Explore the Antarctica Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

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.


Start
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Finish
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Countries
Antarctica, Argentina
Style
Comfort
Theme
Polar, Wildlife
Code
GQMZT
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 199

Why we love this trip

  • Journey through the historic Beagle Channel, looking out for rare birdlife from deck with the help of your expedition team

  • Get up close to an incredible range of wildlife, such as minke, humpback and orca whales or gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins

  • Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent, but you'll be one of them

  • A diversity of possible landing sites and activities allows you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives

  • Optional activities such as sea kayaking or polar ice camping on selected voyages can take your adventure to the next level. Book early, as these sell out fast

  • A polar plunge in the Antarctic sea is the most invigorating swim you're ever likely to take

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although our ice strengthened ships are big and sturdy, Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings. Please be prepared with medications to combat this. There is also a doctor on-board should you need further assistance.

  • As you’d expect, temperatures in the Antarctic are freezing. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.

  • Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.

  • The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognised sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are equally as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The on-board library and educational lectures are ideal ways for keeping entertained.

Boats

Ocean Endeavour

On this itinerary, you'll be travelling aboard the Ocean Endeavour

View ship information

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 10 December 2017 to 28 February 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 02 December 2018 - 19 December 2018

Welcome to Argentina. Begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires. Meet your leader and shipmates for a welcome meeting this evening at the hotel. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception.

If you have time during the day, explore the boulevards, galleries and European architecture of Buenos Aires. In the evening, you may like to head out for a steak dinner with your new travel companions.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note, no arrival transfer is included in Buenos Aires. Please make your own way to the joining hotel. Full joining instructions will be included in your final documentation.
In the morning take a charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, which should take around three hours. On arrival, explore the town before meeting your shipmates for embarkation. Cruise through the Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. The channel is rich with birdlife, so keep an eye out for penguins, cormorants, petrels and black-browed albatross. Members of the expedition team will help you spot wildlife from the deck.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Sail into the Drake Passage. This wide channel separates the bottom of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and was named after the English explorer, Sir Frances Drake. We hope for smooth sailing through the waterway, but be prepared for possible rough seas. Onboard lectures and presentations by the expedition team will provide you with an insight into the locations you'll be visiting.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Welcome to the Antarctic Peninsula. The next few days form the core of your Antarctic adventure. Changing conditions mean that each voyage is different, but your expedition team will make the most of whatever conditions occur to make sure you have a truly fulfilling trip. Here are just a few of the things you might find yourself doing:

* Sitting quietly on a pebbled beach, waiting for a curious penguin chick to approach
* Taking a 'polar plunge' in the icy waters of Neko Harbour
* Listening to the boom and crack of a calving glacier near Petermann Island
* Cruise in a Zodiac among grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay
* Scrambling to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of Port Lockroy

POSSIBLE LANDING SITES

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 visit, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls also breed on the island.
DAMOY POINT
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.
DANCO ISLAND
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.
ENTERPRISE ISLAND
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes by a wrecked whaling ship.
LEMAIRE CHANNEL
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.
MELCHIOR ISLANDS
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.
NEKO HARBOUR
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.
PETERMANN ISLAND
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.
PORT LOCKROY
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.
WATERBOAT POINT
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.
AITCHO ISLANDS
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.
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, 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.
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 10 January onwards.
PENDULUM COVE
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.
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 point out where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
TURRET POINT
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.
WHALER'S BAY
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.
YANKEE HARBOUR
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.
STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING - Combining surfing with kayaking or canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding will give you a very personal and unique perspective on Antarctica. This activity is taken in small groups in good weather conditions on calm bays and harbours, with a Zodiac following for your safety.

INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
PHOTOGRAPHY - Antarctica is one of the most abundantly photogenic destinations in the world. Penguins amble across pebbled beaches, whales spy-hop from the crystal blue sea and sparkling icebergs tower in this serene, yet dramatic environment. Whether you own a serious SLR or a simple point-and-shoot, our on-board photography expert provides you with hands-on instruction and technical tips to ensure that you capture the best of your Antarctica experience.

Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (3 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (3)
  • Lunch (3)
  • Dinner (3)
Wind down your Antarctic adventure with a voyage back across the Drake Passage. This is another great opportunity to look out for wildlife from the deck with a hot drink in your hand. You will also be able to attend more presentations by onboard experts focusing on the history and wildlife of the Antarctic region.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning, after breakfast. After disembarking, you will get a little taste of Patagonia, touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The trip ends on arrival at Buenos Aires, Ministro Pistarini Airport (EZE). The charter flight will arrive in Buenos Aires at approximately 5.00pm. We recommend onward flights out of EZE are not booked until 8.00pm and later if from Buenos Aires domestic airport.

Meals

9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

Plane, Ship, Zodiac

Accommodation

Cruise ship (8 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

BOOKING CONDITIONS
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount).  The balance is due 120 days before departure. 

If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.

If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.

Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.

ADVENTURE OPTIONS
Kayaking is available to book on all Antarctic voyages. Some voyages also offer other activities such as camping, stand up paddle boarding, cross country skiing and mountaineering. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required for cross country skiing and mountaineering. See the itinerary for Adventure options available on this voyage.

Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.

Strict luggage limits apply. Please see Trip Notes (What to Take) for more information.

Essential trip information

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