Antarctic Peninsula - Polar Circle Whale Watching 14 DaysAboard: MV Ortelius
This special itinerary offers you a unique opportunity to cross the Polar Circle and venture further south of Antarctica than most expeditions go. Surrounded by spectacular Polar landscapes and an abundance of wildlife and birdlife you will enjoy unrivalled experiences and adventures. With a focus on whale watching this voyage will take you through waters travelled by Humpback, Minke and Fin whales. Anchoring in various spots around the region, this fantastic expedition also offers the chance to hike, and dive in the iceberg-heavy waters.
- Step foot on the Antarctic Continent
- Cross the Antarctic Circle and sail further south than most expeditions venture to
- Sail the scenic Beagle Channel & Drake Passage
- Encounter an impressive array of wildlife including whales, countless birds and penguins
- Optional activities including hiking and diving in the iceberg-heavy waters of Antarctica
- Luggage transfer to ship and group transfer from ship
- Full board accommodation on board
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
So much to experience
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our popularitinerary Suggestions
All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Your Antarctica and South Shetland Islands expedition will begin in Ushuaia, Argentina, where after having arrived independently you will embark your ship in the afternoon. As you settle in to your cabin, your ship will sail through the scenic waterway of the Beagle Channel. You may want to spend some time on deck capturing the sight of the city fading into distance behind you and looking out for the seabirds that follow the ship.
At Sea - Drake Passage
During these two days we will sail across the famous Drake Passage, encountering a variety of seabirds along the way. You may want to spend some time on deck in search of bird sightings including wandering, grey-headed, black-browed and the beautiful light-mantled sooty albatross, southern fulmars, Wilson's storm, blue, Cape and Antarctic petrels. There may also be whale sightings, and your programme of entertaining and informative lectures and presentations will begin, along with safety and bio-environmental briefings for your time in Antarctica. As we pass the Antarctic Convergence and sail close to the Shetland Islands we will spot the first of many icebergs.
Welcome to Antarctica, a land of superlatives! Enchanting scenery, unique wildlife encounters and thrilling adventures await as we spend our days exploring by Zodiac and on foot to get up close to the action. At this time of year you can expect numerous humpback whale sightings, as well as a hive of wildlife activity on the beaches with countless penguin chicks and leopard seals.
Your exact itinerary here will be determined by weather and ice conditions with your captain choosing each day which areas to visit for optimum experiences. We will sail directly to “High Antarctica”, passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. During our days here, we will optimize the experience to get the best of everything.
Sites that may be visited include Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island where we will find a large colony of Gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of Brown skuas. In Neko Harbour, we may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. Zodiac cruising offers a spectacular way to enjoy the landscape surrounded by ice encrusted alpine peaks.
In Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs, we may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Again, we may offer an opportunity for a zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing waterway. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback whales and Minke whales before heading south though the spectacular Lemaire Channel.
Sailing Through the Gullet - Polar Circle
On the morning of day 6 you will awake among the many islands south of the Lemaire Channel as we push towards the Antarctic Circle. Ice conditions dependent we will sail through the aptly named Gullet – a narrow but picturesque channel between Adelaide Island and the Antarctic Continent. As we venture southwards we will explore via Zodiac to get as up close as possible to the polar terrain. We may circumnavigate around Pourquoi Pas Island, known for its tight fjords and lofty, glacier-crowded mountains, as well as Horseshoe Island, the location of the former British Base Y.
Following that we may explore Stonington Island, the southernmost landing site of the trip and home to the former US East Base and British Base E, before returning northwards to the scenic Hanusse Bay where we will have excellent chances of spotting more whales.
Crossing the Polar Circle is an amazing achievement and our success will be celebrated with delight as we fulfil the ultimate bucket-list experience.
Antarctic Circle - Returning Northwards
Sailing back northwards we will near the Antarctic Circle again, cutting north through the countless ice floes of Crystal Sound. Here we are likely to encounter even more whales as well as Adélie penguins congregating among the bergs nearby. We will approach the Fish Islands for a Zodiac cruise and possibly a landing, with spectacular views that are simply beyond comparison. Our final venture will be to the Petermann & Pléneau Islands which provide a great variety of birdlife, along with possibilities for Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are highly popular among leopard and crabeater seals. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins can also be found here.
As our exhilarating time in Antarctica comes to end it’s time to head back north through the Drake Passage where again the ship will be followed by a vast array of seabirds. Enjoy the last presentations from your team of noted naturalists and take the time to dissolve all of the unforgettable memories you will have made on your once in a lifetime expediton.
As we sail back through the scenic Beagle Channel and arrive in Ushuaia in the early morning it’s sadly time to say goodbye to your crew and fellow shipmates. After breakfast you will disembark and a group transfer will be provided to the airport for onward or homeward journeys.
A view from Above
Ortelius was built as a Russian scientific survey ship with ice strengthened hull, ideal for polar sailing. She has been completely refurbished and has a selection of suites and cabins with windows or portholes and either private or shared facilities. There are twin dining rooms, lecture room, bar and observation lounge and lots of open deck space plus an open-bridge policy. Ortelius also has a helicopter landing pad and helicopter excursions are available on some itineraries.
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
Sign up for our free newsletter
Please enter your email address using the fields below to receive all of the latest news and offers!