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Cruising in the zodiac looking for wildlife

Antarctica Direct: Fly the Drake Passage

Roundtrip Puerto Natales - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer
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Explore the majestic beauty of Antarctica more efficiently with the 8-day Antarctica Direct: Fly the Drake Passage Cruise roundtrip to Puerto Natales. Skip the traditional Drake Passage crossing and opt for a two-hour flight to and from Antarctica, ensuring you experience all highlights without losing extra time. Join the diverse team of experts aboard the ship. Delve into channels and coves surrounded by towering peaks, keeping an eye out for whales from the bow. Enjoy Zodiac cruises around massive icebergs, hike, kayak, and, in November, possibly even cross-country ski in serene settings. 
Penguins with a view!Stunning Antarctica viewsFur seal!Penguin!Kayakers out in Antarctica.Hiking in AntarcticaPuerto Natales on the Strait Of MagellanCruising in the zodiac looking for wildlife
Highlights
  • Skip the traditional Drake Passage crossing and opt for a two-hour flight
  • Explore into channels and coves surrounded by towering peaks
  • Enjoy Zodiac cruises around massive icebergs along with hiking and kayaking
  • Discover the world’s last great wilderness in the company of top naturalists
Activity Level: Easy Active
Moderately active but not overly strenuous. This level includes activities like casual cycling, yoga, or excursions/activities that typically last 3-5 hours total each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Puerto Natales, Chile

Upon arriving in Puerto Natales, you discover a town steeped in history. Once a humble fishing port, it now offers breathtaking views of the Last Hope Sound and the Cerro Benitez Mountains, serving as the entrance to Torres del Paine. Transfer from the airport to Hotel Costaustralis or Remota Patagonia Lodge (or similar), where you'll be accommodated. Join us this evening for dinner and a briefing on the activities planned for the following day.

Please note: Travelers should plan to arrive at the Puerto Natales hotel by 3PM today. Ultimately, the weather at King George Island will drive the overall schedule of this trip, so there's a slight chance you might fly to Antarctica this evening!  

Day 2: Puerto Natales | King George Island | Embark

After breakfast, you check out of the hotel and head to the airport for your 2-hour direct flight to King George Island, marking the exciting beginning of your Antarctic adventure. King George Island, home to a diverse array of wildlife including Weddell and elephant seals, Adelie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins, also hosts researchers from various countries, such as the US, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Your flight will land at the Chilean research station, where the National Geographic Explorer awaits offshore. You'll board Zodiacs to reach the ship and begin your journey across the Antarctic waters.

Please note: Flexibility is key to any successful Antarctic adventure, particularly a fly cruise. If the weather at King George Island does not allow for flights this morning, the ship operator will follow their contingency plan. On average, about 85% of flights occur on this day, as scheduled. But travelers should be aware of, and ready to follow, the contingencies that National Geographic has developed for their new flight-based itineraries.

Day 3-6: Explore Antarctica

During this time of year, with long daylight hours, there are abundant chances for exploration. Your flexible schedule allows you to embrace unexpected moments, whether it's observing whales off the ship's bow, trekking alongside penguin highways, or enjoying a Zodiac cruise amidst playful penguins.

While the wildlife is awe-inspiring, the Antarctic is defined by its ice. You'll have the chance to intimately experience ice in various forms—from massive icebergs resembling islands to delicate layers just beginning to freeze. Whether you're kayaking among towering icebergs, exploring in a Zodiac for seals and blue-eyed shags, or walking among penguins, each day brings a new adventure.

Everywhere you venture in Antarctica, there are opportunities to capture stunning images. Throughout the journey, your expert expedition team will enhance every experience.


 

Day 7: King George Island | Disembark | Puerto Natales

This morning, you find yourself near King George Island, which hosts a diverse array of wildlife including Weddell and elephant seals, as well as Adélie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins. Besides its rich wildlife, the island also accommodates a human population. Researchers from multiple countries, such as the US, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, inhabit various research stations here. You disembark and take a Zodiac ashore to catch your 2-hour flight back to Puerto Natales, where you will spend the night at Hotel Costaustralis or Remota Patagonia Lodge (or similar).

Please note: If the weather at King George Island does not allow for flights this morning, the ship operator will follow its published contingency plan.

Day 8: Puerto Natales

  • 1 Breakfast
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport to begin your journey homeward. 

Please note: Flights arranged for later in the day provide more buffer against any of those potential flight delays out of King George Island.

 

Ship/Hotel

National Geographic Explorer

National Geographic Explorer's dining room.
Relax in the luxurious sauna aboard the National Geographic Explorer.
Relax in the National Geographic Explorer's lounge.

Puerto Natales - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$8,138 2-3 travelers
Rates are subject to change without notice. Book early to get the best rate.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 1 Cabin.
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Cat 1
Main Deck with one or two portholes. #301-308
National Geographic Explorer's Category 2 Cabin.
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Cat 2
Main Deck with window. #317-320, 335-336.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 3 Cabin.
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Cat 3
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340,342, 344, 346, 348, 350.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 4 Cabin.
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Cat 4
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. # 103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 5 Upper Deck Cabin.
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Cat 5
Upper Deck with Balcony. #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 6 Cabin.
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Cat 6
Veranda Deck Suite #101-102; Upper Deck Suite with Balcony #213.
Luxurious Catagory 8 Suite
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Cat 7
Upper Deck Suite with Balcony. #215, 219, 230.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SA
C Deck Solo - Cabins 309-312, 329-334. Single cabins with window.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SB
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. #105-106, 203, 208.

Notes

Travelers under the age of 18 save $500 per person.
Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Assistance by the onboard National Geographic Photography Expert
  • Beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits aboard the ship. We are also pleased to offer a selection of super premium wines and liquors that are available for purchase.
  • Crew gratuities
  • Complimentary Starlink-enabled Wi-Fi internet is available to all guests aboard Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet, enabling email, messaging, and social media.
  • Park and site entrance fees, special access permits, and port taxes
  • Excursions, hotels, and airport transfers, as indicated in the itinerary 
  • Selection of exploration tools curated to your destination, such as Zodiacs and glass-bottom boats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment (including wetsuits, masks, and fins), and other state-of-the-art gear
  • Guidance and company of leading expedition staff
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary, both aboard and onshore. Meals are inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • Hors d’oeuvres inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • 24-hour access to snacks, premium coffees and teas, non-alcoholic beverages, and filtered water
  • Presentations on your destination by expedition staff and expert guest speakers
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • The services of a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or paramedic  where available
  • Morning stretch classes and 24-hour access to exercise equipment where available
  • 24-hour access to lounges, observation decks, library stocked with regionally relevant literature, and other shared spaces 
  • Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor
  • Complimentary expedition gear, consisting of a parka and reusable water bottle
  • Welcome reception and/or bon voyage dinner (in Puerto Natales)
  • One-night pre-cruise and post-cruise hotel stays in Puerto Natales
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Laundry, spa treatments, scuba diving, Wi-Fi and phone services (except when indicated as included)
  • We strongly recommend our guests to take Travel Protection Plan. A Plan with comprehensive coverage to protect you from cancellation fees, costs incurred due to trip delays/interruption, damaged or lost baggage, medical assistance, and evacuation during your travels
  • Airfare (except flights when indicated as included), pre- and post-expedition extensions, additional hotel nights, and private transfers (except when indicated as included)
  • Travel protection plans and passport, visa, and immigration fees 
  • Enhanced and premium Wi-Fi plans, which may enable video chat, web browsing, and streaming (connectivity permitting)

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
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May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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