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 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 your expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into your cabins and exploring the ship, you meet your 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 3-5 At Sea - Towards Antarctica
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 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 will be 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 your 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 might 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 6-8 Detaille Island | Marguerite Bay | Lower Antarctic Peninsula
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Given optimal ice conditions, aim to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘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 scientists and researchers.
This far south, you are always at the mercy of prevailing ice conditions. Years of experience pushing this far to the south indicates that February gives you the best chance of reaching Marguerite Bay. The ship may take the ‘shortcut’, through a narrow channel known as 'the Gullet' if the passage is ice-free. Otherwise, you could navigate around the outside of Adelaide Island - which will take more time, yet bring you to the same destination.
Marguerite Bay is home to several important science bases -Rothera (UK), San Martin (Argentina), Carvajal (Chile). Visit at least one of these locations. The area is full of history and the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) of the early 1930s - led by intrepid Australian explorer, John Rymill, established their southern base in this area. They explored and surveyed large areas of the Antarctic Peninsula by airplane, establishing the Antarctic Peninsula was indeed connected to the main continental landmass - and not just a series of off-shore islands as earlier believed
This vicinity marks your turnaround point and from now on, you cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for Zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. Visit a working scientific base to learn 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 the old British Antarctic Survey hut
Day 9-11 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula Exploration
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Petermann Island is home to a sizable 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 Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. 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 there will be a highlight of the voyage.
Aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica proper. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic viewpoints. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. The good news is, your adventure is not over and you still have several days of exciting exploration ahead.
Orne Harbour is another spot you hope to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides great access to a chinstrap penguin rookery and jaw-dropping views over the Gerlache Strait. At Cuverville Island, there is a large gentoo penguin colony which you observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along with the landing site. For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real possibility. It is somewhere in this vicinity you can hope to spend a night ashore camping if weather conditions permit. All the gear is available to you and an expert team will make this unique experience happen.
You are now at the most northern point on the Peninsula. Additional visits may include Mikkelson Harbour or nearby Cierva Cove, rounding out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, you reflect on an incredible 10-days of exploration south of the Circle and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 12 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, arrive in the South Shetland Islands. If the weather conditions allow, you may 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 boiler sand 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 you may encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise.
Day 13-14 Drake Passage - Return to Falkland Islands
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
As you make your way to Stanley and the Falkland Islands, the educational presentations continue and you can enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. Join your photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. 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 15 Stanley | Disembark | Fly Santiago
This morning find yourself in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to your crew and make your way to the airport for your return private air charter to Santiago (included in the price of your voyage). On arrival in Santiago, your journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. A transfer is provided downtown for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.