Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of our Antarctic expedition! Upon your arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by our staff and transferred to a quality hotel, which has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the itinerary. For the rest of the day, you are free to explore this vibrant port city and adventure hub.
For an introduction to local history and wildlife, the interesting Museo del Fin del Mundo is worth a visit. If you have time to spare, a variety of nature activities can be arranged to suit all interests and fitness levels, from hiking in nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park to wildlife viewing in the Beagle Channel. For dinner, Ushuaia offers a wide range of restaurants featuring Patagonian lamb and delectable Fuegian seafood.
Day 2: Welcome Aboard!
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia. Explore the delightful waterfront and savor views of the snowcapped Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of shopping for souvenirs or some last-minute necessities such as cold-weather gear. Just remember, you will soon receive your very own parka to keep and waterproof boots to borrow on board the ship. For lunch, the many cafés, parrillas and gelato shops on Avenida San Martín will be sure to satisfy any appetite.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the pier where we will warmly welcome you aboard the luxury expedition vessel M/V Sea Spirit. Get settled in your spacious suite and explore the ship that will be your comfortable home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After getting underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After the first of many delicious dinners on board, step out onto the open decks to admire the scenery and gorgeous evening light as we pass through the Beagle Channel.
Days 3-4: Across the Drake
After passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, we turn south to begin our crossing of the Drake Passage. The majestic wandering albatross and other graceful subantarctic seabirds are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks and balconies. We also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas. We hope to arrive in the South Shetland Islands on the evening of our second day at sea.
Days 5-8: South Shetland Islands & Antarctic Peninsula
During the next four days, we explore the highlights of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land. Here we also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first sight of land. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from Shackleton’s famous Endurance expedition spent the winter of 1916. We will also explore the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, obliging marine mammals and bustling penguin colonies. Here we have a chance to land on the continent of Antarctica.
Throughout this area, we find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. This a great time for close encounters with inquisitive penguin chicks, who are now gaining independence as they fledge. The bravest chicks are testing their swimming skills in the sea, where they face a gauntlet of hungry leopard seals and killer whales. This is also the peak of the whale-watching season. Having gorged themselves on krill all summer, humpback and minke whales become more playful and obliging to Zodiacs and kayakers. Crabeater and Weddell seals are joined by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals. The skies are full of newly fledged seabirds.
Antarctica is a true wilderness with unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which will dictate our route and exploration opportunities. With more than 14 hours of daylight per day, we seize every chance to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery via Zodiac cruises and shore excursions.
Days 9-10: Scotia Sea
We now proceed northeast through the wildlife-rich waters of the Scotia Sea. We keep a lookout for abundant humpback and fin whales along the way. Briefings, bio-security procedures and presentations by our lecture staff prepare you for our arrival in South Georgia.
Days 11-15: South Georgia Island
The next five days will be devoted to the exploration of the unique and spectacular wilderness of South Georgia, home to some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. This isolated subantarctic island is said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels, shags, skuas, gulls and terns. Among these is one of the largest flying birds in the world—the wandering albatross. Here you have a rare opportunity to witness part of their remarkable life cycle. While most seabird chicks are already fledging, wandering albatross chicks are only now hatching in grassy nests overlooking the wild Southern Ocean.
On South Georgia’s legendary beaches, king penguins are gathered in huge colonies that stretch from sandy shorelines to the foothills of glaciated mountains. Also at this time, hundreds of thousands of macaroni penguin chicks are getting ready to head out to sea. Rare birds such as the endemic South Georgia pipit and yellow-billed pintail round out the list of 78 bird species found across the territory. The successfully completed rat eradication program has made this wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife.
South Georgia is also home to staggering numbers of elephant seals and fur seals. At this time, thousands of fat elephant seal pups are lounging around on shore while mobs of rambunctious fur seal pups take to the water. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales have returned to the bountiful seas surrounding South Georgia. With the whalers long gone, the historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum. Here you will also find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, heroic polar explorer and leader of the Endurance expedition.
In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. There are many opportunities for guided treks through this raw and untamed wilderness, including the legendary Shackleton Walk. For sea kayakers, the wildlife-rich waters of South Georgia offer the chance to paddle with hordes of seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our precise route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather in this wild and remote corner of the world. Our experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions and circumstances at hand. You can be sure that we will take every safe opportunity to go ashore in this challenging environment.
Days 16-17: Southern Ocean
We sail west toward the Falkland Islands, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. Pelagic seabirds are our constant companions as we keep a vigilant watch for dolphins and whales in these productive waters. Presentations by our expert naturalists and historians prepare you for our arrival in the Falkland Islands.
Days 18-19: The Falkland Islands
On these days we intend to come alongside the wharf at Stanley, the historic capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, various war memorials, quality gift shops and charming pubs. Christ Church Cathedral features an impressive whalebone arch and dramatic views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
We also plan to offer an excursion to Gypsy Cove, a national nature reserve where white sand beaches are frequented by numerous bird species, including the endemic Falklands flightless steamer duck. Here you can also see Magellanic penguins, whose chicks have fledged and are making a tentative start to their lives at sea. At this time, you may even find groups of sea lions hauled out on shore.
We continue our exploration of the Falklands in the isolated outlying islands. These bleakly beautiful isles are havens for wildlife. Large colonies of seabirds, perched on windy bluffs overlooking azure seas, are easily accessible by hiking over lush meadows. At this time, black-browed albatross soar down from above while feisty rockhopper penguins leap up surf-battered cliffs from below to feed their large chicks amongst the tussocks.
On nearby beaches, gentoo penguin chicks are starting to fledge while adult king penguins and chicks of all ages are getting ready to brave the austral winter. Just offshore, you may see Peale’s dolphins and even killer whales patrolling the coasts. A wide range of land birds, including the endemic Cobb’s wren and inquisitive striated caracara, contribute to an abundance of wildlife that will leave nature lovers breathless.
Days 18-19: South Atlantic Ocean
The ocean breezes gradually get warmer as we sail north through the South Atlantic Ocean. As we enter deeper waters, we are on constant lookout for killer whales, blue whales, sei whales and southern right whales. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow.
Day 23: Disembarkation in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Morning disembarkation in Buenos Aires. Right after the disembarkation, we provide a group transfer to Ezeiza (EZE) - International Airport or central location in Buenos Aires.
Photography (Free Option)
The Polar Regions are perhaps the most photogenic on earth, with countless beautiful scenes presenting themselves every day. Endless expanses of ice, beaches crowded with seals or penguins, sunsets over unbroken horizons, starlit skies, and even the majestic northern lights – they all present fantastic photographic opportunities – and in order to make sure that you come home with some spectacular images we offer you the chance to learn and practice your photography alongside an experienced professional.
Our expert Photographer will be on hand to answer your questions and give advice, both in the form of on-board lectures and workshops on shore. Explore the key elements of photography in a fun and relaxed setting, with plenty of opportunities for questions and feedback. Learn how to see light in a new way and experiment with the techniques of composition and framing.
Kayaking fee $1,210
Antarctica is a paddlers’ paradise. The White Continent boasts some of the world’s most impressive landscapes and is home to incredible marine wildlife. Sea Kayak Club members will have the opportunity to paddle through tranquil waters filled with glittering icebergs and porpoising penguins while surrounded by magnificent glaciers and mountains.
The protected and picturesque waters of the Antarctic Peninsula offer the best sea kayaking opportunities in Antarctica. Sea Kayak Club is also offered on selected voyages to South Georgia, where members may have the rare opportunity to encounter the island’s legendary abundance of wildlife from a kayaker’s perspective, if the area’s notoriously inclement weather permits.