Antarctica, Weddell Sea & Falklands
Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas
12 days/11 nights
This exciting expedition, which includes flights to King George Island returnig from Port Stanley, provides great diversity and will appeal to those seeking a truly comprehensive Antarctic experience. It includes visits to the South Shetland Islands, the western and northern sections of the Antarctic Peninsula, the stunning and wild Weddell Sea region located on the eastern side of the Peninsula, and the historic location of Elephant Island – a place forever connected to the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance expedition 100 years ago. Adding to the experience will be a visit to several locations in the Falkland Island archipelago – home to nesting albatross and the colorful King penguin.
Day 1 / Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, Antarctica
Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. We gather at a central location and transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at the King George Island, we embark our ship via zodiac. After settling in to our cabins and exploring our new surroundings, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and our first meal. No doubt, everyone on board will be looking forward to the incredible adventure ahead.
Days 2 – 4 / Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
Overnight we have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and we awake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent laid out before us. For the next three days we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. Returning north, we may attempt a second transit of the Lemaire Channel. The landscape all along this section of the Antarctic coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Our activity program is in full swing by now, and each day we enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and zodiac cruising among the ice with our expert guides providing insight and interpretation.
Day 5 / South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
We are now heading north towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way we hope to make a planned visit at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, we sail the ship right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and home to several penguin rookeries along the black sand beaches. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and dilapidated wooden structures. There is an outstanding hike here to a location known as ‘Neptune’s Window’ – high up onto the rim of the crater.
Days 6 – 7 / Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
The Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As we sail into the sound we witness, for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far. The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. As we head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset off the port quarter of the ship will make some of us pause to consider the bravery of those early explorers who traveled these waters a hundred years before us.
Day 8 / Elephant Island, Antarctica
We approach Elephant Island from the south. Point Lookout, on the southern tip of the island, is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. Both southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals are hauled out on the beaches in large numbers. If conditions permit we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat.
Days 9 – 10 / At Sea towards Falkland Islands
While sailing north to the Falkland Islands our onboard polar experts will recap on our Weddell Sea adventures and prepare us for the days ahead. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. Photographing these stunning birds in flight takes great patience and skill and our resident photography expert on board will show you the best techniques. Our onboard educational program continues and our experts entertain us with interactive presentations and leading lively discussions.
Day 11 / West Point & Saunders Islands, South Georgia
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its rockhopper penguin rookeries and large nesting black browed albatross colony. One final highlight awaits – a visit to the wildliferich Saunders Island. Along the white sand beaches and in the tussock grass we hope to encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper – and our ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders is a fitting end to an epic Antarctic adventure.
Day 12 / Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
In the early morning, we navigate through the narrows and into our port. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. There is time to explore the town, before we make our way to the airport for our return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. If you are staying in Punta Arenas, a transfer will be provided to several downtown locations.
We are very proud to offer one of the best sea kayaking programs ever!!! Whether you are an experienced kayaker or you want to try it for the first time, this activity will allow you to enjoy another side of this magnificent destination.
Price per person: U$S 795
If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent at no extra cost, we will provide all the required gear such as tents, bivy sacs and sleeping bags. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. A portable toilet is used and absolutely everything is transported back to the ship afterwards.
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02 Feb 2019
Should you wish to simplify packing, we are proud to offer a full complement of outdoor expedition gear for you on board. Free of charge is a foul weather gear package and wellington boots. These ‘wet skins’ are coated in waterproof PVC and include a jacket with full hood, soft comfortable collar and storm flap over the zipper. The jacket has ample pockets and finishes below the hip offering full wind protection. Paired with the jacket are bib and braces with reinforced seat and knees and adjustable ankle cuffs. We have a selection of sizes including XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
Roll-top waterproof knapsacks and Bushnell® binoculars are all available for hire at nominal fee.
We have a Wellness program on the ship which includes a gym, sauna, hot tub, massage room and plunge pool for icy dips if you so wish! Early morning stretching and yoga sessions followed by healthy breakfast are a great way to start your expedition day.
Proof of our Polar Commitment
When traveling with Ice Tracks Expeditions, you will discover how much we care about the places and people we visit. We demonstrate this by finding ways to give back as well as taking away so many incredible memories.
Read more about our Giving Back Program.