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We start our tour to antarctic at Ushuaia, in the afternoon. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world located in the shadow of the Andes. This beautiful city is located to the south of the Beagle Channel and is the biggest settlement on the Channel.
For the next 11 days, we cruise around the remotest parts of Antarctic Peninsula.
The Antarctic Peninsula is part of the Antarctic Continent and is the southern continuation of the mountain chain that runs from North America through South America into the Scotia Sea. Here it continues as mainly a sub-marine ridge, the Scotia Ridge, until it comes above sea-level at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula consists of an 800 km long mountain chain, the highest peaks rising to approximately 2,800 metres, and numerous off-lying islands. The Peninsula offers the most dramatic scenery and biggest variety of wildlife in Antarctica. It is a mesmerizing sight to see such a huge amount of ice-bergs, glaciers, high mountains and the abundant wildlife!
The trip provides options for exciting activities like Kayaking and field camping.
The next few days will be spent on our vessel, M/v “Plancius,” where you will be accomodated in twin sharing rooms with private windows.
The next two days will be spent sailing across the Drake Passage.
The Drake Passage or Mar de Hoces is the water body between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica; lying about 160 km north of Antarctic Peninsula. This passage connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea) with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean. Before the passage opened, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were separated entirely with Antarctica being much warmer and having no ice cap. The joining of the two great oceans started the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and cooled the continent significantly.
Going further ahead, we arrive at the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone, as we cross the Antarctic Convergence. Look out for a great variety of sea birds like Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels in this region.
As we approach the South Shetland Islands, you will experience the thrill of getting the first glimpses of icebergs. South Shetland Islands comprises a string of islands that stretch across 540 km that run parallel along the north western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of these islands are glaciated and a few of them even known to be volcanic.
The journey continues further ahead, and we pass the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. On Cuverville Island which is a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island, look out for a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas.
If conditions remain favorable, we might land on Danco Island and observe Chinstrap Penguins and possibly Weddell and Crabeater Seals as well. In Neko Harbour, we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glacier and enjoy the landscape during zodiac cruises.
As we sail towards Paradise Bay, we will come across myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords,that provide excellent opportunity for zodiac cruising. A zodiac is a inflatable rubber boat which is very stable and agile and is ideal way to explore areas where larger vessels cannot maneuver. It is a thrilling experience to sail between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords to have a closer encounter with the animals around. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales, that surface out of the icy waters every now and then. We continue to sail towards the Neumayer Channel, known for its majestic cliffs. The channel, in the form of inverted S-shape, is often mistaken to be a maze with no visible exits. Later, we hope to get permission to visit the British research station and post office Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer a landing on Jougla Point, a rocky peninsula which is a breeding ground for Gentoo Penguins Imperial Shag and Skuas.
Sailing through the spectacular Lemaire Channel, we arrive at Pleneau and Petermann Islands where there are many Adelie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. Here there are good chances to encounter Humpback Whales, Minke Whales and Fin Whales as well. A visit to one of the scientific stations in Antarctica will give you an insight about the life of modern Antarcticans working on the White Continent. Further south we may visit the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, where we will receive a warm welcome from the station crew. Sailing north through Neumayer Channel we arrive at the Melchior Islands with a very beautiful landscape with icebergs, where we may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and a few species of Whales.
We will spend the next two days in the Drake Passage, where we again get a chance to spot several species of seabirds. Learn more about the wildlife and the unique environment around as our experienced lecture team shares its knowledge and gives valuable adventure tips.
This is the last day of our exciting cruise. We will reach Ushuaia in the morning and disembark the vessel.
Fitness is vital for this level of activity, as the environment traversed may be remote and challenging. These rugged experiences include long walks, trekking, cycling or rafting in isolated areas through variable weather conditions for up to eight to ten hours a day. These trips are usually 13 to 19 days in duration. Maximum altitude reached will be 4000m and you need to be very fit in order to withstand the weather conditions. Good physical condition is essential and previous hill-walking experience or preparation is advisable.
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