Explore the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, then fly directly to Punta Arenas
If you’re looking for an efficient Antarctic experience, this is it. Cruise south across the Drake Passage and make shore visits through the South Shetland Islands as you make your way to the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing aboard your well-appointed expedition vessel, witness Antarctic nature and dazzling landscapes in all their glory. These areas boast an extraordinary abundance of wildlife, including five species of seals and massive rookeries of gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins. Another highlight may be observing a variety of whales in close proximity as they crest the surface of the waves. Once the voyage is complete, skip the often turbulent Drake Passage by flying directly from King George Island to Punta Arenas. Please note that weather, ice and other mitigating factors may result in changes to the itinerary and alteration of certain shore excursions.
- Physical rating
- Min 8
- Group size
- Min 1, Max 117
Why we love this trip
Journey through the historic Beagle Channel, looking out for rare birdlife from deck with the help of your expedition team
A diversity of possible landing sites and activities allows you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives
Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent, but you'll be one of them
Get up close to an incredible range of wildlife, such as minke, humpback and orca whales or gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, as well as seals and other seabirds
A polar plunge in the Antarctic sea is the most invigorating swim you're ever likely to take. Other optional activities such as sea kayaking can take your adventure to the next level, but book early, as these sell out fast
Flying over the famous Drake Passage from King George Island is the fastest, most direct way to travel back to the mainland
Is this trip right for you?
Although our ice strengthened ships are big and sturdy, Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings. Please be prepared with medications to combat this. There is also a doctor on-board should you need further assistance.
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Antarctic are freezing. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognised sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are equally as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The on-board library and educational lectures are ideal ways for keeping entertained.
This quaint city at the southernmost tip of South America is your gateway to the White Continent. Ushuaia features a range of museums, shops and restaurants to explore before your voyage. If you arrive with plenty of time to spare, Tierra del Fuego National Park outside of town offers ample hiking and adventure opportunities.
Notes: If you arrive into Ushuaia early or wish to extend your stay and need accommodation, please ask Peregrine or your agent for details and costs.
Meals IncludedThere are no meals included on this day.
Special InformationADVENTURE OPTIONS
Kayaking is available to book on all Antarctic voyages. Some voyages also offer other activities such as camping, stand up paddle boarding, cross country skiing and mountaineering. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited. Additional trip notes and waivers will be sent when any adventure options are booked. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required for cross country skiing and mountaineering.
Please note, arrival transfers are included for clients arriving into Ushuaia airport today. If you are arriving any earlier, you will need to make your own way to your hotel. The airport in Ushuaia is very close to the town centre and taxis are very reasonable.
- Breakfast (2)
- Lunch (2)
- Dinner (2)
With many sites to choose from, each expedition presents new opportunities for exploration and wildlife sightings. A typical day might include visiting a penguin rookery, listening to glaciers calve at Petermann Island or climbing a hill for panoramic views of the continent. A 'polar plunge' in the icy waters of Neko Harbour is sure to really wake you up.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN ANTARCTICA
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you arrive, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.
If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbour on which Port Lockroy is located.
This small island, one mile (1.6 km) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, the island was used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula; you’ll see that this is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 6.8 mile-long (11 km) Channel may become
impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
A group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy.
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There is an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for
spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. The dome of the island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island.
A ‘fun’ destination of sorts, we always strive to journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbour during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It is now designated as a historic site, where Port Lockroy is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
Of historic interest, you may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the Point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been
designated an Antarctic historic site.
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too.
Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
HALF MOON ISLAND
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from January 10 onwards.
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water!
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes.
A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Your Expedition Team will be happy to point out that it is here where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.
To reach Whaler’s Bay it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated water springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the
activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.
The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.
KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES offered on some or all departures of this itinerary
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape, and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as we’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes we use today are much lighter and more forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.
- Breakfast (4)
- Lunch (4)
- Dinner (4)
Notes: There is a luggage limit of 15 kg for checked baggage and 5 kg for carry-on baggage per person on the charter flight to Punta Arenas.
Special InformationPlease note, no departure transfer is included. Please make your own way to the airport for your onward travels.
Meals9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
TransportExpedition cruise ship, Plane, Zodiac
AccommodationExpedition Voyage, Hotel
Dates & availability
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Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Antarctic voyages. Some voyages also offer other activities such as camping, stand up paddle boarding, cross country skiing and mountaineering. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required for cross country skiing and mountaineering. See the itinerary for Adventure options available on this voyage.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Strict luggage limits apply. Please see Trip Notes (What to Take) for more information.