From January onwards, seasonal ice conditions give the best chance of achieving the crossing of the Antarctic Circle. You will be able to witness sweeping landscapes and the unique midnight sun. As well as the sizeable Adelie penguin rookeries and hopefully the large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. The aim is to make landfall at Detaille Island, located below the Antarctic Circle, where you’ll venture onshore to explore an old science base. Continue navigating north into the Gerlache region to visit a working research station. We aim to enjoy a Zodiac cruise through the spectacular ‘iceberg graveyard’ at Pleneau Island.
Off-ship excursions provide an exciting selection of activities to choose from. Such as short or long hikes ashore, visits to historic sites and wildlife colonies, Zodiac cruising looking for whales and seals or merely photographing the incredible icebergs. These activities are enjoyed in the company of the onboard team of wilderness guides, naturalists, marine biologists, historians and photographers. Transit the Lemaire Channel and into the northern reaches of the Gerlache Strait – home to dozens of outstanding locations which beg further exploration. A final highlight on this Antarctic Circle Voyage will be a visit to the enchanting South Shetland Islands, home to some of our favourite landing sites.
The RCGS Resolute has a max capacity of 146 passengers in 6 different cabin categories. It’s comfortable, and spacious cabins are spread over six decks and all feature lower berths and outside views. The RCGS Resolute offers expedition cruising with the highest ice class. What’s more, in between excursions you can indulge in the saltwater plunge pool, hot water jacuzzi, steam room or sauna. It offers outstanding observation areas both inside and from the outer decks that allow you to be entirely absorbed by the coastal landscapes along the way. The complimentary expedition kit including jacket, waders, drybag and binoculars, is included for use on voyages.
Departs (from Ushuaia) on 17 Jan 2020 to 28 Jan 2020
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. Gather at the meeting point and transfer to the pier to embark your expedition ship. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Heading south, you’ll reach the Antarctic Circle due to the capabilities of the expedition vessel – RCGS Resolute. Her superior speed ensures a swift crossing of the Drake Passage on your way south of the circle. This stretch of water is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. Hundreds of seabirds including the celebrated wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we 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. Later, perhaps join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel.
Throughout the journey our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history. The presence of icebergs announces our arrival into Antarctic waters.
We awaken today, and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. We plan to navigate via Matha Strait and will attempt a shore landing at Detaille Island, below the Antarctic Circle. An abandoned British science station – ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s 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. We toast our success on crossing the Antarctic Circle, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration.
Overnight we have navigated north towards the low-lying Yalour Island group. 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 offshore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these huge 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.
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 great hiking opportunities up to panoramic viewpoints. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. It is somewhere in this vicinity we hope to offer camping.
Orne Harbour is another beautiful location we hope to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides stunning views and great 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 with the landing site. For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a possibility. We navigate into Wilhelmina Bay – a known location for large numbers of humpback whales which we view near from the ship or when out Zodiac cruising.
After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, we head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor, and we expect sightings of humpbacks or the resident pod of Orca that inhabit this stretch of water.
By morning 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 fascinating place, and history is all around as you 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, high up onto the rim of the crater.
After leaving Deception Island, we cruise along the coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day, is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetlands including Half Moon Island. There is also 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. Hannah Point, with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels, is another possibility. In the evening, we navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the 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 at the multimedia stations and download 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 is a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in the early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Transfer to your hotels or the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America.