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Signature Antarctica: Highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula

14 days from £7,022pp

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Signature Antarctica: Highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula

14 days from £7,022pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in downtown Buenos Aires.
 
You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in downtown Buenos Aires by one of our local representatives.

Buenos Aires is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. It was here that the tango was born, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of French belle époque and Italian influence.

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Buenos Aires

Day 2

Guided city tour.
 
Your guided city tour takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk, an emblematic symbol of the city.

Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best.  On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on 3 sides by the Metropolitan cathedral, the town hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. Time permitting, the tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses.
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La Boca

Day 3

Fly south to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego), overnight in hotel.
 
Transfer to the airport and flt to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, at the southernmost tip of the continent. Depending on the number of intermediate stops, your flight takes 3-5 hours.

The city has grown rapidly in recent years, partly as a result of government incentives to settlers, and its establishment as a Free Port, and partly a tourist centre - most Antarctic cruises, like yours, leave from the port here. The setting is spectacular; jagged mountains hem in the town down to the shore of the Beagle Channel. Spend a night in a hotel here prior to embarking your cruise ship.
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Ushuaia

Day 4

Embark your cruise ship.
 
Transfer to the port and embark the ship Ocean Diamond.

This is a gleaming vessel which resembles a good quality cruise yacht. She is operated by Quark, one of the most long-standing and experienced companies offering expedition voyages in polar waters. Accommodating 189 guests she is also larger than many expedition cruise vessels, and her facilities and ambience are more like those of a floating hotel.

You’ll have a well-informed wildlife experience: each voyage is accompanied by an expert; a practicing scientist, historian, or researcher who conducts fieldwork during the trip. The cabins are very comfortable with a wide range, from good-sized Standards to Balcony Suites. All have either porthole or window and private facilities – most including bath tub - a rare treat! The ship’s library is well-stocked with polar books and DVDs.

In spite of its size, the Ocean Diamond is the most fuel efficient ship sailing in Antarctica, the only one at present to be carbon neutral.

Depart and head towards the Drake Passage through the Beagle Channel, so named after the HMS Beagle which later took Charles Darwin on his explorations around the South American continent.

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Beagle Channel

Days 5-6

Cross the Drake Passage.
 

Cross the Drake Passage, hundreds of kilometres of open water and the shortest crossing between Antarctica and the rest of the world. Very occasionally the crossing is gentle, but the odds are against it. Force 5/6 winds are considered normal conditions. Whales and dolphins can often be seen as well as an abundance of marine birds such as petrels, albatrosses and penguins. During this part of the voyage, there are briefings and presentations on the Antarctic ecosystem.

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Giant petrel

Days 7-11

Visit the South Shetland Islands, on to and explore the Antarctic Peninsula.
 
At last, the first sight of land: an iceberg and then the mountains of the South Shetland Islands. The main stop here is at Deception Island, the centre of which is a volcanic caldera that last erupted in 1969. A rugged, heavily-glaciated chain of four island groups and dozens of islets hugs the Antarctic Peninsula, providing a sheltered sea passage defined by towers of black rock. Names evoke the experiences and imagination of the early explorers – Deception and Desolation Islands, the Watchtower, and elephant Island, where Shackleton’s expedition was stranded for 135 days.

Continue to explore the Antarctic Peninsula. The Peninsula is the most accessible area of the continent and hosts some of the most interesting scenery and wildlife, as well as many of the continent’s scientific bases.

Exactly where the ship lands will vary from one expedition to the next and according to the polar conditions as the ship edges its way southwards through the slush and abstract patterns formed by the fractured sea ice. Here, the silence is so complete that interruptions become indelible memories: noisy penguins squabbling over prized pebbles on Cuverville Island, the boom and crack of a calving glacier in Paradise Harbour, for example. The soaring peaks and stark rocks of Lemaire Channel are just the excuse you need to grab your camera gear for a shooting session from the deck, if the channel is free of ice. Wildlife you may encounter includes gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, petrel, shag, elephant and fur seal, and perhaps whales.

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ice floe

Days 12-13

Cross the Drake Passage. Disembark in Ushuaia; fly to Buenos Aires.
 

Leaving Antarctica, your ship sails northward and returns across the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia, arriving on the morning on day 13. Transfer to the airport and fly to Buenos Aires for a final night's stay in the city.

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Gentoo penguins

Day 14

Transfer to airport for international flight.
 

Transfer to the airport in Buenos Aires.

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14 days from £7,022pp

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