In addition to the traditional activities enjoyed on the regular Antarctic Peninsula Adventure (walking, hiking, Zodiac cruising), there are numerous areas within the peninsula and surrounding archipelago that offer opportunities for expedition snowshoeing and extraordinary ski-touring led by experienced high alpine ski-touring guides, allowing you to appreciate varied terrain amidst Antarctic snow pack. Taking advantage of the optimal snow and ice conditions in November, the range of additional activities complements an already busy schedule. For those pre-booked to undertake sea kayaking, there’s a chance to arrange exciting overnight kayaking and, if you wish to take it to a whole new level, even a two-night kayaking trip may be offered, a chance to paddle far from the ship and establish an overnight bivouac/campsite. For keen photographers interested in field photography of either adventure pursuits or landscape, you can join the expedition team and expert specialty photographers for extended shore excursions or very early excursions aimed at capturing these special subjects with a remarkable backdrop. It is a priority to combine preferable weather conditions with all of the outdoor pursuits to achieve awe-inspiring outdoor experiences, paired with on-site education about Antarctica and its protected environment. This voyage has been designed for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers; it also has great appeal to those who wish to experience Antarctica in springtime.
(Note: These extra adventure options must be pre-booked and attract additional charges – see below)
|Day 1||Ushuaia||Optional excursions to Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Martial Glacier|
|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|
Akademik Ioffe was built in Rauma, Finland in 1988 and was designed for polar research and is now only 1 of 2 scientific vessels still actively participating in marine science. With extensive upgrades and expansions, the Akademik Ioffe is safe and ice-strengthened, and is now a modern, comfortable and very spacious ship. With a maximum of 96 guests (with room for more) everyone can go ashore at one time.
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 12 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 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 attended by the captain of the ship.
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.