Summary : On this epic voyage, not only will you explore the famed white continent and far-flung South Georgia, you will also sail to the South Sandwich Islands, a chain of seldom-visited volcanic islands located southeast of South Georgia. True to our spirit of adventure, the aim is to explore these remote and wild islands on thrilling Zodiac cruises, conditions permitting. This is a Christmas and New Year adventure that you’re likely to remember and talk about for many years to come.
NOTE: This is ship is currently being built and all details are subject to change.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Ushuaia where you’ll be met by an expedition representative and transferred to your downtown hotel (if taking the designated group flight).
Once you have checked out of your hotel by 11.00 AM, you have free time before meeting back in the hotel lobby at 2.00 PM to commence a tour of Ushuaia.
Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests.
On this half day introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel.
During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the Old Prison Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4.00 PM.
After embarkation, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we’ll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
NOTE: Lunch is not included today.
Commence your trip across the South Atlantic Ocean towards the Falklands~Malvinas, and make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepares you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start the lecture program to help you learn more about the region’s history, wildlife and environment.
Wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
The Falklands~Malvinas comprises two large islands (East and West Falkland), with over 700 islands scattered off the coast. All but seven of these are uninhabited, with windswept coastlines, white sand beaches and crystal clear water. These beautifully barren islands are true wildlife havens, sheltering an impressive diversity of birdlife, including the largest black-browed albatross colony on earth. The cold, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands make this a prime location for spotting marine life.
There are many beautiful areas to explore across the Falklands~Malvinas, each offering a unique perspective on this magnificent archipelago. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing winds, weather and wildlife opportunities.
You generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day (weather and conditions dependent). Even though you’re north of the Antarctic Convergence it can be quite chilly here, so you’ll want to layer up before joining Zodiac cruises into rocky coves or along sea cliffs, keeping watch for seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you may be able to visit albatross colonies, penguin rookeries and perhaps even have a traditional English ‘tea and scones’ at a local cottage.
The aim is also to land in historic Stanley, the capital of the Falklands~Malvinas. This charming town has a distinctly British character, with terraced town houses, pioneer cottages and even an iconic red telephone box! Colorful buildings house cozy cafes, English pubs, souvenir shops, a post office and the fascinating Historic Dockyard Museum, with displays on the maritime history of the Falkland Islands, natural history and links to Antarctica.
Between the Falklands~Malvinas and South Georgia, you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow your wake, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, the ship is usually traveling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate your precise arrival time in South Georgia. The lecture program will continue highlighting all of the incredible sights you have witnessed over the past few days. You will have ample time to enjoy observing the sea birds, whale-watching from the observation areas, or simply relaxing with a book. If time and weather conditions permit, pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia.
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.
Sail away from splendid South Georgia, and enjoy presentations from the expedition team to help prepare for your arrival to the wild South Sandwich Islands. Perhaps you may want to practice your photo editing skills, stay active in the gym, or simply watch seabirds soar alongside the ship.
On Captain James Cook’s second voyage of discovery (1772–1775), he circumnavigated the globe in high southern latitudes, without seeing land, casting doubt on the existence of the Antarctic continent, which at that time was still unknown. It was during this voyage Cook discovered the South Sandwich Islands and landed on South Georgia Island, describing them as, ‘Lands doomed by Nature to perpetual frigidness: never to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays; whose horrible and savage aspects I have not words to describe.’
He named the South Sandwich Islands for Lord Sandwich, they are considered together with South Georgia, as a UK Dependent Territory (see above), and are uninhabited. Although Cook sighted a number of the islands, several more were not discovered until Bellingshausen visited in 1819.
Located about 740 km / 460 mi south-east of South Georgia, the islands form a chain some 350 km / 220 mi long, comprising 11 large and several smaller islands with a total area of about 600 sq. km / 230 sq. mi. Most are ice-capped, and the tallest peak, on Montagu Island, reaches 1,370 m /4,500 ft. The climate is cold, with frequent snow and strong winds. The islands are volcanic in origin and some remain active. The island of Zavodovski, for instance, appears in constant eruption and reeks of rotten eggs (the volcano itself is named Mt. Asphyxia), while the islands of Visokoi, Candlemas, Saunders, and Bellingshausen all show definite signs of activity. Bristol, Cook, and Thule islands are heavily glaciated and show no signs of warmth or activity. All the islands are steep-sided above the water, and fall away rapidly into deep water (more than 1,500 m / 5,000 ft).
In Zodiacs or kayaks, explore the coast of some of the islands if conditions allow. Little is known about these islands, although the British Antarctic Survey has undertaken some limited biological and geological work there, mainly in the 1960s. Vegetation is very sparse. But there’s at least one extraordinary wildlife spectacle: Zavodovski Island supports a chinstrap penguin colony that numbers around one million penguins on its steep volcanic slopes. Those who have seen this massive penguin colony speak of it with awe.
Join the expedition team to pick up photography tips or learn about the white continent, and keep an eye out for your first iceberg as you sail towards the Antarctic Peninsula.
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.
Enjoy a morning landing in Antarctica before commencing our crossing of the Drake Passage. Swap photos with your fellow expeditioners or simply relax and enjoy the last days of a truly unforgettable voyage to the Antarctic.
Disembark after breakfast, and say farewell to your expedition team and fellow travelers and continue your onward journey with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to either downtown Ushuaia or to
the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.
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. The information below is subject to change at any time.
NOTE: This is ship is currently being built and all details are subject to change.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $250,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Exploration by sea kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of Antarctica. Paddle among icebergs and brash ice, get up close to wildlife and observe in an unobtrusive manner. Some kayak excursions may be long in duration and on choppy water, so a reasonable level of kayaking experience is required to participate in this activity. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Snowshoeing makes walking up gentle slopes and across Antarctica’s soft, powdery snow a breeze, allowing you to explore places where others struggle to reach in boots alone. Armed with your very own set of snowshoes and ski poles, you’ll be led by guides who will provide all the instruction you need for a thrilling experience. No previous experience is required, but a good level of fitness is necessary. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you'll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs! Participant numbers are limited to ensure the highest safety standards and an experienced dive guide will oversee the program. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Ushuaia with breakfast; group transfers from Ushuaia airport to hotel if on the group flight; tour of Ushuaia before embarkation (lunch not included); transfer from ship to Ushuaia airport or downtown on disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; printed photo book from your voyage (post voyage, one per booking); gear to keep (expedition jacket); gear on loan (boots); all meals onboard ship; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with dinner onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; hotels and meals not included in itinerary; transfers not mentioned as included; optional activity supplements; alcohol and soft drinks not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as Wi-Fi, laundry service, spa charges, medical expenses, etc.; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport arrival or departure taxes; gratuities (Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Aurora Expeditions