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Antarctica: Journey to the Antarctic Circle

18 days from £12450pp

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Antarctica: Journey to the Antarctic Circle

18 days from £12450pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to your hotel close to the centre of the capital.
 

You will be met at the airport and escorted by one of our local representatives to your hotel in a up-and-coming residential district Lastarria, close to the colonial centre and the arts and entertainment quarter Bella Vista. 

Santiago

Day 2

Fly to Punta Arenas in Patagonia; continue by road to Torres del Paine National Park.
 
Fly to Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Continue by road across the vast expanse of Patagonian grasslands, remote and sparsely populated. Wildlife to look out for includes guanaco and the ostrich-like rhea (ñandu).  

After about 5hrs on the road, arrive at your accommodation, a first class lodge on the edge of magnificent Torres del Paine National Park.

The park is dominated by a granite massif of smooth rock towers and icy pinnacles. Milky blue and gem-sharp emerald lakes, sinuous rivers, glaciers and wind-scoured steppes have created a remarkable and unique environment. Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the area is a natural habitat of over 150 species of birds (flamingos, condors, eagles and ostriches) and 25 species of mammal (including guanacos, armadillos, silver foxes and pumas).

Torres del Paine National Park Chile

Days 3-4

Expeditions in Torres del Paine National Park.
 

From your remote accommodation on a cattle ranch just below the vertical towers of granite which give the park its name, you can venture out on guided walks, excursions by car or on horse-back to discover the steep rocky valleys, iceberg-speckled rivers, lakes plugged by glacier walls and whispering grasses of the Patagonian steppes.    

Torres del Paine

Day 5

By road to Punta Arenas, overnight.
 

Travel by road back to Punta Arenas, an atmospheric and often blustery Patagonian city, once an important commercial outpost. 

Its centre is lined with elegant mansions (built on the wealth of sheep farming and mining during the late 19th century) and colourful buildings with corrugated iron roofs. Overnight at a hotel right in the centre of town on the main square.

Day 6

Transfer to airport to fly to Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, 2hrs.
 

Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a coastal town in 1950s Britain. There are rows of brightly painted wooden houses with flower-filled gardens lining quiet, almost vehicle-free streets, a quayside cathedral, several old-style pubs and a few gift shops. 

There are many references to the war of 1982 including a waterfront memorial built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the conflict. 

There is time to explore the town before you embark ship and meet the expedition team and fellow passengers before casting off. 

Port Stanley Falkland Island

Days 7-8

At sea sailing towards Antarctica
 
The ship charts a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. Scores of seabirds including the wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels accompany the ship. 

A photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of the vessel. 

Throughout the day on- board experts inform and entertain you with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations it is hoped that you’ll visit in the coming days. If you are lucky there may be time to visit Elephant Island from where Shackleton set off in an open boat to South Georgia 100 years ago.

Giant Petrel

Days 9-10

King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula
 
If weather conditions have permitted, the ship will reach King George Island – the largest in the South Shetlands group. In good conditions Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns also nest here.

In the afternoon navigate the Bransfield Strait, an important migration corridor for wildlife including whales. Large icebergs will be present from this point onward.

By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and the ship should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay, where sizable pods of humpback whales may be encountered. Navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island – home to a rookery of Gentoo penguins. 

Gentoo and young

Days 11-13

Towards the Antarctic Circle and Gerlache coastline.
 

Given favourable ice conditions, the goal for the next 3 days will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favoured landing site here is Detaille Island - home to an abandoned 1950s British science hut.

From here the ship will return in a northerly direction exploring the coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, including a visit to a working scientific base. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows exploration of a British Antarctic Survey hut. If the conditions are right, you may be able to camp overnight near here. 

Petermann Island is home to Adelie and gentoo penguin rookeries, also offering views of Mounts Shackleton and Scott: towering granite sentinels marking the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run a round in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of blue ice into fantastic shapes. For many, a zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.

Lemaire Channel

Days 14-15

Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.
 

The plan is to transit the Lemaire Channel on the way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to stand on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both have opportunities for seas kayaking and to hike up to panoramic view points.

Proceed to the South Shetland Islands. If the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. Explore the abandoned whaling station, with the rusted boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where Weddell seals sun themselves. Finally, the ship sails for King George Island. 

Neko Harbour Beach Antarctica

Day 16

King George Island – return to Punta Arenas, Chile.
 
This morning the ship is anchored off King George Island. Transfer ashore by zodiac: time permitting, explore the surrounding area. There are several important science bases here including Chile’s Frei Station and Bellingshausen Station.

Transfer to the airstrip for the 2hr flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. On arrival, a transfer is provided to your hotel.

Antarctic Peninsula

Day 17

Transfer to airport and fly to Santiago, overnight.
 

Transfer to the airport and fly back to Santiago (4hrs). You overnight in a hotel close to the international airport.

Santiago Chile

Day 18

Transfer to airport for international flight.
 

Return to the airport building for your international flight.

18 days from £12450pp

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