On the first and last days of the trip to Antarctica, you can devote yourself to bird watching with the assistance of the team of specialists (ornithologists) traveling with the crew. Campbell Island is another point of interest reached by the M/V Ortelius. Helicopters are essential in order to reach the spots which cannot be reached by Zodiac boats. Possible destinations to be reached by helicopter are Cape Evans, where Scott’s cabin is located, and Cape Royds, where Ernest Schakeleton’s cabin is located. It is also possible to fly over the Ross Ice Shelf in the Bay of Whales. If the weather is good, you will reach Cape Adere, where the historic cabin of Norwegian explorer Borchgrevink is located. In the Sea of Ross region you will visit Cape Hallet protected area and in Terra Nova Bay you will get close to the Drygalski ice tongue. You will then visit Cape Evans and Cape Royds, American Station Mc Murdo, Scott Base and Castle Rock. Peter Island and Amundsen Sea are other destinations that you will get to know on your exclusive trip to this Antarctic region. Once heading to the north to return to the American continent, you will pass by the Antarctic Peninsula and get to know the main points of attraction in the Antarctic continent, wrapping up a fabulous trip visiting spots only a bunch of people have reached on a truly unique cruise to Antarctica.
32 Days - 31 Nights
Day 1 - Invercargill: Gateway to Antarctica
In the afternoon you will get on board the Antarctic expedition ship M/V Ortelius at Port of Bluff, close to Invercargill, New Zealand. At latitude 46° 24’ south, you will find Invercargill, one of the gateways to Antarctica. This is one of the southernmost cities in the whole planet (Ushuaia is actually the southernmost in the South Pole), located in the South Island of New Zealand. It is surrounded by natural reserves such as Fiordland National Park.
Day 2 - Sightings at Sea, Heading to the Sea of Ross
You will sail towards the Sea of Ross, taking advantage of the sailing day to watch marine birds. The ship’s crew includes ornithologists that can advise you and teach you about the variety of species. In addition to this service, these specialist offer lectures related to bird life identification.
Day 3 - Campbell Island
Fauna at Campbell Island is abundant, and the highlight is a large colony of southern royal albatross. You will get to know the Sub-Antarctic New Zealander reserve at Campbell Island and its lush native vegetation, which is considered World Heritage by UNESCO. Not only the flora is fascinating but the fauna is just as abundant. Three different penguin species live together: Yellow crested penguin, Oriental penguin and yellow penguin. In the 18th century not only penguins were at the verge of extinction but sea elephants, sea lions and seals as well. However, as years went by the colonies started to recover.
Day 4 to 8 - On the Sea Route to Cape Adare
Sailing to the south as far as the entrance to the Sea of Ross, the ship may deviate to Scott Island, depending on weather conditions. This is a small inhabited island of volcanic origin. The island has a rocky ground and two coves with beaches. It is located on the Antarctic Ocean at 310 miles from Cape Adare. You will find a +165 feet column known as Haggitt Pillar surrounding the island.
Day 9 - Cape Adare, a Place Rich in Polar History
Capo Adare is the stage of many heroic expeditions and a must visit for fans of South Pole history. This is the place where the first winter stay on the Antarctic continent took place. The historic cabin where Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink stayed in 1899 is located here and has been invaded by the largest colony in the world of Adelia penguins. The colony has over 250,000 penguin couples breeding in this area. This cabin is now under the care of the Antarctic Heritage Trust and it was declared Specially Protected Antarctic Area in 2002. Antarctic explorer Borchgrevink was one of the discoverers of the Antarctic land. He arrived at the end of the 19th century on the Southern Cross Expedition which lasted almost three years and arrived at Cape Adare in the winter of 1899. Back then two cabins were built with Norwegian fir tree.
Note: Southern Cross Expedition (1898 - 1900)
Borchgrevin’s expedition used 75 dogs with 2 tons of dehydrated food, weapons and ammunition. Cabins were made of locking plates and steel braces. Roofs were covered with seal leather and rocks and charcoal on top. The floor was a double floor and walls were insulated with a special kind of paper. The cabins had sliding panels and curtains for privacy. Windows had double glass with an external lock to maintain the temperature inside the cabin. There was a smaller cabin for storage of medicine, food supplies and extra clothes. Even though the hut was small, it had 2 rooms and a porch. Both cabins were connected. This expedition reached the Sea of Ross Ice Shelf and then returned to Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Day 10 to 11 - Sea of Ross
If the weather is fine, you can land on the protected area at Cape Hallet. You will sail towards the south along the west side of the Sea of Ross, in an attempt to reach the area of Cape Hallet which is inhabited by a large colony of Adelia penguins. Further south the Terra Nova Bay is located. The goal will be to get close to the Drygaslki Ice Tongue and enter the area at the Italian station Mario Zucchelli, if the existing ice allows.
Day 12 to 16 - Capes Evans and Royds, Mc Murdo Station, Scott Base and Castle Rock
You will visit Cape Evans to see Robert Falcon Scott’s cabin. In the Sea of Ross your goal is to get to know Ross Island, an island surrounded by mountain tops Erebus, Terror and Byrd. There are other sites with rich expedition history such as Cape Royds where Ernest Shackleton’s cabin is located. You will try to reach the American expedition station Mc Murdo and the New Zealander base in the region, Scott Base. These plans depend on the icebergs not blocking the entrance and good weather conditions in order to travel without any inconvenience. However, the alternative of a helicopter ride to reach some destinations is always possible. From Mc Murdo station you will trek some six miles up to Castle Rock for a privileged view of the Ross Ice Shelf. Then you will fly by helicopter to Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys. The conditions in this area are similar to those found on planet Mars.
Day 17 - Sailing along Ross Ice Shelf
Heading east, you will sail the surroundings of Ross Ice Shelf. Such shelf is a floating ice block with a 90 feet high front. There is no other largest ice shelf in the Antarctic continent other than Ross. Its surface is over 180,000 square miles and almost 500 miles wide, with a 370 mile front. Most of the floating ice is located below the surface line. Only 10% of the ice is visible. This massive surface is constantly creating pipe shaped icebergs sailing adrift on the Sea of Ross. To the east of the shelf on the Bay of Whales, close to Roosevelt Island, renowned explorer Amundsen arrived to the shelf in the early 20th century, in 1911. In Kainan Bay, Japan set up a camp with Nobu Shirase in 1912.
Note: Helicopter Landing at Ross Ice Shelf
Descending on a helicopter in Ross Ice Shelf is intended if current weather conditions allow. Depending on the weather, five helicopter landings are to be carried out in Cape Evans, Cape Royds, Ice Shelf as the basic spots. The use of helicopters is essential in order to reach spots which are impossible to reach otherwise. Nevertheless, bear in mind that you are visiting one of the most remote areas in the world, with significant changes of weather at any time, so landings are not guaranteed since Mother Nature rules here. M/V Ortelius has two helicopters in perfect condition, since when one helicopter is flying the other one will back it up in case of technical failure.
Day 18 - Helicopter Landing at Ross Ice Shelf
You will continue your sailing route along Ross Ice Shelf, this astonishing, gigantic mass of ice floating on the ocean with a height of 100 feet. The M/V Ortelius is equipped with cutting edge helicopters to be used whenever weather conditions prevent reaching some of the spots intended to be visited. This is why they are likely to be used over the Sea of Ross Ice Shelf. If the ice shelf is thick, you can go for a hike on the ice, surrounded by icebergs and penguins, such as the emperor penguin.
Day 19 to 24 - Amundsen Sea and Sighting of Emperor Penguins
You will sail the cold waters of the Amundsen Sea and try to catch the sight of the most common penguin in this area in the Antarctic continent, the emperor penguin. You will sail along the external sides of the ice fields, watching groups of seals lying along the ice floats, as well as orcas and minke whales along the edge of the ice, usually in company of different kinds of petrels.
Day 25 - Peter Island
There will be an attempt of helicopter landing, weather permitting. This is an uninhabited 12-mile long volcanic island located in the Bellingshausen Sea. Bellingshausen discovered this island in 1821 and it was named after Russian Czar Peter I. Ships reaching this Antarctic region hardly ever visit this island, due to the difficult access by boat. If weather conditions allow, there will be an attempt to land in the north glacier area of the island.
Day 26 to 27 - Sailing the Bellingshausen Sea
You will head to the Antarctic Peninsula from the Bellingshausen Sea.
Day 28 to 29 - Antarctic Peninsula
These days will be devoted to set foot on the Antarctic continent, in the impressive setting of Prospect Point. One of the places to be visited is Detaille Island, discovered by a French expedition led by Charcot in 1903. In the mid 20th century, the British Antarctic Survey established a station on this island. Fish Island in another option for landing, located to the north of the Antarctic Circle. The smaller islands surrounding Fish Island were discovered by the English expedition led by Graham in 1934. In this region, wildlife is made up of colonies of Adelia penguins as well as blue eyed cormorants. You will land in Pléneau Island, which beaches are crowded with sea lions, Gentoo penguins, kelp gulls and Antarctic skuas. You will reach Petermann Island in order to watch colonies of Adelia and Gentoo penguins and imperial cormorants. The island was named after a member of the German expedition between 1873 and 1874. Then you will head to the renowned Channel of Lemaire in order to set a bearing to the Passage of Drake.
Day 30 to 31 - On way to Ushuaia on the Sea of Drake: Bird Watching
You will take advantage of the last days of your VIP expedition to Antarctica devoting them to bird watching. As part of the crew you will find ornithologists who will help you discover all the birds you watch. You can also attend lectures to get to know the local bird life. Since bird watching is an inactive activity, it is recommended that you bring warm close to the deck so you can enjoy the sightings. You also need to protect yourself from the sunlight, using sunscreen and suitable sunglasses. It is important to have a good pair of binoculars. Image quality and distance need to be considered when purchasing binoculars.
Note: We suggest purchasing Sibley’s Guide to Birds, considered the best bird guide, for bird watching.
Day 32 - Disembarking at the Port of Ushuaia, Isla de Tierra del Fuego
You will reach the American continent after a 32 day trip from Invercargill, New Zealand, on a VIP trip travelling through exclusive regions in Antarctica, such as the impressive Sea of Ross. You will disembark at the Port of Ushuaia, in Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
All rates are per person in american dollars, in double twin accommodation. The prices in dollars apply for all the sales made outside Europe. A 5% of discount will be granted for bookings of one or more consecutive voyages (except for the programa "Atlantic Odyssey"). Please, consider that all the dates and prices are subjet to possible changes. All the trips operate with a minimum of 70 passengers. The "Plancius" can accommodate a top of 110 passengers.
Individual occupancy (single base)
All the cabins are available for Single occupancy to 1.7 times the price for this cabin.
- Trip on board as indicated in the itinerary
- All meals during the trip on board, including snacks, coffee and tea
- Free use for rubber boats and snowshoes
- Regular Transfer from the cruise to Ushuaia Airport (right after the disembarkation)
- All land tours and activities during the voyage in Zodiac boats
- Conference programs by well known naturalists and coordination by the experimented team expedition
- All taxes and port expenses during the program
- Informative reading material before embarking
Services not included:
Any air prices (regular or charter flights), any previous and/ or later service to the cruise, transfers to the cruise; passport and visa expenses; any arrival or return govern taxes in the country, meals on land, luggage, cancellationa and personal insurance (which is advisable), expenses for excess luggage and any other aditional expense, such as laundry, bar, drinks or calls; also the tips to waitresses and other personal service on board, after the trips.