|Day 1||Ushuaia||Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Martial Glacier|
|Day 2-3||Drake Passage||Giant Petrels and birdlife, Antarctic Presentations|
|Day 4-9||Gerlache Straight and Antarctic Peninsula||Inflatable Zodiac Boats, Gentoo, Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Leopard Seals and Whales|
|Day 10||South Shetland Islands||
Flooded Volcanic Caldera, Livingstone Island, Half Moon Island
|Day 11||King George Island||Flight to Punta Arenas, Chile|
|Day 12||Punta Arenas, Chile||End of Itinerary|
Ushuaia is known as the southernmost city in the world (although, with a population of around 60,000, really more of a large town). Set on the shores of the Beagle Channel, ‘Ushuaia’ actually means “the bay facing westward” in the language of the original Yamana inhabitants. Once a penal colony for political prisoners as well as hardened criminals – the Presidio (prison) was closed in the late 1940s – Ushuaia is now a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica. The town is also a major ski resort area for both alpine and cross-country skiers and offers magnificent hiking in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the only coastal national park in Argentina.
Today is the first day of your adventure. Your morning is at leisure to do any last minute shopping, take an optional excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park, or perhaps make a good hike up to the Martial Glacier. This afternoon board the expedition ship, with embarkation time set for 1600hrs. As you board the vessel and start to become familiar with your ‘home’ for the next 10 days, you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead. In the early evening set sail, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
As you make the crossing south across the Drake Passage, there is much excitement in the air as the ship comes ever closer to the white continent. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross while giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our 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. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere aboard as the numerous onboard experts prepare you for your adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. As you cross the Antarctic Convergence you will notice a distinct drop in temperature as you enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean.
Awaken to the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica. The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula and along the Gerlache coastline are home to deep bays, coves and inlets and many small islands. You will explore this area in inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature’s glory. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adélie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. You’ll frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. You may also be lucky enough to see a pod of orca.
Planned excursions could include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands and Fournier Bay – or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where you will frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity.
Along this coastline you have the opportunity to spend a night on shore camping. All the gear and equipment is provided all you need to do is enjoy a night like no other. Please be aware this activity is weather permitting. You do not need to prebook and can decide on board if you wish to participate.
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and, if the weather is good, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location, with history all around you as you explore the old whaling station, with its rusted relics and dilapidated wooden structures. On a sunny day, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you will often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. In the evening enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship’s Captain.
This morning the voyage comes to an end as you say goodbye to the expedition team and crew. You will be transferred ashore by Zodiac. You will walk from the landing site to the airstrip for the flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile which is included in your voyage price. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas you will be transferred to your hotel. You have the evening at leisure to explore the restaurants, cafes and bars of this lovely town.
After a leisurely breakfast check out of your hotel. This is where your trip ends. Either make your way to the airport or extend your stay in Punta Arenas.