Towering snow-capped glaciers, incredible wildlife encounters, enormous icebergs and the flexibility of choosing your favourite activities each and every day make this voyage the perfect introduction to the white continent. Sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, spend your days off the ship exploring by Zodiac boat, making several shore landings each day in the company of expert guides.
There are special interest groups that you have the option of joining depending on your interests. You may wish to discover Antarctica and its remarkable wildlife through photography, Zodiac excursions, hiking onshore, and for the more adventurous – camping and sea kayaking. Visits to historic huts and the opportunity to visit a working research station add another dimension to the voyage.
|Day 1||Santiago to Stanley||Charter flight from Santiago, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands|
|Day 2-3||Drake Passage||Giant Petrels and birdlife, Antarctic Presentations|
|Day 4-5||Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula||Inflatable Zodiac Boats, Gentoo, Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Leopard Seals and Whales|
|Day 6-7||Antarctic Peninsula||Southern Gerlache Strait, Anvers Island, Paradise Harbour|
|Day 8||South Shetland Islands||
Flooded Volcanic Caldera, Livingstone Island, Half Moon Island
|Day 9-10||Drake Passage||Seabirds, onboard lectures|
|Day 11||Stanley to Santiago||Charter flight from Stanley, Falklands to Santiago, Chile|
The RCGS Resolute is a modern, ice-strengthened Antarctic cruise ship with all en-suite cabins accommodating up to 146 guests. Purpose built for polar waters in Rauma Finland the Resolute not only has the highest ice class rating (Lloyds 1AS) she also offers unmatched stability and superior speed to get you to your destination and out exploring. The RCGS Resolute combines first class accommodation, excellent cuisine; dinner is a la carte, with a true expedition experience. Quite literally the best of both worlds.
Two separate lounge and bar areas allow everyone to enjoy 180 degree views whilst sharing stories from your day exploring the shores of Antarctica. The Resolute has an open bridge policy so passengers can admire the crew manoeuvring the ship through the Antarctic waters. . Additional facilities include: theatre style presentation room, hot water spa, sauna, steam room and salt water pool, gymnasium and wellness centre.
Depart Santiago this morning on a charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. You are met on arrival and transfer from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides our first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making your way to the port, board your expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
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.
There is great excitement when the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. This is one of Antarctica’s most important historic locations and a fitting introduction. On the rocky beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and his men camped here for many months under their three upturned life boats, having lost their ship, HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. It was from this location that Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird.
To this day, the epic ocean crossing and crossing of South Georgia on foot is considered one of the greatest tales in polar history. If weather conditions permit, we aim for a Zodiac cruise to view the site from close proximity. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and sets the scene for an exciting expedition.
Navigating into Antarctic Sound we witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. You will notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs entering the Weddell. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south drifting here on the prevailing currents. Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size exist here – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. There are several antarctic locations to consider but the ice conditions will likely dictate your landing sites. Gourdin Island and Brown Bluff are two such locations featuring substantial penguin rookeries. The region is also full of history of early exploration and has fascinating geological sites with thousands of fossils strewn over the shoreline. You will have a busy day of exploration on shore, in the Zodiacs and on the ship.
The Gerlache Strait is an important whale migration corridor and you will be encouraged to be on the bridge or outer observation decks looking for the tell-tale blows of the migrating whale pods. With luck, you may even catch a glimpse of the resident orca group that inhabit this stretch of water. You have several interesting locations to explore over the coming days, such as Cierva Cove or nearby Mikkelson Harbour. This area provides great excursion options on shore and in the Zodiacs. You will start to encounter much larger numbers of nesting gentoo penguins with their distinct orange beaks. Chinstrap penguins are another species you will begin to view in the coming days. Kelp gulls, skuas and Imperial cormorants are just some of the sea birds you will see along the way. It takes a sharp eye to spot the snowy white plumage of the Antarctic petrel – always a treasured sighting for the bird lovers.
Anvers Island is one of the largest of the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several outstanding sites here as well as on neighbouring Wiencke Island. These locations provide you with opportunities to venture on shore, breaking into smaller groups.
Enjoy a short or longer hike, wander over to observe penguins guarding their precious eggs or newborns on the nest, cruise in the Zodiacs or just sit and soak it all in. The choice is yours. A short transit across the Gerlache Strait brings you along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A potential shore landing at Paradise Harbour will be a highlight for many – as you step foot on the continent proper, for the very first time. A nearby hike up a snow-covered hill provides staggering 360-degree views. A Zodiac cruise or paddle into the nearby ice ‘cathedral’ of Skontorp Cove is another memorable experience. If the conditions are right, the overnight camping program will be offered. All the gear is onboard and an experienced team will make this a night to remember. However, camping always depends on the weather and this activity is never guaranteed on any voyage.
One of the largest gentoo penguin colonies along this stretch of coastline can be found on Cuverville Island, situated at the northern end of the Errera Channel. This is an important research site with the populations being carefully monitored by visiting scientists. The naturalist guides will be able to tell you more about this important work. Cuverville is a good location for a Zodiac cruise and a circumnavigation of the entire island is sometimes possible. Other locations in the area you may explore include Willhelmina Bay. This is a known whale ‘hot-spot’. This is a magnificent location with towering glaciers tumbling off the mountainous spine of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as you explore the old whaling station. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. The nearby Aitcho Islands provide some great hiking routes showcasing the colourful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, and you usually encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point situated on Greenwich Island is another possible location for a visit. Eventually you will leave the snow-covered peaks of Antarctica behind, pushing northwards on your return trip to the Falkland Islands.
As you make your way back to Stanley and the Falkland Islands, the educational presentations continue, and you can enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. Join the photography expert at the multimedia station and download your precious images. Approaching the coast of the Falkland Islands in the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
This morning you will find yourself back in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to your crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago your journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.
To make the most of your time in South America we can tailor a holiday to Patagonia to suit your voyage dates. If you have a bit more time we can create a tailor-made itinerary to some of the highlights of South America. Take a look at the Patagonia sample itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.