Set sail on an unforgettable tour of the Antarctic Peninsula on this Southern Expedition

Cast off from Ushuaia, Argentina, to embark on an adventure to one of the most beautiful and remote locations on the planet. Sail across the notorious Drake Passage bound for the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore a world covered in ice and snow; marvel at the odd shapes and spectacular hues of drifting icebergs; spot albatross, cormorants, seals, penguins and whales; and discover the land of the midnight sun - the blues and whites of Antarctica are truly breathtaking.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Ushuaia, Argentina
Finish
Ushuaia, Argentina
Countries
Antarctica, Argentina
Style
Comfort
Theme
Polar, Wildlife
Code
GQMA
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 132

Why we love this trip

  • Follow in the path of legendary explorers as you cross the (sometime turbulent) Drake Passage. Weather permitting, squeeze through the photogenic Lemaire Channel between the mountains of Booth Island and the Antarctic continent

  • This is one for the wildlife lovers too - get up close to minke, humpback and orca whales, gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, with albatross overhead. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a leopard seal

  • Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent or venture as deep into Antarctica as past the Antarctic Circle, but you'll be one of the unique few

  • There are lots of possible Zodiac landing sites and activities, allowing you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives

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 Diamond

Ocean adventurer

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 14 January 2018 to 01 March 2018. Other seasons in this trip:

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Argentina.
Begin your Antarctic Explorer adventure with an overnight stay in Ushuaia – capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, and southernmost city in the world.
Ushuaia, affectionately known as 'fin del mundo' (end of the world) due to being the southern most city of the world, has a lot to offer. A relatively small city of 42,000 people, it is easy to find your way around. Av. San Martin and the surrounding streets is where you will find most hotels and tourist services. Here you can stroll along and visit the shops, museums and restaurants. From Av. San Martin the streets start to run uphill. From the top of these streets you will have a good view of the Beagle Channel. Another option if you arrive early is a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which is located 11km (7 miles) west of the city.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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.
Today you join your ship and begin your trip by cruising through the beautiful Beagle Channel. Named for the British ship HMS Beagle, this channel is particularly rich with birdlife, and you may sight penguins, cormorants, petrels, and Black-browed Albatross.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Prepare for rough seas, but don’t be disappointed if you experience smooth sailing across this legendary waterway. The 500-mile-wide passage separates the bottom of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and was named for famed English explorer (and sometime pirate) Sir Frances Drake.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make a final approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready, as the continent’s coastline will make its first appearance. Plentiful icebergs float by, and watch the ocean surface for curious whales spouting and breaching before your eyes.

As exciting as it can be from onboard the ship, our true exploration occurs when we disembark and set foot on the great continent. There are several potential landing sites we may visit, including Neko Harbor, Orne Harbor or Paradise Bay. While weather dictates which specific landing sites we can visit, each one presents a new collection of wildlife and natural attractions.

These days will be busy spotting wildlife and being mesmerized by the beauty of Antarctica. Watching penguins waddling on the beach and listening to the crackling and crumbling sounds of icebergs and glaciers will become your daily entertainment, while kayaking with whales and camping in Antarctica are a couple of optional activities available on selected voyages.

These days form the heart of your Antarctic adventure, and changing conditions mean each expedition is different. Your Expedition Team will make the most of whatever weather, ice or wildlife conditions present themselves to make sure you have an unforgettable visit. 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
* Zodiac-cruising among grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay
* Scrambling to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of Port Lockroy
Possible Landings and Wildlife Sightings

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 arrive, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.

DAMOY POINT
If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbor on which Port Lockroy is located.

DANCO ISLAND
This small island, one mile (1.6 km) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.

ENTERPRISE ISLAND
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, the island was used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.

LEMAIRE CHANNEL
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula; you’ll see that this is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 6.8 mile-long (11 km) Channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.

MELCHIOR ISLANDS
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
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There is 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. The dome of the island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island.

PORT LOCKROY
A ‘fun’ destination of sorts, we always strive to journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbour during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It is now designated as a historic site, where Port Lockroy is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the
Heroic Age of Exploration.

WATERBOAT POINT
Of historic interest, you may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the Point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site.

AITCHO ISLANDS
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries. 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 that dominates the 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 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 January 10 onwards.

PENDULUM COVE
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for 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 be happy to point out that it is here where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.

TURRET POINT
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.

WHALER'S BAY
To reach Whaler’s Bay it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbor created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated water springs along the shoreline.

YANKEE HARBOUR
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships 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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (3)
  • Lunch (3)
  • Dinner (3)
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement. Few other expeditions to the Peninsula reach the imaginary line at 66° 33’ S. You may wish to celebrate with your shipmates in style with a glass of champagne.
This is a part of the world still visited by very few people and is home to the midnight sun, Weddell seals, and some of the most magical, odd ice formations you'll see anywhere in Antarctica.
THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

While not a typical landing, the crossing of the Antarctic Circle is a moment to remember. The event will usually happen while at sea, so be sure to head up to the bridge and snap your photo of the GPS reading 66° 33’ S.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
We spend the next two days travelling north along the western Antarctic Peninsula back up to the Drake Passage. We'll continue to journey onto land and out by Zodiac twice daily along the way. You Expedition Team will continue to be on the lookout for any species of penguins, seals or whales that you may have missed on the journey south.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
We leave Antarctica behind and head back across the Drake Passage. The Expedition Team will round up their series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of some of the great landing sites and wildlife you’ve visited over the course of your voyage before we cruise back to Argentina.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
In the morning we arrive back in Ushuaia where we have a shipboard breakfast before the trip ends. If you are flying out today you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

When booking your flight please remember that delays can occur, so we recommend not booking a flight before about midday.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
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.

Meals

13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners

Transport

Ship, Zodiac

Accommodation

12 nights Cruise Ship, 1 night Hotel

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.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.