Early season is a time of intense activity in Antarctica. The wildlife migrations have commenced and the sea ice is quickly receding, allowing access to locations which have been ice choked since winter. We anticipate exciting ice navigation on the ship and will be among the first to visit many of the well known sites this season. What makes this journey so special is the enhanced program of off-ship activities offered on this departure. Taking advantage of optimal snow and ice conditions in November, range of additional activities which complement the regular program are offered. For those with some technical ability and experience, you can try back-country ski touring. Snow-shoeing is another exciting option. If you have some experience sea kayaking, why not enjoy this unique activity? Accompanied by a small group of paddlers, your expert guides will allow you to experience Antarctica in a very different way. Camping is yet another great activity. All this is complemented with a fascinating series of onboard presentations, led by adventurers, marine biologists, naturalists, glaciologists, historians and the onboard photographer.
Please note: Some of the additional activities are an additional cost and reservations must be made at time of booking.
|Day 1||Punta Arenas||Embark on your Antarctica cruise|
|Day 2-3||Drake Passage||Giant Petrels and birdlife, Antarctic Presentations|
|Day 4-5||South Shetland Islands and Northern Antarctic Peninsula||Livingston Islands, Half Moon Island, Deception Island, Neptunes Window|
|Day 6-9||Gerlache Strait Region||
Hiking, wildlife colonies, ski touring, snow shoeing, overnight camping, Neko Harbour, Errera Channel
|Day 10||South Shetland Islands||Aitcho Island, King George|
|Day 11-12||Drake Passage||Cape Horn, Beagle Channel|
|13||Ushuaia||Farewell your fellow travellers as your voyages comes to an end|
Your journey commences in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the wharf where you will embark your expedition ship. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement will be in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner. The captain will chart a course through the Straits of Magellan and you will be on your way, bound for Antarctica – and what promises to be an incredible adventure.
As you make the crossing south across the Drake Passage you will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross while giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship 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. 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 today and the magnificent snowy peaks of the South Shetland Islands are laid out before you. Depending on ice and weather conditions, enter the McFarlane Strait which separates Greenwich and Livingston Islands, and Half Moon Island or nearby Yankee Harbour are possible landing sites. A short way to the south-west lies Deception Island, a flooded volcanic caldera, and navigating the ship through the very narrow passage takes great skill. 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. There are some fantastic hikes available along the black sand beach to investigate an old aircraft hangar and other relics, while a hike of several kilometres up to a highpoint known as Neptune’s Window is another option.
Overnight you cross the Bransfield Strait and are now along the coastline of continental Antarctica. Over the next several days, your itinerary is deliberately flexible to account for early season ice conditions and to take advantage of optimal snow conditions at several of the team’s favourite landing sites. The planned exploration starts in vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour and neighbouring Cierva Cove – both beautiful locations and a perfect introduction to Antarctica.
Heading south along the coastline of the continent, the busy program of activities will now be in full swing and your days are spent exploring on and off the ship. Every day an exciting range of activities is planned, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), and visits to wildlife colonies with your expert naturalist guides. The historic huts and scientific stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity.
Using the weather as the guide, endeavours are made to extend participants beyond the standard limits of expedition cruising itineraries, and you are able to spend more time ashore in your chosen environment to meet all of your goals. The ski-touring group may set off to explore the pristine terrain and range several kilometres inland with their experienced mountaineering guides. The expedition snowshoeing group may follow in the tracks of the skiers, climbing to high points which afford breathtaking views of the surrounding area; this option has been designed for those intrepid adventurers who enjoy waking early (0400) to have extraordinary experiences. If you are not up to the more strenuous snowshoeing program, the classic snowshoeing program is available to those who want to lead the pack while hiking at the chosen landing sites – sometimes tracking through the early deep snow is best done by snowshoe.
The expedition sea kayakers will head out on excursions which may last all day; an overnight kayak/camping excursion is available to the more adventurous in the group. Everyone will have an opportunity to camp ashore overnight in Antarctica if the weather conditions are good. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy an all-day field workshop with the expedition photographer.
The ship will range as far south as ice conditions permit and it is hoped to navigate as far as Neko Harbour and into the Errera Channel. Witnessing the migration of the penguins early in the season as they busily re-establish their rookeries and prepare nests is an endlessly fascinating experience.
The adventure is not over and an additional day of exploration is planned in the South Shetlands. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate the landing locations. Aitcho Island is a possibility and is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise, while King George Island also has a number of interesting landing sites. In the evening, the ship navigates into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
As you leave this magical place and make your way back, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn (conditions permitting), there is no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing up the Beagle Channel, you will celebrate the conclusion of your Polar expedition at a special dinner.
In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. You will be transferred to your hotel or to the airport for your onward flight.
SPECIAL ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES: Must be pre-booked and pre-paid
Sea Kayaking (US$795 – max. 16 persons)
This is a pre-booked option and is US$750 per person. There are a maximum of 16 spots available for kayaking so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Overnight Sea Kayaking & Camping (additional US$300 – max. 6 / min. 4 persons)
Must already be enrolled in the standard sea kayaking program. Sea kayaking and camping experience is necessary and participation is dependent upon the Sea Kayak Guide’s approval aboard.
Ski Touring (US$750 – max. 12 / min. 6 persons)
Back-country experience is essential and participation is dependent upon the Ski-Touring Guide’s approval aboard. Gear is not provided; please review the required gear list prior to departure.
This is a pre-booked option and gear is provided. Maximum of 12 people.
No pre-booking is necessary. There is no additional fee for this activity. Gear is provided. There are 10 pairs of snowshoes available.
No pre-booking is necessary. No additional fee and there is no maximum participants.
No pre-booking is necessary. No additional fee and there is no maximum participants.