- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
During the next four days, we explore the highlights of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land. Here we also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first area of exploration. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. We will also explore the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, obliging marine mammals and bustling penguin colonies. We hope to show you the famous Lemaire Channel, also known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the narrow channel reflects the image of sheer snowy mountains.
Throughout the islands and on the mainland, we find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. At this time, penguin pairs are taking turns incubating their eggs. This is a good time to observe the importance of pebbles in penguin culture, as prized nesting material to be stolen from rivals and given to mates. Also at this time, a high concentration of sea ice provides opportunities for seals and penguins to congregate on ice floes, a situation that attracts killer whales. Minke whales have started to arrive and leopard seals can be spotted patrolling the coast near penguin colonies. Photographers will appreciate the pristine appearance of undisturbed snow across the landscape in this early summer month.
In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. Our knowledgeable guides will offer hiking and hill climbing for an even greater perspective of this raw polar wilderness. For sea kayakers, the wildlife-rich waters of Antarctica offer many chances to paddle with seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways. To make the most of your time on the White Continent, you can also spend a night camping ashore, surrounded by untamed Antarctic nature.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our precise route and exploration opportunities will be shaped by weather and ice. Our experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions in this challenging polar environment. With nearly 20 hours of daylight per day, we seize every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery on shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.