Day 1 Santiago, Chile
Once you’ve arrived in Santiago, the cultural center of Chile, make your way to the hotel for an included pre-voyage stay. This evening, you are encouraged to visit the welcome desk set up in the lobby of the hotel to check in with the representative and to collect luggage tags for your voyage.
Day 2 Fly to Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
Depart Santiago this morning on your private air charter (this flight is included in the price of your voyage) direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. You will be met on arrival and transfer 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 your 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 3-4 At Sea - Towards Antarctica
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity 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 make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the photography expert will be 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 your onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations you can hope to visit in the coming days. If you enjoy good sailing conditions crossing to Antarctica, you may include a visit to the very historic location of Elephant Island – a place central to the Shackleton story. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swell onto the rocky beach. Never the less this is a thrilling place to visit.
Day 5-6 King George Island | The Antarctic Peninsula
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
This morning you are 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 your way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife and you should keep a lookout for whales in the waters surrounding the ship. Large icebergs will be 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 you should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. This is truly an ‘A-list’ location and a place you can frequently encounter sizeable pods of humpback whales. 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 7-9 Towards the Antarctic Circle
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery as you navigate further south. Pass through the ice-strewn waters making your way towards the ultimate objective, the Antarctic Circle, which the crew will aim to cross on Christmas Day. This will be a magical experience for the whole family. Given favorable ice conditions, the first goal will be 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 turnaround point and from now on, return in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. 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 – Wordie House.
If the conditions are right, an overnight camping program is available to all adventurers somewhere in this vicinity. All of the gear is available onboard and an experienced team will 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 offshore, massive icebergs run around 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 10-11 Antarctic Peninsula | South Shetland Islands
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour where you will spend a white Christmas and have an opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer 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, sail the ship 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 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 sometimes encounter Weddell seals 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 the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship – the perfect end to your Christmas in Antarctica.
Day 12 King George | Disembark | Fly to Punta Arenas
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 private air charter. 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. 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 13 Depart for Home
After breakfast and check-out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey.