Last Modified: 03 Jan 2014
Antarctica's Scotia Arc
Trip code: GQMQ
Validity: 15 Dec 2014 to 08 Jan 2015
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner Quark Expeditions.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Day 1 Ushuaia
Your gateway for this expedition is Ushuaia, Argentina. Nestled within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Ushuaia offers you a small-town feel but has many shops, museums, cafes and restaurants to enjoy before your voyage. If you’re feeling adventurous, the nearby national park and Martial Glacier offer plenty of hiking and outdoor activities.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Embarkation
As you embark, the anticipation and excitement grows. Trade your land legs for sea legs, meet and greet your fellow travelers and get acquainted with your ship. As every Antarctic adventure presents new opportunities and experiences, Embarkation day is just as exciting for your Expedition Team as it is for you. They’re onboard to ensure your comfort and safety, as well as help make your wildlife dreams come true.
Cruise ship (1 nt)
Day 3 At Sea
There are many activities to keep you engaged while we’re at sea. Learn to identify seabirds that glide alongside the ship or attend illustrated presentations by your knowledgeable Expedition Team. You will be prepped on procedures for your Zodiac cruises and shore landings. You’ll also be given instructions for getting the most out of your optional kayaking adventures, a truly intimate way to experience the Antarctic.
Cruise ship (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
Upon arrival in this archipelago your cameras will get their first real workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged feel of the Falklands. The archipelago contains two main islands - East and West, which we will explore by Zodiac excursions and daily landings.
Port Stanley is often a favoured landing site, as the town offers a unique British outpost feel to it, complete with a bit of a ramshackle charm. You’ll be free to explore the town, grab a pint at the local pub, or visit numerous churches and museums.
In terms of wildlife, the archipelago is home to Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper penguins. If lucky, you may even spot king penguins here as well! We can expect to see black-browed albatross and two endemic species; Cobb’s wren and the Falkland’s flightless steamer duck.
Your team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna so that you get the most out of your time in the Falklands.
Cruise ship (2 nts)
Days 6-7 At Sea
Sailing south, you’ll officially enter Antarctic waters by crossing the invisible biological boundary called the Antarctic Convergence. Encircling the continent, cold Antarctic waters meet and mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, creating the abundance of krill and marine life that attracts whales and seals to this part of the world. Expedition staff will be sure to keep you posted when we cross this invisible, yet important line.
Cruise ship (2 nts)
Days 8-10 South Georgia
This remote outpost was a popular stop for many historic Antarctic expeditions and was once a haven for hunting whales and elephant and fur seals. Today, South Georgia Island wildlife populations have rebounded, but you’ll still see remnants of those old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts.
One significant and historic site that will be of interest is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, a museum, gift shop, church and a research station of approximately 20 scientists and support personnel.
While South Georgia’s history is an important attraction to the islands, it is the wildlife on South Georgia that you and your shipmates will surely find most captivating. Often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, each landing you make on South Georgia will open your eyes to a new wonder of wildlife.
One day you may see colonies with a hundred thousand pairs of king penguins waddling on the beach. The next day we may visit another beach with thousands of fur seals or elephant seals. The grasses, mountains and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different species on the island, this fragile and symbiotic relationship is something that your Expedition Team will share with you during your time here.
Cruise ship (3 nts)
Day 11 At Sea
Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with seminars from your Expedition Team, who will prepare you for the wildlife that will be greeting you upon your arrival in Antarctica. In between presentations, spend time chatting with your shipmates over a drink at the bar.
Cruise ship (1 nt)
Days 12-13 South Sandwich Islands
Arriving in the South Sandwich region, our first stop is Zavadovski Island, a small volcanic island and home to one of the world’s largest penguin colonies. Almost a million breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins can be found here, in the shadow of the recently active Mount Asphyxia volcano. The island was discovered in 1819 by Russian Antarctic explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and named for Lieutenant Ivan Zavodovski, the captain of this ship, the Vostok.
Discovered in 1775 by Captain James Cook, Saunders Island was named for Sir Charles Saunders, First Lord of the Admiralty. Saunders is home to another active stratovolcano, Mount Michael, at almost a kilometer in height, which last erupted in 2012. In the crater is a recurrent lava lake, one of only a few in the world. Over half the island is covered by a permanent ice cap, but we will still find penguin colonies on the rugged shores.
Cruise ship (2 nts)
Days 14-15 At Sea
Cruise ship (2 nts)
Day 16 South Orkney Islands
Off the beaten track, the South Orkney Islands will draw you in with their vibrant scenery, rich bird life and the towering icebergs that collect along their shores. Here, we’ll find graceful snow petrels, silver-grey Antarctic fulmars, as well as chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins.
If you are lucky, and ice conditions are right, there will be an excursion to Coronation Island to observe penguins nesting in moss beds alongside playful fur seals. You may also stop at the remote island of Laurie, and visit the oldest human outpost in Antarctica, Argentina’s Orcadas Base.
Cruise ship (1 nt)
Days 17-22 South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula
Elephant Island and surrounding islands (Northern part of the South Shetlands): where Shackleton landed with his crew in 1916 and departed on the "James Caird" to seek help from South Georgia. The most common reaction to arriving at the white continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words, as few places are as untouched, unique and enduring as Antarctica. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete desolation and silence, at the next moment you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into the brilliant blue sea or a penguin comes waddling by to inspect your footwear.
Your Expedition Team will take care of you at each landing, whether it is trekking up a glacier, visiting a research station or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. Curious whales, such as Minke’s, are often attracted to Zodiacs as well, giving you a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals. Each day and every landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera shutter busy.
As exciting as the Zodiac excursions and landings are, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an extra special Antarctic experience by partaking in an optional (extra cost) kayaking excursion or going for a swim in the Antarctic!
Cruise ship (6 nts)
Days 23-24 Drake Passage
After more than two weeks of endless wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake Passage is your unofficial rite of passage, completing your Antarctic adventure.
Cruise ship (2 nts)
Day 25 Disembarkation in Ushuaia
After breakfast aboard the ship, it is time to part ways and say goodbye to your Expedition Team. We will transfer you to the airport for your homeward flight.
Polar travel requires an amount of flexibility as weather, ice conditions and wildlife can all affect where your ship is able to access, and where your Expedition Team think you will get the best experience possible from your trip. On board, daily updates are given to advise what the specific itinerary will be for the next day based on local conditions. Published itineraries are subject to change when local conditions dictate.
This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
Please note that some of our included activities are contingent on weather conditions. We'll arrange an alternative if an included activity is deemed unsafe.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES - ANTARCTICA
On some voyages we offer optional activities such as kayaking, camping, cross-country skiing and mountaineering. Numbers on these activities are extremely limited so it is important that you book in advance. Your consultant can advise what options are available on your voyage and the costs.
On some voyages there is also the option of a photography program. This includes a series of photography-focused lectures and shore excursions. There is no cost for this activity and it does not need to be booked in advance.
Some voyages also offer snowshoeing. There is no cost for this activity and it does not need to be booked in advance.
The US Dollar is the standard currency on board. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover Card and American Express are accepted on board for settling your shipboard account.
At the time designated in the shipboard program, please give the Hotel Manager the credit card you would like to use for all your incidental expenses. An account will be opened for your cabin for purchases aboard ship. This will include bar services, laundry, postage, and communication charges. A ‘chit’ system will operate for on board payments. You will sign for any bar, wine, communication charges, laundry, etc. An account for payment will be presented to you on the final day of the voyage. Final payment can be made using cash, travellers’ checks or major credit cards. Personal cheques are not accepted on board. If you are sharing a cabin and would like separate accounts, you must advise the Hotel Manager.
It is wise to travel with sufficient cash to pay for incidentals such as shipboard items on the last day of the voyage, airport taxes and taxicab transfers.
The voyage price does not include the customary gratuity to the ship’s personnel, which is divided amongst the crew, Expedition Team and Hospitality Team. We suggest this guideline for your convenience: aboard ship US $13 to US $15 per traveller, per day. The amount you choose to give is at your discretion. It can be added to your shipboard account.
Please allow US$36 for international airport departure tax.
An increased non-refundable deposit of A$2000 is required at time of booking. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
Maximum of 112 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Cruise ship (23 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
All passenger cabins have exterior views, private facilities and climate control. Cabins are cleaned daily. Linen and towels are provided. There is a hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin.
The different types of cabins available and their prices can be accessed via the Dates & Availability link.
There are seven different cabin types on board the Sea Spirit
Triple - 2 twin beds and a sofa bed, private facilities
Main Deck Cabin - either 2 twins or a King Size bed, private facilities
Classic Cabin - either 2 twins or a King Size bed, private facilities, window
Superior Cabin - either 2 twins or a King Size bed, private facilities, window
Deluxe Cabin - either 2 twins or a King Size bed, private balcony, private facilities
Premium Suite - either 2 twins or a King Size bed, private balcony, private facilities
Owner's Suite - Living room, bathroom with tub, sleeping room with king bed, private sun deck
A deck plan showing the layout of the ship is below
24 Breakfasts, 22 Lunches, 22 Dinners
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
The Sea Spirit was built in 1991and was refurbished in 2010. She is 90 metres, has a 1D Ice class rating and a cruising speed of 14.5 knots. She carries a maximum of 112 guests.
On the Sea Spirit, you will have an Expedition Leader and at least 7 additional staff who will be a combination of specialists and Zodiac drivers. Final numbers will depend on the itinerary.
Your Ushuaia Hotel
Joining point description
We use several hotels in Ushuaia as the start point for this trip. Your exact hotel will depend on availability at the time of booking. Please check your final documents carefully for your exact joining point.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
ARGENTINA TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required
ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY TAX:
The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:
Australians - US$100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
Canadians - US$75 (single entry) or US$ 150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
Americans - US$140 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)
This fee can only be paid on line through the following website:
For instructions on how to process this payment, please visit:
A receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
You will be travelling to coastal regions during the austral summer, when conditions are mild – mean coastal temperatures are seldom far below freezing. However, sunny conditions can swiftly shift to storms with very cold winds and snow flurries. Be prepared for rapid weather changes. Average daytime temperatures in mid season are between 25 and 35 Fahrenheit or -4 and +2 Celsius. Wind and weather conditions, can make it seem colder. Daytime temperatures frequently drop below freezing.
Clothing on board ship is generally informal. For outdoor wear, please bring wind and waterproof outer layers. Tight clothing is not recommended as it does not allow insulating air to be trapped.Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibres, like fleece, retain heat. We do not recommend clothing made of cotton. Plan to dress in layers.
Boots - Rubber boots are provided on a loan basis for the duration of the voyage. You do not need to bring these with you.
Parkas - A complimentary parka will be provided on the ship.
Pants - Waterproof pants are essential for zodiac travel as well as activities on shore. These, over a pair of warm pants, will keep you warm and dry.
Gloves - To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves. We strongly recommend that you bring at least one other set of gloves in case on pair gets wet or lost.
Hat and Scarf - Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection. A peaked or brimmed hat helps protect against the sun but needs some kind of retainer for windy conditions.
Socks - For maximum warmth we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks inside the rubber boots that are loaned to you. In addition, pack warm, long wool or cotton socks to be worn over a thin pair of silk or polypropylene socks. Bring several pairs.
Outer Clothing - Pack woollen or fleece sweaters and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing - Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk. Many polar travellers prefer a lightweight version but this depends on your own personal thermostat.
Day Pack - To keep your hands free for shooting photographs bring a water resistant or waterproof daypack
Shoes - Bring shoes with non-slip soles for walking around the vessel. Slip-on sandals are not suitable for use on board ship.
Swimsuit - There may be an opportunity for a polar plunge during the voyage so we recommend that you pack a swimsuit.
Children - Children will be required to bring their own life jacket and rubber boots as child sizes are not provided on board.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of staff, any traveller is found to be unfit to complete the itinerary on the day of embarkation, they may be denied boarding and excluded from the trip without refund.
If you are taking prescribed medication, carry an extra week’s supply just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board.
You should anticipate some rough seas. The motion sickness medication that is available on board is for emergencies only. To avoid motion sickness, avoid alcohol, tobacco, excess liquids, and confined spaces. Most people feel better on deck looking at the horizon or lying still with their eyes shut. You will definitely feel better with some food in your
stomach, such as dry toast or crackers.
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations and in some places anti-malarial medication may also be required. Bear in mind places being visited or transited en route to Antarctica. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental checkup is also highly recommended before departure.
As a ship registered for international voyages, the Sea Spirit must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. This regime of requirements ensures that internationally accepted standards for safety and environmental protection are developed, implemented and monitored within the company management system onshore and on board the ship. The ship adheres to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention), the flag state and the classification society on an accredited system. In addition, as the Sea Spirit spends considerable time in the Antarctic waters, Quark Expeditions, Inc is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators).
CHILDREN: The minimum age for travel is 8. If a child is travelling without their parent/legal guardian, their parent/legal guardian will need to fill out a waiver form. Children will also be required to bring their own life jacket and rubber boots as child sizes are not provided on board.
On your way to join your voyage, you may take advantage of the opportunity to visit a larger South American city such as Buenos Aires or Santiago. It is worth researching matters of personal safety and security in these places before your departure. Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
As a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Quark Expeditions are supporters of responsible tourism that mitigates the impact of our shore landings on the landscape or wildlife. Quark was the first operator to offer inclusive Carbon Neutral voyages on the Ocean Diamond. By doing so we have enhanced our commitment to ecological sensitivity and to minimising our impact on the areas we visit including:
• Having our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor.
• Conforming to all international regulations/policies governing disposal of waste at sea.
• Serving only sustainable seafood.
• Using only eco-friendly laundry chemicals and room amenities.
• Removing disposable water bottles from the ships.
• Making all our voyages virtually paperless by 2014 and having any paper used be 100% recyclable.
IAATO members also operate according to established rules of conduct, which, while you travel with us, we ask you to respect. A copy of the IAATO guidelines will be provided prior to travel and staff will brief all passengers prior to the first landing.
For more information on the responsible travel guidelines to Antarctica established by the IAATO please visit: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller.php
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website: