Antarctic Explorer from Ushuaia (11 Day)
11 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Ushuaia
Welcome to Argentina. Begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Avenida San Martin and the surrounding streets are where you'll find most hotels, shops, restaurants and tourist services. If you arrive into Ushuaia with enough time to spare, you might like to explore Tierra del Fuego National Park, which is located 11 km (seven miles) west of the city.
If you are arriving today, an arrival transfer will be provided to the joining hotel. If arriving earlier, please make your own way to the joining hotel. There will be a pre-departure briefing at around 6pm this evening.
Day 2 Ushuaia
Today, board the ship and cruise out through the Beagle Channel. Named after the British ship the HMS Beagle, this channel is rich with birdlife. Keep an eye for penguins, cormorants, petrels and black-browed albatross from the deck. This is your first taste of life at sea and is a great time to strengthen your sea legs.
Day 3-4 Drake Passage
Over the next couple of days prepare for possible rough seas as you enter the Drake Passage. This legendary channel of water separates the bottom of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and was named after the English explorer Sir Frances Drake. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife while up on deck and stay close to the expedition team, as they'll be able to help with possible sightings.
Day 5-8 Antarctic Peninsula
Leaving the Drake Passage behind, your first sight of the White Continent is just ahead. Your days on the Antarctic Peninsula will form the core of your adventure. Unpredictable weather and ice conditions mean that each expedition is different, but your team will make sure you have an unforgettable experience whatever happens. Here are just a few of the things you might find yourself doing:
* Walking on a pebbled beach teeming with thousands of penguins
* Taking a 'polar plunge' in the icy waters of Neko Harbour
* Listening to the boom and crack of a calving glacier near Petermann Island
* Zodiac-cruising among grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay
* Climbing to the top of a craggy hill for a spectacular view of Port Lockroy
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you visit, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls also breed on the island.
If you're lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point. This is the northern entrance to the harbour on which Port Lockroy is located.
This small island, 1.6 km (one mile) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. Visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch out for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes by a wrecked whaling ship.
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, and is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 11 km (6.8 mile) channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
This is 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.
This bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You may see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There's 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.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Adelie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island. The dome of the island rises 200 meters (650 feet) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views.
Journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built here during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It's now designated as a historic site, featuring a museum and the world's southernmost post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
At low tide this historic point is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs can be used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behaviour lived in a water boat on the point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated as an Antarctic historic site.
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, including at the established rookeries of gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too.
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, which dominates a 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 the 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.
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 10 January onwards.
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, which was named after 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.
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.
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.
Your expedition team will point out where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries are found on this point, which is situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.
To reach Whaler’s Bay, sail through the narrow passage of 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 the rusty remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam rising from geothermally-heated springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, which is situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. You can also see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a huge glacier stretching along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned try-pot is all that remains of the sealing activity that brought men thousands of miles to seek their fortune.
The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.
KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
CAMPING – Spend the night under the Antarctic sky with a hardy group of your shipmates. Numbers are limited so book early. The crew will determine the best location and conditions for your overnight adventure. Dress warmly and eat a hearty meal before you head out as no meals are permitted onshore.
INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape, and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as we’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes we use today are much lighter and more forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.
Day 9-10 Drake Passage
Wind down your Antarctic adventure with another trip back across the Drake Passage. Again, this a great opportunity to look out for wildlife from the deck of the ship with the help of your expedition team. Gain some more insight into the region by attending onboard lectures made by polar experts.
Day 11 Ushuaia
Your Antarctic Explorer adventure ends today in Ushuaia. After breakfast aboard the ship, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight onwards. When booking your flight please remember that the ship may be delayed due to weather conditions, so it's recommended that you don't book a flight out of Ushuaia before midday.
Departure transfers: After disembarkation, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight out of Ushuaia. Please book flights leaving after 12.00pm.
If you are staying on in Ushuaia or flying out later on in the day, you will be transferred to Quark's luggage storage facilities. You can leave your luggage there before making your own way to the airport later on in the day or to your accommodation if you are staying on.
All This Included
Experience an adventure tour of Antarctica and explore the unique conditions at the end of the Earth. Embark from Ushuaia, travelling through the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands to see the incredible landscapes created by the Antarctic climate. See multiple species of playful penguins, the imposing and graceful frames of Antarctica's whales and a frenzy of feeding birdlife. Benefit from the navigational expertise and local knowledge of a professional crew and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience to Antarctica to see the exotic, alien nature of this frozen world for yourself.
Cruise ship (9 nights)
Hotel (1 night)
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.