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. Crossing the Antarctic Circle is a momentous occasion and will be celebrated by all.
|Day 1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Embark|
|Day 2-3||Drake Passage||Giant Petrels and birdlife, Antarctic Presentations|
|Day 4||Martha Straight and the Antarctic Circle||Detaille Island, Base W|
|Day 5-7||Antarctic Peninsula and Gerlache Coastline||Inflatable Zodiac Boats, Gentoo, Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Leopard Seals and Whales|
|Day 8||South Shetland Islands||
Flooded Volcanic Caldera, Livingstone Island, Half Moon Island
|Day 9-10||Drake Passage||Cape Horn, Beagle Channel|
|Day 11||Ushuaia||End of Itinerary|
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. Gather at a central meeting point, transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
The captain and expedition leader will chart a southerly course and reach the goal of the Antarctic Circle due to the capabilities of the expedition vessel – RCGS Resolute. Her superior speed ensures a swift crossing of the Drake Passage on our way south of the circle. This stretch of water is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. The ship will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the celebrated wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the photography expert onboard will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Later, perhaps join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the journey the expedition team run an education program including a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history. The presence of icebergs announces your arrival into Antarctic waters.
Awaken today to the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica. The ship will cruise along Matha Strait and will attempt a shore landing at Detaille Island, below the Antarctic Circle. An abandoned British science station – ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Toast your success on crossing the Antarctic Circle turning your gaze northwards, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration.
Overnight the ship will have navigated north towards the low-lying Yalour Island group. You may visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut. Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies – the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just offshore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage. The expedition team will aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on the way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself.
Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer great hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. Orne Harbour is another beautiful location we hope to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides stunning views and great access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large Gentoo penguin colony which you can observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site. For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a possibility. The captain will navigate into Willhelmina Bay – a known location for large numbers of humpback whales which we view in close proximity from the ship or when out zodiac cruising.
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, the ship navigates north through the McFarlane Strait and 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.
As with all our expeditions, safety is our top priority. For that reason, weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.