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.
|Day 1||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Guided tour of Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Embarkation Ushuaia||Fly to Ushuaia, Catamaran cruise on Beagle Channel|
|Day 3||At Sea||Crossing the Drake Passage|
||Antarctica Peninsula||Explore the peninsula on zodiaks, hiking, kayaking and close experiences with wildlife|
|Days 9-16||West Antarctica||Experience ice walks, cross country skiing, snow shoe hikes and wildlife experiences|
|Days 17-24||Exploring the Ross Sea||Experience the history of the Ross Sea Region, visit huts, see the world’s largest Ice Shelf|
|Days 25-26||At Sea||Towards Macquarie Island|
|Days 27-28||Macquarie Island||Visit this world heritage site- with wildlife in abundance|
|Day 29||At Sea||Towards New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands|
|Day 30-32||New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands||Explore “bird central” in these rarely visited, beautiful islands|
|Day 33-34||Bluff, New Zealand||Disembark and explore this historical New Zealand town|
Arrive in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, set on the Rio de la Plata, and check in to your centrally-located hotel for overnight. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour that gives you an overview of the city, seeing its Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards, and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron.
In the morning fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. The National Geographic charter flight is at an additional cost. Alternatively you can book a regular domestic flight. Please contact us regarding what your preferred option is.
The morning’s flight offers some rare views as you fly over the starkly rugged terrain of Patagonia to land in Ushuaia, known as the southernmost city in the world (although, with a population of around 60,000, really more of a large town). Set on the shores of the Beagle Channel, ‘Ushuaia’ actually means “the bay facing westward” in the language of the original Yamana inhabitants. Once a penal colony for political prisoners as well as hardened criminals – the Presidio (prison) was closed in the late 1940s – Ushuaia is now a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica.
You will have lunch aboard a catamaran cruise of the scenic Beagle Channel before embarking your ship in the mid-afternoon. As you board the vessel, you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead. In the early evening set sail, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel, the historic channel that transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. Spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.
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.
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.
Today you will disembark on the New Zealand mainland 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 airport for your onward journey.