Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark
Your journey commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina as you embark your expedition ship. After settling in to your cabin 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. As you approach the coastline of Antarctica, encounter more icebergs as you anticipate your first whale sightings.
Day 4-7 Gerlache Strait & Antarctic Peninsula
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 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.
Enjoy several days of exploration as the activity program is in full swing, allowing you to choose how your adventure unfolds. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with your expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is a memorable activity and the sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship. Your photography guide is on hand to help you with your camera handling, image composition, and the peculiar light found in Antarctica.
Planned excursions could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where you can encounter playful humpback whales. Paradise Bay is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route providing stunning 360 degree views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity. Along this stretch of coastline you may spend a night on shore camping, if the weather is good and site characteristics suitable. Camping is included and all the right gear and equipment is provided. There is no need to pre-book and you can decide to participate on the day.
After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and you can expect sightings of humpbacks or the resident pod of orca that inhabit this stretch of water.
Day 8 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. Hannah Point, with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels, is another possibility. In the evening, navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
Day 9-10 Antarctic Sound & Weddell Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating into the sound you witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. This is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea you'll notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice.
Day 11 King George Island | Disembark | Punta Arenas, Chile
This morning we say goodbye to our expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. We walk from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up towards the airstrip where we board our special charter flight.
Day 12 Punta Arenas, Chile | Return Home
After breakfast and check-out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. (It is recommended you book flights after midday). Otherwise, why not continue your exploration of Patagonia.