Day 1 Embark in Ushuaia, Argentina
Your journey commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina as you embark your expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. In the early evening, set sail along the Beagle Channel and push out into the Drake Passage towards Antarctica. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sail south towards Antarctica joined by hundreds of seabirds, including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels, albatross, and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit towards Antarctica. 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 the modern research vessel. Throughout the day onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history.
Day 4-9 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula
- 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. Even the experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, take a moment to pause and reflect on the immense power of Antarctica. Take a deep breath – you have arrived.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves, inlets, and numerous islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’, are home to gentoo, Adelie, and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. Encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, often found relaxing on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are found in sizeable numbers feeding on the rich krill blooms. Sightings of orca are not uncommon as well.
Your activity program is in full swing and you can choose how the adventure unfolds. Every day enjoy an exciting range of activities, including guided hikes on
shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with the expert naturalist guides, as well as Zodiac cruising. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice and searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity. Meanwhile, the sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship, experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. Planned excursions along the Peninsula may include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands, and Fournier Bay - or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location to encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that you plan a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. With the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen - all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and is never guaranteed on any voyage. (Contact us for details).
Day 10 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for 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 location. History is all around you as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden structures.
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, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you may encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is a great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise. In the evening, navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
There are several superb hikes and an opportunity for a swim - the 'Polar Plunge!' Head northeast, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is always a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in this vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you can encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. Tonight enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship’s Captain, cruising towards King George Island.
Day 11 King George Island | Disembark | Punta Arenas
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning say goodbye to your expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. Walk from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up towards the airstrip where you board your special charter flight. This flight takes a little over two hours and is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided.
POST VOYAGE HOTEL INCLUDED:
This itinerary includes a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas for all guests returning from King George Island at the end of the voyage. 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 Antarctica.
Day 12 Punta Arenas
After breakfast and check-out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. (We recommend you book flights after midday). Otherwise, why not continue your exploration of Patagonia? Just a few hours north lies the celebrated Torres del Paine National Park – home to towering peaks, glaciers and spectacular wilderness - a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.