Journey Below the Antarctic Circle: Jan 17-30, 2019

This remote stretch of the Antarctic Peninsula is visited for just a few short months each year. From January onwards, seasonal ice conditions give the best chance of achieving the objective – crossing the Antarctic Circle. Here you will witness expansive landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries and hopefully see the large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. Anticipate exciting ice navigation on this expedition. Detaille Island, below the Circle is a spectacular location. The snowy peaks that will surround you soar more than 2,000 meters above the ice-strewn waters. You will aim to cross 66 degrees, 33 minutes South of latitude, which officially marks the position of the Antarctic Circle on the global map. Then, return north along the heavily glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine, Fish and Yalour Island archipelagos along the way and into the Gerlache Strait and Danco coast region.

There is an exciting selection of activities to choose from, including short or long hikes ashore, visits to historic points of interest and wildlife colonies, zodiac cruising looking for whales and seals or simply photographing the incredible icebergs. Such activities are enjoyed in the company of an onboard team of wilderness guides, naturalists, marine biologists, historians and photographers. For those with an adventurous streak why not spend a night ashore camping like the early Antarctic explorers?

Your travel expert:

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Day 1

Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. You will gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier to embark the expedition ship. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement will fill the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.

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Day 2

Continue on your way to Antarctica via the Drake Passage. Rich in bio-diversity, it showcases a great abundance of wildlife. The expert photographer will be ready to assist with best practices for photography and other experts on board will have prepared presentations focused on the environment, wildlife, history and the locations you’ll likely be visiting in the upcoming days.

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Day 3

Today will be spent at sea. As you approach the coastline of Antarctica, you will encounter more icebergs and can look forward in anticipation to your first whale sightings.

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Day 4

Seeing the continent for the first time will take your breath away. Given favorable ice conditions, the first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950’s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors.

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Day 5

Further exploration this far south is highly dependent on optimal weather and ice conditions. If conditions allow, you may push even further to the south.

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Day 6

This vicinity marks our turnaround point and from now on, the ship will cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. You will hopefully visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut.

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Day 7

Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies – the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage.

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Day 8

The aim will be to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. The good news is, the adventure is not over and you still have several days of exciting exploration ahead.

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Day 9

Orne Harbour is another celebrated location you will hopefully visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides excellent access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large Gentoo penguin colony which you will observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site.

For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real thrill. It is in this vicinity those interested may spend a night ashore camping, if weather conditions permit. All the gear is provided and an expert team of guides make this unique experience happen.

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Day 10

You are now at the most northern point on the Peninsula. Visits to Mikkelson Harbour and nearby Cierva Cove round out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, reflect on an incredible week of exploration.

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Day 11

Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, you will arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. 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 also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.

On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where Weddell seals are sometimes encountered sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise.

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Day 12

As the ship makes its way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you’ll enjoy a memorable voyage recap by the Expedition Leader. Join the photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images.

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Day 13

If weather conditions allow, the ship will make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It is a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

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Day 14

In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Depending on the arrangements you’ve made, you will either be transferred to your hotel or to the airport for your returning flight home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.

Included

– Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip
– Transfers from a central meeting point in Ushuaia on Day 1 and from the port to the airport (or a downtown hotel) at the conclusion of your voyage on Day 14
– 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 plus 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 center including massage options (charge applies for massage and 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

Excluded

– Any international or local airfare 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)
– Any new government taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control
– A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount is US$12-15 per day)