Day 1: End of the World, Start of a Journey
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego – nicknamed “The End of the World” – and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.
Day 2 - 3: Path of the Polar Explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale blasting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars . Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.
Day 4 - 9: Enter the Antarctic
Options for Antarctic Peninsula activities are many, and no less great during the late summer. Humpback whales are prolific in this region, gorging themselves on krill before their migration north. The penguin chicks are also fledging, stirring up activity on the beaches while sleek leopard seals lie in wait, poised to attack the less fortunate ones. Sites for your adventures may include: Livingston Island – Here you find a wide variety of gentoo and chinstrap penguins on Hannah Point, as well as southern giant petrels and elephant seals hauling out onto the beach. Deception Island – Actually a subducted crater, this island opens into the sea and creates a natural harbor for the ship. Hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and multiple bird species – cape petrels, kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns – can be seen here. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Cuverville Island – A small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island, Cuverville houses a large colony of gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of brown skuas. Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. Opportunities for Zodiac cruising and kayaking provide you the closest possible view of the ice-crusted alpine peaks. You might also be able to set foot on the Continent here. Paradise Bay – You could take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales. Pléneau & Petermann Islands – If the ice allows it, you may sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales as well as leopard seals. Crystal Sound – The journey takes you south along the Argentine Islands to this ice-packed body of water, and from here across the Polar Circle in the morning. Detaille Island – You may make a landing at an abandoned British research station here, taking in the lofty mountains and imposing glaciers. Fish Islands – Further north, you encounter one of the southernmost Adélie penguin and blue-eyed shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula. Melchior Islands – A beautiful landscape rich with icebergs. Leopard seals, crabeater seals, and whales are found here, and there are excellent opportunities for kayaking and diving. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Day 10 - 11: Familiar Seas, Familiar Friends
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.
Day 12: There and Back Again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.