This Antarctic cruise explores the Antarctic Peninsula. A classic itinerary for whale watching, seabird viewing, visiting penguin colonies and experiencing zodiac excursions in Antarctica. Camping in Antarctica is included.
Towering glaciers, amazing wildlife encounters, snow-covered landscapes, massive icebergs and the option to choose your favourite activities every day make this voyage the perfect introduction to the white continent. In the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula, we spend our days off the ship exploring by Zodiac boat, making shore landings in the company of our expert guides. By breaking into small special interest groups, we discover Antarctica and its remarkable wildlife through photography, Zodiac excursions, hiking onshore, and for the more adventurous, camping and sea kayaking. Visits to historic huts and working research bases add another dimension to the voyage.
Day 1: Stanley – We depart Santiago this morning on our private air charter direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. We are met on arrival and transfer from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides our first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds.
Days 2 – 3: Drake Passage – Giant petrels, albatross and smaller Cape petrels are our companions as we transit the Drake Passage. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history.
Days 4 – 5: Antarctic Sound, Weddell Sea and Northern Gerlache Strait – Navigating into Antarctic Sound we witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. We notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs entering the Weddell. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south drifting here on the prevailing currents. Adélie penguin rookeries of staggering exist here – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. We have several fantastic locations to consider but the ice conditions will likely dictate our landing sites. Gourdin Island and Brown Bluff are two such locations featuring substantial penguin rookeries. The region is also full of history of early exploration and has fascinating geological sites with thousands of fossils strewn over the shoreline. We have a busy day of exploration on shore, in the Zodiacs and on the ship.
Days 6 – 7: Southern Gerlache Strait – Anvers Island is one of the largest of the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several outstanding sites here as well as on neighbouring Wiencke Island. These locations provide us with opportunities to venture on shore, breaking into smaller groups. Enjoy a short or longer hike, wander over to observe penguins guarding their precious eggs or newborns on the nest, cruise in the Zodiacs or just sit and soak it all in. The choice is yours. A short transit across the Gerlache Strait brings us along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A potential shore landing at Paradise Harbour will be a highlight for many – as you step foot on the continent proper, for the very first time.
Day 8: South Shetland Islands – The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station. The nearby Aitcho Islands provide some great hiking routes showcasing the colourful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, and we usually encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point situated on Greenwich Island is another possible location for a visit.
Days 9 – 10: Drake Passage – Return to Stanley – As we make our way back to Stanley and the Falkland Islands, the educational presentations continue, and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader.
Day 11: Arrive Stanley (Falkland Islands) Voyage Concludes – This morning we find ourselves back in the port of Stanley. We say goodbye to our crew and after some free time in town, make our way to the airport for our return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago, our journey comes to an end.
Please note: Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions, the planned itinerary will be updated at the time of final preparations as well as throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favourable conditions.