in the shadow of a towering glacier, Neko Harbour is without a doubt one of the most beautiful sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by Belgian navigator Adrien de Gerlache during his 1897-1899 expedition. Mountains, ice and wildlife combine to form a truly unique landscape. Animals are as abundant as they are exotic and you may encounter seabirds (gulls, Cape petrels, cormorants) and marine mammals (seals, orcas and whales). Head out on a Zodiac excursion to get up close to the icebergs, stop over near a penguin colony, watch a leopard seal sunbathe between dives and enjoy an impromptu aerial show from passing Antarctic terns.
Located at the end of the famed Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island played a key role in the history of Antarctic exploration. In the early 20th century, French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot chose to ride out his second winter on the shores of this round, little island. The initials ‘PP’, engraved on the rocks by Charcot's crew, can still be seen at the spot where the ship was anchored. Today, the island is a refuge for diverse fauna: gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, imperial shags and other bird species.
Weather permitting, cross the mythic line of the Antarctic Polar Circle, located along 66°33’ south of the Equator. This iconic area demarcates the point from which it is possible to view the midnight sun during the December solstice. Within this circle, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 consecutive hours at least once a year. Crossing this line, an experience known to few people, is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your cruise through the polar regions.
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.
Arrive into Ushuaia, disembark the vessel, 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 Tierra del Fuego tour; 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