A true journey of discovery, ranging from the most famous attractions of the Antarctic Peninsula to the less crowded as the volcanic Peter Island. A full exploration program along the outer edges of the ice sheet in the Amundsen Sea, the starting point through which Roald Amundsen gained access to the platform to finally reach the South Pole in 1911. An entertaining navigation through the Ross Sea, a tour by the shelters of British explorers such as Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott (only if ice conditions are favorable) and Campbell Island completes this exciting proposal of Antarctic Odyssey.
32 days -31 nights
Day 1 - Depart from Ushuaia
This fantastic tour starts in the evening at the southernmost port in the world located in Ushuaia, the capital of Argentinean province of Tierra del Fuego. After boarding the vessel, the M/V Ortelius will go by the Beagle channel, away from the bay to the open ocean showing a beautiful night landscape.
Day 2 to 3 - Sailing through the Drake Passage towards Peninsula
Throughout two days, the ship will move through the Drake Passage, a short and stirred sea route between the American continent and the Antarctic Peninsula. When we get to the Antarctic Convergence, a natural barrier where warm currents from the north mix with cold water from the south determining a wide biodiversity, we will be able to appreciate a numerous sub-Antarctic species. In this area we can see the magnificent wandering albatross, the largest bird that flies over these waters and can measure up to 3.5m; the gray-headed albatross, light-mantled, the dark and black-browed species, pigeons and cape petrels Wilson, blue and also the southern Antarctic fulmar or silver petrel. We cannot avoid mentioning the Gentoo penguins and chinstrap. Near the South Shetland Islands, we can see the first icebergs indicating the arrival to Antarctica.
Day 4 - Crossing the Pendleton Strait
In the afternoon we approach the Antarctic Peninsula very close to the Polar Circle. If the ice conditions leave us, we continue along the Pendleton Strait to disembark in the southern sector of Renaud Island, a place rarely visited by tourists. You can see Adelia penguins and observe spectacular snow-covered icebergs with a surreal touch.
Day 5 to 6 - In the Bellingshausen Sea: Ice Shelf Bellinghausen
Sailing the Bellingshausen Sea from the peninsula to the open sea to reach our next objective: Peter Island. Crossing the Bellingshausen Sea we can see the first ice sheet. This water, which are named after the Russian explorer Fabian G. von Bellingshausen, emerging from the Antarctic Ocean, west of the peninsula between the islands Thurston and Alexander I.
Day 7 - Peter Island
On the waters of the Bellingshausen, Peter I or Norwegian Peter I Oy is an uninhabited volcanic island 19km long, which was discovered by Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1821 and then named after the Russian Tsar Peter I. At present, it is claimed by Norway because they consider that as part of its territory and very sporadically receive cruise ships. In previous landings, staff members from the shipping spotted sea elephants and colonies of silver petrels and southern fulmars and cape pigeons. If the weather is favorable and the conditions of the ice also allow it, you can land by helicopter to the northern glacier area of the island. It is a privileged opportunity, since it is one of the most remote islands in the world. The Island of Pedro (in English: Peter Island) has an area of 720 hectares and we locate it in the British Virgin Islands, it is the largest of the virgin islands. Very close to Peter Island is Dead Chest Island, another totally uninhabited island that is also part of the British Virgin Islands archipelago.
Day 8 to 14 - By the waters of the Amundsen
For days we will go through the Amundsen Sea and the limits of the ice shelf. The Amundsen Sea is located in the Land of Marie Byrd between Cape Dart on Siple Island and Cape Flying Fish on Thurston Island. As the boat takes advantage of the coastal current west, if conditions are good, barrier gives a clear picture of the Antarctic continent. Navigating through ice is amazing with a view of some emperor penguins, groups of seals on floating ice and orcas and minke whales along the icy edge, usually accompanied by different species of southern petrels. If the sea ice is affordable, we will try to land on Shephard islands, between colonies of chinstrap penguins and skuas. Located in Marie Byrd Land, the island was named by the
Day 15 to 17 - Ross Ice Shelf
The boat will come closer to the Ross Ice Shelf, a huge floating mass with a front of 600 km long, with an average of 30 meters high. The platform is constantly changing due to the recoil of the ice masses. We see a great presence of monumental icebergs. In the Bay of Whales located on the east side, near the Roosevelt Island (named like that in 1934 by the aviator Richard Byrd in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt), Ronald Amundsen got access to the barrier and ventured to the south pole, where finally arrived on December 14th of 1911. A year later, would become the grave of Robert Falcon Scott the English expeditionary and his crew as they returned from their journey to the South Pole. It is also an opportunity for all travelers to climb to the magnificent platform. The japanese also explored this region in 1912 (Nobu Shirase). If the conditions are suitable, a helicopter landing on the ice shelf can be made.
Day 18 to 20 - Ross Sea
Continuing on the Ross Sea, the objective now is to visit Ross Island. In the Ross Sea there is an island of the same name, protected by the Erebus, Terror and Bird mountains with all the landmarks that played such an important role in the tragic British expedition of the last century, as Ernest Schakleton's cottage in Cape Royds. If the ice condition is favorable, we will also visit the cottage in Cape Evans where Robert Falcon Scott lived, which served as the basis for Scott and his men to undertake their journey to the South Pole.
If the ice is blocking the road but the weather conditions are favorable, we can use the helicopters to land in one or more places in this area. The American scientific base of the McMurdo station and the Scott base of New Zealand are other possible places that can be visited. From the McMurdo station, you can also take a 10 km (6 mile) walk to Castle Rock, from where there are excellent views of the Ross ice shelf towards the South Pole. In addition, a helicopter landing can be made in Taylor Valley, one of the dry valleys that most closely resemble the conditions of the planet Mars on our Earth.
Day 21 to 22 - Exploring the inexpressible
We sail north along the west coast of the Ross Sea, pass through the Drygalski ice tongue and the Italian station at Terra Nova Bay and Cape Hallet. If ice conditions permit, we land on Inexpressible Island, which has a fascinating history in connection with the lesser known northern expedition, Captain Scott's expedition. It is also home to a large colony of Adelia penguins. If sea ice prevents the entrance to Terra Nova Bay, we can head further north to the protected area of Cabo Hallet and its own penguin colony Adelia.
Day 23 - Cape Adare residents
Cape Adare was the place chosen for a group of expeditioners passed the first winter in the Antarctic. The shelter where the Norwegian Borchgrevink spent the cold days of 1899, surrounded by the world´s largest colony of Adélie penguins. This place was discovered by Clark Ross in the mid-nineteenth century and baptized it with the name of a personal friend, Viscount Adare. The most famous expeditions that raveled this area were the Southern Cross and Aurora who laid the basis for their camp, as well as the Terra Nova expedition in the early twentieth century, today the Terra Nova camp is a synonym of ruins.
Day 24 - From the Ross Sea to the Southern Ocean
Sailing through sea ice at the entrance to the Ross Sea, we begin the journey north through the Southern Ocean. The objective is to establish a course to reach the Balleny Islands, depending on weather conditions.
Day 25 - Balleny Islands, swept by the wind
We pass through Sturge Island in the afternoon, getting an impression of these remote and windswept islands before crossing the Antarctic Polar Circle. Balleny Islands, in Spanish (Las Islas Ballenas), are a group of uninhabited islands of volcanic origin and with a large number of glaciers, from their slopes descend tongues of ice towards the sea. We locate them in the Antarctic Glacier Ocean, with an area of 780 km2 and consist of 3 main islands: Young Island, Buckle Island and Sturge Island, the first 2 have small islets, while Sturge Island has no islets.
Day 26 to 28 - Sailing through the Southern Ocean
Once again, we enter the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. Seabirds are prolific at this stage, during which we hope to enjoy good weather conditions.
Day 29 - Macquarie Island
Macca, also known as Macquarie Island, is a Tasmanian State Reserve that in 1997 became a World Heritage Site. The Australian Antarctic Division has its permanent base on this island, which Australian sailor Frederick Hasselborough discovered while searching for new places for seal hunting. The fauna of Macquarie is fantastic, there are colonies of King penguins and,Gentoo penguins, in addition to almost one million endemic royal penguin breeders. Elephant seals and several species seals, such as sea lion the New Zealand , are also present.
Day 30 - Northbound to Campbell Island, New Zealand
We head north to discover on Campbell Island, a sub-antarctic natural reserve where it nests Royal Albatross, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Day 31 - Campbell Island, New Zealand
The Campbell Islands are a group of subantarctic islands of New Zealand. Formed by the largest, Campbell, and three smaller islands: Dent, Folly, and Jaquemart. The Campbell Island is known Motu Ihupuku in the Maori language, is a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, is the main island of the Campbell Island. It is owned by New Zealand subantarctic reservation. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its lush and flourishing vegetation. Following a trail of lush greenery we will arrive at lookouts to observe the Royal Albatross nests and can take pictures of the interesting fauna, such as yellow-eyed penguins, royal albatross and New Zealand sea lions that inhabit the Enderby Island with red-headed parakeets.
With mountainous characteristics, Campbell Island was discovered in the early nineteenth century by a sailor named Hasselburgh that was sailing through the area with his ship Perseverance, who was owned by the Australian company Campbell, this is the cause of your current name. Throughout the nineteenth century the wildlife was devastated due to the indiscriminate hunting of seals, seal elephants and sea lions, but over time was recovered. Even the rat that was introduced over 200 years ago on the island, at the beginning of the XXI century was eradicated. Today seabirds abound, especially the teal Campbell, which is considered the rarest. Also different species of penguins, like the Rockhopper Penguin. The fauna is composed by a colony of real albatross, sea elephants and penguins and especially a large colony of albatross in Col-Lyall Saddle.
Day 32 - Again to the Southern Ocean
We admire the vast horizons of the last day of the sea before arriving in New Zealand.
Day 33 - End of the Antarctic Odyssey, reaching Bluff, New Zealand
Every adventure, no matter how sublime, must finally come to an end. We disembark in Bluff, the southernmost city in New Zealand, to return home with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure is. Bluff is the port of the Southland region, located on the banks of the Oreti River, is the most southern New Zealand town. Bluff is close to Invercargill, just about 29 km away.
Note: The detailed itinerary is only a guide and all the programs are conditional on the prevailing ice conditions and weather in the area, plus the facility for landings and the best conditions for wildlife observation. The final route is determined by the Expedition Leader on board, considering that flexibility is a priority in such expeditions. This program is done twice a year, the first departure leaves the port of Ushuaia to the port of Bluff in New Zealand has a duration of 34 days 33 nights, is the one detailed above. The second departure makes the reverse itinerary, part of New Zealand to the Island of Tierra del Fuego with a duration of 32 days 31 nights..
The average cruising speed for m/v Ortelius is 10.5 knots. In these programs, Zodiac boats are used to transport the crew to the coast. Two helicopters are used in areas where boats cannot be sailed, such as Cape Evans (Scott's refuge), Cape Royds (place of Shackleton's refuge), Ross's ice barrier, Peter Island and The dry valleys. It is estimated to make five landing with helicopters, these are an advantage to reach inaccessible places, but we always depend on good weather, ice and other natural factors. The conditions may change in minutes, and may affect the use of helicopters. The safety is key in the trip. There are 2 helicopters, if one stops working, the operations are canceled.
34 or 32 days: Crossing the international date change line depending on which direction you travel through the international date change line (from Ushuaia to Bluff or from Bluff to Ushuaia), you win or lose a day. Crossing west you win one day, when you leave New Zealand to Argentina. Crossing east you miss a day, when you leave Argentina to New Zealand. Please keep this in mind when calculating the total time you will be traveling. The days listed in the duration of the itinerary reflect the actual time traveled: 33 days.
Map of Route
- 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 from the ship in Bluff to the airport in Invercargill.
- Helicopter transfers from the ship to the coast (without a specific flight time guaranteed).
- 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).