The landscape of the Weddell Sea is quite different compare to the north-west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The islands and coasts here have been covered by icecaps and glaciers for a long time and this left its marks on the landscape. Rounded hills, often still partly covered by ice and large glaciers form the scenery on this side of the peninsula. Volcanic islands and huge ice-bergs ad to this already dramatic landscape. Icebergs. The south-western and southern borders of the Weddell Sea are formed by the Larsen and the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. These ice shelves produce the huge tabular icebergs that are so abundant in the Weddell Sea.
* Snow Hill Island
* Deception Island
* Devil Island
* Paulet Island
* Half Moon Island
* Hope & Seymour Islands
Wildlife highlights: Emperor, Gentoo, Adelie, & Chin strap penguins, Wandering Albatross, Weddell Seals & Elephant seals.
Twin porthole $ 12,100 USD per person from Ushuaia
Twin window: $ 12,735 USD per person
Reduced pricing for triple and Quadruple
Day 1: Embarkation and departure from Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
Day 2 - 3: At sea
During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering albatrosses, Grey-headed albatrosses, Black-browed albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty albatrosses, Cape petrels, Southern fulmars, Wilson’s Storm petrels, Blue petrels and Antarctic petrels.
Day 4 - 7: Weddell Sea* (see alternative when snow pack prevents voyage to Snow Hill Island)
A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.
We will sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
During these days we use the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we were always able to locate emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us - helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.
Possible landing sites is for example Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbling boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is complete with thousands of adelie penguins nesting on the slopes, and a few gentoos mixed in for fun.
Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area usually only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual emperor penguins and adelie Penguins on the ice floes; cape, snow and giant Petrels fly high in the sky while kelp gulls, skuas and wilson’s storm petrels scavenge down below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.
A beautiful helicopter flight over huge blue ice bergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors.
If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adelie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.
On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for emperor penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; chinstraps, gentoo and adelies.
*Day 5 - 6: Alternative program if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice (less than 50 % chance):
The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.
Day 8: Half Moon Island
In the morning we plan to visit Half Moon Island where we can see chinstrap and gentoo penguins, various other bird-species and southern elephant seals and Weddell seals.
Early in the afternoon we will sail to Deception Island where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay.
Day 9 - 10: At sea
In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
Day 11: Arrival in Ushuaia and disembark
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.
Itinerary is meant as a guideline, and will change with sea conditions at time of visit.