Day 1 Santiago, Chile | Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark
Depart Santiago this morning on your special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. On your arrival, you will be transferred from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides your first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making your way to the port, you board our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into your cabins and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
Day 2-3 At Sea - Towards Antarctica
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in biodiversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. Hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross, giant petrels, and smaller Cape petrels are constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the 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 expedition vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, history, and the locations you may visit in the coming days.
Day 4-5 South Shetland Islands | Antarctic Peninsula Exploration
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of Antarctica's fringing islands are laid out before you. Even your experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
The McFarlane Strait makes a natural entry point into the South Shetlands. There are several landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. In the afternoon, cruise along the coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is a memorable experience. If the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around 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 Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike, high up onto the rim of the crater.
Overnight, your ship navigates across the Bransfield Strait and aims for the broad expanse of Willhelmina Bay. This is a known whale 'hot-spot'. It's a rich feeding ground for humpback and minke whales and you can hope to encounter these gentle giants from the ship or when cruising in the Zodiacs. This is a spectacular location, featuring sweeping views of the glaciers up to the mountainous ridge of the Antarctic peninsula. Nearby lies the Errera Channel - home to several exceptional sites, including Cuverville Island with its substantial gentoo penguin rookery, Ronge Island and the snow-capped dome of Danco Island. In the soft evening light, commence your journey south, towards the Antarctic Circle.
Day 6-8 Antarctic Circle Crossing and Southern Gerlache Coastline
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
You'll have covered substantial distance overnight as you head south. The objective is to cross the Antarctic Circle this afternoon, hoping for a shore landing at Detaille Island. An abandoned British science station - ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Toast your success on crossing the Antarctic Circle turning your gaze northwards, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration, which is exactly what you can plan to do.
Heading north, the peaks of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott loom on the horizon. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings and observation of the gentoo penguins who nest here in large numbers. Just offshore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a Zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage. If ice conditions permit, aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour, which provides a continental landing opportunity. There is a wonderful hike here, up to a high point which provides jaw-dropping views. Zodiac cruising in the glacial amphitheater of Skontorp Cove is also a possibility.
Navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island - a little visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and you may encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbour also allows for another off-ship excursion. After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north, 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 orcas that inhabit this stretch of water.
Day 9 Aitcho Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The adventure is not over, you will visit several additional landing sites in the South Shetlands including the Aitcho Islands. There are some great hiking routes here showcasing the colorful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, they usually encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point situated on Greenwich Island is another favored location for a visit. Eventually, you will leave the snow-covered peaks behind you, pushing northwards on your return trip to the Falkland Islands.
Day 10-11 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
As you make your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you can enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. Join the photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the coast of the southern Falkland Islands in the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 12 Stanley | Disembark | Santiago, Chile
This morning you find yourself back in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to the crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago, your journey comes to an end.