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Fearless penguins, rotund seals, drifting icebergs and pristine wilderness. An expedition cruise to the last continent is the pinnacle of a lifetime’s travel for many; this carefully chosen small ship cruise will do justice to your dream.
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I could not rate this more highly. Huge attention to detail in every respect with highly experienced staff who were very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The whole experience was one to be remembered as the trip of a lifetime with no exception. Thank you. Jill A
Land in Buenos Aires today. On arrival you are collected by your guide and taken to your charming small hotel in either the Palermo or Las Canitas area. Despite being close to the centre of the city, these barrios are quiet, leafy and green with lots of pavement cafes. Relax after your journey and stretch your legs this afternoon, before strolling to one of the restaurants nearby for supper.
Spend this morning in the company of your own private guide who can take you on and off the beaten track in this lively and beautiful city. You will have a car at your disposal, but we recommend getting out and walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically just let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you. This afternoon you might like to explore the enormous and rather lovely Recoleta cemetery.
Arrive in Patagonia as you fly south onto the island of Tierra del Fuego and the world’s most southerly city. On arrival transfer to your small friendly hotel on the shores of the Beagle Channel a couple of kilometres outside the main town. This afternoon you have time to explore - your hosts are very knowledgeable and will help you to make the most of your time here.
Today you are free to explore Ushuaia and its surroundings. If you'd like to stretch your legs, Tierra del Fuego National Park offers spectacular scenery for coastal walks and sea kayaking. If you don’t fancy a walk there is a (very touristy) locomotive train that takes you into the park.
This morning is free to relax, or spend some more time exploring Ushuaia, which has some good little museums. This afternoon at approximately 16:00 you board your small ship. You will be greeted by the boat’s Expedition Leader and staff and shown to your cabin. This evening set sail along the Beagle Channel and into the Drake Passage.
Crossing the Drake should really be a rite of passage for any Antarctic traveller. Aside from any ‘bragging rights,’ it really brings into focus the achievements of the early explorers in simply reaching the continent, with historic equipment and wooden ships. Only by crossing the Drake yourself (albeit in much more comfort), can you begin to appreciate how intrepid were the likes of Amundsen and Shackleton.
Continue across the Drake today. While the sound of two full days at sea may seem dull, there’s plenty to pass the time. Engaging talks draw out the detail of the wildlife, scenery, and history, and help the sense of excitement, which builds as you head south. Exploring the ship and getting to know your fellow passengers, who are invariably from around the globe, all adds to the anticipation.
Disembark for the first time today. The actual places you disembark will largely depend on the sea conditions but you are likely to see large colonies of Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins today. You will almost certainly smell them before you see them - but don’t worry, you soon get used to it. As well as their famously comical gait, the penguins are essentially fearless of humans.
Wake up to the sight of mainland Antarctica. Today you have your first continent landing. The peninsula is highly mountainous, its highest peaks rise to 2,800 metres directly from the sea. As well as the magnificent scenery of mountains, snow and ice, you can expect to see a wide variety of the native wildlife.
Sail south through the breathtaking Lemaire Channel which runs between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. Also known as Kodak Gap or Fuji Funnel as most people find it impossible to put down their camera. The passage is about 10km long and about 1.5km wide at its narrowest. High, sheer cliffs plunge straight into the iceberg filled waters, said to be amongst the most beautiful in the world.
You reach the South Shetlands today – a group of islands 120km off the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula. Disembark at Deception Island - the largest active volcano in the area. The surrounding black volcanic sand beaches can seem desolate, though actually have warm thermal waters bubbling below. On a dark or snowy day though, the black sands and ruins of the whaling station create a thoroughly eerie, tangible atmosphere.
Today you disembark for the final time in the South Shetlands Islands on Half Moon Island. Enjoy your final shore excursion before returning to the boat to set off towards Drake Passage. After several days exploring the seas and landmass of the Antarctic Peninsula, now is the time to relax, talk over your experiences and admire your photos.
This morning you navigate north again via the Melchior islands and towards the open sea of the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is entirely open water with no land anywhere around the world at these latitudes. This allows for the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which spins around the continent, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. It’s this which results in the often ‘lively’ seas, and has given rise to the mythical status of the Drake.
Today is another full day at sea though you will normally get back into the protected waters of the Beagle Channel and on to Ushuaia harbour some time this evening. During the day you can browse your photos, relax and chat with your fellow passengers about the amazing adventure, or see if you can't spot the last of your marine mammals from up on the bridge.
Disembark this morning in Ushuaia for your flight back up to Buenos Aires this morning. Landing late afternoon, transfer to your Palermo hotel for a final night's stay.
You may have some time to see a little more of Argentina's capital before you head to the airport for your flight home. Alternatively, consider extending your trip in South America, perhaps to Iguassu Falls or the Brazilian coast.
Fearless penguins, rotund seals, drifting icebergs and pristine wilderness. An expedition cruise to the last continent is the culmination of a lifetime’s travel for many; this carefully chosen small ship cruise will do justice to your dream.
Antarctica is a very physical place, from the wild southern ocean crossing to the massive ice flows and high mountains. However, what is surprising to most people is that on the Antarctic Peninsula, in summer, conditions are relatively benign. You will want to be wrapped up warm and windproof most days but it isn’t unknown for shore landings to happen in light fleeces. On the peninsula, you are at the same latitude (in relative terms) as Iceland.
This expedition cruise is gently active, shore landings involve getting in and out of zodiac inflatable craft as well as walking on the sometimes treacherous shores of Antarctica. However, there is no specific physical requirement to join us on the journey.
Cruises to the Antarctic run between November and March to take advantage of the long summer days as well as the calmer sea conditions in Drake’s Passage.
And a final note on the Drake Passage. It’s a wild stretch of sea which you cross for a couple of days going south and another couple of days going north. It is our strong opinion that Antarctica is a place to be preserved, fiercely protected, and part of that is to make it difficult to get to. To visit Antarctica, you have to ‘earn your stripes’ and that’s the Drake Passage. On the plus side, it is a time for very interesting lectures and talks, to get to know your fellow passengers, crew and guides, and also to stand on the bridge watching sea birds and looking for whales.
Antarctica is primarily a place to visit for the extraordinary landscapes and wildlife, and rightly so. However, much of what you learn will relate to the amazing human history of the continent. As well as visiting the current research facilities down there, no trip to Antarctica would be complete without an insight into the early days of exploration. Tales of endurance and an unquenchable thirst for discovery paint a very different picture of the first trips to the White Continent. Equally, you might find yourself chatting to a member of the Chilean navy, at one of the military bases.
On a very different note, Antarctic expedition cruises tend to be very international affairs with passengers, crew and guides coming from all over the globe, many of whom have some intriguing stories of past adventures. This alone can make the experience wonderfully enriching.
If you would like to join us on this holiday, please call for us to check space and discuss any additional arrangements you may want. We have a more detailed itinerary for this trip, please get in touch and we can email that to you.
However, most people enjoy this cruise as part of a longer trip to South America. The most obvious places to visit are within Chile and Argentina, be that tropical Iguassu Falls or hiking across the Torres del Paine National Park. We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started?
The standard trip includes accommodation in a twin/double cabin with a porthole window and private bathroom (upgrades and downgrades available), all meals, lectures and excursions as listed on the detailed itinerary. Also included are flights within Argentina, five nights' hotel accommodation in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, and a privately guided city tour of Buenos Aires. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing. Trip price assumes a low season departure.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. You need to fly in and out of Buenos Aires, Argentina (airport code: EZE).