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Antarctica Special - Discovery and learning voyage

Summary : The seabirds of the South Shetlands, the ice formations of Antarctic Sound, the whale hotspots of Wilhelmina Bay – all of these experiences and more await you on this exploratory expedition cruise, which focuses not only on visiting Antarctica’s most iconic locations but also its most beloved wildlife. Penguins included.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
End of the world, start of a journey

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.

Day 2 – 3
Path of the polar explorers

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you 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.

Day 4
Scenes of South Shetland

The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. A good hike is a possibility in this fascinating and desolate volcanic landscape.

As an alternative, you may be able to engage in activities near Half Moon Island. Here chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station.

Day 5
Icescapes of the Antarctic Sound

Glaciers, icebergs, and pack ice extend into the horizon. On the northern side of the Antarctic Sound is Dundee Island, where you have the chance to land at Petrel Cove. The Argentinean Base Petrel is located here, and its massive airplane hangar hints at the base’s heritage: It was from this stretch of flat land that Lincoln Elsworth and Herbert Hollick-Kenyon completed the first flight across the Antarctic Continent in 1935.

Day 6
Sailing the Wright Ice Piedmont

Next you sail along the Wright Ice Piedmont at Graham Land, which was mapped based on photographs taken between 1955—57. The piedmont was named after the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, who in December 1903 were the first people to fly an airplane.

Day 7 – 8
Valdivia, Wilhelmina Bay, Brabant Island

We may land at the following spectacular sites:

Valdivia Point views: Keeping to the west coast of Graham Land, you reach Valdivia Point, named after the German ship Valdivia by Otto Nordenskjöld’s Swedish Antarctic Expedition. Further west you may also see Challenger Island and Bluff Island.

Wilhelmina Bay – A likely spot to see feeding humpback whales. If conditions allow, you may even embark on a Zodiac cruise to the ghostly wreck of the Guvernøren, a whaling vessel that caught fire here in 1915.

The bays of Brabant Island

You then continue sailing to the western side of Brabant Island, exploring Avicenna Bay, Buls Bay, and the analysis-inspiring Freud Passage.

Day 9 – 10: Further exploration

Sites you may visit during the last two days in Antarctica may include:

Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby.

Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.

Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.

Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you may get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags.

At the nearby sites, such as Damoy Point there may be the opportunity for snowshoeing to the old ski-way, this is also one of our favourite camping sites.

Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Day 9 – 10
Further exploration

Sites you may visit during the last two days in Antarctica may include:

Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby.

Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.

Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.

Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you may get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags.

At the nearby sites, such as Damoy Point there may be the opportunity for snowshoeing to the old ski-way, this is also one of our favourite camping sites.

Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Day 11 – 12
Familiar seas, familiar friends

Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 13
There and back again

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.

Notes

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.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase travel insurance including medical, accident, and a minimum of $100,000 in repatriation/evacuation insurance. Furthermore, the shipping company strongly recommends obtaining trip cancellation 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.

Please Note:
All voyages will operate subject to a minimum of 70 participants.

Included:

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; 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; snacks, coffee, and tea; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Any airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; polar diving; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance, including medical, accident, and repatriation/evacuation insurance (required); baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges, and telecommunication charges; and gratuities. Fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © John Neuschwander, © Erwin Vermeulen, © Oceanwide Expeditions

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