Summary : This epic voyage includes every one of the major Antarctic highlights. From the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) to South Georgia to the Antarctic Peninsula, you will experience countless unforgettable moments on this adventure-packed, 23-day voyage. Start with the Falklands, reminiscent of both sandy Cape Cod and the English moors, home to albatross, dolphins, and five species of penguins. From there, venture to South Georgia, where you’ll encounter the home of 300,000 breeding king penguins, 50 million seabirds and 5 million seals. Then, explore the stunning Antarctic Peninsula, and, finally, cross the Antarctic Circle—an eduring milestone for any world traveler. Expand the boundaries of polar exploration aboard a pioneering new vessel on a trip that includes a flightseeing tour you’ll never forget and a range of adventure options from kayaking to stand up paddleboarding.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctic Circle
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You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.
After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you see land, you’ll be in a wildlife wonderland!
Your days at sea are filled with presentations and lectures led by your expedition team; they will prepare you for the wildlife you'll encounter upon arrival. Between presentations, spend time chatting with your shipmates over a drink at the bar, or enjoy the fresh air and views on the outer decks.
Upon your arrival in the Falklands (Malvinas), your camera will get its first real workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged feel of this sub-Antarctic region. The archipelago contains two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, which you will explore during daily Zodiac excursions and landings.
Stanley, also known as Port Stanley, is often a favored landing site, as the town offers a unique British outpost feel, complete with eclectic charm. You’ll be free to explore, grab a pint at the local pub or visit numerous churches and museums.
The archipelago is rich in wildlife, especially birds, and home to Magellanic, gentoo, and southern rockhopper penguins. If you’re lucky, you may even spot king penguins here as well! Expect to see black-browed albatross, plus two endemic bird species: the flightless Falkland steamer duck and possibly the elusive Cobb’s wren.
Your team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna, making the most out of your time in the Falklands.
Sailing southeast to South Georgia, you’ll officially enter Antarctic waters once you cross the Antarctic Convergence, an invisible biological boundary encircling the continent. This meeting of oceans, where the cold Antarctic waters mix and mingle with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, helps create the abundance of krill that attracts whales and seals to this part of the world. Your expedition team will notify you when you cross this invisible yet important line, and they will also look out for the seabirds and marine life that frequent the area.
This remote outpost was a popular stop for many historic Antarctic expeditions and was once a haven for hunting whales and elephant and fur seals. Today, island wildlife populations are rebounding, but you’ll still see remnants of old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts. One significant and historic site of interest is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, a museum, gift shop, church, and a small research station.
Although South Georgia’s history is an important attraction to the island, it is the tremendous abundance of wildlife that you and your shipmates will surely find most captivating. Each landing you make on South Georgia, often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, will open your eyes to the wondrous lives of new, enthralling creatures.
One day you may see rookeries with hundreds of thousands of pairs of king penguins waddling on a beach and the next you may visit another beach blanketed with thousands of fur or elephant seals. The grasses, mountains, and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different species on the island. This fragile and interwoven relationship is something your expedition team will explain to you during your time here.
Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with presentations, lectures and workshops from your expedition team, who will prepare you for the wildlife that will be greeting you upon your arrival.
The experience is hard to put into words, but the most common reaction upon reaching the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes: at one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and solitude; the next, you’ll be laughing at the comical antics of a curious penguin.
Zodiac cruising, visits to historical sites and, of course, communing with seals and penguins are sure to keep you smiling every day. Perhaps you’ll catch sight of the fearless penguin eater, the leopard seal, or maybe you’ll come eye to eye with an Antarctic minke whale while you are cruising in a Zodiac. Each day and each excursion will present a new collection of creatures to delight you and keep your camera busy.
If you find yourself wanting more, treat yourself to an optional kayaking adventure (reserve in advance when booking your trip) or a plunge into Antarctic waters!
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula do not reach this far south. If conditions allow a crossing of this famed line at 66°33´ S, you'll toast the first explorers who ventured here, and you can raise a glass and take pride in knowing you've made it to a part of the world visited by very few people. This is raw Antarctica, home of the midnight sun, Weddell seals, and your best chances of encountering sea ice—the foundation of the Antarctic ecosystem.
If you haven’t had your fill of Antarctic wildlife and icebergs by now, you’ll surely be satisfied by the time you return to the Drake Passage. You will continue to make excursions by Zodiac as you travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Your expedition team will always be on the lookout for species of seabirds, seals, and whales that may have eluded you on your journey south.
After more than three weeks of unique wildlife encounters and remarkable landscapes, your journey home begins. The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage is an adventure unto itself. While being well taken care of by onboard staff, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the ocean, take pictures of seabirds swooping around the ship, and reflect on your remarkable Antarctic adventure.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a little taste of Patagonia with a Tierra del Fuego National Park tour before transferring to the airport for the return group charter 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 is not responsible for itinerary changes.
NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2021/2022 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must have a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. 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. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Luggage Weight Restrictions:
Due to the limited capacity of the aircraft, there is a strict luggage limit of 15kg/33lb for checked luggage and 5kg/11lb for carry-on luggage. Additional luggage can be stored at the hotel in Punta Arenas. There is NO option to pay for additional luggage. Weight limits are subject to change.
Experience remarkable aerial perspectives on a 10- to 15-minute flightseeing excursion included in the cost of your voyage. Additional helicopter activities may also be available for purchase onboard. Please note all helicopter operations are weather- and logistics-dependent. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Limited availability; pre-booking required. A small group of kayakers will attempt multiple outings per voyage in lieu of shore landings. The number of opportunities is weather dependent; kayaking will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior experience is required. Participants must be capable of a wet exit in order to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the Paddling Excursion described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than kayaking, consider a Paddling Excursion. Sign up for a one-time paddle using a stable, unencumbered sit-on-top kayak—perfect for anyone with little to no kayaking experience. Rotating groups will venture out on calm days with expert guides to connect with the sea. Space is limited. Pre-booking required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Stand Up Paddleboarding:
Small groups explore calm waters in good weather conditions accompanied by a Zodiac. Stand up paddleboarding can be booked in advance (limited availability), and will be also be offered via sign-up onboard the ship on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Set foot in an area of the Antarctic that can only be safely accessed by helicopter. With a small group of fellow passengers and expert guides, you’ll board one of Ultramarine’s two twin-engine helicopters to soar off to an exclusive polar site where no ships can navigate. Expect stunning bird’s-eye views during your flight, and then, upon arrival, simply sit back, relax and take in the splendor of the Antarctic from “the best seat in the house”: glacial amphitheaters, breath-taking summits, and more. Each heli-landing experience is uniquely curated by your expedition team, taking conditions and location capacity into consideration. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Exclusive Alpine Heli-Trekking:
Join an intimate group of adventurers for a trekking excursion in an area only safely accessed by air. The helicopter flight alone rewards guests with unforgettable views of the expansive polar landscape down below. On land, during an invigorating walk, hike or snowshoe trek (depending on conditions), you’ll be rewarded with equally stunning views of remote ridgelines, glaciated terrain, and snow-topped peaks. This once-in-a-lifetime heli-adventure will leave you marveling at the overwhelming beauty of the Antarctic. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Shipboard accommodations with daily housekeeping; one 10- to 15-minute helicopter flightseeing excursion (weather and logistics permitting); all luggage handling aboard the ship; Zodiac transfers, cruising, and shore landings as per the daily program; Emergency Evacuation Insurance* to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person; photographic journal; gear to keep (parka); gear on loan (walking poles, waterproof expedition boots); all meals and snacks onboard the ship; select beer and wine during dinner onboard ship; soft drinks and juices onboard ship; coffee, tea, and cocoa around the clock; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges. Subject to change without notice.
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned; meals ashore unless specified; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, except for those included; baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage fees; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac landing and cruising excursions or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, massage services or other personal charges, unless specified; phone and Internet charges; gratuities; additional overnight accommodation; arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated; Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. This shipping company strongly advises that all passengers purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.
Photos: © Quark Expeditions