Marine Mammals of Antarctica
The ultimate whale watching and wildlife expedition.
By March, the short Antarctic summer is drawing to a close. Penguin chicks are almost fully-grown and quickly shedding their downy coats in preparation to take to the sea before the long winter. March is a time of great activity in and under the water where we have historically encountered a high concentration of whales, in particular Humpback and Minke. Crabeater, Weddell and Leopard seals also often grace us with their presence, as they rest and store energy that will sustain them over the cold months ahead.
Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina — We arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s most southerly city, where you board our expedition ship. In the early evening we set sail, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Days 2 – 3: Drake Passage — We cross the Drake Passage, excitedly making our way closer to the white continent. Our expedition crew prepares us for our adventure with a series of presentations on everything Antarctic, but with a particular focus on the marine mammals we hope to encounter. We will see our first icebergs, a huge variety of seabirds, and, with luck, several whale species. Watching wales fully breach out of the sea is a sight you’ll remember forever.
Days 4 – 7: Antarctic Peninsula — In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula we take every opportunity to explore our surroundings in inflatable Zodiac boats. Planned excursions might include Wilhelmina Bay and the southerly Petermann Island, where we observe Weddell, Crabeater and Elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds, as well as a variety of penguins – including several colonies of the comical Adélie penguin. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and may be lucky to observe Orcas and Minke whales along the way. This is the optimal time of the season for whale encounters and we visit several well known whale ‘hot-spots’. If ice conditions allow we attempt a transit of the dramatic Lemaire Channel. In addition to our whale encounters, we enjoy a regular program of exploration on and off the ship. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is a memorable activity and our sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship. Our photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling, image composition and the unique light found in Antarctica. All around us there are oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures and the size of the colossal ‘tabular’ icebergs that break away from the continent’s ice shelf defy belief. After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, we head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and frequent sightings can be expected of humpbacks and even the fast moving orca.
Day 8: South Shetland Island and Deception Island — The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. Several other landing sites nearby tempt us including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals. In the evening, we navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
Days 9 – 10: Drake Passage — We leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. We celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition with a special dinner.
Day 11: Ushuaia, Argentina — In the early morning we arrive back in Ushuaia. After disembarkation you are transferred to your Ushuaia hotel or the airport for your onward journey.
Please note: Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions, the planned itinerary will be updated at the time of final preparations as well as throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favourable conditions.