Embark on a classic expedition to Antarctica from Ushuaia, through the scenic Beagle Channel and across the infamous Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. With two shore landings per day, set foot on the continent proper, get up close with the region’s wildlife and learn about the area from the expedition crew and lecturers.
Ushuaia – The starting point of your expedition cruise to Antarctica, this busy Argentine port city is the southernmost city in the world and a stunning place to spend a night at the start and end of your cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula
Beagle Channel – Set sail along the famous Beagle Channel and scenic Mackinlay Pass from Ushuaia as you begin your Antarctic adventure, passing by spectacular snow-capped peaks and colonies of penguins and fur seals gathered on rocky outcrops
Drake Passage – A historically challenging channel of water which marks the location of the Antarctic Convergence, where the warmer waters of the north meet the cold polar waters of the south resulting in incredible biodiversity of marine life
The South Shetland Islands – A crucial stop on any Antarctic expedition, this spectacular archipelago is made up of islands, islets and rock outcrops, each with their own population of penguins and seals with plenty of opportunity to spot marine life offshore too
Antarctic Peninsula – The northernmost point of the continent and a spectacular location for a shore landing with jagged mountain peaks, glaciers and an abundance of wildlife
Today your expedition to Antarctica begins. In the afternoon you’ll board your polar vessel, the Ushuaia, where you’ll meet the expedition and lecture staff who will be accompanying you on your journey. Once settled into your cabin, you’ll want to make your way to one of the open air decks so that you can admire the views as we set sail along the famous Beagle Channel and scenic Mackinlay Pass.
Day 2-3: The Drake Passage
Location: The Drake Passage
The next two days are spent passing through the infamous Drake Passage, a historically challenging channel of water which bears the name of renowned explorer Sir Francis Drake who sailed through here in 1578. On this journey through the Drake Passage you will pass over the Antarctic Convergence, where the warmer waters of the north meet the cold polar waters of the south. This interaction causes an upwelling of nutrients from the seafloor, resulting in the incredible diversity of algae, krill and other small sea creatures.
The Ushuaia offers the choice of four open-air decks where you can pass the time enjoying the views and keeping an eye out for seabirds. Expedition lecturers will be available at all times to help you spot and identify common and more obscure species. Thanks to the vessels open bridge policy, you can also join officers on the bridge to learn about navigation and watch for whales.
You’ll know when we’ve reached the South Shetland Islands as you’ll begin to see icebergs and snow-capped mountains. This group of twenty islands was first sighted by Captain William Smith back in February 1819. Should the conditions of the Drake Passage be favourable, you’ll enjoy your first land excursions on day 3 where you’ll have the chance to see penguins and seals up close.
Day 4-7: South Shetland Islands
Location: South Shetland Islands
A stunning archipelago home to an incredible abundance of wildlife, the South Shetland Islands is a crucial stop on every expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. Spanning 540 kilometres from northeast to southwest, this polar archipelago is made up of four distinct groupings of islands with some 150 additional islets, skerries and rock outcrops.
Perhaps the best known of the South Shetland Islands is Deception Island with its flooded caldera of an active volcano. The largest is King George Island which is home to several scientific bases dedicated to studying the island’s population of Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Kelp Gulls, Blue-eyed Cormorants, Antarctic Terns and Southern Giant Petrels. Another island worth visiting is Livingston Island, where you can spot more species of penguin as well as elephant seals.
The next four days are spent navigating the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel, and narrow passages of the Lemaire Channel with towering rock faces on one side and spectacular glaciers on the other. You’ll have the opportunity to join two landings per day, at locations such as spectacular Paradise Bay and the continent proper, as well as Paulet Island where you’ll be able to see the Adélie Penguin and Blue-eyed Cormorant colonies.
Exploring further south you may have the opportunity to visit Melchior Island, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour and Pléneau Island. Should ice conditions permit, you’ll also have a chance to see the southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins on Petermann Island.
Day 8-9: Crossing the Drake Passage
Location: Crossing the Drake Passage
Departing the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ushuaia will start its journey back across the Drake Passage travelling north. Once again you’ll have the opportunity to spot and identify seabirds and whales with the help of the naturalists on deck, as well as enjoy some final lectures.
Day 10: Ushuaia
Your vessel arrives into the port of Ushuaia early in the morning. After breakfast and bidding farewell to your expedition lecturers and naturalists, your Antarctic adventure comes to an end. The ship arrives at 7 am and disembarkation is normally at 8.00/ 8.30 am. We strongly recommend not to book flights departing before noon time.
The Ushuaia Polar Vessel
9 nights onboard the Ushuaia in a standard twin cabin (upgrades available on request)
9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners
Two shore excursions per day to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands by zodiac (ice conditions permitting)
Program of lectures by expert naturalists
Experienced expedition staff
All service taxes and port charges
NB - the following are not included:
-International flights and visas -Government arrival and departure taxes -Drinks on board the Ushuaia -Tips for the expedition staff and naturalists -Pre and post tour accommodation, plus any airport or port transfers
This trip is suitable for all ages over 10 years; however the GH will accept younger on a case by case basis. . No maximum age providing Medical Form is completed.
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