This exciting expedition provides great diversity and will appeal to those seeking the complete Antarctic experience. It includes the South Shetland Islands, the western and northern sections of the Antarctic Peninsula, the stunning Weddell Sea region located on the eastern side of the Peninsula, and the historic location of Elephant Island. Adding to the experience will be a visit to several locations in the Falkland Island archipelago – home to nesting albatross and the colourful King penguin.
|Day 1||Punta Arenas||Arrive in this Chilean city for the first night of your Antarctic adventure|
|Day 2||King George Island||Fly across the Drake Passage to arrive in Antarctica|
|Days 3-4||Gerlache Strait & Antarctic Peninsula Region||Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour, Andvord Bay, Cuverville Island|
|Day 5||South Shetland Islands||Antarctic Sound, historical places|
|Days 6-8||Antarctic Sound & Weddell Sea||
Point Lookout chinstrap penguin colony, Macaroni penguins
|Day 9||Elephant Island||Home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony|
|Days 10-11||At Sea||Towards Falkland Islands|
|Day 12||West Point Island & Saunders Island (Falkland Islands)||Explore Port Stanley before departing on the short flight to Punta Arenas, Chile.|
|Day 13||Stanley, Falkland Islands||Fly from Stanley to Santiago to complete your journey|
Upon your arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile, where your Antarctic journey commences, make your way to the selected hotel for an included pre-voyage stay. This evening, you are encouraged to visit the welcome desk set up in the lobby of the hotel to check in with the One Ocean Expeditions’ representative and to collect luggage tags for your voyage. Punta Arenas is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, facilitating easy exploration of the region pre-voyage.
Your journey begins this morning with a transfer to the airport for the 2-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at the Chilean Antarctic base on King George Island, gather at the beach for embarkation by Zodiac boats to your expedition vessel. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, familiarising yourself with your ‘home’ for the coming days, you will meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner with everyone looking forward to the incredible adventure ahead.
Please note that while it is the intention to adhere to the arrangements described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary or desirable to make alterations. On the first day aboard, the Expedition Leader will give you an expedition overview.
Overnight the crew will have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and you will wake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent laid out before you. For the next few days you will have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. The landscape all along this section of the Antarctic coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. The activity program is in full swing by now. Each day you can enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies and Zodiac cruising among the ice with the expert guides, providing insight and interpretation.
Planned visits could include Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay. Or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where you can frequently encounter pods of humpback whales feeding. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that the plan is to spend a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. You will be provided with all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! If the weather is good and site characteristics suite the requirements, the crew will always go for it. Camping is included in the voyage price and there is no need to pre-book this activity.
The ship will now head north towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way you may visit at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, the captain will sail the ship right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and home to several penguin rookeries along the black sand beaches. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and old wooden structures. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is an outstanding hike here to a location known as ‘Neptune’s Window’ – high up onto the rim of the crater.
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating into the sound you will witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. This is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea you will notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation – and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far.
The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the penguin rookeries visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions in the Weddell Sea region may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice floes through which dictate the navigation of the ship. The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjöld’s Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after the ship had been lost in the ice pack months earlier. As you head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset will make some of us pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before you.
Cape Lookout, on the southern tip of Elephant island, is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony; Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species you have yet to encounter. Both southern elephant seals and often sizeable numbers of Antarctic fur seals are seen hauled out on the beaches in large numbers. The island’s dramatic ice cliffs come into view marking your arrival at the fabled Point Wild on the north coast. This is a thrilling location and a major highlight for history buffs. It was a place of refuge in 1916 where Shackleton and his crew were encamped under their upturned life boats after their ship was crushed by the pack ice in the Weddell Sea. Realising no-one was going to find them there, he and five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat, the ‘James Caird’. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously difficult due to the surging ocean currents and pounding surf on the rocky beach.
While sailing north to the Falkland Islands, your days at sea are never dull – much of your time will be spent on the bridge or outer decks, scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular seabirds, including several albatross and petrel species, are your constant companions and will test your photographic reflexes as they wheel and soar above the ship. The onboard polar experts will recap on your Weddell Sea adventures and continue their educational program, entertaining you with interactive presentations about the wonders of the South Atlantic Ocean and Antarctic eco-systems and leading lively discussions.
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, explore the island of West Point and nearby Saunders Island – in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its rockhopper penguin rookeries and substantial nesting black-browed albatross colony. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easily forgotten. Other potential locations you may visit include New Island and the remote Jason Island group, situated in the far north-west of the archipelago. One final highlight awaits – a visit to the wildlife-rich Saunders Island. Along the white sand beaches and in the surrounding tussock grass you may encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper – and the ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders Island is a fitting end to our epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life’s great travel experiences.
In the early morning, the captain will navigate the ship through the narrows and into the port of Stanley – the capital of the Falkland Islands. Say goodbye to your crew and make your way to the airport for the return private air charter to Santiago (included in the price of your voyage). On arrival in Santiago your journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. Discuss the options with your booking agent. A transfer is provided to the One Ocean Expeditions’ signature hotel located downtown for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.