Journey Below the Antarctic Circle 14 daysAboard: RCGS Resolute
This remote stretch of the Antarctic Peninsula is visited for just a few short months each year. From January onwards, seasonal ice conditions give us our best chance of achieving our objective - crossing the Antarctic Circle. Here we witness expansive landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries and we hope to see the large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation on this expedition. Detaille Island, below the Circle is a spectacular location. The snowy peaks which surround us, soar more than 2,000 meters above the ice-strewn waters. We aim to cross 66 degrees, 33 minutes South of latitude, which officially marks the position of the Antarctic Circle on the global map. We then return north, along the heavily glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine, Fish and Yalour Island archipelagos along the way and into the Gerlache Strait and Danco coast region.
There is an exciting selection of activities to choose from – including short or long hikes ashore, visits to historic points of interest and wildlife colonies, zodiac cruising looking for whales and seals or simply photographing the incredible icebergs. Such activities are enjoyed in the company of your onboard team of wilderness guides, naturalists, marine biologists, historians and photographers. For those with an adventurous streak why not spend a night ashore camping like the early Antarctic explorers?
- Cross the fabled Antarctic Circle visiting remote historic locations and wildlife colonies
- Spectacular scenery
- Amazing marine wildlife
- Myriad birdlife
- Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, zodiac cruising and from the ship
- In-depth exploration of the Gerlache coastline and Antarctic Peninsula
- Visits to historic sites and science stations
- Learn about the environment, wildlife and ecology of Antarctica from polar experts
- Exciting activity options including kayaking
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Transfers to & from ship
- Loan of waterproof boots
- All zodiac excursions and landings
- Programme of expert lectures
- Resident photography guide
So much to experience
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Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. 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.
At Sea - Drake Passage
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as make our way south. Photographing these magnificent birds 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. As we approach the coastline of Antarctica, we anticipate an increase in whale sightings.
Antarctic Circle & Lower Antarctica Peninsula
Seeing the continent for the first time will take your breath away. Given favorable ice conditions, our first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950’s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Further exploration this far south is highly dependent on optimal weather and ice conditions. If conditions allow, we may push even further to the south.
This vicinity marks our turnaround point and from now on, we cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. We hope to visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows us to stretch our legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut.
Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage.
Gerlache Strait & Antarctic Peninsula
We aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on our way 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. The good news is, our adventure is not over and we still have several days of exciting exploration ahead.
Orne Harbour is another celebrated location we hope to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides excellent access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large Gentoo penguin colony which we observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site.
For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real thrill. It is in this vicinity we hope to spend a night ashore camping for those interested, if weather conditions permit. We have all the gear and an expert team of guides to make this unique experience happen.
We are now at our most northern point on the Peninsula. Visits to Mikkelson Harbour and nearby Cierva Cove round out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, we reflect on an incredible week of exploration.
South Shetland Islands
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, we arrive in 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 history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. 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 also 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, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise.
At Sea - Drake Passage
As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
In the early morning, we will arrive back in Ushuaia. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.
A view from Above
RCGS Resolute has been purpose built for polar expedition cruising with the highest ice class (Lloyds 1AS). Equipped with propellers of stainless steel, high density steel plating and small frame spacing on her hull, RCGS Resolute continues into the ice, when others simply cannot.
Designed for comfort, RCGS Resolute is modern, well appointed, safe and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, there are public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need. Two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180 degree views and a wonderfully stocked library provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. The sumptuous meals prepared for you by the culinary team are enjoyed in either of the two dining rooms, one of which features a popular bistro menu offering quick and easy meals for those prioritising time out on deck. Both dining rooms have ample and open seating paired with modern furnishings and large picture windows with 180 degree views. Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, gymnasium, wellness centre, hot water spa, sauna and steam room and salt water pool.
There are 6 different cabin categories and all cabins feature outside viewing, from traditional port holes to expansive panoramic windows, as well as lounge quarters, spacious bathrooms and high-quality furnishings.
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
Overall I think that it was an excellent trip that was well worth the price paid and I would have no hesitation recommending your company to others.Steve Sutton
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
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