Touching down in Chile we’ll spend a night in Punta Arenas enjoying fabulous food and bespoke wine tastings. The city is easily walkable so we’ll explore on foot, keeping everything very relaxed as we overcome any jetlag and ready ourselves for the expedition ahead.
To reach Antarctica we’ll board a specialist aircraft for a one and a half hour flight over the Drake Passage. This is unique since most operators sail, but flying saves us time and means we avoid the rough boat crossing between Chile’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, dreaded by even the hardiest of sailors!
On landing on King George Island in Antarctica we’ll board our specialist polar vessel which is custom designed for both practicality and comfort. With luxurious lounges, expansive observation deck, generous en-suite cabins, a well-stocked bar and even a gym with sauna catering for just a small number of guests it feels more like a private yacht than an icebreaker.
The cruise itinerary is carefully designed to take in Antarctica’s most iconic sites, celebrating the history of polar exploration and the bounds of human endeavour. We’ll sail along ice-filled fjords and navigate mountainous icebergs, regularly leaving the main boat to explore on foot or by small zodiac boat in the company of naturalist, historian and scientist guides. Reaching the isolated pockets where few humans have trodden, wildlife sightings will be spectacular – expect orcas, humpack and minke whales; several species of penguin including chinstrap, macaroni, gentoo and adelie; leopard and elephant seals and a vast range of extraordinary birds including albatross, petrel and skua. To complement these sightings an engaging program of lectures and presentations will delve into the detail of this unique wilderness.
Antarctica has bewitched explorers and scientists alike for two centuries and even today it remains a ‘do before you die’ destination experienced by only the fortunate few. If you have ever dreamed of travelling to the Great White Continent, how better to do it than in the company of a small group of likeminded travellers in signature Classic Safari Company style?
There’s still a side of the Earth that remains virtually untouched. An entire continent of windswept expanses, snow-shrouded peaks and haunting emptiness stretching to the far horizon. A place where ice takes on hues of turquoise and iridescent blue so surreal, you feel you’ve entered a dream world. Where even as you reach for words to describe your sense of awe, you realize none will ever capture the experience of being here.
You will love
- Small group of likeminded travellers
- Flying over the Drake Passage
- Luxurious ‘yacht-style’ expedition ship
- Optional kayaking, hiking, zodiac boating
- Spectacular scenery & astonishing wildlife
- Incredible ice formations
- Expert onboard guides
- Stepping in Shackleton’s footsteps
12 UNFORGETTABLE DAYS
Day 1 Arrive Punta Arenas
Arrive in Punta Arenas, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, kindly remind hotel check-in staff to provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number.
Overlooking the Straits of Magellan, the city sits astride one of the world’s most historic trade routes. Today, Punta Arenas reflects a great mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, and it remains an utterly fascinating testament to Chile’s rich history.
At approximately 6.00 pm this evening, meet your fellow expeditioners at a voyage briefing. Afterwards, there’s free time to enjoy the local cuisine at one of Punta Arenas’s many restaurants. (Dinner not included).
Accommodation: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (or similar)
Day 2 Fly Punta Arenas to King George Island
This morning we will be transferred to Punta Arenas airport for our charter flight to King George Island, Antarctica (weather permitting). The flight will take approximately one-and-a-half hours.
On arrival into King George Island our expedition team is on hand to greet you for your Zodiac transfer to board the vessel. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.
Note: King George Island is located at the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required for safe take-off and landing. We apologise in advance for any delays.
Days 3-9 Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you’ll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding.
This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea, and take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for many polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form the Antarctic Sound – the gateway to the Weddell Sea. With a well- deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley, many large tabular bergs escape the Weddell Sea through the Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult. However, the rewards can be great. Fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era – gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone.
Be spoiled for wildlife encounters as the Weddell boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of the Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue- eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels. On thrilling Zodiac cruises or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, as well as humpback, minke and orca whales. With favourable sea ice conditions and plenty of luck, you may even get close to a well-known emperor penguin colony. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.
Days 10-11 Drake Passage crossing
Our landings come to an end as we enter the Drake Passage for our return journey to South America. With lectures and film presentations to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced, and the impact this voyage has had on our attitude to life.
As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
Day 12 Disembark Ushuaia
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we will be free to disembark around 8.00 am. Farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport or to your hotel is included in the cost of the voyage.
- Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only, as changes may occur due to unpredictable sea and weather conditions. Flexibility is key, when joining us on our expeditions.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Expedition: Wild Antarctica
Departs February 2024 - Please enquire for available dates & pricing
Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking & Snorkelling
Expedition: Wild Antarctica
Departs February 2024 - Please enquire for available dates & pricing
Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking & Snorkelling
START: Punta Arenas, Chile | Finish: Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 1 | Arrival airport transfer and overnight in Punta Arenas Day 2 | Fly Punta Arenas to King George Island Days 3-9 | West Antarctic Peninsula & Weddell Sea Days 10-11 | Drake Passage crossing Day 12 | Disembark Ushuaia
About the Ships – Aurora specialise in small ship expedition vessels
The ships are named after; Aurora’s co-founder and well-known mountaineer, Greg Mortimer; and Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned oceanographer and explorer. The Greg Mortimer & the Sylvia Earle are small enough (averaging 132 onboard) to go where others simply can’t and are purpose-built for expeditions to the most remote places on earth.
With the revolutionary ULSTEIN X-BOW® to cross oceans more comfortably, expansive observation decks, inviting communal areas and unsurpassed environmental credentials, the ships offer the perfect base camp for adventures at the outer limits of human exploration.
Designed for rugged, remote areas
The ships are designed for rugged, remote areas and when crossing the notorious Drake Passage, the expeditions face some of the most extreme conditions. The ships are at the cutting edge of nautical technology: robust, powerful and up to the task. The ULSTEIN X-BOW® is an inverted bow design that has been used on over 100 vessels in commercial shipping industry – the Greg Mortimer being the first passenger vessels to incorporate this innovative marine technology. The bow cuts through the swell so you feel fewer vibrations, make quicker transits through sea passages and helps reduce fuel consumption by up to 60%. This, in combination with Rolls Royce dynamic stabilisers offers unrivalled stability and comfort on ocean crossings.
Designed for active expeditions
The ships are built to world-class polar standards and designed in close consultation with the expedition specialists, to ensure that every aspect of the ship’s design enriches your expedition experience. The zodiac loading platforms and activities platform allows for faster disembarkation from the ship – to get out on your adventure quicker, whether by zodiac or by kayak. In the mudroom you will have access to a locker when you can hang your gear up to dry, and store your boots between excursions. You will also have access to lockers and rapid drying areas for wetsuits, to give your gear the best chance to dry between excursions.
Designed for wildlife watching, education & learning
While on board, the ship is your base camp in the most incredible environments on earth. Within the ship, you will find indoor lounge areas with floor-to ceiling windows and panoramic views, and multiple open decks with expansive 270-360 degree views. On all expeditions you will meet naturalists and local specialists, who offer presentations on their area of expertise to deepen your understanding of the region you’re visiting. Join the team in the lecture theatre for presentations covering topics as broad as history and culture, biology and climate change, but they have one thing in common: they all aim to engage, educate and entertain. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the library is a peaceful sanctuary where you can find non-fiction books to read up on the day’s destinations and wildlife, plug in and organise your photos or play board games with newfound friends.
Designed for a comfortable onboard experience
When you are not busy on regular shore excursions, there is gym or sauna or book a massage (additional cost applies). There are also 2 jacuzzis on the top outside deck with amazing views of the world outside. The comfortable open seating dining area is where you will share tales of the day and be fuelled with delicious meals cooked by our onboard chefs. The cabins are beautifully appointed and you can choose from a range of configurations and features, including twin and double-bed options, private balconies and interconnecting staterooms.
Responsible travel features
The ships boasts the lowest polluting marine engines in the world, due to a combination of low energy consumption, high fuel-efficiency and a streamlined design. Our state-of-the-art Tier 3 engines deliver an 80% reduction in emissions*. The onboard desalination plants convert seawater to freshwater that’s safe to drink. This means we can carry less freshwater on sea crossings, further reducing the fuel consumption.
Your safety is a critical consideration and our ships feature industry-leading safety technology that exceeds the requirements for ships of this size. The ships are Ice Class 1A and Polar Code 6 compliant, hold BV class and are fully compliant with the latest SOLAS requirements. A world class return-to-port system enables the ships to maintain operating systems and comfort in the event of an engine failure. As the expeditions take place in remote areas far from traditional medical facilities, we have a fully-resourced medical clinic, open 24 hours a day and staffed by qualified medical professionals.
- All airport transfers
- One night’s hotel accommodation with breakfast in Punta Arenas on day 1
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- International or domestic flights to or within South America, unless specified
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Flights & insurance on request – please enquire
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