Mawson's Antarctica, Commonwealth Bay
Mawson's Antarctica, Commonwealth Bay 28 days aboard Akademik Shokalskiy
This unique and fascinating epic voyage will take you to the remote and rarely visited Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica, the historical site of Sir Douglas Mawson’s fateful expedition over 100 years ago. Sir Douglas Mawson is arguably the grandfather of Antarctic Science, and on this journey accompanied by expert historians you will discover these wild lands and the stories they hold of his 1911-1914 Australian Antarctic Expedition, which is notable for its many achievements but also sadly for its tragedies. Mawson’s Hut at Cape Denison, the initial landing site of his expedition, still stands and if ice and weather conditions are in our favour we will have chance to explore here as well as visiting other notable areas such as the French Research Base of Dumont D’Urville, Port Martin, the McKellar Islands, the Balleny Islands, Cape Adare and the Possession Islands.
As well as discovering the intriguing and historically-rich landscapes, we will be on a constant look out for wildlife with likely penguin, seal and whale sightings throughout, and exceptional birding opportunities in the Snares, Auckland Islands and Macquarie Island.
Please note: landing fees of $880 USD pp are applicable on this itinerary.
Namibia Birding and Photography GuideAn accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country. Read more >
Falklands Expert & GuideBorn in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. Read more >
- Rare landings in NZ sub-Antarctic islands
- Follow in Mawson's footsteps to the rarely explored Commonwealth Bay area of Antarctica
- Historical exploration sites
- Myriad avian and marine wildlife
- One night hotel accommodation pre cruise including dinner and breakfast
- Transfers to and from ship
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- All zodiac and shore excursions
- Programme of expert lectures
ITINERARY27 Nights 28 Days
- Day 1 | Hobart
- Day 2 | Hobart
- Days 3 - 5 | At Sea
- Days 6 - 7 | Macquarie Island
- Days 8 - 10 | At Sea
- Days 11 - 19 | East Antarctica, Commonwealth Bay & Beyond
- Days 20 - 22 | At Sea
- Days 23 - 24 | Campbell Island - Perseverance Harbour
- Day 25 | Auckland Islands - Carnley Harbour
- Day 26 | Auckland Islands - Enderby Island
- Day 27 | The Snares - North East Island
- Day 28 | Invercargill
Arrive independently in Hobart, Tasmania, an island with strong historical links to Antarctica and make your way to your included hotel for an overnight stay. Meet your fellow travellers and expedition team over dinner and prepare yourself for the adventures ahead.
In the morning you will transfer to the port where you will board the Akademik Shokalskiy. Settle in to your cabin and explore your home for the next 26 nights, and join your captain and expedition team at the welcome meeting.
As your adventure begins we will sail through an area known as “the roaring forties” towards Macquarie Island. Throughout these days at sea you can enjoy a series of informative and entertaining lectures on the history and biology of the Subantarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean, as well as attend briefings to prepare for the landings and explorations you will be taking on your voyage. As we cross the seas there are excellent bird watching opportunities so we recommend you spend some time on deck in search of sightings of various Albatross species, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Sooty and Little Shearwaters and perhaps even the Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion.
The remote Macquarie Island supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere, with millions of breeding penguins, large groups of Elephant Seals and other wildlife inhabiting the sandy beaches and the tussock grass. This is also the only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds. As well as exploring the island in search of wildlife encounters you can also visit the Australian Antarctic Base and meet with the park rangers to find out more about this remarkable wildlife paradise.
As we sail southward through the Southern Ocean the excitement will start to build even further as we sail towards Antarctica and drifting icebergs of extraordinary shapes and sizes begin to appear. As we pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight keep your cameras on hand for your first close-up ice photographs, and enjoy some fascinating lectures and presentations on the Antarctic region, including the history of Mawson’s expedition.
East Antarctica, Commonwealth Bay & Beyond
In true expedition style our exact route across the remote East Antarctica coastline will be dictated by ice and weather conditions, with your captain choosing each day the best areas to visit for exploration and wildlife encounters. Our likely first stop will be Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, home to Mawson’s Hut and other relics from the fateful 1911-14 expedition. Notoriously known as the ‘home of the blizzard’, these wild lands are also home to Adelie penguins and weather permitting we will explore the area by foot and on Zodiacs. West from Cape Denison is the French Research Base, Dumont D’Urville which, if permission is granted and ice conditions permit, we will visit, and there is also an Emperor Penguin colony nearby we will hope to explore. Other landings here could include Port Martin, an abandoned French Base, and the McKellar Islands.
Moving eastwards from Cape Denison we will follow the ice edge towards the rarely visited Balleny Islands, a productive area for cetaceans where large numbers of humpbacks have been recorded. These rugged islands have very few landing sites, but we will hope to take a Zodiac cruise to Sabrina Island where there is a small colony of Chinstrap Penguins. This is also one of the few places where Greater Snow Petrels breed.
Further south is Cape Adare, arguably one of the most historic sites in all of Antarctica. It was here in 1895 that one of the first landings on the Antarctic continent was made and in 1899 the first party to winter over in Antarctica built their hut here. Other potential sites in the Northern Ross Sea that we could visit include the Possession Islands and Cape Hallett where we can get amazing views of the northern transantarctic mountains and have some more close up encounters with Adelie penguins.
After an exhilarating time on the white continent, the next few days will be spent at sea as we leave behind the icy waters and extensive daylight hours of the Antarctic and head towards Campbell Island. Your informative lecture programme will continue, with talks now focused on the regions ahead, and some time on deck should reward with sightings of Pelagic birds and cetaceans.
Campbell Island - Perseverance Harbour
Our next two days will be spent on Campbell Island as we make land at Perseverance Harbour and explore the island on foot in search of wildlife encounters and scenic photo opportunities. The rocky islets and sea stacks which make up the island are home to ample birdlife and we can take a short walk to Col Lyall to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross as well as seeking out sightings of Campbell Island Shags and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. On the beaches we are also likely to spot male sea lions hauled out. An area of great natural beauty, walks here are filled with panoramic vistas, and a light trek across the hills to Northwest Bay will reward in the sight of the strange and beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. These huge pink and yellow wild flowers have adapted well to the harsh conditions and provide a spectacular contrast to the icy landscapes we will have witnessed on the previous element of the voyage.
Auckland Islands - Carnley Harbour
Leaving Campbell Island behind we will spend the morning at sea sailing towards the Auckland Islands, arriving in Carnley Harbour in the afternoon. These islands are rich in human history and have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by. The historians who will accompany you will introduce you to the tales of castaways, bullion and coastwatchers as well as an insight into the work carried out by the more recent scientific visitors of today. If weather and sea conditions permit we will visit the Shy Mollymawk colony at South West Cape or if weather is not suitable we will select one of a number of other sites available to us.
Auckland Islands - Enderby Island
One of the most beautiful islands in the group, Enderby Island is a great birding location. Exploring the island on foot and by Zodiac we hope to have the chance to see everything from the famous Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel to parakeets, Bellbirds and the endemic shag, teal and snipe. Sandy Bay on the island is also one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands for the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion.
The Snares - North East Island
As we arrive in the Snares we will visit the group’s largest island, North East Island, which staggeringly is claimed by some as being home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles put together. Exploring by Zodiac around the rugged coastline we will be on the lookout for Cape Petrels and Buller’s Albatross on the imposing cliffs, as well as encountering Snares Crested Penguins and learning about how the islands got their name. During your time here you are also likely to see Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns, Red-billed Gulls, Tomtits and Fernbirds.
As your fantastic wildlife, birding and history expedition comes to an end your ship will arrive at the Port of Bluff in the early morning, where after breakfast you will bid a fond farewell and join the included transfer to Invercargill Airport or to a downtown location.
What Our Customers
Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience...awesome. Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.
We had the time of our lives on board ship...if anybody wants to go to Antarctica, we will certainly advise to go with you.
Huge congratulations to you and all the team for the perfect organisation throughout the trip. From the early planning to the last transfer, everything went without a hitch.
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!
I came to Wildfoot because a friend had booked with you when you were Antarctica Bound and they were right. Everything went perfectly, even when our flight was cancelled, you made sure we still made it to the ship with time to spare. L’Austral is a beautiful ship with first class service and food and the guides looked after us well. Very happy to recommend Wildfoot and L’Austral...
The adventure really was a 'trip of a lifetime' and we are so glad we tagged an extra day in Buenos Aires at either end and that we went Premium Economy, it made all the difference. The ship Sea Explorer was exactly as Simon had described and was very comfortable. South Georgia was the highlight but we were surprised how much wildlife there was to see on the Falklands and we might well book one of your nature trips to the Falklands in the future.
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.
• I wanted to send you a quick thank you email. We had a fantastic trip, the boat, staff, scenery, itinerary, and pretty much everything else was incredible! Thank you so much for arranging the cabin upgrade, we were delighted to have our own room! We had a really brilliant time, and wanted to say thanks so much for being so helpful throughout, we're lucky to have found you.
We had a very special experience organized by you in Feb, especially the wedding in Antarctica and our stay in Patagonia. Thank you.
Many thanks for all you help with our polar trip which exceeded all expectations. We will certainly recommend your company and seriously consider yourselves for future trips.
I just want to thank you for all your help with my Ross Sea trip. It was really the trip of a lifetime & the ship & crew were excellent.
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.
I'm sure you get plenty of compliments, but I just want to follow up telling you what a great time we had on the MS Expedition Antarctica Classic cruise. We were very pleased with all of the staff, on the ground and on the ship. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable. We greatly appreciated their experience and expertise. Their very careful attention to all of the environmental rules and precautions should also be lauded. Thank you for all of your service and attention. If we're planning on one of the other regions that you serve, we'll definitely be in touch!!
We would like to thank you with all our heart for our fabulous trip. It was amazing. Everything was perfect. I recommend Antarctica and South America to everybody. Doing business with you was also a great experience. You are the best travel agent I ever met. I hope to have the chance to do business with you again in the future.
We've just got back from out trip to Patagonia and the Antarctic and want to say a big thank you to all of you at Wildfoot but specifically you, Tina and Sara, for organising our trip and sorting out all my queries before we went. You've all been thoroughly professional - and friendly with it. I always get concerned that hotels won't have received the booking, the air e-tickets won't be recognised or luggage ends up somewhere other that where we are, but I didn't need to worry as everything was well planned in advance and the various elements, air travel, two cruises, hotels etc, fitted seamlessly. You can take this as a 10 out of 10 satisfaction rating and recommendation for your company. You will certainly be my 'go to' provider if we ever do anything similar in the future. Thanks once again for our trip of a lifetime.
I just wanted to say an enormous thank you for your help with my trip. It was the best two weeks of my life! MS Expedition was amazing – their itinerary, their crew, their spirit. It was truly exceptional.One of the best things was how they arranged the rooms, I just had the best roommates and that really made a big difference to the trip. We got to see some fast ice and got out to walk on it – literally walking on the frozen sea. Amazing! I am saving for my next trip and I would not dream of going with anyone but you guys again. Good work! A dream very much come true.
I hope you’re well. I wanted to drop you a line to say we are back from Antarctica and had a wonderful time with Ponant. The trip exceeded our expectations in every respect, and I haven’t yet found enough superlatives to describe it to friends! Antarctica was breathtaking (as you know), and we loved pretty-much everything about Ponant. It was the perfect fit for us and I’m very grateful to you for taking the time to help with the booking. Having read the nightmares that Silversea have been having with the Silver Cloud, we felt lucky to be onboard Le Lyrial. Of course the only downside of a trip like this is we want to go back - best start saving now! Thanks again for all of your help and support with the booking process. Ponant was exactly as you described it. We have our eye on a couple of other cruises with them so I might be in touch soon.
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.
We had the most fantastic time! Everything exceeded our expectations - the ship, the expedition team, the scenery and the most amazing wildlife experiences - 15 humpback whales around the ship one sunset was particularly stunning. Thank you so much to you and your colleagues for your expert advice (the cabin choice was just perfect, especially for the bumpy days!) and guidance and helping made this experience so great. My lifetime's ambition was to visit Antarctica and you all helped make that possible. I should also say that the arrangements in Buenos Aires worked really well too. I think we all have ideas about the next trip - Svalbard or the NorthWest Passage - but maybe in a couple of years, although we do each have $1500 in vouchers from Quark! I am not on Facebook myself but will try to put a review on either of the links below. I've received the new brochure already.
A great big thanks to all at Wildfoot Travel for making my Antarcti Expediton an epic adventure of immense proportions. Everything went smoothly, pickups, hotels and most of all the expedition itself. A truly mind blowing experience unlike any I have ever taken. Looking forward to the next trip with you.
Just came back from a trip aboard the Ortelius to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. Thank you Wildfoot for organising it so well. We had the trip of a lifetime and everything ran very smoothly and stress free so many, many thanks
I travelled to the Antarctica Circle with Wildfoot. It was a memorable trip. The MS Expedition was definately the right choice. The ship is very nice, very comfortable, very clean, the crew is fantastic, the meals were very good, the expedition staff very kind and extremely knowledgeable and professional. All activities were very well and timely organized in a safety manner. Besides that, despite haveing had a rough sea on the Drake on way in, we were quite lucky with the weather (we got some cloudy days but also snow, bright sunshine and beautiful sunsets,) making every landing a wonderful happening. All in all, it was less than perfect.
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