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Ultimate Antarctica, Weddell Sea and Falklands

Fly/Cruise: fly the Drake passage, get more time to explore
Footsteps of Sir Ernest ShackletonThis exciting expedition, which includes flights, provides great diversity and will appeal to those seeking a truly comprehensive Antarctic experience. It includes visits to the South Shetland Islands, the western and northern sections of the Antarctic Peninsula, the stunning and wild Weddell Sea region located on the eastern side of the Peninsula, and the historic location of Elephant Island a place forever connected to the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance expedition 100 years ago. Adding to the experience will be a visit to several locations in the Falkland Island archipelago home to nesting albatross and the colorful King penguin.Penguins, whales and seals - wildlife paradiseThese diverse locations each feature their own unique attractions. Stunning glaciated scenery along the Antarctic Peninsula, enormous Adelie penguin rookeries and the flat-topped 'tabular' icebergs in the Weddell Sea, copious history in the South Shetland's and Elephant Island - and a whole new range of wildlife species to observe in the Falkland Islands. Throughout the voyage, our expedition ship acts as a floating wilderness lodge, which we reposition every day to yet another exciting location. You will be spoiled for choice by all of the activities we have planned. Short walks or longer hikes on shore to visit wildlife colonies, historic sites and science bases, cruising in the zodiac boats looking for whales and seals, and spending time with the resident photography expert. The more adventurous might like to join the sea kayaking program, or perhaps spend a night camping on the ice the choice is yours.Best of both worldsWe maximize our time on this voyage by flying from South America to Antarctica, saving a two days crossing of the Drake Passage. A further day and a half is saved, by flying back to South America from the Falkland Islands at the end of the voyage. The time saved by flying to the start and end points, enables us to spend maximum time exploring the region you have come so far to experience. Over the course of 12-days, you can expect to be off the ship exploring in the company of our expert guides for nine of those twelve days. This unique itinerary has been designed for those who want the most in-depth experience possible.

Inclusions

We include the use of an expedition gear package free of charge. Containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment, this kit includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once, and means more weight allowance for your main luggage.

Travel

  • Flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island
  • Flight from Port Stanley to Punta Arenas
  • All cruising on board the Akademik Ioffe

Accommodation & Meals

  • 11 nights on board the Akademik Ioffe
  • Cost based on twin-semi private cabin (one bathroom shared between 2 cabins)
  • 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 11 dinners

Inclusions

  • Antarctic gear hire package including waterproof/windproof jacket, bib-pants, insulated comfortable rubber boots, binoculars, trekking pole and waterproof backpack for use on shore
  • Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip
  • Transfers in Punta Arenas to the airport on Day 1. Transfers from the ship to Stanley airport and on arrival back in Punta Arenas to a downtown location at the conclusion of the voyage on Day 11
  • Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
  • 24 hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar lounge plus in cabin tea and coffee making facilities
  • Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
  • Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
  • Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
  • Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
  • Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). On board or on shore
  • Resident photography guide available to assist all guests
  • Access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management
  • An emergency trained Physician on board every voyage
  • Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
  • On board sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
  • Access to well stocked library full of polar reference books
  • End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
  • Port fees and all permits to access visited areas

Not Included

  • Any international or local airfares unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary.
  • Visa and passport expenses.
  • Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
  • Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
  • Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
  • Tipping payable locally, suggested amounts are approx. $10-$15pp US per day
Tour Provider Bunnik Tours
Number of Days
12
Price From
AUD $14,295
Start Location
End Location
Age Range
Avg. 50+
Group Size
20
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Polar, Private, Small Marine/Cruise
Physical Rating
Moderate
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
22 Jan 201902 Feb 2019Fully BookedAUD $14,295 
07 Jan 202018 Jan 2020Fully BookedAUD $14,095 
04 Feb 202015 Feb 2020Fully BookedAUD $14,095 
ItineraryExpand
Ultimate Antarctica, Weddell Sea and Falklands

We recommend extra nights pre/post tour

Your journey commences in Punta Arenas, Chile. You will need to arrive in Punta Arenas at least one day prior to the scheduled departure date. This gives you a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and voyage embarkation and departure. From Punta Arenas we fly to King George Island (Antarctica) via a special charter flight where we board the ship. Our voyage concludes in Stanley (Falkland Islands) and we fly back to Punta Arenas. For guests staying in Punta Arenas, an arrival transfer is provided from the airport to a central downtown location. (Onward flight connections to Santiago are available). Full joining instructions will be provided in your final travel documentation. If you have questions before this time, please ask us.

Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 1. Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, Antarctica

Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. We gather at a central location and transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at the King George Island, we embark our ship via zodiac. After settling in to our cabins and exploring our new surroundings, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and our first meal. No doubt, everyone on board will be looking forward to the incredible adventure ahead. [D]

Days 2 3. Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula

Overnight we have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and wake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent laid out before us. For the next few days we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. If ice conditions allow, we cruise through the Lemaire Channel and visit sites which may include Pleneau Island and the Penola Strait. To the south lies Petermann Island, home to a sizeable penguin rookery where both Adelie and Gentoo penguins nest side by side. A visit to an active science station nearby provides a fascinating insight into the important climate change research occurring in Antarctica. There's a fantastic walk on a nearby island and hope to make a full traverse across a snowy knoll from one side of the island to the other. The old British Antarctic Survey hut of Wordie House, begs for further investigation.Returning north, we pass the massive granite sentinels of Mount Scott and Mount Shackleton and may attempt a second transit of the Lemaire Channel. The landscape all along this section of the Antarctic coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Our activity program is in full swing by now. Each day we enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies and Zodiac cruising among the ice with our expert guides providing insight and interpretation. Planned visits could include Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay. Or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where we frequently encounter pods of humpback whales feeding. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that we plan to spend a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. We have all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen - all you need is an adventurous spirit! If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, we will always go for it. Camping is included in the voyage price and there is no need to pre-book this activity. [B,L,D]

Day 4. South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

We are now heading north towards Antarctic Sound the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way we hope to make a planned visit at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, we sail the ship right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and home to several penguin rookeries along the black sand beaches. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and old wooden structures. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is an outstanding hike here to a location known as 'Neptune's Window' high up onto the rim of the crater. [B,L,D]

Days 5-7. Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea

At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating into the sound we witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. This is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea we notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far. The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the penguin rookeries visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions in the Weddell Sea region may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice fls through which we navigate the ship. We have enjoyed a number of emperor penguins sightings in this area in recent years and they are known to inhabit the area. The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskj ld's Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century-old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after the ship had been lost in the ice pack months earlier. As we head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset will make some of us pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before us. [B,L,D]

Day 8. Elephant Island, Antarctica

Point Lookout on the southern tip of Elephant Island is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. Both southern elephant seals and fur seals are hauled out on the rocky beaches. If conditions permit, we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat the 'James Caird'. [B,L,D]

Days 9-10. At Sea towards Falkland Islands

While sailing north to the Falkland Islands our onboard polar experts will recap on our adventures in the Weddell Sea and prepare us for the days ahead. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular pelagic seabirds including several albatross and petrel species, are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. Photographing these stunning birds in flight takes great patience and skill and our resident photography expert will show you the best techniques. Our educational program continues and our experts entertain us with interactive presentations and leading lively discussions. [B,L,D]

Day 11. West Point & Saunders Island

Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore the island of West Point and nearby Saunders Island in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its rockhopper penguin rookeries and substantial nesting black browed albatross colony. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easily forgotten. One final highlight awaits a visit to the wildlife-rich Saunders Island. Along the white sand beaches and in the surrounding tussock grass we hope to encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper - and our ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders Island is a fitting end to our epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life's great travel experiences. [B,L,D]

Day 12. Port Stanley, Falkland Islands - Punta Arenas

In the early morning, we navigate through the narrows and into the harbour of Port Stanley. A transfer will take us to the airport for our return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. [B]

Please Note: Polar exploration can be unpredictable, which regularly causes variations to our itineraries. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a 'guide only' and may change. The ship's Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may block out a planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship. Camping options are dependent on favourable weather and ice and snow conditions and is not guaranteed on any voyage. Camping is unlikely early and late in the season (November and March), due to lower average night time temperatures on shore and shorter average daylight hours. Please ask us if you have any questions about this programme.