This expedition begins in Patagonia and offers a spectacular introduction to the Argentine Patagonia, with a day trip to one of the world's most dynamic glaciers and superb opportunities for walking to the base of the majestic granite spires of Mt Fitz Roy (3441m) and Mt Torre in Los Glaciares National Park. The Antarctic crusie offers you the ideal introduction to the Great White continent. Albatross and petrels will escort us across the Drake Passage until we spot our first huge icebergs and we eagerly anticipate land. Our planned landing on King George Island will give us our first taste of Antarctica before continuing onto the Peninsula via the Bransfield and Gerlache Straits and Neko Bay. As we head further south the magnificence of the natural beauty of Antarctica is truly breathtaking. Besides the magnificent scenery you can expect to see a wide variety of wildlife including seals, whales and an abundance of penguin and other birdlife. The journey is not only focussed on wildlife; after cruising through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to have a chance to visit Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Once a British research station, it now houses a fascinating museum and also serves as the world's most southerly post office, certainly a unique place from which to send a postcard! Our journey is rounded off with a dramatic entry via Neptune's Bellows to the bay at Deception Island, a place which has no equal anywhere in the world. The ring-shaped island is in fact the top of a volcano, a caldera. Imagine walking straight into a wildlife documentary and you could well be on Deception Island amongst a teeming colony of hundreds of thousands of Chinstrap Penguins.
Although there is no commitment to extended walking on this journey we nonetheless want to keep the ‘accent on the active’. We therefore advise that any physical training you complete before undertaking the trip will be to good effect. During our time on land, there is no shortage of advantages of packing as much into your time as possible. Whether this includes climbing to the summit of a small hill or walking along the shorelines, the fitter you are, the more this will enhance your experience.
Depart Sydney on a LATAM flight to Ushuaia (via Santiago and Buenos Aires). We have a forced stopover in Buenos Aires. The group will be met at the airport and transferred to a hotel in Buenos Aires for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Hotel in Buenos Aires
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Early morning flight to Calafate. On arrival in Calafate you will be transferred from the airport to the selected hotel. The remainder of the day is free to rest after the long flight or to take in the shops or a leisurely walk beside the lake where flamingoes can be seen.
Accommodation: Hotel in Calafate
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This morning you are collected from your hotel, by your English speaking guide, for the two hour drive to Perito Moreno Glacier. The drive takes us towards the Andes to the edge of the icecap for a full day tour of this impressive glacier that advances across Lago Argentino. We spend several hours wandering the many paths that offer different vantage points of this calving glacier. The glacier is 4km wide and 70metres high and descends to the surface of the lake, almost cutting the lake in two. Occasionally massive pieces break off and fall into the lake becoming icebergs and creating huge waves in the process. The groans and creaks of the active glacier precede dramatic falls of the ice face.
Depart from your hotel in Calafate for the morning drive across Patagonia and the arid Argentine pampas to Chalten (approx. 4 hours), a village in the heart of Los Glaciares National Park from where we make our day trips. We arrive at our hosteria, pick-up our boxed lunch and walk to Laguna Torre (6 hrs return). This is a beautiful walk taking us towards the majestic spire of Cerro Torre. The mountain view, when the weather is clear is truly impressive and makes this a great day hike.
Accommodation: Lodge in El Chalten
Full day trekking to Laguna de los Tres. Today we undertake, what many believe is the best hike in Los Glaciares National Park. Our 8 hour walk is quite a long day, but it is worth every step. Every turn of the trail offers a new and impressive landscape. Continue towards Laguna de los Tres, passing by Mt. Rosado and Mt. León, skirting Chorrillo del Salto River, with a breathtaking view of Fitz Roy, Saint Exupery and Piedras Blancas massifs. After lunch we will go on to Poincenot camp site. Crossing Río Blanco,
we will come to the camp site with the same name where the ascent to Laguna de Los Tres starts, at the foot of Mt. Fitz Roy. We will continue our trek visiting a balcony from where we will have a spectacular view of Laguna Sucia, a beautiful greenish lagoon with small icebergs floating in it, 300 meters below us. Return to El Chaltén
Accommodation: Lodge in El Chalten
The drive back to Calafate takes 4 hours, and the road is now paved for most of the journey. Upon arrival in Calafate we check into our hotel. The afternoon is free.
Accommodation: Hotel in Calafate
Following an early breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia. Arrive in Ushuaia, transfer to our hotel. Afternoon free to explore.
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This morning the group is free to explore Ushuaia. In the afternoon we embark from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The voyage will depart through the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening. Accommodation: Cabins.
During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black- browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs.
We will sail directly to “High Antarctica”, passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. On Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island, we will find a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. If we land on Danco Island we can observe Chinstrap Penguins and possibly Weddell and Crabeater Seals. In Neko Harbour we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. We enjoy the landscape surrounded by alpine peaks during zodiac cruises. In Paradise Bay again with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, we have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent again. We shall have the opportunity for zodiac cruising between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. We will sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Pleneau and Petermann Island where we can find Adelie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. In this area there are good chances to encounter Humpback Whales, Minke Whales and Fin Whales. A visit to one of the scientific stations in Antarctica will give you an insight into the life of modern Antarcticans working on the White Continent. Sailing north through Neumayer Channel, we hope to get permission to visit the British research station and post office Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer a landing on Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Imperial Shags. On our way North through the Gerlache Strait we finally arrive at the South Shetland Islands. We will sail to Deception Island. Our ship will brave the entrance into the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellow into the ring of Deception Island. Deception is a sub-ducted crater, which opens into the sea, creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Pigeons and many Dominican Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. We leave from here and sail to Half Moon Island, where we will find a variety of Chinstrap Penguins. Seals often haul out on the beach. These volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist and fog, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. Our voyage continues through a narrow Strait to the open sea heading back to Ushuaia.
Accommodation: Cabins & 1 night camping
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. They feature a variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. At Deception Island, which is a caldera (the top of a volcano) our ship enters the harbour through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively we may try to land at Hannah Point at Livingston Island. The area is closed off to visitors for part of the season as it is a high density wildlife area with species such as Chinstrap penguins, Gentoo penguins, and Southern Elephant seals. Around noon we depart for the Drake Passage.
In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark the ship. We check into our hotel and take the afternoon to relax.
Accommodation: Hotel in Ushuaia
Following an early breakfast, the group will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Sydney (via Buenos Aires and Santiago). Arriving in Santiago in the evening.
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Flight departs Santiago in the early hours of the morning and arrives in Sydney in the morning, where the adventure concludes.
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