EPIC ANTARCTICA

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34 DAYS

This extraordinary new voyage is like a blockbuster film—the star is the seventh continent. And the co-stars are the big ice of remote West Antarctica, where you are sure to set foot where no other humans ever have; the prolific wildlife and impressive ice shelf of the Ross Sea region; and the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia, World Heritage sites for the thousands of seals and millions of penguins here, including huge colonies of king penguins and the endemic royal penguin. This is wildness and wildlife at its finest.

ITINERARY SUMMARY
Day Place Highlights
Day 1-2 Bluff, New Zealand Explore this historical New Zealand town where you will spend your first night before embarkation on day 2
Day 3-6 New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands Explore “bird central” in these rarely visited, beautiful islands
Day 7 At Sea Towards Macquarie Island 
Days 8-9
Macquarie Island Visit this world heritage site- with wildlife in abundance
Days 10-11 At Sea Towards the Ross Sea Region
Days 12-19 Exploring the Ross Sea Experience the history of the Ross Sea Region, visit huts, see the world’s largest Ice Shelf
Days 20-26 West Antarctica  Experience ice walks, cross country skiing, snow shoe hikes and wildlife experiences
Days 27-31 Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula Explore the peninsula on zodiaks, hiking, kayaking and close experiences with wildlife
Day 32 At Sea Crossing the Drake Passage
Day 33 Ushuaia, Argentina  Disembark in Ushuaia and board a charter flight to Buenos Aires
Day 34 Buenos Aires, Argentina After breakfast enjoy a city tour before transferring to the airport
Epic Antartica Nat Geo Endurance

Days 1-2 Bluff, New Zealand   

National Geographic Endurance

On the first day, you will arrive in the town of Bluff, one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, with a strong maritime history. Have a tour of the town before checking into your hotel for the night. After breakfast the following morning, transfer to the National Geographic Endurance to begin your journey.

Days 3-6 Exploring New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands  

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Spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s subantarctic islands and their surrounding waters—the entire marine landscape designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. National Geographic have special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and considered a “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world. Keeping a flexible weather-dependent schedule, the plan is to explore several intriguing islands. Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds: the 99 recorded species include albatross, Antarctic terns and Snares crested penguins. The Auckland Islands are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with the richest flora, prolific birdlife, and an interesting human history.

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Conditions permitting, cruise in Zodiacs to Enderby Island to view a large New Zealand sea lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If you are fortunate, you may see rare yellow-eyed penguins as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach. The World Heritage status also includes the marine environment extending twelve nautical miles from each island group. On your final days aboard, enjoy one last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. Gather to toast your epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner.

Day 7 At Sea

Settle into shipboard life, listening to informal discussions from our naturalist staff to prepare for the wildness ahead. Whilst heading to Macquarie Island, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.

Days 8-9 Macquarie Island, Australia  

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Located south of the New Zealand mainland in the remote Southern Ocean, the wild and beautiful sub-Antarctic islands are home to abundant and unique wildlife, with many species of birds, plants and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. On these days the plan is to visit Macquarie Island, a World Heritage site and home to a large variety of wildlife, including thousands of seals and millions of penguins. Four species of penguin breed here. The endemic royal penguin has a population estimated at 850,000. Gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins also breed there. Imagine landing on a single beach with 100,000 pairs of king penguins, the third largest such colony in the world!

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Overview:

Awake well into your journey sailing through the Drake Passage. While at sea you have the chance to spend plenty of time with your on-board polar experts whose presentations will prepare you for the exciting days ahead. You will also start to identify the seabirds that glide alongside the ship.

Day 10-11 At Sea

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You will be well settled into shipboard life, listening to informal discussions from our naturalist staff to prepare for the wildness ahead. Whilst sailing spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.

Days 12-19 Exploring the Ross Sea

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During these days, navigate some of the most remote regions of the planet, as you explore the Ross Sea, just like Scott, Shackleton, and Ross (the 19th-century explorer for whom this sea is named). Here, you will see the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest, and the Transantarctic Mountain Chain. Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is enormous, covering 471 377 square kilometres –the size of France—and its edge towers as high as 60 metres above the water’s surface, with the majority of the ice below the waterline. The Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface. Your journey to this unique part of the Antarctic waters will likely include stops at several small islands at the bottom of the world for opportunities to hike and explore via Zodiac and kayak. Spot colonies of Adelie penguins, lazy seals, and majestic whales. Plan to visit Coulman Island, where you can see and photograph Emperor penguins, the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 1.15 metres tall and has been the subject of the beloved film, March of the Penguins.

Days 20-26 West Antarctica

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This part of the planet is big, bold and full of adventure and magnificent scenery. The new National Geographic Endurance will be in full expedition mode, granting thrilling opportunities to crunch through thick ice and explore places few have seen. Rely on the planet’s best ice team as you probe the ice’s edge for wildlife, from seabirds to whales. Activities throughout your journey are always weather and ice dependent. Your Captain and Expedition Leader will look for spots to “park” the ship in the pack ice, allowing guests the unique thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and show-shoe hikes. There will be time, too, to relax in the library, head up to the Bridge to scan for marine life, unwind in the sauna or Yoga Room, and of course, hear presentations from the staff. Along the way, the undersea specialist captures images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice.

Days 27-31 Antarctic Peninsula 

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With 24 hours of daylight, there is ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, the schedule throughout is flexible so that you can take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales at play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion. Dependant on the weather, there are opportunities each day to hike, kayak among the ice floes, and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching the powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins. You’ll learn how climate change affects the penguin populations, and how best to capture images of penguins from a National Geographic photographer. Back aboard, the undersea specialist may present a video from that day’s dive or show rare images taken up to 300 metres below the surface using the ROV. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see, and experience more.

Days 32 At Sea  

By now you would be well settled into ship life, listening to informal discussions from our naturalist staff to prepare for the wildness still to come. As you travel through the drake passage, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.

Day 33-34 Disembarkation in Ushuaia, travel to Buenos Aires

In the morning disembark from the National Geographic Endurance in Ushuaia. If you decide to you can fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires to continue your journey. The National Geographic charter flight package is at an additional cost. Upon your arrival in the lively capital of Argentina, you will be transferred to a hotel for the night, included in the cost. In the morning go on a city tour before being transferred to the airport for you onward flight.

 

Alternatively you can book a regular domestic flight. Please contact us regarding what your preferred option is.

To book this voyage call 1300 668 112 or email ice@antarcticatravelcentre.com.au

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.