Summary : This far-ranging voyage takes you from the Antarctica Peninsula across the Atlantic Ocean to the sub-tropical and tropical British Overseas Territories. You will have the unique opportunity to visit some of the world's most remote islands along the way, including South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, and St. Helena, where Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile. Beautiful and often rare animal species live on these islands, many of them not found anywhere else in the world. Bird watchers will delight in crossing paths with the migratory routes of species such as the artic tern and long-tailed skua. Enjoy Zodiac cruises through ice-flecked waters, search for several whale species, and scout for penguins in Antarctica. Spend time in South Georgia exploring massive king penguin colonies, and end your journey in tropical St. Helena.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$11,800 to $17,200
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.
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling waves, maybe even a fin whale blasting up a column of sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence—Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas—you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: a variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars. Then, near the South Shetland Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. Possible sites you may visit include:
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.
Cuverville Island – Stabbing up between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, Cuverville houses a colony of several thousand gentoo penguins as well as pairs of breeding brown skuas.
Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that may be found nearby.
Neko Harbor – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. Opportunities for Zodiac cruising provide you the closest possible view of the ice-crusted alpine peaks. You may be able to set foot on the Antarctic Continent here.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales. A landing on the continent is possible here as well.
Booth, Pléneau & Petermann Islands – You may sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter leopard seals as well as humpback, minke, and fin whales here. You may also visit Booth Island’s Port Charcot.
Melchior Islands – A beautiful landscape rich with icebergs. Leopard seals, crabeater seals, and whales are found here.
You depart at noon, depending on conditions in the Drake Passage.
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.
New passengers join you in Ushuaia before you push back through the Beagle Channel.
A number of albatross and petrel species follow your vessel eastward across the Antarctic upwelling zone toward South Georgia.
The plan is to visit some of the world’s top king penguin rookeries. This time of year you have a good chance of seeing them nesting on eggs, their chicks close by. The rookeries are overflowing, with waddling rush-hour traffic to and from the beach.
Possible visits include:
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbor – Here you see not only a massive king penguin colony, but also elephant seals and fur seal pups playing in the surf.
Prion Island – A great location to watch wandering albatrosses.
Grytviken – Check out an abandoned whaling station where king penguins now walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they just about do. You might also see the South Georgia Museum as well as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave.
Cooper Bay – A great place for a Zodiac cruise, this bay also houses a rookery of macaroni penguins. King penguins, pintails, and giant petrels may also appear here.
A pleasant tailwind often accompanies the vessel through the westerlies, and on both sides of the Convergence fly vast numbers of Antarctic and subantarctic seabirds.
You first approach Gough Island for a Zodiac cruise in Quest Bay, weather permitting. Northern rockhopper penguins and subantarctic fur seals are often seen here. In previous years it has been possible for the vessel to circumnavigate all but four miles of the 33-mile circumference of the island, taking in the scenery and unrivaled abundance of wildlife.
These islands are famed for their bird population which includes rockhopper penguins, several species of albatross, petrels, skuas, terns, and many others. Your aim is to visit the settlement on the west side of this archipelago’s main island but the planned four days here may also allow landings in Seal Bay on the south side or Sandy Point on the east side of Tristan da Cunha.
Here you may encounter wildlife such as yellow-nosed albatrosses and subantarctic fur seals, and otherwise explore a very rarely visited spot. Hope to land at Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands, with views of seabirds ranging from yellow-nosed albatrosses to brown noddies.
Two days are reserved in case of bad weather. Nature determines the itinerary here. (Since beginning the Atlantic Odyssey cruise in 1998, adverse weather led to the cancellation of 35% of Tristan da Cunha landings.)
Seabirds and dolphins indigenous to this region often follow the vessel.
After an included breakfast, disembark in Jamestown. You have many opportunities to enjoy the local culture, pleasant climate, and endemic birds of this remote island. One such activity is an included visit to Longwood House, where Napoleon died in exile. You also have the chance to explore the island on your own. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details about optional tours and activities.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation 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.
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 and snowshoes); 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.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia, passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; select land tours in Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena (please inquire); travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage, and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for stewards and other service personnel aboard; fuel surcharge may apply.
SELECT PHOTOS: © Erwin Vermeulen