Cruise south to the South Shetland Islands and beyond to the frozen southern continent. Watch as the clearing mist reveals some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth. Experience one of the most pristine regions in the world first-hand and enjoy the possible close encounters with spouting whales, lounging seals, and the penguins that may very well be just as curious about you as you are about them. See how a landscape can take on a drastic change within only a few kilometres of distance as you transition from the South Shetlands down to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 1: In the afternoon we embark our vessel m/v Ortelius in Ushuaia – In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
Days 2 – 3: At sea, en-route to the Antarctic Peninsula where we cross the Antarctic Convergence – During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs.
Days 4 – 7: Antarctica! On Cuverville Island, we will find a large colony of Gentoo Penguins – We will sail directly to “High Antarctica”, passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. On Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island, we will find a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. If we land on Ronge Island we can observe Gentoo Penguins and possibly Weddell and Crabeater Seals. In Neko Harbour we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. We enjoy the landscape surrounded by alpine peaks during zodiac cruises. In Paradise Bay again with its myriad icebergs, we have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent again. We shall have the opportunity for a zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing water way. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to get a chance to visit the old British research station, now living museum and post office at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer a landing on Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.
On our way North through the Gerlache Strait we finally arrive at the South Shetland Islands. We will sail to Deception Island. Our ship braves its entrance into the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellow into the ring of Deception Island. We hope for a good long walk and kayak trip which will depend on site availability and weather conditions.
Deception is a sub-ducted crater, which opens into the sea, creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
We leave from here and sail to Half Moon Island where we will find Chinstrap Penguins. Weddell Seals often haul out on the beach. These volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist and fog, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. Our voyage continues through a narrow Strait to the open sea with direction Ushuaia.
Days 8: South Shetland Islands – The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. In Deception Island our ship braves into the entrance of the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater which opens into the sea creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively we may try to land at Hannah Point at Livingston Island. The area is closed off to visitors for part of the season as it is a high density wildlife area with species such as Chinstrap penguins, Gentoo penguins, and Southern Elephant seals. Around noon we depart for the Drake Passage.
Days 9 – 10: At sea, towards Ushuaia – On our way north we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.
Day 11: The end of our voyage. We disembark m/v Ortelius in the maorning in Ushuaia – We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark after breakfast.
PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.