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ANTARCTICA & THE SOUTH SHETLANDS

11 days departing USHUAIA Nov-Mar from £2999

Antarctica | Hotels

 

This is an astonishing adventure into the heart of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is a heady and inspiring cocktail of towering blue icebergs which refract searing blues and greens, whether against piercing clear skies or slate grey ones. It is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife; penguins of almost all descriptions, Leopard and smaller seals, and whales are all seen from the shore and on aboard the Zodiac. This is a journey that appeals to photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, ornithologists or those who simply want to marvel at the peaks of Deception Island or the striking colours of Iceberg Alley in the most immaculate wilderness anywhere.

Prices are land only, let us know if you require a flight inclusive quote.

Price of tour vary depending on date of departure.

If you require further information please fill in the Query form below, also detailing the dates you would like to depart.

Trip Departure Time

As this tour departs at 1400 we recommend that you book pre-tour accommodation. Please request hotel details at the time of booking.

 

Day 1: Depart from Ushuaia

Beginning your journey at the port of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world you embark the USHUAIA in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. After welcome drinks and canapés, and after you have settled into your cabins you set sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass. You will need little to no money whilst on board as your meals are on a full board basis. You will however, need money should you wish to buy drinks for evening meals and at the bar, souvenirs and tipping your crew. Upon booking this Antarctic Cruise we will email you a booking form, general medical form and signed contract. All final documents including packing list will be sent one month prior to departure. On board there is ample viewing space, on the top deck, middle deck or the observation lounge.

 

Day 2-3: Crossing the Drake Passage

Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As you sail across the passage, your expedition lecturers will be out with you on deck to help in the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in our wake. The USHUAIA's open bridge policy allows you to join our officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime views. A full program of lectures will be offered as well. Keep your eyes peeled for larger whales and sea birds which follow your path and guide safe passage. The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that you have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Capt. William Smith of the brig Williams. The first sightings of these icebergs is a memory which will stay with you forever, it is beauty in its raw and extreme form. With favourable conditions in the Drake Passage our lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals on Day 3. Being up close and personal to the wildlife is a life changing experience, and you will find you never tire of watching penguins, seals, and birdlife in their natural habitat.

 

Day 4-8: Exploring South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula

The South Shetland Islands are a natural haven and sanctuary for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries, beaches ruled by Antarctic fur seals and Southern elephant seals make every day spent in this amazing island group unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing. King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, features colonies of nesting Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins, Kelp Gulls, Blue-eyed Cormorants, Antarctic Terns and Southern Giant Petrels and is home to scientific bases of many different countries. Macaroni, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins as well as elephant seals await you at Livingston Island. The Antarctic Peninsula's remarkable history will provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways, and an incredible wide variety of wildlife. Apart from penguins and seabirds you are very likely to see Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as Minke, killer (orca) and humpback whales at close range. You will navigate some of the most beautiful waterways (depending on the ice conditions): the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel, and the Lemaire Channel, the latter are narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers. We plan to make at least two landings per day and possible landing sites include: Paradise Bay is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world and you attempt a landing on the continent proper. After negotiating the iceberg-strewn waters of the Antarctic Sound, we hope to visit the bustling Adelie penguin (over 100,000 pairs breed here) and Blue-eyed Cormorant colonies on Paulet Island. The Nordenskjold expedition built a stone survival hut here in 1903. Today its ruins have been taken over by nesting penguins. Further exploration may take you to Melchior Island, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour, Pleneau Island and if ice conditions permit, to Petermann Island for a visit to the southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins.

 

Day 9-10: Crossing the Drake Passage Northbound

You leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage can at times be rough and it is advised to bring sea sickness tablets if you are inclined. Join your lecturers and naturalists on deck as you search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.

 

Day 11: Arrival into Ushuaia

You arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the ship after breakfast.

Included Highlights

Series of presentations, discussing various aspects of conservation and history of Antarctic exploration

Frequent shore excursions by inflatable zodiac boats

Explore the South Shetland islands

Common areas with viewing windows

Endless wildlife viewing opportunities

Observation deck and viewing lounge

Cross the Drake Passage

Opportunity to swim in Antarctic waters

Incredible photography opportunities

Expedition guides & naturalists

Detailed post-expedition log

 

 

Tour Facts & Features

Accommodation:  10 on board cabin nights in standard cabins. Single travellers can be matched with another passenger of the same sex subject to availability. For your own cabin request our optional Solo Sleeper (see Dates & Prices tab). Please note there are limited twin and triple cabins available on a reduced price basis (early booking recommended).

Transport:  Polar expedition ship. Please see link on the itinerary tab for specific details on the ship

Meals:  All on board meals included

Guided:  Services of qualified Expedition Staff

Group size:  Maximum 88 passengers on board

Age range:  12+

A 30% deposit per person is required to book

Full payment is due 8 weeks before the tour departure

Optional Solo Sleeper

There are no forced supplements for single travellers. Accommodation is based on twin-share, so if you're travelling on your own, you'll share with a fellow passenger of the same sex. However, if you would prefer your own space our Solo Sleeper Option can be requested from £1540 per person. This will guarantee you your own cabin for every night of the tour. Single cabins on are very limited so this option is on a request basis only. Please call us to enquire about this.

 

Travel Insurance

 

Before you join your Grand American Adventures tour you MUST be covered by insurance that includes adequate coverage for baggage, medical expenses and the cost of repatriation.

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