Day 1 Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark
Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. Meet at a central location and transfer to the airport for your scheduled flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal Britain. It is charming with brightly colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, is a sobering reminder of recent history. There is time to explore the town before making your way to the ship for embarkation. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner, and cast off, bound for Antarctica – and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-3 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Begin charting a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its biodiversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. The ship is joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you sail south. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and a photography expert is on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of your modern research vessel. Throughout the day on-board experts educate the group with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history of the locations you visit in the coming days.
Pending good sailing conditions crossing to Antarctica, visit historic Elephant Island – a place central to the Shackleton story. It is from here that Shackleton and four of his companions set off on their epic ocean crossing to South Georgia 100 years ago. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swells onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless this a thrilling place to visit.
Day 4-5 King George Island | Antarctic Peninsula
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
This morning wake in position at King George Island – the largest in the South Shetlands group. There are two landing sites here and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls, and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. This afternoon, continue your journey south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Straight – making way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife so keep a lookout for whales in the waters surrounding the ship. Large icebergs are present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs in the evening light.
By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and the ship should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. This is truly an ‘A-list’ location and a place where sizeable pods of humpback whales are often encountered. Navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island – home to a rookery of gentoo penguins. It’s a fantastic location for a zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.
Day 6-8 Towards the Antarctic Circle | Gerlache Coastline
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
You are encouraged to spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery as the ship navigates south. Pass through the ice-strewn waters making way towards the ultimate objective, the Antarctic Circle. Given favorable ice conditions, the first goal is to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950s.
This vicinity marks the ship's turnaround point and from now on, sail in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. Potentially visit a working scientific base to learn something of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore a historic British Antarctic Survey hut. If the conditions are right, the overnight camping program is offered to all adventurers somewhere in this vicinity. All the gear and an experienced team are on-board to make this a night to remember!
Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins, nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run a round in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you can possibly imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.
Day 9-10 Antarctic Peninsula | South Shetland Islands
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on the way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations feature terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic viewpoints. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage.
By morning, arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship sails into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history surrounds you as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where the Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.
On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where Weddell seals can be caught sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Charting a course for King George Island in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 11 King George Island | Disembark | Punta Arenas
This morning the ship is anchored off King George Island. Say goodbye to the crew and transfer ashore by zodiac and time permitting, explore the surrounding area. There are several important science bases here including Chile’s Frei Station and Bellingshausen Station. Transfer to the airstrip for the flight to Punta Arenas (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Spending a night in Punta Arenas is recommended, in the event of any delays returning from Antarctica today. On arrival, a transfer is provided to several hotel locations downtown.
For 2017/2018 season departures: a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas at the end of the voyage is included for all guests returning from King George Island. This evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes and bars– including the historic ‘Shackleton Bar’ at the Hotel Jose Nogueira– a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctic.
After a leisurely breakfast, check-out and make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. It is recommended to book flights after midday.