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Antarctic Explorer & the Weddell Sea

Nestled amongst ice fls of the northern Weddell Sea is the little known Seymour Island. Locked away in its fossil-rich rocks is the story of the disappearance of the dinosaur and the collapse of the mythical Gondwanaland. One of the aims of this voyage is to explore these fossil beds under the watchful eye of our expedition leader. We also have the opportunity to enjoy the wild life treasure chest of the northern Weddell Sea, as well as plan to cruise to the beautiful western flanks of the Antarctic Peninsula, exploring the Gerlache Strait and Paradise Harbour.

Inclusions

10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners
Flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas
One night accommodation in hotel in Punta Arenas
Comfortable cabin accommodation and use of all public areas on cruise
Specialist expedition staff
All shore excursions from the ship including the use of Zodiacs
Lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services
Medical services (there is a resident medical officer and infirmary on board)
Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities
Pre-departure information
Keepsake Photo Book (one per booking) created from photography taken during your voyage
Complimentary Polar Expedition Jacket
Hightlights
The most wildlife-rich part of Antarctica - penguins, whales, seals, sea birds
Fascinating geology in the fossil-rich rocks of the Weddell Sea area
Opportunity to venture into the remote Weddell Sea and rarely visited areas
Narrow sheltered waterways and fjords
Spectacular mountains rising directly out of the sea
Historic sites
Great variety of terrain over short distances
Icebergs and active glaciers
Kayaking through Antarctic waters (optional charge applies)
Scuba Diving (optional charge applies - previous experience required)
Snorkelling through Antarctic waters (optional charge applies)
Tour Provider World Expeditions
Number of Days
11
Price From
AUD $9,500
Start Location
Punta Arenas, Antarctica
End Location
Antarctica
Age Range
Avg. 100+
Group Size
1 to 54
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Small Marine/Cruise
Physical Rating
Mild
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
17 Feb 201827 Feb 2018AvailableAUD $9,500
ItineraryExpand
Day 1
This morning we fly from Punta Arenas to Puerto William and we are greeted by the crew and expedition staff as you embark the ship in the afternoon. We will settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.
Days 2-3
Some of us will approach this historic crossing with more than a little trepidation. But despite its reputation, there are many times when the Drake Passage resembles a lake, with lazy Southern Ocean swells rolling under the keel. On the other hand, we sometimes encounter rough crossings with large waves. The size of the waves and the force of the gale will take on gigantic proportions when related around the fire back home. The mood on board is definitely casual. A favourite pastime is to stand at the stern deck watching the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels, following in our wake, skillfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. During our Drake crossing, we will commence our lecture program about the wildlife, geology, history and geography of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is a photographers' paradise, for the professional and amateur alike. There will be discussions about how to protect your equipment from salt water, and tips about taking good pictures. Nearing the tip of the Peninsula towards the end of day three, excitement reaches fever pitch with everyone on the bridge watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you forever.
Days 4-6
We spend the next few days exploring the ice-filled Weddell Sea where weather systems and shifting pack ice dictate our schedule: we hope to visit the large Adelie and gentoo penguin colonies of Brow Bluff, and fossil-rich Seymour Island. We may hike to spectacular vantage points on Beak or Devil Islands; large tabular icebergs and volcanic scenery create long lasted memories.
Days 7-9
A host of choices are now open to us, and depending on the ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. Our experienced leaders, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use this expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather and ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. As we are so far south, we will experience approximately 20 hours' daylight. There is plenty of time for sleep when you get home..... ! Once we arrive in the calmer waters of Bransfield and Gerlache Straits, we will be landing two to three times a day. To get ashore we will use Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats). Sometimes we will cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, or follow whales that are feeding near the surface. In these cases, we will appreciate the distinct advantage of being on a small vessel, which gives everyone the opportunity to experience these very special close encounters with the wildlife. There are many exciting places we can choose to visit, such as: Hannah Point, Livingstone Island A unique landing place on the Peninsula, this tiny t of land is literally alive with wildlife. Here we will find two species of penguins breeding, chinstraps and gentoo. Sometimes there are a few vagrant Macaroni penguins nesting as well. It is not uncommon to find wallows of elephant seal that are 60 beasts strong. On the ridgeline Giant Petrels are nesting. The vegetation consists of mosses, lichens and the only grass species that grows in Antarctica. All this set in a stunning position, underneath long black scree slopes, at the foot of the mountains and glaciers of Livingston Island. Half Moon Island Half Moon Island lies at the eastern end of Livingston Island and is a haven for wildlife. On a clear day the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the scene. There is a large Chinstrap penguin rookery tucked in between basaltic turrets colored by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and we often see fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. At one extremity of the island there is a large colony of nesting Blue-eyed Shags. At the other, a small Argentine scientific station conducts research on the penguin colony and ecology of the surrounding waterways. Deception Island Visiting Deception Island is like making a journey to the moon. We enter the volcanic crater, on board the ship, through the narrow opening of Neptune's Bellows. Inside is an unworldly scene, virtually devoid of life. Glaciers flow down from the edge of the crater, littered by black volcanic ash. We can explore the lifeless remains of a derelict whaling station and a vacant British base or climb to the rim of the crater. Steam rises from the shore indicating that the water is actually warm enough for a swim, for those who dare. Outside the crater, if conditions allow, we might land at Baily Head, the enormous Chinstrap penguin rookery that featured in David Attenborough's 'Life in the Freezer' series. Paradise Harbour A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers. Rocky cliffs provide perfect nesting sites for Blue-eyed Shags, terns and gulls. The serenity of Paradise Harbour envelops us once the sound of the anchor dropping fades from our ears. This is a haven for whales and sometimes we meet humpbacks, orcas and minks as we explore the bay in Zodiacs. Imagine being so close to a whale that when he surfaces to blow, the fishy spray of his exhalation momentarily blurs your vision. Lemaire Channel If the ice conditions allow, standing on the bow of Polar Pioneer and quietly moving through the narrow Lemaire Channel will be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres directly above the ship. The water is so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface. Gigantic icebergs often clog the channel, creating interesting navigation challenges for the captain and crew and may even obstruct our passage.
Day 10
This morning we disembark the ship and take a flight to Punta Arenas to King George Island. We transfer to the hotel for overnight accommodation on a twin share basis.
Day 11
After breakfast at the hotel the trip concludes.