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Wind-swept islands filled with millions of seabirds, inspirational tales of exploration from a Heroic Age, the ever-present prospect of a whale fluke and a total eclipse of the sun from the pack ice. And then there's Antarctica. Over three unforgettable weeks the forces of nature converge all around you in the skies, in the water and on land that few will ever see. If you've ever dreamed of setting foot on Earth's last true wilderness, there's surely no better opportunity than this.
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Before the ice and penguins, its city streets and Porteños. Land in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, today, from where you are collected for the transfer to your hotel in the Recoleta district of the city to relax and freshen up. You’ll be equipped with our local information and tips for the city, including recommendations for some of Buenos Aires' best restaurants.
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 have a car at your disposal, but we recommend walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you to the most suitable places. And this being Buenos Aires, chances are you'll want to take in one of the city's tango shows. Again, your Holiday Guide, not to mention your actual guide, will be your friends here.
You are transferred to the airport this morning for the flight down to Tierra del Fuego, in the very southernmost part of Argentina. This afternoon you have time to explore, perhaps taking a walk in the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park. If you don’t fancy a walk there is a (very touristy) locomotive train that takes you into the park.
This is where things get really interesting. After a morning to relax or explore more, this afternoon at approximately 16:00 you will board your ship. you will be greeted by the boat’s Expedition Leader and staff and shown to your cabin, your home for the next three weeks or so. Brand new for 2021, the M/V Janssonius will be the most modern and one of the most environmentally-friendly ships to sail the Southern Oceans.
Today is a full day at sea as the ship makes its way towards the Antarctic Peninsula. There is a programme of talks throughout your time on board given by your team of expert guides. These provide background on various topics, including the wildlife, historical exploration and geology.
Continue your voyage south today, bound for Antarctica. The onboard lectures continue, the bridge remains open and there's ample time to get to know your fellow passengers. But it's outside where things really begin to change. As you push on you'll cross the Antarctic Converge, where icy north-flowing waters meet with the warmer sub-Antarctic seas. This point is a hotspot for various species of albatross and petrels and perhaps, if fortune is on your side, the odd whale fluke.
Today you have your first continental landing in the company of your naturalist guides. The idea is to sail further down into the Gerlache Strait to explore over the next couple of days, but as always Antarctic shore landings are subject to change. As well as the magnificent scenery, you can expect to see a wide variety of native wildlife. Birds to look out for are blue-eyed shags, gulls, cape petrels, skuas, snowy sheathbills and Antarctic terns. Marine mammals that you are likely to see include Weddell crab-eaters, leopard seals and Orcas and humpback whales.
Today's landings, subject to conditions, are likely to be concentrated around the northern part of the Gerlache Strait. Cierva Cove is where you'll find those electric-blue icbergs and glaciers so synonymous with the icescapes of Antarctica. Mikkelsen Harbour on the south of Trinity Island is home to a Gentoo penguin rookery, Weddell seals and the eery remains of both a large whaling boat and a huge whale skeleton.
You might 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 island is actually a flooded volcanic cone with a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows through which ships can sail into the interior of the island (weather permitting).
As if it hadn't already, all being well, today should feel like a real expedition as you attempt to enter the heavily ice-laden waters of the Weddell Sea, the southernmost point of the Atlantic Oceans. The idea is to sail into the Weddell Sea to visit the Adélie penguin colony at Paulet Island and land at Brown Bluff in the Antarctic Sound, a volcano which erupted within a glacial lake.
Set sail eastwards today as you leave the Antartic Peninsula behind and move into position for the Solar Eclipse on the 4th. The plan is to plough a course through the sea ice into the Scotia Sea pack ice, for a very special vantage point.
Lectures are given throughout the day and there's plenty to keep you entertained on the deck as you pass giant icebergs and with whales and sea bird sightings a constant possibility. Back inside, the chart room is a fascinating place to visit - much of the navigation in these waters is done not by GPS or satellite. but by good old-fashioned maritime charts.
Take your position for a very special celestial event in the early hours of the morning. You'll be stationed in the path of totality, a narrow band which, on this occasion, is the exclusive domain of Antarctica. In fact, the next total eclipse in Antarctica is not expected until 2039. So to say that this is a rare privilege is hardly an overstatement! Please note: as a natural phenomenon, the experience of the eclipse is reliant upon local meteorological conditions.
Over the next couple of days you'll push on through the Southern Oceans to reach South Georgia, where penguin colonies can reach a million strong in number. You can head up to the ship's bridge, essentially open to passengers 24-hours a day. Remember that it’s pretty much light around the clock.
Arrive in South Georgia today and a landscape dominated by beautiful snow-covered mountains. You have the next three days here to explore one of the most remote islands on earth, and the one with a vast concentration of seabirds, including King, Macaroni, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, as well as the mighty albatross. One highlight is the mind-boggling abundance of King penguins that live in these locations by the hundreds of thousands.
Your have two more full days to explore South Georgia. The islands have no permanent population although there is an outpost of the British Antarctic Survey. A striking aspect of the wildlife here is that it's very curious and completely fearless. Besides the penguins, fur seals poke their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop above and the albatross is never far away.
On this trip you will hopefully be able to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. One of the most prominent members of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Shackleton's fame largely stems from his heroic rescue efforts which saved the lives of all expedition members in 1916 when their Endurance ship became trapped in ice and later sank.
The next two days are at sea as the ship makes its way towards the Falkland Islands. For anyone not familiar with expedition cruising, perhaps life on board is the part you would least expect to leave indelible memories. Essentially you have a ready-made community, with a shared goal, and shared passions. Shiplife just seems to create moment after moment of conviviality and shared happiness.
Today you'll continue your approach to the Falkland Islands. There is something extraordinary about finding a little slice of Britain so very far from the motherland. The stories, and tragedy, of the war are very much alive here. Of course, the islands remain a political hot-potato to this day, leading no doubt to some interesting discussions on board.
Visit the town of Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands and home to around 2,000 inhabitants. Take time to wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses and British-style pubs. Find out about the history of what was once a major port for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn.
The plan is to explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago today. Your first penguin sightings will be on the island of Westpoint with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island (which is no where near as grim as it sounds) and Saunders Island you'll stand a good chance of seeing Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, whilst the latter is the place for King penguins.
Leave the Falkland Islands behind today as you complete your Southern Oceans loop. As the ship pulls out into the sea once again, expect groups of albatross, petrels and shearwaters to follow as you sail into the westerlies. No doubt today will be a time for reflection as you try to get to grips with everything you have experienced over the past three weeks.
Assuming you docked last night, you will disembark after breakfast to return to dry land again, travelling the short distance to the airport to leave it again as you fly north to Buenos Aires. As before, our Holiday Guide will point you in the direction of our favourite restaurants for a celebratory meal and a glass of Malbec to toast your adventures.
Depending on what time your return journey is today, you may have some time to explore Buenos Aires a little more. Transfer to the airport when you are ready and check-in for your international flight home. Again, please note international flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Should you wish to keep exploring in Argentina, or perhaps over the border in Chile, ask us about how we can tailor this trip so that it is just right for you. We have a small number of cabins held on this cruise, so if you're interested, it's best to let us know as soon as possible so you don't miss out.
Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.
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 South Georgia and Antarctica. However, there is no specific physical requirement to join us on the journey.
It is worth considering the seas, the long crossings from Ushuaia to Antarctica, onwards to South Georgia and then from there to the Falklands and back to Ushuaia. There are many days spent on board the ship travelling between the destinations. There are positives in this, including time to prepare yourself for your next landings with talks and information, as well as enjoying time with your fellow passengers, guides and crew.
However, these are wild stretches of sea which can be very physically demanding and tiring. Of course, this is part of the journey, part of the experience. To visit the Southern Oceans you have to ‘earn your stripes’ and that’s the sea crossings – or it can be when the seas are rough - which they mostly are.
The cruise part of this trip is obviously fixed to specific dates, but just about everything else is up for grabs. If you want to spend more time in Argentina or in Patagonia, be it on this side of the border, over in Chile, or both, then talk to us about your ideas. We've been tailoring trips to Patagonia for 20 years now, so we have plenty of options we can discuss. If you'd like to travel on alternative dates and are happy to forgo the eclipse, we can offer various dates for an alternative Southern Oceans cruise.
Again, we have a small number of cabins held on this cruise, so if you're interested, it's best to let us know as soon as possible so you don't miss out.
As a special one-off cruise, the itinerary for this trip is dictated by the date of the eclipse and of the cruise itself. Assuming that you have two nights prior in Buenos Aires and one in Ushuaia, you'll be landing in Argentina on 22nd November 2021. Should you wish to extend your time in Patagonia pre-cruise, rest assured this is a lovely time of the year to do so as it is the summer in Argentina. And you're in the right hands, should you wish to do so.
The holiday price is a guideline based on two people sharing, staying in first class hotels in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. For the Southern Oceans, included is a cruise on board one of our carefully selected, first class Antarctic expedition boats in a shared twin window cabin (upgrades / downgrades may be available). The price also includes meals, guiding, internal flights, activities, transfers, entrances and excursions as described.
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.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. You need to fly in and out of Buenos Aires (airport code: EZE).
In the cities of Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, you can expect good quality, well-equipped hotels, which are well located. In particular your base in Buenos Aires is a helping of luxury before and after your Antarctic adventures.
For the Antarctic cruise, we assume you will stay in a twin cabin with private bathroom, though upgrades (e.g. more space, larger windows) and/or downgrades (e.g. triple or quad occupancy, shared bathrooms) may be available. As with any expedition boat in these waters, facilities are robust rather than luxurious. These are ships which generally were built for research purposes.
For more information about the accommodation request a full itinerary.
Chances are you'll have seen the David Attenborough documentaries and we share the same vision of Antarctica as a wild, unspoilt frontier where nature and the wildlife are firmly in charge. There are precious few places in the world where this remains the case. The wildlife of Antarctica is as incredible as it is because it is so remote and hard to reach. It is our strong opinion that these are places to be preserved, fiercely protected, and part of that is to make it difficult to get to. So we won't ever allow you to fly and increase footfall on these remote places. The only way to truly engage with this frozen continent is to earn your stripes crossing the Drake and then explore in the company of fully accredited guides, whose job it is to protect and benefit the areas you visit. Done right, tourism here can be a force for good and a driver for change. Few leave here without having their world view altered in some way.