Antarctica - Elephant Island - Weddell Sea - Polar Circle

Venture beyond the polar circle, visiting some of Antarctica’s most wildlife-filled waters and islands


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Antarctic Peninsula
OEX © Ali Liddle

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per IAATO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with IAATO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed for our vessel is 10.5 knots.

This expansive expedition takes you into the Antarctic Circle, combining the rich animal life of the Weddell Sea with the surreal shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. Such key landing sites as the legendary Elephant Island and Crystal Sound make this voyage truly exceptional.

Duration: 14 days
Starts: Ushuaia
Ends: Ushuaia
Language: English speaking voyage


Included


Antarctica – Elephant Island – Weddell Sea – Polar Circle: -
This adventurous polar expedition in the Antarctic Circle combines the exciting Weddell Sea with the amazing Antarctic Peninsula, including such iconic landing sites as Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Elephant Island and the many icy and wildlife-filled islands of Crystal Sound.

Itinerary

© Ross Wheeler
© Sandra Petrowitz 2
© Sandra Petrowitz

Day 1: End of the world, start of a journey
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.

Day 2 – 3: Path of the polar explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you 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 are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. 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 are a few of the birds you might see.

Day 4: From Point Wild to the Weddell Sea
We will arrive early to the famous Point Wild, Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s crew made their first landing after the loss of their ship, Endurance. This inhospitable spit of land is a favorite among our guests, and if conditions permit, we will offer activities around the point before setting off for the Weddell Sea.

Day 5: Weddell Sea Devil Island
Today you enter the wondrous Weddell Sea, a relatively unvisited area in which we hope to carry out activities in Erebus and Terror Gulf. We may also visit such places such as Beak Island and Devil Island, which boast some stunning scenery as well as the pack ice for which the Weddell Sea is famous.

Day 6: Exploring the most remote regions
As we continue to explore the area of Erebus and Terror Gulf, we look for new opportunities for activities. You may also visit Vega Island, experiencing the wilderness of Antarctica in its most remote places.

Day 7: Orléans Strait whale search
Now we sail down the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, entering the Orleans Strait. Here we hope to see humpback and orca whales as we sail toward Mikklesen Harbor for our afternoon activities.

Day 8: Port monuments and island wildlife
Passing the Lemaire Channel, you next arrive in the area of Port Charcot, where there is a cairn that was erected by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903 – 05. In the afternoon, we head to Petermann Island to see a great variety of birdlife. You might also enjoy Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are highly popular with leopard seals and crabeater seals. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins can also be found here.

Day 9: Detaille Island’s historic station
Today you reach Crystal Sound, viewing the area’s beautiful ice formations and wildlife before landing at Detaille Island. This remote island was once home to a British research station that is now an historic monument.

Day 10: Amazing Argentine islands
Next you arrive at the Yalour Islands, a small archipelago composed mostly of isolated rocks and one principal island that offers us a rewarding landing. Home to Adélie penguins and some of the most southerly gentoos in the world, Yalour also has small patches of bearded and crustose lichen, including xanthoria, buellia, caloplaca, and usnea. Extensive moss beds and some Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) can be seen as well.

It is hope to also visit the nearby Ukrainian research station, Vernadsky, where a warm welcome awaits you. Here you can take a guided tour of the facilities, which include a small gift shop, a post office that is always popular with our guests, and Wordie House, a well-preserved historic hut. This hut still contains its rations, tools, and beds, so you can compare the amenities of an early facility with a modern one like Vernadsky.

Day 11: Farewell to Antarctica
You have your farewell to Antarctica in the Melchior Islands for your final activities before heading towards the Drake Passage.

Day 12 – 13: Familiar seas, familiar friends
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. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 14: There and back again
Every adventure, no matter how great, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next journey leads.

Itinerary

Day 1: End of the world, start of a journey
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.

Day 2 – 3: Path of the polar explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you 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 are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. 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 are a few of the birds you might see.

Day 4: From Point Wild to the Weddell Sea
We will arrive early to the famous Point Wild, Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s crew made their first landing after the loss of their ship, Endurance. This inhospitable spit of land is a favorite among our guests, and if conditions permit, we will offer activities around the point before setting off for the Weddell Sea.

Day 5: Weddell Sea Devil Island
Today you enter the wondrous Weddell Sea, a relatively unvisited area in which we hope to carry out activities in Erebus and Terror Gulf. We may also visit such places such as Beak Island and Devil Island, which boast some stunning scenery as well as the pack ice for which the Weddell Sea is famous.

Day 6: Exploring the most remote regions
As we continue to explore the area of Erebus and Terror Gulf, we look for new opportunities for activities. You may also visit Vega Island, experiencing the wilderness of Antarctica in its most remote places.

Day 7: Orléans Strait whale search
Now we sail down the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, entering the Orleans Strait. Here we hope to see humpback and orca whales as we sail toward Mikklesen Harbor for our afternoon activities.

Day 8: Port monuments and island wildlife
Passing the Lemaire Channel, you next arrive in the area of Port Charcot, where there is a cairn that was erected by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903 – 05. In the afternoon, we head to Petermann Island to see a great variety of birdlife. You might also enjoy Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are highly popular with leopard seals and crabeater seals. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins can also be found here.

Day 9: Detaille Island’s historic station
Today you reach Crystal Sound, viewing the area’s beautiful ice formations and wildlife before landing at Detaille Island. This remote island was once home to a British research station that is now an historic monument.

Day 10: Amazing Argentine islands
Next you arrive at the Yalour Islands, a small archipelago composed mostly of isolated rocks and one principal island that offers us a rewarding landing. Home to Adélie penguins and some of the most southerly gentoos in the world, Yalour also has small patches of bearded and crustose lichen, including xanthoria, buellia, caloplaca, and usnea. Extensive moss beds and some Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) can be seen as well.

It is hope to also visit the nearby Ukrainian research station, Vernadsky, where a warm welcome awaits you. Here you can take a guided tour of the facilities, which include a small gift shop, a post office that is always popular with our guests, and Wordie House, a well-preserved historic hut. This hut still contains its rations, tools, and beds, so you can compare the amenities of an early facility with a modern one like Vernadsky.

Day 11: Farewell to Antarctica
You have your farewell to Antarctica in the Melchior Islands for your final activities before heading towards the Drake Passage.

Day 12 – 13: Familiar seas, familiar friends
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. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 14: There and back again
Every adventure, no matter how great, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next journey leads.


© Ross Wheeler
© Sandra Petrowitz 2
© Sandra Petrowitz


INCLUSIONS

· Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
· All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
· All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
· Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
· Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
· Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia.
· Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
· All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
· Comprehensive pre-departure material.

EXCLUSIONS

· Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
· Pre- and post- land arrangements.
· Passport and visa expenses.
· Government arrival and departure taxes.
· Meals ashore.
· Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
· Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
· The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).


* The prices are per person expressed in US Dollars.
NOTE: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.



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