10 Nights / 11 Days
Day 1 - Punta Arenas to Stanley, Falkland Islands
Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at the airport and fly on the scheduled service to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute flight we arrive in Stanley and will be met on arrival and transferred to the pier, embarking our expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica – and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2 - Sea Lion Island
We cruise down the coast of the Falklands and, as we approach Sea Lion Island, we first note the very barren and windswept landscape, exposed to the sometimes wild weather that originates in the Drake Passage. We launch our zodiacs and go ashore to view the remarkable wildlife colonies found here. Three species of penguin including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper exist in the vicinity. Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are found hauled out on the beaches. Once ashore we also look for king cormorants and striated caracaras. Weather permitting we may have time to visit neighboring Bleaker Island, another settlement on the exposed southeastern coast of the Falklands. In the evening, we push out into the Scotia Sea, charting a course for the frozen continent.
Days 3 & 4 - At Sea towards Antarctica
Our days at sea are never dull. Much of our time is spent on the bridge or outer decks, scanning
the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. A profusion of seabirds delight us as they wheel and spin around the ship. We spend plenty of time with our onboard polar experts as they educate us on the wonders of the South Atlantic Ocean and Antarctic eco-systems. The history of early polar exploration is a popular theme. Perhaps you will pick up some valuable tips from our onboard photographic guide, learning about image composition, the subtle and soft polar light and all the basics of good camera craft. We will also learn about Polar conservation - a theme particularly close to the hearts of our One Ocean Expeditions’ guides and crew.
Day 5 - Elephant Island
The dramatic ice cliffs of Elephant Island come into view marking our arrival at the fabled Point Wild on the north coast of this remote outcrop. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats after their ship, the HMS Endurance sank in the deep Weddell Sea in 1915. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to the surging ocean currents and pounding surf on the rocky beach. If conditions are right, we will attempt a landing. This is a thrilling location and a major highlight for history buffs.
Days 6-9 - Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
Leaving Elephant Island behind we enter the broad expanse of the Bransfield Strait which separates the South Shetland Islands from the Antarctic Peninsula. The magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on the immense power of Antarctica. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves, inlets and numerous small islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops are home to gentoo, adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. We frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, often found relaxing on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are found in sizeable numbers feeding on the rich krill blooms. Sightings of orca are not uncommon. We enjoy several days of exploration and our activity program is in full swing, allowing guests to choose how their adventure unfolds. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is a memorable activity and our sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship. Our photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling, image composition and the peculiar light found in Antarctica.Planned excursions could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Paradise Bay is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route providing stunning 360̊ degree views.
Day 10 - South Shetland Islands
After several busy days of exploration we head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the
South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and, if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. 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 old boilers and dilapidated wooden structures. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater. On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is a great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise. Tonight we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 11 - King George Island – return to Punta Arenas (Chile)
This morning we are anchored off King George Island. We say goodbye to our crew and transfer ashore by zodiac. Time permitting we will explore the surrounding area. There are several important science bases here including Chile’s Frei Station and Bellingshausen Station. We are transferred to the airstrip for the two-hour 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. Otherwise enjoy a night in this delightful city, or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.