Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed "The End of the World," and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
FUN FACT - Antarctica is the only continent without a time zone. The Earth's longitudes meet on the geographical South Pole in Antarctica so, in theory, any of the world's time zones could be used! That said, travellers and researchers that venture there tend to follow the respective time zones of their own countries.
Over the next two days we will sail across the fabled Drake Passage. Here you'll enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray.
After passing the Antarctic Convergence Antarctica's natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas you're in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. In this area not only ds the marine life change but so too ds the avian life - we may see 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.
FUN FACT - Every year, a half marathon, marathon and a 100K run take place in Antarctica despite an average windchill temperature of -20 C.
We sail directly to "High Antarctica" - where we'll find grey stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. Passing the snow capped Melchior Islands and the Schollaert Channel, and sailing between Brabant and Anvers Island we head to the Neumayer Channel. We will position our ship here for the multi-activity base camp.
The protected waters around Wiencke Island will become our playground for our activities. In this alpine environment there will be great opportunities to enjoy the splendours of this alpine environment at sea with zodiac and kayaking trips, or if you're in the mood for a walk, there are possible snowsh hikes and soft-climb mountaineering options farther inland. Naturally, favourable weather conditions determine the possible activities.
Places you might visit include:
Pl neau & Petermann Islands If the ice allows it, you can sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel in search of Ad lie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There's also a good chance you'll encounter humpback and minke whales here, as well as leopard seals. Kayaking, glacier walks, and more ambitious mountaineering trips are the potential activities of this location.
Neko Harbour An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.
Paradise Bay With its myriad of icebergs and deep cut fjords, zodiac cruise and kayak between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords. You may also have the chance to make camp here like a true polar explorer (but with a better tent), enjoying a supreme overnight Antarctic adventure.
Errera Channel Possible sites in this area include Danco Island and Cuverville Island, but also the lesser known (though equally picturesque) Orne Island and Georges Point on Rong Island.
On your last day of near-shore activities, you pass the Melchior Islands toward the open sea. Keep a sharp lookout for humpback whales in Dallmann Bay. You might also shoot for Half Moon Island, in the South Shetlands, with further chances for activities.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
FUN FACT - Husky dogs were banned from Antarctica in 1994
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you're again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south and you will have the time to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
FUN FACT - In 1977 Argentina sent a pregnant woman to Antarctica in an attempt to claim partial possession of the continent. The woman gave birth to a boy on January 7, 1978 the first known human to be born in Antarctica.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. During the early morning we will cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia. It is a busy time, with people saying farewell to our crew and others who have shared the intensity of being in a magnificent white wilderness and creating memories that will last a lifetime.