You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small, but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentinean town is an ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or enjoy some hand crafted chocolate at a café in town. A night in a hotel is included in the voyage price. No meals are included on Day 1.
Ushuaia - Embarkation Day
The Beagle Channel sets you on your way as the ship sails in the late afternoon. The channel opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean, where your next land sighting will be along the Antarctic Peninsula. Named after the famed ship in which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents many great photo opportunities to capture sea birds hovering overhead.
Crossing the Drake Passage
The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies and a calm ocean. You'll have plenty of time to stare out at the sea, get to know your fellow shipmates and chat with your expedition team. Time over these two days will be spent preparing for the exciting days ahead, with numerous educational and informative lectures from your expedition team. You'll learn about everything from safety procedures to the history of whaling in Antarctica.
South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make a final approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready, as the continent's coastline will make its first appearance, signaling the start of your adventure in the realm of the Antarctic. You'll see plentiful icebergs floating by and be fixated on the surface of the ocean as curious whales spout and breach before your eyes. As exciting as it can be from onboard the ship, your true exploration occurs when you disembark and set foot on the great continent. There are several potential landing sites we may visit, including Neko Harbour, Orne Harbour or Paradise Bay. While weather dictates which specific landing sites we can visit, each one presents a new collection of wildlife and natural attractions. Your days will be busy spotting wildlife and being mesmerized by the beauty of Antarctica. Watching penguins waddling on the beach and listening to the crackling and crumbling sounds of icebergs and glaciers will become your daily entertainment, while kayaking with whales and camping in Antarctica are a couple of optional activities available on selected voyages.
Possible Landings and Wildlife Sightings
- CUVERVILLE ISLAND -
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you arrive, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.
- DAMOY POINT -
If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you'll likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbor on which Port Lockroy is located.
- DANCO ISLAND -
This small island, one mile (1.6 km) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
- ENTERPRISE ISLAND -
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, the island was used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.
- LEMAIRE CHANNEL -
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula; you'll see that this is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 6.8 mile-long (11 km) Channel may become
impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we'll hope for clear waters.
- MELCHIOR ISLANDS -
A group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy.
- NEKO HARBOUR -
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There is an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for
spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour.
- PETERMANN ISLAND -
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. The dome of the island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island.
- PORT LOCKROY -
A 'fun' destination of sorts, we always strive to journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbour during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It is now designated as a historic site, where Port Lockroy is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases
here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
- WATERBOAT POINT -
Of historic interest, you may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the Point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been
designated an Antarctic historic site.
- THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE -
While not a typical landing, the crossing of the Antarctic Circle is a moment to remember. The event will usually happen while at sea, so be sure to head up to the bridge and snap your photo of the GPS reading 66° 33' S.
- AITCHO ISLANDS -
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too.
- BAILY HEAD -
Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
- HALF MOON ISLAND -
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, we're happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson's storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
- HANNAH POINT -
Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from January 10 onwards.
- PENDULUM COVE -
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water!
- PENGUIN ISLAND -
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes.
- ROBERT POINT -
A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
- TELEFON BAY -
Your Expedition Team will be happy to point out that it is here where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
- TURRET POINT -
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.
- WHALER'S BAY -
To reach Whaler's Bay it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune's Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you'll see rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated water springs along the shoreline.
- YANKEE HARBOUR -
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the
activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.
The Antarctic Circle
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula do not reach this far south, which is officially noted at 66° 33' S. You and your shipmates will celebrate in style with a well-earned glass of champagne! Make a toast and take pride in knowing you've made it to a part of the world still visited by very few people.
Northbound along the Antarctic Peninsula
By now, your knowledge of Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins will be matched by your ability to differentiate between a leopard, fur or Weddell seal. Terms like 'bergy bits' and pancake ice will seem normal too, yet there are still many tales to be told. As you head back towards the Drake, Zodiac excursions will continue to fill your days, while the expedition team will help fill in any blanks that remain in your newly acquired knowledge of the Antarctic.
Drake Passage to Ushuaia
Re-crossing the Drake, Antarctica fades away and you'll be left with a collection of memories to last a lifetime. Excited conversations with your newfound friends will make the time passing the Drake Passage fly by, independent of weather and sea conditions. Your expedition team will round up their series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of some of the great landing sites and wildlife you've visited over the course of your voyage.
Disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina
Today you'll say goodbye to your expedition team and your fellow travellers. You'll disembark in the morning so that you may catch your homeward bound flights.