Day 1: Depart from the city of Ushuaia
Boarding in the afternoon and meet your expedition staff and lecturers. After getting comfortable in your cabin, we will navigate the famous Beagle Channel, through the Mackinlay Pass.
Days 2 and 3: Crossing the Drake Passage
Named after the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake navigated these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage is the framework of the Antarctic Convergence, a natural biological barrier where the cold polar waters submerge under the warmest waters of the north. This generates a large amount of nutrients, which support the biodiversity of this region.
The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit for many Antarctic seabirds. As we navigate through the passage, our staff will be with you outside on deck to assist you in identifying the enormous variety of seabirds, including albatrosses that follow the USHUAIA.
The "open bridge" onboard policy will allow you to accompany our officers on the bridge and learn some aspects of sailing, whale watching or just enjoying the view. A full program of lectures will be waiting for you.
The first icebergs and snowy mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, an archipelago of 20 islands and islets discovered in 1819 by Captain William Smith with his brig Williams. If the conditions in the Drake Passage were favorable, on the third day our expedition staff will accompany you on the first landing and you will experience the fascinating encounter with penguins and seals.
Days 4-7: Discovering the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are teeming with wildlife. Vast penguin colonies, beaches ruled by Antarctic sea lions and southern elephant seals, make every day in this group of islands unforgettable. Navigating the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing.
King George Island is the largest island of the South Shetland Islands and is It is characterized by the colonies of gentoo penguin and chinstrap, kelp gull, imperial cormorant, Antarctic tern, and southern giant petrel. There are also scientific bases from different countries. Chinstrap penguins, gentoo penguins, as well as elephant seals await you on Livingston Island.
As you learn about the remarkable history of the Antarctic Peninsula, you will be thrilled in a way comparable to how the early explorers did. You will have enough time to explore its incredible landscape, a pristine desert of snow, ice, mountains and waterways, and the incredible and wide variety of wildlife. In addition to penguins and seabirds, you can also see Crabeater, Weddell and leopard seals up close, as well as humpback, Minke and killer whales.
We hope to sail some of the most beautiful channels always depending on the ice conditions: the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel and the Lemaire Channel are narrow passages between imposing rocks and spectacular glaciers. We plan to do at least two shore excursions per day. The sites for such excursions may also include:
Bahía Paraíso, literally the best-named place in the world, is where we will attempt to make a proper descent to the continent. After crossing the iceberg-covered waters of the Antarctic Strait, we hope to visit the active colonies of Adélie penguins (more than 100,000 pairs breed here) and imperial cormorants on Paulet Island. The Nordenskjöld expedition built a stone shelter here in 1903; ruins that today have been invaded by penguin nests.
Other possible explorations could lead us to the Melchior Islands, Cuverville Island, Punta Portal, Neko Harbor , Pléneau Island, and if the ice conditions allow it, to Petermann Island to visit the southernmost colony of Gentoo penguins.
Days 8 and 9 : Crossing the Drake Passage
We will leave the Antarctic Peninsula and head north, crossing the Drake Passage. Join our lecturers and naturalists on deck in the search for seabirds and whales, and enjoy some of the final lectures. Take the time to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the last days on the way back to Ushuaia.
Day 10: Arrival at the port of Ushuaia
We arrive in Ushuaia early in the morning, where you will disembark after breakfast.
NB: The itinerary described above is only a guide. Our exact route and schedule may vary in order to take the best advantage of the local climate, ice conditions, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Changes will be made by the captain and expedition leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily program will be published on board. Flexibility is the key to success.
Some itineraries offer an additional day in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands area.