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Epic Antarctica + Falklands Option

Epic Antarctica + Falklands Option 22 days

Prices From £16,628pp
12 JAN, 2019 | Up to 21 nights

Epic Antarctica + Falklands Option 22 days

Aboard: Akademik Ioffe

Quite simply – the most in-depth exploration of Antarctica ever offered. Only scientists and researchers who spend many months working at the numerous research stations in Antarctica can claim to spend more time ‘down on the ice’. Over the course of three weeks, we spend an un-precedented 16-days onshore, exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, cross the Antarctic Circle, South Shetland Islands, the spectacular, icy Weddell Sea region and the wildlife-rich Falkland Islands. In practical terms, this voyage will provide you with more than THIRTY off-ship excursions.

On this voyage we visit wildlife colonies, historic sites, science bases and spend plenty of time ashore enjoying extended walks, many up to stunning viewpoints. In our Zodiac boats. We cruise among the icefloes searching for whales and seals, or admiring and photographing the deep blue icebergs. You are accompanied by expert guides – including qualified naturalists, marine biologists, glaciologists, bird experts, historians and adventure guides. All have their areas of expertise and will educate you through fascinating presentations and lively, interactive discussions aboard the ship. A resident professional photographer is also there to help you capture Antarctica through the camera lens.

In depth, pre and post expedition tours of the Falkland Islands can be added to this itinerary. Please ask for details.

Highlights

  • The most in-depth Antarctica expedition available
  • Cross the Antarctic Circle
  • Spectacular scenery
  • Amazing marine wildlife
  • Myriad birdlife
  • Fly the Drake

What's Included

  • Flights Punta Arenas to Stanley & return
  • Full board accommodation on board ship
  • Loan of waterproof boots
  • All zodiac excursions and landings
  • Programme of expert lectures

Too much to choose from? This is where we come in

Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Antarctica adventure for you.

Zoe Savage-Morton Travel Specialist

With countless travel experiences and an enduring hunger for adventure, Zoe knows exactly what’s needed to craft a holiday of a lifetime. Her experience and generosity of spirit are legendary and she’ll help you build an itinerary that will make all your dreams come true.

Michael Gardiner Senior Travel Expert

Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.

Simon Rowland Senior Travel Expert

Simon’s deep passion for and first-hand knowledge of a vast range of destinations all over the world gives him the ideal skills to help you create a truly unforgettable wildlife inspired adventure to the most exciting places on the planet.

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Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
1Day

Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at a central location before transferring to the airport for our scheduled flight to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands.  After a short 90-minute journey we are met on arrival and transferred to the pier. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal Britain. It is charming with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980’s, is a sobering reminder of recent history. There is time to explore the town, before we make our way to the ship for embarkation. In the evening, we depart for Antarctica.

Please note, it is possible to arrive earlier in the Falklands and spend time experiencing the superb wildlife and/or battlefield sites.

At Sea towards Antarctica
2 - 3Days

At Sea towards Antarctica

We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. If we enjoy good sailing conditions crossing to Antarctica, we may include a visit to the very historic location of Elephant Island – a place central to the Shackleton story. It is from here that Shackleton and four of his companions set off on their epic ocean crossing to South Georgia 100 years ago. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swell onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless this a thrilling place to visit.

King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula
4 - 5Days

King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula

This morning we are in position at King George Island – the largest in the South Shetlands group. There are two landing sites here and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. This afternoon we continue our journey south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Strait – making our way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife and we keep a lookout for whales in the waters surrounding the ship. Large icebergs will be present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs in the evening light. By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and we should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay, where we often encounter  pods of humpback whales. We navigate under the cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island – home to a rookery of Gentoo penguins. It’s a fantastic location for a zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.

Towards the Antarctic Circle and Gerlache Coastline
6 - 8Days

Towards the Antarctic Circle and Gerlache Coastline

Soak up the scenery as we navigate south and pass through the ice strewn waters making our way towards the Antarctic Circle. Given favourable ice conditions, our first goal will be to sail south of the Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favoured landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950’s.This vicinity marks our turnaround point and from now on, we return in a northerly direction exploring the vdramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. We hope to visit a working scientific base to learn something ofthe important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows us to stretch our legs and explore a historic British Antarctic Survey hut. If the conditions are right, we aim to offer our overnight camping programme to all adventurers somewhere in this vicinity. We have all the gear onboard and an experienced team to make this a night to remember!

Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and imperial shags. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run a round in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you can possibly imagine. For many, a Zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.

Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
9 - 10Days

Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

We cruise north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. By the following morning we arrive in the South Shetland Islands. Whalers Bay at Deception Island is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian explorer and pioneer aviator, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike, high up onto the rim of the crater.

King George Island
11Day

King George Island

This morning we are anchored off King George Island. You will say farewell to many of your fellow passengers as they disembark, transfer to the airstrip and board their charter flight back to South America. There will be an opportunity to go ashore, or you may wish to relax on board, updating the diary or visit the multi-media room to download and back up your images. New guests are welcomed aboard the ship and we are soon underway – for the second leg of our epic adventure.

Northern Antarctic Peninsula
12 - 15Days

Northern Antarctic Peninsula

For the next three days we have a varied itinerary exploring the northern peninsula coastline. This whole region is one large Polar ‘playground’ with a great variety of landing sites. As always the weather and ice will dictate our route. Planned visits could include Port Charcot, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay. All three locations offer excellent hiking opportunities, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to and land on Danco Island – a large dome shaped island affording terrific views of the whole region from its summit.

Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location we could stop at for a second visit, as we frequently encounter pods of humpback whales in this area. If the channel south of Brooklyn Island is ice-free, we may ship cruise through here as we push to the north into the broad expanse of the Gerlache Strait. Cierva Cove and Mikkelsen Harbour are also possible locations we could visit – both providing good Zodiac cruising opportunities. We are now on our way towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. On our port side, will be the South Shetland Islands. It won’t be the first time you have cruised these waters, but there are some terrific sites here which we may go and explore. Half Moon Island is nearby and is home to a sizeable chinstrap penguin rookery. Across the MacFarlane Strait is Yankee Harbour – with its broad pebble beach – a known location for Weddell seals.

Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
16 - 17Days

Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea

At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, 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. Heading into the Weddell Sea we notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation – and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. 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. Such colonies dwarf the rookeries we have visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice floes through which we navigate the ship. We have enjoyed successful sightings of emperor penguins in this area in recent years. Based on the size and plumage, our naturalists believe them to be juveniles out exploring and fishing – and possible residents of the known emperor colony on the southern side of Snow Hill Island.

The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjöld’s Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century-old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after their ship had been lost in the ice months earlier. 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 (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before us.

Elephant Island, Antarctica
18Day

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.

At Sea towards Falkland Islands
19 - 20Days

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 programme continues and our experts entertain us with interactive presentations and leading lively discussions.

West Point & Saunders Islands
21Day

West Point & Saunders Islands

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. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easy forgotten.

One final highlight awaits – a visit to the wildlife-rich 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. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life’s great travel experiences.

Port Stanley
22Day

Port Stanley

In the early morning, we navigate through the narrows and into Stanley. There is again 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.

Note, it is possible to remain in the Falkland Islands for further days to explore and see wildlife and historical sites. Please ask for details.


A view from Above

All Aboard

Akademik Ioffe
Adventure vessel

Akademik Ioffe

Built in Finland in 1989 as a Russian polar research vessel, the Akademik Ioffe, was operating as One Ocean Navigator until recently, is a comfortable, stable, ice-strengthened ship with all the facilities for modern expedition cruising. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with windows or portholes and some with private facilities. Public areas include dining room, lounge, bar, library with forward facing windows, multi-media room with Apple Mac computers and photo management software, presentation room, mud room, passenger lift and gift shop. There is also a wellness centre, sauna, spa, salt-water plunge pool, fitness room and infirmary. Along with plenty of open deck space, there is a top deck with 360degrees views and a small observatory with spotting scope. The ship has an open-bridge policy.

we work hard to earn passionate reviews from our clients.

Now that I am back from my odyssey voyage, I thought I would let you know that after all that planning it really did exceed my expectations – we managed landings everywhere even on Tristan da Cuhna and had great bird sightings. The guides all knew what they were talking about too and made sure I got some great photos – still sorting them all out! Thanks for everything and see you at Birdfair!

Dave Martin

I want to thank you for all you did to make my recent Falklands trip run so smoothly and comfortably. Thank you for all your help over the diet too.

Dr Lorna Mairs

Just a quick note to express my sincere thanks to you and all your staff for making this an epic adventure of immense proportions. Everything went smoothly, pickups, hotels and most of all the expedition itself. Truly a mind blowing experience unlike any I have ever taken.

Mr J Borg, Malta

Ready to start planning youronce in a lifetime trip?

Call us
0800 195 3385
Outside the uk
+ 44 1625 5811 43
Call us
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Ready to start planning youronce in a lifetime trip?

Call us - 0800 195 3385
Outside the uk? + 44 1625 5811 43
+ 44 1625 5811 43 Call us - 0800 195 3385

Chat Now

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callback

Fill in our
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