Mawson's Antarctica, Commonwealth Bay 28 daysAboard: 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.
- 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
So much to experience
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Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Antarctica adventure for you.
Mike has more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
Having amassed a host of extraordinary adventures in destinations all over the world, Zoe’s experience, skills and enthusiasm for helping clients plan their ideal itinerary will help make your holiday unforgettable, action packed and life-changing.
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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.
A view from Above
A recently refurbished Russian survey ship with accommodation for 48 passengers. All cabins have outside views and range from suites to twin share cabins. Public areas incude lecture room, bar/lounge, dining room and hospital. There is 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
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