|Day 1||Punta Arenas||Fly from Punta Arenas Chile to King George Island Antarctic Peninsula|
|Days 2||Gerlache Strait||Cuverville Island, gentoo penguins, imperial cormorants|
|Days 3||Antarctic Circle||Dataille Island, Base W|
|Days 4-7||Antarctic Peninsula||Penguin Island, Turret Point, Adelie, chinstrap penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls, Antarctic turns|
|Days 8||South Shetland Islands||Aitcho Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour|
|Days 9-10||At Sea||
Drake Passage, whales, albatross
|Day 11||Ushuaia||Farewell your crew and disembark in Ushuaia|
Akademik Sergey Vavilov was built in Rauma, Finland in 1988 and was designed for polar research. With extensive upgrades and expansions, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov is safe and ice-strengthened, and is now a modern, comfortable and very spacious Expedition style cruise ship. With a maximum of 92 guests (with room for more) everyone can go ashore at one time.
Begin your expedition in the morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas at our meeting point for a transfer to the airport and the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage).
Upon arrival at King George Island, we board our ship via Zodiac. After settling in to our cabins and exploring our new surroundings, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and our first meal. No doubt, everyone on board will be looking forward to the incredible adventure ahead.
Overnight the captain and crew have navigated the ship across the Bransfield Strait and you will wake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent. The first adventure will be at Cuverville Island (weather permitting), situated in the Errera Channel. Venture on shore and observe a substantial colony of gentoo penguins as well as nesting Imperial cormorants. A stroll along the rocky beach here, watching the penguins come and go is a memorable experience. The sea kayakers may take to the water for the first time and there is some great paddling around the island to be enjoyed. As the ship navigates out into the Gerlache Strait – you will be on your way to the south, aiming for the Antarctic Circle.
With favourable ice conditions you will reach Matha Strait overnight and attempt a shore landing at Detaille Island, below the Antarctic Circle. A now 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 you 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 us to stretch our legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut. Nearby Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies – the smallest of the Antarctic penguin’s 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.
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 entire voyage.
Ice conditions permitting, transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to set 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.
It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that you may be able to spend a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. The ship has all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and is never guaranteed it on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, rest assured, the expedition team will always go for it. Camping is included, and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book.
The adventure is not over and an additional day of exploration in the South Shetlands is planned. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate your landing locations. Aitcho Island is a possibility and is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetland’s including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike. Hannah Point, with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels – could also feature. In the evening, the crew will navigate north and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
Making your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you can enjoy a memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. Join the photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, you might make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It is a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
In the early morning, you will arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.