The cruise to the Antarctic Circle is 12 days and 11 nights, from the port of Ushuaia to the archipelago of the South Shetland Islands, reaching the Aitcho & Pingüino Islands, which takes us 2 days dedicated to the South Shetland Islands .From the fourth day, we will go to the polar circle, which will take us 5 days of navigation to get to know it well. Our first disembarkation is in Hannah Point, an abundant fauna awaits us, from chinstrap penguins, imperial cormorants, antarctic pigeons, Wilson's petrels, etc. Then we will seek to disembark on Deception Island. We continue towards the south with destination Port Orne, meeting point of the whaling ships, then we go to Port Neko and Paradise Bay.
We will navigate by the amazing Lemaire Channel, later, if the weather lets us, we will descend in Pleneau Island, which will be our last attraction before departing again to the north, Cristal Sound, a characteristic place because of its high mountains and very huge glaciers. Before changing our navigation route, the last place to visit is Detaille Island, near the Loubet coast. We will come back by the Neumayer Channel and the Gerlache Strait, arriving in Melchior archipelago, in Dallman Bay. Finally, Ushuaia will be waiting for us, going through the Drakee Strait, finishing an antarctic adventure in the Polar circle.
12 days - 11 nights
Day 1 - Ushuaia, Beagle Channel
In the afternoon, we will embark in Ushuaia and we will navigate by the Beagle Channel, located in the southern limit of Southamerica. Their geographical limits are Tierra del Fuego Island in the north and, from the west to the east, there are several islands which delimit it, that is the case for Navarino, Picton, New, Hoste, London, among others, defining the south limit of the channel.
Day 2 to 3 - Drake Passage, Antarctic Convergence, Aitcho & Pingüino
We will start our navigation route to the rough sea Drake, going through its homonym Passage, also called Hoces Sea, which delimits Southamerica with the Antartic continent, at Cape Horn level and South Shetland Islands. Drake is the conexion between the Pacific Ocean and Scotia Sea. This passage is very well known because of its turbulent waters which move strongly all the ships which cross it. We will go through the Antartic convergence, also named as Antartic Frontal Polar Area, which is a known line which surrounds the Antartica in that area in which the warm waters of the sub-antartic area prevail over the frozen waters of the Antartic Glaciar Ocean. Later, we will cross the Antartic Circumpolar Current which comunicates the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean, which conserve the warm waters far from the Antartic Continent. There we will have the opportunity to watch a great variety of sea birds, such as different species of albatrosses (wandering, grey and black) and petrels (fulmares, del cabo, Wilson, Blue and Antartic).
If the weather conditions are appropriate, the night of the third day we may do the first disembark in Aitcho Islands, also known as Aitcho islet, or in Penguin Island, also known as Georges Islands. Both of them are in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, delimited by the Drake Passage in the north and the Bransfield Strait in the south. This archipelago has three claims at the moment, which protect the rights for sovereignty of the suscriber members. In spite of the intense wind currents and the predominant fog during the day, these islands still offer many natural charms in their diverse flora and fauna. We may run into Papua penguins, Barbijo and huge petrels which mix between lichens, moss and herbs of the region.
Day 4 to 9 - Polar Circle & Antarctic Peninsula
From this day on, we will start the traditional voyage by the Polar Circle and the Antartic Peninsula which will be confirmed at the moment of crossing by the Expedition Leader on board. When the summer ends, the vast majority of the penguins start leaving the nest territory because the young penguins are now big, they have their first plumage and they are now able to get into the sea to find their food for themselves. This is the ideal navigation period through the Antartic Polar Circle, because during this we will be able to watch whales, seals and leopard seals. We will descend in Hannah Point, a narrow peninsula with a particular sculpt which ascends until high tops and deep vertical cliff edges which goes from 30 to 50 metres of altitude over the level of the sea. There we will able to bump into a great quantity of fauna, breed in the very same area, of which the Barbijo, Red beak, Gold Head penguins, imperial cormoran, antartic pigeons and Wilson and Giants petrel stresses, among others. We will also try to disembark in Deception Island.
This island is the top of the most important active crater that we may find in the basin of the Bransfielg Strait, and it gave rise to a natural port along the time. For those who love trekking, they will be able to do some hiking in the island while the ship enters into Foster Bay through its unique crack of 150 metres wide: Neptuno´s Bellows, which allows to communicate the big bay with the outside. We will find a great quantity of thermal lagoons of high temperature in the island, as Foster Bay degrees are very superior to the external temperature of the sea. In the island, we will also be able to visit the ruins of the old norwegian whaler stations and watch different species of sea birds. We will navigate to the south until find Orne Port. This was an old point of whaler fleets and expedition vessels meeting.
The Black Nunatak Hill stands out, also known as the Antartica Semaphore, among the navigators. It is a 200 metres high hill aand it is very famous as it doesn´t accumulate snow, because it falls so strong that it doesn´t let place it firmly. We will be able to appreciate a magnificent view from this point to the steep island of Cuverville, located between the mountain relief of the Antartica Peninsula and Danco Island. This dark island is also known as Cavelier of Cuverville Island, which turns into a colony that receives a great quantity of Papua penguins for breeding during the summer.
We will continue our crosssing until getting to Neko Port and Paradise Bay. Both of them are natural ports of the Antartica which are used for the ships so they can get to the continent. Neko Port has an extensive beach made of stone and mud which has a rocky extension which ends in a temporaly steep covered in snow. During the journey for both points, we will try to disembark in zodiac ships so we can see the big icebergs and the interior of deep fjords which are characteristic in the region.
We will have the chance to navigate by the impressive Lemaire Channel, also called "the glaciers cemetery" because of its permanent action of ice fusion. This channel is located between glaciers and we will have the opportunity to see several whales, seals and seagulls, among others. The channel also has big columns which are considered by many visitors as one of the most impressive natural beauties of the voyage. We will go to Petermann Island, which is at the west of the Antartic peninsula, and where we may find the southern colony of Papua penguins.
Then we will try to disembark in Pleneau Island, a humble islet of 1 kilometre and a half, where we will have the opportunity to watch seals, Minke whales. We will continue the journey to the south with the Argentinian Islands to the south of the polar circle where we fill find the impressive area of high mountains and big glaciers of Cristal Sound. There we will finally appreciate the most remote point of the voyage: the little rocky island Detaille, located opposite to the Loubet coast. We will embark on our return to the north, this time by the Neumayer Channel and the Gerlache Strait to arrive finally in Melchior archipelago which has different islands in Dallman Bay. This archipelago has a base with the same name which belongs to the argentinian territory. There we will make our final disembark in zodiac boats, so we can have the last opportunity to navigate between the icebergs and watch leopard seals, crab seals and whales.
The opportunities for activities on the Antarctic Peninsula are diverse and no less attractive at the end of the summer. Humpback whales are very common in this region and feed on krill before heading north. The penguin chicks will switch their plumage and breathe life into the beaches while elegant leopard seals wait to attack the less fortunate.
Some of the places you can visit include:
- Livingston Island It is the second largest island of the archipelago of the South Shetland Islands. It is relatively close to Deception Island, which is only 20 km south. It is a very irregular area and its coasts are very high and difficult to access. There is an important variety of papua and chinstrap penguins at Hannah Point, as well as giant southern petrels and on its beaches we find sea elephants.
- Deception Island It is located south of Livingston Island, northwest of the peninsula, in the Bransfield Strait. It is next to Buckle Island and Mount Erebus one of the Antarctic volcanoes that erupted between 1966 and 1970. Today it is an active crater, this island opens to the sea and creates a natural harbor for the ship. This island is known for its thermal waters, Whalers Bay Whale Sanctuary and a variety of bird species, including cape petrels, seagulls, Wilson's Painos and Black-bellied Painos, polar and antarctic skuas and terns.
- Cuverville Island Also called Cavelier de Cuverville, this steep and dark island on the Errera Channel is surrounded by the mountains of the Arctowski Peninsula and Rongé Island, on the west coast of the Graham Land. It is habitat for a large colony of Papua penguins and antarctic skuas. At the end of the 19th century, a Belgian navigator Adrien de Gerlache discovered it and his name is due to a french soldier.
- Port Neko The landscape captivates us, it's really epic, like the fantastic big glaciers, which are covered with snow and look like wind sculpted sculptures. In Port Neko you can land with Zodiac boats near the alpine mountains.
- Paradise Bay In this bay we can sail in the Zodiac boats and have good chances of seeing humpback whales and minke whales.
- Pléneau & Peterman Islands If the Lemaire channel is free of ice, depending on the weather conditions we will navigate through this channel to witness Adélie penguins, blue-eyed cormorants and leopard seals. As in Bahía Paraíso, in these islands you can see humpback whales and minke.
- Crystal Strait We go south towards the Antarctic Circle, passing through the Argentine islands, leaving behind the area full of ice to enter the Crystal Strait into a region of high mountains and full of icebergs.
- Detaille Island Detaille Island is located north of the Arrowsmith Peninsula in the Land of Graham. In this area was built an English scientific station called ESTACION W, it was closed in the international geophysical year, it is usually visited by tourism. There is the possibility of disembarking to see this station, accompanied by a majestic landscape of high peaks and magnificent glaciers that frame a perfect picture.
- Fish Island This island protects one of the southernmost colonies of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed cormorants from the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Melchior Islands These islands that are in the homonymous archipelago are part of the Dallman Bay, they owe their name to a french admiral. They offer a fabulous landscape full of icebergs because they are low and covered with ice, very close is the Port Andersen. We can see leopard seals, crabeater seals, and whales, being a suitable place for kayaking and diving.
Weather conditions in the Drake Sea will define the approximate time of return to the South American continent.
Day 10 to 11 - Drake Passage
We will navigate once again by the Drake Passage, taking into account the less extension crossing which divides the antartic continent from the southamerican territory.
Day 12 - Return to Ushuaia
We will arrive in the southern city of the World in the morning: Ushuaia, located in the Beagle Channel coast in the bay with the same name.
Map of Route
Additional activities that can be done during the trip
We can camp at night in Antarctica. We can spend a night camping under the Antarctic night sky. We provide camping equipment, this activity has an additional cost of 190 USD per person. The maximum capacity of people to camp is 24 passengers. Reserve activity ahead before it runs out.
El kayak es otra actividad opcional de la cual puede disfrutar en este viaje. Es una forma especial de explorar las costas de las regiones del polo sur. Descendemos del barco en aguas tranquilas sobre una bahía que se encuentre protegida del viento y las corrientes. Esta actividad opcional tiene un costo de 465 USD por persona con una capacidad máxima para efectuar kayak de 26 lugares.
Diving is the third optional activity that can be undertaken on these trips to the Antarctic. Diving in the south pole differs from diving in ocean waters as there is a threefold combination of factors: water, sunlight and a third fundamental factor: ice. These routes will attempt to do 1 to 2 dives daily, always under the influence of time and ice, and to dive in shallow waters under the ice that are no longer than 20 meters or 60 feet. In the depths of the Antarctic we can observe an unprecedented variety of species: starfish, sea spray, shrimp, crab, soft coral, anemone, sea worm, dogwood, algae, sea snails, marine butterflies and many other species of fish, horsetail shrubs, jellyfish, sea urchins. You can dive with wolves from two hairs, leopard seals and penguins, but it is not the case with walruses because they are usually aggressive. The Antarctic water is rich in krill. For this activity, costs per person must be defined.
Overview of the Antarctic Circle
This border, one of the parallels that mark the maps of the Earth, is located at latitude 66 ° 33' south of the Equator and marks the Antarctic Territory according to one of the definitions. The Antarctic Circle experiences a period of 24 hours of continuous light at least once a year, which means that the Sun is above the horizon for a whole day. The reason for this phenomenon is that the axis of the earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees. But in addition there is a day in the year in which the Sun stays below the line of the horizon, for the same reason.
On these voyages one can expect temperatures below 0º C (32º F), in part because trips to the Antarctic Circle are planned in summer. The reason for this is that in this time of the year the possibilities to find big ice packs which can interfere with our program are limited.
Flora and Fauna
South of Lemaire Canal the high-Antarctic climate equals the low-Antarctic one. As a result, vegetation is scarcer and species of Antarctic penguins such as Adélie penguin slowly replaces Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. Mammals like killer whales, humpback whales, leopard seals and Weddell seals are frequently seen during our voyages to the Antarctic Circle.
- The trip on board the ship mentioned as indicated in the itinerary.
- All meals during the trip on board the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
- All excursions and activities in Zodiac boats during the trip.
- Conference program dictated by naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition team.
- Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
- Transfer of luggage from the hotel to the ship on boarding day, in Ushuaia.
- Group transfer with prior notice from the ship to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarking).
- All service and port taxes during the program.
- Informative reading material before embarking.
Services not included:
- Regular or charter air flights.
- Procedures before or after the start of the trip.
- Passport and visa expenses.
- Government arrival and departure taxes.
- Meals not included in the trip.
- Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (highly recommended).
- Excess baggage charges and all personal items such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunications charges.
- The tip at the end of the trip for the waiters and other on-board service personnel (guidelines will be provided).