Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark
Departing from Buenos Aires, fly to Ushuaia and transfer to the port. Embark Silver Explorer and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you are introduced to your Expedition Team.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward. When they meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that float in the air currents of your ship’s wake such as the black-browed albatross, sooty shearwaters, and white-chinned petrels. As you set sail on your initial transit, familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Explorer and the welcoming expedition staff during talks that prepare you for the exciting adventures ahead.
Day 4-8 Antarctic Peninsula
- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
While sailing to Antarctica, every turn can reveal a new and breathtaking adventure. As the pack ice becomes thicker, it’s apparent to everyone that you are moving closer into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day Zodiac departures are attempted, and, if conditions permit, cruise amidst colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by your team of natural history experts. A flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain determine your best course depending on weather, ice conditions, and wildlife encountered. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands (just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait): As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island, it’s very likely you are greeted by the locals…penguins! Penguin species here include gentoos and chinstraps. Other annual seabirds include the southern giant petrels. While heading back to the ship, you may have company as a leopard seal or southern elephant seal follows alongside your group’s Zodiac.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent): Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-meter-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and pintado petrels use this as a breeding area. Birds such as the all-white snow petrel and skuas may be seen from a distance. As you explore the area, a Weddell seal may be seen basking in the sunlight. Wait long enough and you might see the Adelie penguins standing along the rocks, finally making their way into the surf.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel: The island was discovered by Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice admiral in the French navy. Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for gentoo penguins. Snow petrels and pintado petrels also may be seen whilst Wilson’s storm-petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. During Zodiac tours, hauled-out Weddell and Antarctic fur seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay (on the Antarctic peninsula): The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs. From the ship, observe Argentina’s Base Brown, one of many Antarctic research stations. Here, you actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac with one of your experienced Expedition Team members. There’s a good chance you come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, or if you’re very lucky, your Zodiac driver may locate a pod of Minke whales.
Paulet Island: As you arrive, you may well be amazed by the sight of Adelie penguins covering the entire island. The island is home to 80-90 thousand Adelies that come here to breed. On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of blue eyed shags. Kelp gulls and snowy sheathbills are amongst the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s storm-petrels are regularly seen. Listen as your Expedition Team guide tells of Otto Nordenskjold and his party that over-wintered on the island in 1912. Remnants of their hut still remain. If time permits, take a Zodiac cruise to view impossibly blue icebergs, Crater Lake, and the Adelie penguins making themselves at home on the ice floes.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago: The island is named for German geographer August Petermann and was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74. Your onboard Geologist takes the opportunity to point out various geological features such as the many basaltic dikes along the shoreline, and the more granite composition of the small summit, where rock surfaces show glacial polish and some glacial grooving. During your landing, observe rookeries of Adelie penguins, gentoo penguins, and blue-eyed shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago: Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel, and was first explored during Charcot’s 1903–05 French Antarctic Expedition. The island was named for the expedition’s photographer, Paul Pleneau. Amongst the common breeding birds are gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and south polar skuas. See the gentoo penguins during a landing and southern elephant seals that are often hauled-out in wallows. Enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island): Deception Island is home to a collapsed volcano and an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. Your resident geologist takes the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while your historian introduces you to the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island: The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s, and since 1962 as a museum and gift shop. Snowy sheathbills and gentoo penguins roam outside the museum. Perhaps sight a whale or two on your Zodiac cruise.