Explore the best of Antarctica on this air and sea adventure

There is only one true wilderness left on Earth, and it’s damn cold. Like being trapped in the belly of one big unflavoured icy-pole, you would think a trip down to the south-est of the south is for but the bravest of the brave. Surely that’s why Antarctica’s early explorers were so legendary? But what if you could discover this pristine frozen paradise from the warmth and comfort of an expedition vessel? Where you can be ferried to shore in a zippy Zodiac, and where a chef ensures the onset of scurvy is kept well at bay? In this nine-day adventure, experience everything that this unbelievable continent has to offer, from penguins, to ice, to seals, to ice, to albatross, to ice… The Antarctic magic awaits.
Antarctica has long called to explorers and now you too can follow the call on this remote adventure to the icy shores of the seventh continent. Kick things off in Punta Arenas, Chile, before flying over the Drake Passage and heading straight for King George Island. Don’t worry, you’ll traverse the Drake by boat on your return. Explore remote outposts on King George Island and then travel south by boat, where you’ll take Zodiac rides to seek out all kinds of wildlife including seals, penguins, whales and birds. Experience this otherworldly environment surrounded by ice floes, glaciers and frigid waters.


Start
Punta Arenas, Chile
Finish
Ushuaia, Argentina
Countries
Antarctica, Argentina, Chile
Style
Comfort
Theme
Polar, Sailing, Wildlife
Code
GQMWC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 117

Why we love this trip

  • With a direct four-hour flight from Punta Arenas, getting to Antarctica has never been so easy

  • Pass through the mighty Drake Passage, a rite of passage for generations of Antarctic explorers and adventurers

  • The Antarctica Peninsula is one of the most unspoiled places on Earth. See abundant species of whales, seabirds, seals and penguins in their natural habitat on regular Zodiac excursions

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

  • On-board educational presentations by polar specialists provide great context to the trip

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

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 very cold. 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.

  • Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group – your leader carries equipment to protect you.

Itinerary

Hola and welcome to Chile. Your journey begins on the southern tip of the country in Punta Arenas. On the north bank of the Strait of Magellan, this was once a penal colony but is now a friendly town port town with many historic sites and museums to see. After exploring during the day, join the rest of the group for dinner in the evening, where you’ll also meet the Antarctic expedition team.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please note, arrival transfers are included for clients arriving into Punta Arenas airport today. If you are arriving any earlier, you will need to make your own way to your hotel.
Today board the chartered flight to Antarctica. The four-hour journey over the Drake Passage provides spectacular views of the sea below. If skies are clear, Antarctica comes into view just before the descent to King George Island. On landing, use some free time to take your first photographs and stretch your legs before heading out to the ship via Zodiac boat.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
As you approach the Antarctic Peninsula, watch wildlife swim in the cold waters below and witness penguins in their natural habitat. Over the next few days, make several excursions by Zodiac to the peninsula and surrounding islands. While weather and sea conditions determine which landings can be made, the expedition team will ensure that each day of your Antarctic adventure is unforgettable. Climb to the top of a hill for panoramic views of the continent, or explore the historic site of Port Lockroy and send a postcard from the world’s southernmost post office. Watch glaciers calving into the sea at Petermann Island or cruise around Pleneau Island in a Zodiac in search of elephant and fur seals. Each day will be completely different.

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.

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.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (4 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (4)
  • Lunch (4)
  • Dinner (4)
It may signal your last days at sea, but crossing the Drake Passage is a spectacular experience. Up on deck, your expedition team may be able to point out albatross in the sky above or minke and humpback whales in the water below. The team will also conclude their series of engaging presentations on subjects such as marine biology, polar history and glaciology, so there will be plenty of time to rest your weary sea legs.
Accommodation
  • Cruise ship (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
After breakfast on the ship, say farewell to the crew and disembark in Ushuaia. Transfer to the hotel and explore the town on your last day. Perhaps head to the shops for some souvenirs, capture an obligatory picture beside the ‘end-of-the-world’ sign or sample Ushuaia’s classic dish of king crab. The Museo Maritimo and Museo del Presidio offer fascinating insights into the town’s penal and maritime history.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for today and you’re free to make your way to the airport for departure at any time. If you’d like to extend your stay in Ushuaia, please let your agent know at least 14 days prior to departure.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you are departing Ushuaia today, a transfer is included from the port to the airport. We recommend that you book flights departing Ushuaia from 12.00 midday onwards.

Meals

9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

Plane, Ship, Zodiac

Accommodation

Cruise ship (7 nights), Hotel 2 (nights)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

BOOKING CONDITIONS
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of A$2000pp ($6000pp on Icebreaker voyages. Different amounts apply in other currencies). The balance is due 90 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 90 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 89 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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