For the last two centuries rats introduced to the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia by sealing and whaling vessels have decimated populations of the native seabirds, which had evolved in the absence of such predators. Continue reading
Wildfoot’s polar travel expert Gillian Landells tells us about her favourite polar cruise destination, Snow Hill Island, Land Of The Emperor Penguins. As a wildlife enthusiast and keen amateur photographer, she reveals why she feels drawn to this remote island wilderness. Continue reading
The Drake Passage…an infamous 600-mile-wide passage between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Island’s of Antarctica. For some, this crossing is all part of an exciting adventure. For others, severe sea-sickness can prevent them from fulfilling a life-long dream of visiting Antarctica. Reputed as the roughest sea-passage in the world, the Drake Passage is the stuff of legends and crossing it is often an experience that passengers on Antarctica cruises look forward to the most. For those who have experienced it they would say there’s something quite exhilarating about taking on rolling waves aboard an ice-strengthened Antarctica expedition vessel.
What makes the Drake Passage so infamously rough is the fact that this is the spot where the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Seas converge, creating a roaring current mix known as the “Drake Shake”. Currents at this latitude meet no resistance from any landmass making this the only unhindered flow of ocean on the planet. Luckily, nowadays expedition vessels are equipped with stabilizers to absorb much of the swaying. Thanks to the advancement in sea sickness medication, most Antarctica cruise ship passengers get by with just a queasy stomach. At times, the passage is so unpredictable that it can, also be eerily calm, referred to as the “Drake Lake”. But if all of this makes your stomach churn and you think you just can’t face this crossing, there is another option.
Antarctica XX1 were the first company that came along and introduced the Fly-Cruise option. Instead of enduring the 2-day passage, you can fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands and meet your cruise to explore Antarctica. You vastly cut your travel time down from a 2-day crossing to a 2-hour flight, giving you more time to spend exploring Chile if you wish.
Of course, the flight operation is weather dependent and delays may happen. However, in the 14-year history of the company, only 1 flight was delayed to the point where clients could not make it to Antarctica at all.
Simon Rowland, Wildfoot Travel’s Managing Director took a Fly the Drake expedition recently on MV Ocean Nova. Simon had this to say about his trip.
“One of the most fulfilling expeditions I’ve taken part in. Kayaking in Antarctica is a must for those seeking even more adventure and it’s an aspirational way to see the wildlife even more up close with no more than 10 other kayakers.
The fact that from your hotel in Punta Arenas to the start of this unique Polar adventure in this winter wonderland environment is just over 2 hours. Quite remarkable. If you are time sensitive or just don’t wish to contemplate the Drake Passage, this is certainly the trip for you!”
We also work closely with Quark Expeditions who offer the option of flying to the South Shetlands and also the option of taking on the Drake Passage on one of their fantastic expedition vessels: Island Sky; Ocean Diamond; Ocean Adventurer and Ocean Endeavour to name a few.
So if you fancy this intrepid adventurous crossing and can imagine yourself cheering on the waves, you’ll be rewarded with the chance to spot spectacular wildlife watching along the Drake. Ships in the passage are often good platforms for the sighting of whales, dolphins and seabirds including giant petrels, albatrosses and penguins. And what a way to be rewarded when you arrive…you’ve made it to Antarctica!
Paulina Ramirez form Antarctica XXI stopped by our office the other day to discuss forthcoming trips. While she was with us, we asked her to tell us what was so special about ‘Flying The Drake’. You can hear what Paulina had to say in this short video.
Here at WILDFOOT we are beyond delighted to announce that The Urban Birder, David Lindo, will be joining us on our epic Antarctica – Off The Beaten Track expedition in November 2016, on board MV Akademic Ioffe operated by our close partners One Ocean Expeditions.
Our in-house wildlife experts have been huge fans of David’s for many years since he first came to our attention after enjoying his Rutland Bird Fair lectures, not to mention his appearance on BBC’s much-acclaimed Spring Watch. We have closely followed his adventures ever since. So you can imagine the excitement in our office when we found out that he was a planning a birding expedition to Antarctica!
David Lindo or as most of his fans know him, “The Urban Birder”, rose to prominence due to his attention-grabbing appearances on programmes such as BBC’s Spring Watch & The One Show, and his regular editorial contributions to the RSPB Nature’s Home magazine where he has shared his passion for birding and helped shape a new breed of birdwatching enthusiasts.
Despite David’s love of and dedication to promoting birding in large cities where one may not have usually expected to find such a wonderful array of birdlife in their natural surroundings until now, David is also open to scouring the lesser-explored areas of the world where birding opportunities take on a different shape altogether. That’s why he has chosen to explore Antarctica with us, a region renowned for breathtaking wildlife experiences that are, quite simply, out of this world.
From swooping albatrosses and giant southern petrels to 17 different species of penguin living in colonies with populations larger than some cities, Antarctica is home to some of the most majestic and remarkable birds in the world. The Urban Birder will be looking forward to spotting some of the 46 different species of birds found in this wonderfully remote region and sharing his unsurpassable knowledge with his fellow travellers.
We are extremely privileged that David has agreed to be a guest speaker on this expedition, giving fellow bird enthusiasts the opportunity to soak up some of his wisdom and share stories and tips as they enjoy their once in a lifetime trip.
If you want to be one of the lucky few who get to share this adventure with The Urban Birder then why not take a look through the itinerary for this exciting trip or contact one of our friendly wildlife experts who will be delighted to help you with any queries you may have. You really won’t want to miss this one!
The Urban Birder is venturing to a land which, simply put, couldn’t be less “urban”…and we are thrilled to be joining him!
Small Group Departure to Antarctica November/December 2017.
David will be returning to Antarctica next year and will be leading a small group. WILDFOOT Travel are delighted to be arranging from start to finish and not only inviting Urban Birder followers but also making this exciting expedition available to our WILDFOOT customers on a first come basis. This is going to be a small intimate group so spaces are extremely limited. You can also experience urban birding with David in Buenos Aries and Ushuaia before you embark the voyage to Antarctica. For further information and registration please email [email protected]
You can learn more about David Lindo by visiting his website theurbanbirder.com.
With the increasing accessibility of the Antarctic region to ‘ordinary’ travellers is coming an attendant rise in the number of companies offering holidays to this previously largely unchartered corner of the world. With many of these businesses claiming to offer it all in an Antarctic break, why should you specifically target the services and packages of specialists in polar travel like WILDFOOT?
Some of the reasons to do so are less obvious than others. Perhaps the most obvious is our in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience of this most specialised of regions. Quite simply, we feel that a remarkable continent demands remarkable treatment, which is precisely what we have sought to provide here at WILDFOOT – with spectacular results in the form of our consistently glowing customer feedback.
Such customers realise that choosing a great Antarctic holiday provider is about more than opting for the lowest price, or even the company that can boast the broadest range of expedition packages. What is arguably most important of all, is choosing a provider that truly understands Antarctica and has tailored its offerings to suit – the kind of company that allows you to experience almost everything that one of the planet’s remotest regions could conceivably serve up.
Where other providers may focus on slashing the price to the lowest level possible, we channel our energies into giving our customers a genuinely ground-up Antarctic holiday experience. People booking with us can climb aboard the best well-equipped expedition ships and learn about every detail of this most special of regions, via lectures given by seasoned experts in geology, oceanography, glaciology and history, all upon a stunning polar backdrop.
Alternatively, those embarking on such an incredible journey with us may throw themselves into such enthralling optional activities as kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, skiing or snowshoeing – or they may prefer the slightly sedater activity of wildlife spotting, discovering many more new and wonderful species in a few hours than they would encounter in many years at home.
Some travellers on board our cruises are even lucky enough to be able to board a helicopter for ice landings inside the continent – the perfect opportunity to keep their eyes peeled for the elusive Emperor Penguin. Add to all of these experiences the option of an especially luxurious Antarctic cruise encompassing 5* service and on-board cuisine, as well as our memberships of such organisations as ABTA, ATOL, IAATO and ATTA, and in WILDFOOT, you really do have the complete reputable polar travel provider.
Could now be the time for you to embark on the Antarctic journey of a lifetime? If the answer to that question is “yes”, make sure that it really is memorable for all of the right reasons by keeping our leading specialists in polar travel firmly by your side.
If you are considering exploring some of the Earth’s most beautiful, yet remote places, it is important to understand just what is in store for you once you get there. One of the most vital elements to consider is the climate and for those wanting to explore the stunning continent of Antarctica, the weather really does play an important part.
Antarctic holidays are becoming increasingly popular with those looking to try something different on their next break. As the coldest of the Earth’s continents, the area has witnessed the lowest natural temperature ever recorded, -89.2°C. If you are currently planning a trip to Antarctica, here are the key points that you need to know about the often extreme climate.
The continent itself is basically a frozen desert, offering very little precipitation, with less than 10cm of rain recorded at the South Pole per year. Once you reach Antarctica, the atmosphere can be a little daunting to first time visitors, with prolonged periods of constant darkness contrasted with similar length periods of constant sunshine. It is no surprise that visitors to the area claim that they are often confused as to what time it actually is!
One important thing to consider for your trip is the risk of sunburn. This may seem unlikely in Antarctica of all places, but the snow surface is prone to reflecting all of the ultraviolet light that falls upon it, something that you should bear in mind when packing your essentials. Temperatures in Antarctica tend to reach a minimum of −80 °C during the winter and a maximum of 15 °C in the coastal areas during the summer months.
The exact time of year when you are on the continent will dictate the conditions that you experience, the eastern side of Antarctica typically being colder than the west due to the higher elevations. The centre of the continent is cold and dry, due to the main extreme weather fronts not spreading into this area. By contrast, the outer edges of Antarctica are prone to strong winds that often blow at storm force.
If you are planning a trip to Antarctica, we highly recommend that you choose an experienced tour company to help guide you around these often unpredictable landscapes. Here at WILDFOOT, we work with the leading operators to create for you the true holiday of a lifetime in this most extreme and remote corner of the globe.
The Falkland Islands offer some of the most fascinating examples of wildlife and nature that the world has to offer, as well as a considerable number of glorious white beaches. They are home to a wide range of penguins and birds, in addition to more than two-thirds of all of the black-browed albatross in the world.
The islands attract people from every continent and appeal to casual fans of wildlife, as well as those with a passionate interest in rare animals such as the Falklands flightless steamer duck. The best places to spot wildlife in the Falklands rarely become over-populated with humans, which gives visitors the chance to see some of the most fascinating species on the globe up close. WILDFOOT creates first-class Falkland Island tours.
Volunteer Point is one of the best places to spot penguins, especially the hundreds of king penguins, whilst embarking on boat trips to West Point Island to see the nesting black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins is a popular activity. Discerning food lovers are catered for wonderfully by the fresh fish, meat and vegetables that the islands are famous for. The Falklands are also the home of the world’s most southerly cathedral.
Here at WILDFOOT, we can help if you are interested in embarking on the Falklands trip of a lifetime. We can assist you whether you would prefer to stay for 7, 10, 14 or 18 nights. Opt for our 14 day tour and you will be able to stay at locations as iconic as Carcass, Pebble and Sea Lion Islands and Stanley, to name but a few. The Falklands Islands are synonymous with epic scenery, clear blue skies, glorious stretches of white sand and some of the most remarkable wildlife that you will find in any country.
You can contact us at any time to take advantage of our vast expertise and find out more about what your tour will be like. If you have ever dreamed of spending time among some of the most delightful and intriguing species in the world, we can make this a reality. Your fare will include various flights and accommodation. We have unrivalled first-hand knowledge of the Falklands archipelago and can’t wait to pass on our expertise to you, so why not make an enquiry today?
Antarctica is the world’s least explored frontier and is an ideal destination for anyone wishing to take a break in an unspoiled region that offers breathtaking scenery and fascinating wildlife. The White Continent is synonymous with icebergs, whales, penguins and rare birds, meaning that photo opportunities are almost limitless. Better yet, the sunsets are among the most stunning on the planet.
You will struggle to find a better setting for an adventure than Antarctica. The continent is totally unlike any other and gives you the chance to walk in the footsteps of some of the most iconic explorers in history. Life in this frozen landscape is completely different from what you may have come to expect from your day-to-day life, which means you really will be able to take a break from the norm when you spend time in this most exceptional and isolated part of the world.
Here at WILDFOOT, we offer cruises to a number of fascinating destinations, including the Falklands, the Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Sea and the South-Atlantic islands. We can bring you the Antarctica trip that you’ve always wanted, offering guides that know the region inside out, whilst keeping you completely safe and introducing you to some of the most interesting species in the world. These include the Rockhopper, Adelie and maybe even Emperor penguins.
Reason 1: Penguins, Penguins & More Penguins
It’s a sighting that’s at the top of the list of almost everyone’s wish list and no Antarctica trip is really complete without them: penguins! They’re one of the main attractions of this far-away place, and with seventeen different species calling it home, you won’t be disappointed.
During your expedition, you’re most likely to come across the Adelie, Macaroni, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, and all have their own unique appearance and personalities. If you want some certainty of spotting these amusing birds, the best time to visit will be the warmer months between spring and autumn. During this time you’re guaranteed to spot the Adelies, who prefer to swim out to sea in winter. However, if your heart is set on a renowned Emperor Penguin sighting, you’ll have to book a special expedition during October and November, as these are the best months for observing the chicks.
Reason 2: Other Magnificent Birds
As well as penguins, you will also get the chance to see myriad shearwaters, skuas, petrels and many other seabirds. South Georgia offers the biggest concentration of birdlife in the world, including albatross and King Penguins, as well as the South Georgia Pipit. Whether you’re a self-confessed twitcher or simply enjoy watching the birdbath in the garden, your holiday won’t be complete without some bird watching.
We have a number of itineraries to choose from, but whichever route you’re taking, winged wildlife will be a highlight. As well as the others already mentioned, there are a total of 46 different bird species, including (but in no way limited to) albatrosses, herons, ducks, swans and many more.
Reason 3: Spectacular Marine Wildlife
No matter what you have planned on your Antarctica trip, there’s no doubt that the wildlife will blow you away. As well as the vast masses of ice that characterise the scenery, you’ll soon understand just how dominating the ocean can be. But this also means you’re in for a treat when it comes to marine wildlife.
Of course, you’ll have the chance to see dolphins and porpoises, but the headliners of this remote location are the whales. Magnificent and enigmatic, they capture the imagination (and viewfinder) of most of us. The best time for spotting these incredible creatures is during February and March when they tend to travel in large pods in preparation for their big migration to the North. While the mighty Blue Whale is rare to see, you should spot a few Orcas and Humpbacks on your Antarctica trip. If whale watching is a must-do on your adventure list, then check that your itinerary includes a visit to Wilhemina Bay, a place renowned for the number of whales it attracts.
Reason 4: Ice Camping Beneath the Stars
There’s nothing like camping under the stars to experience that feeling of adventure in the great outdoors. But camping on the snow, surrounded by great walls of white, is a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll never forget. It’s not for everyone, of course, and the environment is definitely more extreme than your standard campsite; but it’s the challenge and the majesty of the place that will make this an experience to remember.
Unique experiences you can expect from camping in this white wilderness include some of the best stargazing you can imagine – there’s no light pollution in this part of the world! You’ll also be able to get close and personal with the local bird life, and even have the chance to listen to nearby polar bears. But perhaps the best part of your camping experience might be the deepest sleep of your life surrounded by the snowy silence.
Reason 5: Adrenaline Boosting Activities
Our expeditions to the White Continent are synonymous with adventure. While exploring the place is a thrill in itself, there are plenty of activities for any adrenaline junkies to try out. One of the most popular excursions is kayaking. If you want to immerse yourself in the landscape, there’s no better way than kayaking.
You’ll be exploring the coastline, gliding past icebergs and even getting within spray distance of whales; it’s truly exhilarating. For those that want to dive deeper into the frozen habitat, scuba diving is also on offer. Experience the eerie sounds and sights of the underwater world as our experienced Master Divers guide you through corals and marine life.
If you prefer to stay on land, there are a number of thrilling activities to participate in. From snowshoeing to extreme skiing, mountaineering to camping – whatever gets your heart racing!
Reason 6: Historical Routes
Antarctica has been host to a fair few historical dramas. Battlefield enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to visit some of the key sites and monuments of the Falklands War – some of our cruises offer guided tours of these.
Follow in the footsteps of the explorer hero Ernest Shackleton whose epic journey in 1916 carved the path for many future expeditions to this breathtaking continent. You can pay homage to the great man with a visit to his grave in the abandoned South Georgia whale station of Grytvitken.
Reason 7: Breathtaking Landscapes
This part of the world is one of the last pristine places left to visit, and it’s a must-see for intrepid travellers. As well as wildlife and sea life, your Antarctica trip will give you the chance to witness natural landscapes that don’t exist anywhere else. Just imagine a vast ice-covered landscape with huge glaciers and the immense Transantarctic mountain range…
While the general surroundings are breathtaking, there are a few natural phenomena that are not to be missed on your expedition. These include the Amery Ice Shelf, which is a huge mass of floating ice, and the notorious Blood Falls, a five-storey high blood-red waterfall pouring out of the Taylor Glacier. The list of breathtaking landscapes goes on but you can be sure that it’s a photographer’s dream.
Reason 8: Sensational Photo Opportunities
Speaking of photography, if you’re a pro or even just want to practice your skills, there’s no other place like this. Nature is one of the greatest subjects of all time, and with its alien backdrop and unique wildlife, an Antarctica trip is a photographer’s dream. The opportunities for sensational images are endless; you have glaciers, extreme coastlines, volcanoes, imposing mountains and, of course, pristine white snow.
Before setting off, it’s worth getting a little familiar with your destination; let’s face it, for many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You’re most likely to be travelling during the summer, which means endless sunlight and many opportunities to get the right shot. However, conditions aren’t easy and everything will be different to your usual surroundings. So when you arrive, play around with your kit a bit to find out what works best for you.
Reason 9: Luxury Expedition Vessels
This experience is all about adventuring into an extreme world, which means the transport will have to be up to the challenge. All of our expeditions take place on purpose-built vessels that are made to withstand all that the weather has to throw at it. But that doesn’t mean comfort is compromised. Passenger accommodation offers suites furnished with all the necessary comforts and amenities.
The Silver Explorer is one of these magnificent vessels that you might be travelling on. It’s been refurbished to convert it into a luxury ship, with comfort and service prioritised, as well as having an ice-strengthened hull. If you’re travelling with a scientific team, you might find yourself on the MV Ortelius, which is a scientific survey ship designed for polar sailing. As well as the usual comforts, it has a lecture room, observation lounge and even a helicopter pad for special excursions.
Reason 10: Opportunities for Amazing Side Trips
Depending on which itinerary you choose, you’ll have the opportunity for some incredible add-on trips to nearby destinations, such as South Georgia, Patagonia, Argentina and the Falkland Islands. Each has something unique to offer, and including an extra little trip is a great way to explore as much as possible while you’re in this part of the world.
From vibrant Buenos Aires you can include a flight to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. As well as incredible views, you’ll earn boasting rights of having travelled to the southernmost tip of South America. If you want to pack more wildlife spotting into your expedition, you must include a visit to the Falkland Islands, which is a birder’s paradise.
A Life-Changing Experience
For many people, an Antarctica trip means fulfilling the dream of a lifetime. These expeditions can be the answer if you’re interested in taking a holiday with a difference that you will never forget. The temperature may be testing, but it’s well worth braving the elements, given the truly magical experience that only a journey to this part of the world can provide.
Get in Touch with Our Team
Get in touch with us today if you’re interested in seeing some of the world’s most talked-about wildlife and engaging in activities such as cross-country skiing, snorkelling, snowshoeing and ice-climbing, all against the most remarkable backdrop. We have the knowledge and experience needed to help you plan the perfect itinerary for your Antarctica trip.
All of our holidays include highlights such as wildlife sightings, options for extra excursions, and of course, incredible scenery. But we understand how important it is to ensure that this unique holiday is right for you, so we’ve created a variety of adventures for you to choose from.
Crossing the Circle
This once-of-a-kind expedition includes the thrill of crossing the Polar Circle (subject to conditions). You’ll travel through the heart of the peninsula’s pristine landscape of floating icebergs and encounter curious animal life. Spend time observing from the deck or enjoy a fun Zodiac ride to historic sites.
Also known as the ice factory, the Weddell Sea boasts a stunning west coast and there’s no better vessel to travel on than the famous Greg Mortimer, which has been ice-strengthened to ensure your journey is smooth. Witness huge ice shelves and explore the Peninsula on foot for an enthralling adventure.
Of all our Antarctica trips, this one is a true adventure. You’ll explore the rarely visited Bellingshausen Sea, Marguerite Bay and Alexander Head. Most of the excursion is spent beyond the Polar Circle, where you’ll find breathtaking wilderness and scenery.
For animal lovers, there’s no place like South Georgia. You can expect gobsmacking landscapes and incredible opportunities for animal sightings. Creatures you can expect to see include the magnificent wandering albatross, King penguins and the entertaining elephant seals.
Antarctica may have a reputation as something of a remote region – and indeed that is part of its fascinating appeal to many – but here at WILDFOOT we take great pride in making it accessible to a wide range of intrepid travellers. Antarctic holidays simply come no better than ours, thanks to our combination of unrivalled local expertise, competitively-priced packages and a commitment to fulfilling your most specific needs for an Antarctica break.
As the Antarctica region becomes progressively more reachable for more and more travellers, here at WILDFOOT, we do everything possible to give you the true trip of a lifetime to this endlessly stimulating part of the world. Nowhere else could you expect to encounter such intriguing and often thrilling wildlife, for example, searching for Emperor Penguins in and around the Weddell Sea, and walking amongst thousands of King Penguins in South Georgia along with Gentoo, Macaroni, Adelie and Chinstrap penguins around other parts of the peninsula.
Other wildlife must-sees on your Antarctic holidays include albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins – but it isn’t merely the ‘local residents’ that will take your breath away on a break to the polar region. That’s because the region also serves up the most spectacular scenery, composed of mammoth glaciers and towering mountains, as well as huge icebergs and even spring meadows and grassland, depending on whether you centre your trip on the Antarctic mainland or such nearby islands as South Georgia and the Falklands. You can even view wildlife and encounter icebergs from on board zodiacs – a truly up-close experience.
While the inhospitality of Antarctica has not lent itself to the development of a native culture, there is nonetheless much to be found on the Falklands and Tristan da Cunha, where the descendants of 19th and 20th century settlers work the land and exploit the sea to live. Our Antarctic holidays also present you with the opportunity to head pole-wards in the footsteps of legendary explorers like Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen – even making a poignant visit to Shackleton’s grave.
However, don’t forget that with WILDFOOT your Antarctic adventure will also be an exceptionally comfortable one, for as long as you are onboard one of our luxury ships with their spacious cabins, five-star service and on-board cuisine, your comfort and enjoyment is the priority. At the same time, we ensure the best possible value for money on your trip through our close work with the finest expedition operators. We offer expeditions on all standards of ship, which opens up our experience to those travelling on all budgets.
Our dedication to every aspect of your Antarctic holidays should make us your first choice when you seek to journey to this most remarkable end of the earth. Contact the friendly and professional team at WILDFOOT now for a more in-depth discussion of your options and to book your dream Antarctica break.