There are limited things that you could compare to the uniqueness of witnessing a total solar eclipse, surrounded by the sheer beauty and remoteness of the southernmost continent, Antarctica. According to NASA, the optimum position to experience the solar eclipse in 2021 is well into the Weddell Sea. Although the eclipse is also visible from South Africa and the south Atlantic the full eclipse will only be visible in Antarctica. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness a total solar eclipse, but there’s a lot more to this trip than that. Kayaking adventures will see you gliding past icebergs, keeping an eye out for whales and other marine species. While in South Georgia the brave of heart will have the opportunity to retrace Shackleton’s heroic mountain crossing, and watch ferocious battles between seals.
|1||Ushuaia||Day at leisure|
|2||Embarkation Ushuaia||Embark and sail the Beagle Channel|
|3 & 4||At Sea||Crossing the Drake Passage|
|5 - 9||Antarctic Peninsula||Gentoo, Adelie & chinstrap penguins, seals and dramatic scenery|
|10 & 11||Elephant Island, Solar Eclipse||Visit where Shackleton's 22 men were stranded|
|12 & 13||At Sea||Scotia Sea|
|14 - 17||South Georgia||Millions of penguins, hundreds of thousands seals with a magnificent backdrop of snow-capped mountains|
|18 & 19||At Sea||Albatross and whales. Educational program|
|20||Falklands||Four species of penguins, black-browed albatross, numerous bird species and dramatic Falklands scenery|
|21||At Sea||Towards Ushuaia|
|22||Disembark Ushuaia||Farewell your fellow travellers|
The Greg Mortimer is a new purpose built, polar expedition vessel taking 120 guests. This vessel has been designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption and emissions and ‘virtual anchoring’ which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.
Arrive in Ushuaia, renowned for its breathtaking scenery. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world set on the shores of the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia is a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica. The city offers magnificent hiking in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the only coastal national park in Argentina.
After transferring to your downtown hotel, the rest of the day is at your leisure.
You’ll embark on your voyage in Ushuaia in the late afternoon after a half day city tour. Settle into your cabin and meet your fellow travellers as well as the expedition team as you set sail along the Beagle Channel.
The Drake Passage offers excellent bird watching from the outer decks or the bridge. Your expedition team presents safety and environmental briefings, and enlightening talks on Antarctica. Keep your eyes peeled for icebergs, penguins, seals and cormorants as we approach our first landing in the South Shetland Islands.
Awaken to the site of Antarctica, where the expedition team plan to visit busy penguin rookeries, historic sites and make a continental landing. The Antarctic Peninsula’s west coast is yours to explore. The experienced expedition team, many who’ve been to Antarctica over dozens of summers, create the best daily itinerary that prevailing weather and ice conditions allow. A sense of excitement abounds as you use every moment of daylight to enjoy the best that Antarctica has to offer. This could mean two to three excursions in a day, whether it be to penguin colonies, historic huts, a working scientific station or a Zodiac cruise through a sculpture garden of grounded icebergs. Note – Weather and ice conditions permitting, Greg Mortimer voyages will attempt to explore the ice-chocked Weddell Sea region before moving onto the western side of the Peninsula.
Today you will hopefully be able to make a landing on Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s 22 men were stranded and wintered beneath their upturned boats. If weather and seas permit, Zodiacs will carry you close to Point Wild to pay tribute to these hardy souls. After the day, the ship will then be positioned in prime location for the eagerly awaited solar eclipse.
According to NASA, the optimum position to experience the solar eclipse is well into the Weddell Sea. The eclipse is visible from the following geographic regions: Antarctica, South Africa and south Atlantic, but the full eclipse will only be visible in Antarctica. The instant of greatest eclipse takes place on Dec 04 at 07:34:38 TD (Terrestrial Dynamical Time) or (07:33:28 UT1). Historically, early December would be considered too early to visit South Orkney Islands because of extensive sea ice. However, conditions have been changing every year and it may be possible to get into the South Orkneys on 04 December, 2021 –the unknown is part of what makes the experience even more thrilling. The eclipse belongs to Saros 152 and is number 13 of 70 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the Moon’s descending node. The total solar eclipse of 2021 Dec 04 is preceded two weeks earlier by a partial lunar eclipse on 2021 Nov 19. These eclipses all take place during a single eclipse season. An eclipse season is a period during which the Sun appears close enough to one of the Moon’s nodes to permit an eclipse to occur. Each season lasts approximately 34 days and repeats at about 173-day intervals.
Enroute for South Georgia head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. On 24 April, 1916, they piled into the James Caird, the most seaworthy of their open boats, to attempt this perilous journey to South Georgia, some 1290 km distance. Shackleton hoped to reach South Georgia in two weeks. There he would enlist the help of the whalers to return to Elephant Island and rescue the men who had been left behind. As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside the naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from the historian.
South Georgia is one of the world’s most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds.
The educational program will continue as you head to the Falkland Islands. Spend some time on deck admiring the sea birds and looking our for any wildlife that may be passing by.
Arrive at the Falkland Islands and make multiple shore excursions if the weather permits. The archipelago contains two main islands – East and West Falkland – and in terms of wildlife, they boast the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world and are home to bustling rookeries of Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper penguins; you may even spot king penguins here!
As you sail towards Ushuaia you may spot an albatross or two along the way. Spend this time enjoying the onboard facilities, attending an informative lecture, editing your photos or simply enjoying the company of new found friends.
During the early morning, slip into dock in Ushuaia. Farewell your expedition team and transfer to the airport for your onward journey or spend sometime in the lovely Ushuaia.
To make the most of your time in South America we can tailor a holiday to Patagonia to suit your voyage dates. If you have a bit more time we can create a tailor-made itinerary to some of the highlights of South America. Take a look at the Patagonia sample itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.