Punta Arenas, Chile
Welcome to Punta Arenas, Chile, where your Antarctic adventure begins. Punta Arenas, which is on the Strait of Magellan, is the most populated city in Patagonia. In the early afternoon, meet your leader and fellow explorers at the official starting point hotel. Enjoy a first meal together and be briefed on the necessary preparations for embarkation day. If you arrive into Punta Arenas early, there are plenty of things to see and do. For a poignant look into the city's history, perhaps visit the Cementerio Municipal to see the lavish tombs of wool barons and the modest graves of immigrants and explorers.
Embarkation Day: Fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island
Today, cross the famous Drake Passage on a three-hour charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica. Instead of two days by sea, cross the infamous Drake Passage by air in only a few hours. Get your first glimpse of the dramatic Antarctic landscape, as your plane descends for landing on King George Island. As the largest island in the South Shetlands, King George is home to research stations belonging to Argentina, China, Russia, South Korea, Holland and the US, among others. On landing, spend some time exploring before being transferred by Zodiac to the ship. Meet the rest of your shipmates and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.
Note: There is a luggage limit of 15 kg of checked baggage and 5 kg of hand baggage on the flight and this is strictly adhered to.
South Shetland Islands and Antarctica
Enter an unknown world as your ship approaches the mainland of the White Continent. The Antarctic Peninsula is an extension of the Transantarctic Mountain chain. Your captain and expedition team will help point out penguins, seals, seabirds and whales throughout the journey. You'll also learn about the history, geology and wildlife of the region through in-depth presentations.
Each day, if the weather allows, you'll make a couple of trips onto land by Zodiac for various activities. You might take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs around Pleneau Island one day, then hike to a penguin rookery the next. You might even choose to camp for a night on the Antarctic ice. If you take this option, ensure you dress warmly and eat plenty before you leave the ship, as no food is allowed on land.
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 harbour 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
Few people can say they've crossed the Antarctic Circle, and you are one of them. Toast to your adventure with a glass of champagne, while paying homage to the first explorers to journey this far south. This is now deep Antarctica, home to Weddell seals, spectacular ice formations and the midnight sun. This region is also home to the densest concentration of wildlife in Antarctica. 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.
Northbound along the Antarctic Peninsula
As you travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula, continue to make the journey onto land twice a day. The expedition team will always be on the lookout for new species of wildlife. With the help of presentations and the team, you may now be able to tell the difference between Adelie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins. If you haven't already had your fill of icebergs and Antarctic wildlife, you'll be satisfied by the time you return to King George Island.
Disembarkation and flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas
Today, say goodbye to the expedition team and disembark the ship at King George Island for the three-hour flight back across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas. You will be transferred from the airport to the hotel where you can enjoy a final dinner, reminiscing about the sights and sounds of Antarctica.
Punta Arenas, Chile
There are no activities planned for today. After breakfast, make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your flight home or continue on your travels.