CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR IN ANTARCTICA
|Day 1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Board your ship in the afternoon. Sail down the Beagle Channel.|
|Day 2||At Sea||Sea Birds, onboard lectures|
|Day 3||Falkland Islands||New Island, Grave Cove|
|Day 4-5||At Sea||Birdlife, onboard lectures, ship facilities|
|Day 6-8||South Georgia||Salisbury Plain, Fortuna Bay, Stromness. Saint Andrews Bay, Grytviken, Gold Harbour, Cooper Bay|
|Day 9-10||At Sea||Onboard lectures, fine dining, lectures|
|Day 11||Weddell Sea||Fur Seals, penguins, albatross, weddell seal, table icebergs|
|Day 12-13||Antarctic Peninsula||Neko Harbour, Paradise Bay, Pleneau Island, Port Charcot, Wilhelmina Bay, Deception Island|
|Day 14-15||Drake Passage||Onboard facilities, lecture, fine dining|
|Day 16-17||Ushuaia||The Beagle Channel, disembark in Ushuaia|
The Le Soléal provides a luxurious and comfortable experience to the final frontier – Antarctica. Carrying a maximum of 200 passengers she creates a welcoming and intimate atmosphere for you to take in the awe of this majestic continent. This ship offers excellent facilities including a spa, fine dining restaurants and exquisite décor throughout. The fleet of Zodiacs take you off the ship on excursions to explore the wonders of Antarctica.
In the afternoon you will board Le Soléal in Ushuaia and set sail in the direction of the Falkland Islands, an Archipelago made up of moors and craggy coastlines, where the plant and animal life forms a link between Patagonia and the Antarctic.
Relax on board this luxurious vessel and take in the fresh air. There is plenty to do on your way to the Falkland Islands. Perhaps you would like to unwind at the spa or simply admire the vastness of the ocean from the panoramic lounge.
Located to the South East of South America, the Falkland Islands, which are renowned for their wildness, were discovered by a Spanish expedition at the beginning of the 16th century. More than two hundred years later, sailors from Saint- Malo, known as Malouins, occupied the island and gave it the name used until the British conquered them in 1833. Scattered with tufts of grass, surrounded by a grey and often wild sea, the Islands are a small country of moors and rugged coastlines carved by the South Atlantic, where the wildlife and plant life form a link between Patagonia and Antarctica. Take the time to observe and photograph the abundant wildlife of these wild and very attractive Islands.
During your time at sea you may wish to visit the theatre to view a film or attend an information session or perhaps you would like to relax by the heated pool. You may wish to spend some time on your private balcony spotting sea birds or keeping your eyes peeled for some whales heading south.
South Georgia looms into view in a maze of mountainous chains and long black sandy beaches. South Georgia is an unmissable destination within Antarctica. This Subantarctic region is a peak emerging from the Scotia Arc, an underwater mountain chain that extends the Andes to the Antarctic Peninsula. Salisbury Plain will be the arena for the most memorable and the most authentic display of Nature. Formed by the withdrawal of the Grace Glacier, high mountains dominate time and space; the blue – tinged landscape demonstrates all the strength and beauty of the unspoiled nature all around. At the heart of this haven of peace, on the beaches of the bay, a colony of 250 000 King Penguins has taken residence. In the midst of all these orange headed couples, Fur Seals try to beat a path to feed with their young. Under the weak Southern sun that lights this glacial plain, clouds of birds fly on the wind, enchanting the traveller.
Grytviken, initially established as a whaling station in 1904, is now only occupied by scientists and crew of the British Antarctic survey. Grytviken translates to ‘Pot Bay’ after many pots were found here that were used to render seal oil.
Gold Harbour is a popular breeding ground for king penguins and elephant seals. During the morning and evening the soft sunlight illuminates the cliffs a beautiful bright yellow which is where the harbour gets its name.
Enjoy some of the onboard facilities whilst keeping an eye out for bird life and whales. As you head further south you will begin to see icebergs floating past.
Amidst the eerie stillness of the Weddell Sea, you’ll wind your way through a labyrinth of table icebergs. Sweeping ice platforms sculpt a landscape unlike any other, populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds. The Weddell seal, king of this realm, will welcome you to his territory with a haunting cry that pierces the surrounding silence. You’ll recognise him by his dark grey coat and spotted belly. Weddell seals have the impressive distinction of being able to stay underwater for more than an hour.
Neko Harbour is a little corner of paradise in the shadow of a towering glacier and one of the most beautiful sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. Mountains and ice combine to form a truly impressive landscape whilst seabirds (gulls, Cape petrels, cormorants) and marine mammals (seals, orcas and other whale species) curiously greet you. Head out on Zodiacs to get up close to the icebergs, stop over near a penguin colony, watch leopard seals sunbathe between dives and enjoy an impromptu aerial show from passing Antarctic terns.
Towering glacial peaks plunging down into the icy waters of the Antarctic is the backdrop for Paradise Bay. Discovered and named by whalers in the early 20th century, this protected natural site is currently home to a wide variety of fauna, from Antarctic cormorants and leopard seals to sheathbills and gentoo penguins, who gather on the long stretch of rocky beaches. With some luck, you may witness humpback whales cruising past. During your excursion, head off to discover the old Argentine base Almirante Brown, which is only occupied for a few weeks each year, during the austral summer.
Named after talented photographer Paul Pléneau, who accompanied Jean-Baptiste Charcot on his 1903 expedition, Pleneau Island is a haven for gentoo penguins, elephant seals and fur seals. A ‘fleet’ of imposing ice formations sit like anchored ships along its shores. Like works of art, these unusually-sculpted icebergs created by the elements range in colour from white to blue. On shore, red algae provides a striking contrast against empty swathes of snow that alternate with gentoo penguin nesting sites, strewn all across the island.
Wilhelmina Bay is a natural harbour located in Salpêtrière Bay, was discovered by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot. Named for the explorer’s father, famed neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, this tip of Booth Island still holds vestiges of Charcot’s 1903-1905 anchoring aboard his ship, Le Français. A walk through the snow will take you to the remains of Charcot’s stone cabin where he conducted studies on magnetism. Right nearby, you’ll notice a colony of gentoo penguins. If you continue on to the summit, you’ll pass by the remnants of a cairn and enjoy an unobstructed view of the vast field of icebergs scattered over the bay like white tombstones—an eerie, mystical site like none other.
Situated just above the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Deception Island is easily recognisable thanks to its distinctive horseshoe shape. The crater of this former volcano caved in 10,000 years ago and the resulting caldera was flooded, creating a natural harbour. Deception Island still bears traces of its past as a longtime hub of the whaling industry. The vestiges of abandoned sheds that line the black sand of its volcanic beaches share space with the island’s spectacular fauna: it is home to the Antarctic Peninsula’s largest colony of chinstrap penguins, as well as numerous elephant seals and fur seals.
As you brake the Drake Passage you will have time to sort through your photos, use the onboard facilities, attend lectures, visit the spa for some relaxation or relax in the lounge areas sharing stories with fellow travellers of your adventure. In the evening of day 16 the ship will pull into Ushuaia. The following morning after breakfast you will disembark.