Start your journey in Ushuaia, a small and lively port town at the very tip of South America. This town is the ideal spot for you to explore prior to boarding your expedition. It's a fantastic hub for you to explore Patagonia, and get prepared for the coming adventure. Explore the surrounding mountains or enjoy deliciously handcrafted chocolate in town.
Late this afternoon, you'll be transferred from the hotel to the pier where you will board the famous expedition ship, the Kapitan Khlebnikov!
This iconic icebreaker is immediately recognizable as you near the port, the shape and mass are distinctive to anyone familiar with its history. As Khlebnikov sets sail, you’ll first pass through the historic Beagle Channel, which opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean.
The channel, named after the infamous ship which carried Charles Darwin, offers loads of photo opportunities to capture images of the seabirds as they hover overhead, as well as seals and sea lions as they swim in the surrounding waters.
You'll soon cross the Drake Passage, an incredible experience. When the weather is ideal, the crossing is fairly easy; however, you should be prepared for rough seas which is often the case given the reputation of the passage.
Over the next two days at sea, you'll anticipate your first landing at the Snow Hill Emperor Penguin rookery. While onboard, you'll have access to plenty of activities, including informative presentations from your expedition team. Learn about the history of whaling in Antarctica and the biology of emperor penguins. Make sure to spend some time on deck, taking photographs of your journey and wandering albatross, whales, dolphins, and petrels.
Crossing the polar front, keep a close watch, as you should see your first iceberg, too.
It's important to keep in mind that each voyage is unique. Landings and wildlife viewings are determined by the weather and ice conditions, especially as you voyage through the icy Weddell Sea.
This element of the unknown is what makes this trip so exciting. You will absolutely enjoy the landings, wildlife sightings, helicopter sightseeing, and incredible amount of ice!
The Emperor Penguin rookery is located on sea-ice a distance from Snow Hill Island. Your captain will navigate your ship to a position in the ice that’s within helicopter range of the rookery.
The on-board helicopters will take you as close as possible to the penguins, but a safe distance to protect them. You'll carry your own gear for the distance to the rookery and then back, so pack light! That said, don't forget your camera! You do not want to miss this!
Your Expedition Team will include a professional photographer, who will conduct on-board workshops and assist you on-site to help you get the most out of your camera, whether you’re a newbie or a pro! Though we can’t predict how many excursions will occur during your stay in the vicinity of the rookery, rest assured that your Expedition Leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, and our intention is to spend as much time as possible in the area, to give you plenty of chances to observe the emperors in their natural environment.
You'll be visiting the rookery early in the rearing season, so the chicks are still young and you may even see a few huddling around their parents or in large communal crèches. It’s possible you may catch the impressive sight of a constant trail of adults walking or tobogganing in single file from the sea to the rookery to feed the chicks, and then heading back out again to hunt for more food. Listen closely for a parent trumpeting upon its return to the rookery—the call is instantly recognized by the chick, who whistles in response.
Enjoy the next couple of days at sea as you return to South America and the end of your exciting expedition. Your days will be busy as you catch up on stories with your shipmates, relax in the library, watch documentaries or enjoy presentations from the Expedition Team.
Take some time to go out on deck and watch for seabirds and other marine life. By now, you should be able to recognize albatross and petrels on the wing.
As you enter the mouth of the Beagle Channel on your way back to Ushuaia, a small vessel will come alongside and a local pilot will board our vessel to help navigate this last stretch of water. If the weather is fine, you may want to watch from the deck, enjoying the soft light of the austral summer.
This morning, you’ll say farewell to your Expedition Team and fellow travelers before disembarking to catch your homeward flights.