Traveling to Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole, is a journey into one of the most remote and pristine environments on Earth. Among the various ways to reach this icy wonderland, we are thrilled to announce National Geographic’s Explorer has introduced 2 new itineraries that combine the ‘fun’ of the Drake Lake, and the ease for which to fly over it. The Explorer, fresh off a "dramatic revitalization" in June 2023, carries passengers in a blend of air and sea travel, each offering a distinct experience of the journey to and from Antarctica.
1. Air-Cruise Combination (Eight-Day Itinerary)
The first method is an innovative approach that combines air travel with cruising, encapsulated in an eight-day itinerary. This choice significantly reduces travel time and discomfort often associated with the infamous Drake Passage, known for its challenging sea conditions. The journey begins with a 2-hour direct flight from Puerto Natales, Chile to King George Island.
Upon arrival at King George Island, travelers board the National Geographic Explorer to commence their Antarctic cruise. The cruise includes several days of exploration, providing ample opportunities to witness the continent's wildlife and landscapes.
On the seventh day, the vessel returns to King George Island. Here, the travelers disembark from the ship and take a flight to Puerto Natales, Chile. They spend a night in this picturesque town, nestled in the southern Patagonian Andes, before continuing their journey home the following day. This air-cruise combination is an excellent choice for those seeking a faster, more direct route to Antarctica without compromising on the quintessential cruise experience.
2. Sail and Fly Itinerary (Ten-Day Itinerary)
The second method, offered as a ten-day itinerary, is tailored for those who wish to savor the traditional sailing experience while still benefiting from the convenience of air travel. This journey begins in Ushuaia, Argentina, known as the southernmost city in the world. From here, travelers embark on the National Geographic Explorer and set sail across the Drake Passage. This two-day sea voyage is an integral part of the Antarctic adventure, offering a sense of the vastness and isolation of the Southern Ocean.
Upon reaching Antarctica, the ship navigates through its icy waters for five days, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the continent's otherworldly beauty. This part of the journey includes sightings of icebergs, glaciers, and a variety of polar wildlife, such as penguins, seals, and whales.
The return journey introduces the air travel component. When the ship arrives at King George Island, guests transfer to a chartered flight to begin their homeward journey. This combination of sailing and flying offers a balanced experience, allowing travelers to enjoy the serenity of a sea voyage with the expedient return via air.
Both itineraries offered by Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic present unique ways to experience Antarctica. The eight-day air-cruise combination is ideal for those looking for a quick and comfortable way to reach the continent, while the ten-day sail and fly itinerary appeals to those who desire the full experience of oceanic travel combined with the convenience of a flight back. With these options, travelers can choose their preferred mode of journeying to one of the most remote and awe-inspiring destinations on the planet.