11 days from £10240pp plus international flights.
Starting off in Punta Arenas, Chile, this trip will allow you to experience the wonders of the Antarctic Circle including off-ship exploration on the Antarctic Peninsula. If you are looking for an Antarctic holiday to tick lots of boxes then this itinerary should do just that.
Saving valuable time, you fly from Punta Arenas to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands where you will board the ship and head south to towards the Antarctic Circle. The area is teaming with wildlife both above and below the water, and you should see some magnificent seabirds, including the wandering albatross.
There will be opportunity to cruise the ice floes and go ashore in the ship’s Zodiac boats, and you can explore the peninsula. We aim to reach the Antarctic Circle in the vicinity of Detaille Island, before turning north and visiting some of the classic landmarks such as Petermann Island, Planeau Island, where we witness the iceberg ‘graveyard’. There will be an opportunity to go ashore and explore at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. You will get to observe wildlife colonies and visit historic huts and science bases, all the while taking in the magnificent landscapes that are quite breath taking.
A visit the South Shetland Islands including Deception Island is on the cards before disembarking at King George Island. From here you will fly back to South America, a journey of just 2 hours, again making the most of your time, as to sail the open waters of the Drake Passage would take about 2 additional days.
This itinerary has it all with jaw-dropping scenery, wildlife and points of historic and scientific interest. What is doesn’t have is predictability and boredom. Safety is the top priority and as weather conditions may vary it can mean that the itinerary and shore excursions have to change as you go, but it’s what keeps things exciting and varied. This is the Antarctic after all, and not your run-of-the-mill holiday.
You will meet your fellow travellers at a central location in Punta Arenas, Chile and then transfer to the airport for the 90 minute flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. There will be time to explore this quaint town, reminiscent of a rural coastal town in the UK before making your way to the ship for embarkation. Settle in to your cabin, explore the ship and meet the expedition team – make yourself at home. A welcome cocktail and dinner are served as we cast off, destination Antarctica and an exciting adventure.
Settle in as the Captain charts a southerly course. The South Atlantic is home to an abundance of wildlife and hundreds of seabirds will join the vessel as she sails. Giant petrels and Cape petrels are almost always around and you will have ample opportunites to perfect your photography skills with a photography expert on hand. The onboard experts will host a series of presentations and impart their knowledge of the wildlife, history and locations that await.
Weather may dictate our landing sights but the plan is to visit Elephant Island. Shackleton and 4 companions set off from here over 100 years ago. Point Wild, a notoriously tricky landing sight is also on the cards, a thrilling place to set foot.
Weather permitting, we go ashore at King George Island. Penguin Island and Turret Point provide good opportunities to go ashore and see Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here.
After lunch, the ship continues to sail south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Straight, an important migration corridor for wildlife so keep an eye out for whales. From here on large icebergs are prevalent and make stunning scenic photographs, particularly at sunset. In the morning you will see the mountain peaks of the Antarctic and a landing at Wilhelmina Bay is on the agenda. Afterwards we continue into the Errera Channel and hopefully a shore landing at Cuverville Island, where gentoo penguins await. Perhaps you might like to take part in a Zodiac cruise, or enjoy a sea kayak excursion.
We’ll continue through the icy waters towards the Antarctic Circle. Weather permitting we will sail south of the Circle and into Crystal Sound landing at Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut dating back to the 1950s. The ship then navigates north to explore more breath-taking and dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. We hope to visit a scientific base working on climate-related research. Take a short hike to a historic British Antarctic Survey hut, weather permitting we can enjoy an exciting overnight camping experience - an adventure few individuals will be able to lay claim to.
Visit Adelie penguins, gentoos and imperial comorants on Petermann Island. Look out for the impressive towering granite formations of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott marking the entrance to the Lemaire Channel. This location lends itself to Zodiac cruises, allowing you to get close to the massive icebergs, making you feel small and insignificant in the small Zodiac.
Heading north towards Paradise Harbour, we aim to cross the Lemaire Channel. All things being equal this may be the first time you actually set foot on the Antarctic continent itself. Throughout this journey you are encouraged to spend as much time as possible out on deck, taking in the amazing scenery and surrounds and soaking up the beauty of this magical continent and the wildlife that resides here or passes through.
By morning we will arrive at the South Shetland Islands and if conditions allow we will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is the site of the very first flight in Antarctica, made by Australian aviation pioneer in 1928. There may also try landing at Half Moon or Yankee Harbour. This area is a great location for a Zodiac cruise or perhaps another hike. You can reflect on your Antarctic expedition while still surrounded by this hauntingly beautiful landscape.
This morning the ship anchors off King George Island and after a hearty final breakfast you will be transferred ashore to the airstrip as your journey on board comes to an end. The flight Punta Arenas in southern Chile will take 2 hours. On arrival, a transfer is provided to downtown hotels where you will have the evening at your leisure. (As of October 2017, a complimentary night at a hotel in Punta Arenas is included for all guests departing George Island.) You can explore the town, home to some great restaurants, bars and cafes. Perhaps you might choose to visit the Shackleton Bar at the Hotel Jose Nogueira, a fitting place to round off your trip.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before making your way to the airport. Your Antarctic odyssey has come to an end, but we are sure you will be armed with some wonderful memories, a whole heap of photographs and a wealth of new knowledge on this fascinating part of the world.
Guide price from (pp sharing): £10240 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: Price from: £10,240pp (in twin semi-private cabin) Private - £11,045 Superior - £11,600 Suites - £12,750 or £14,000 (all prices ex. international flights).
Transfers including flights from Punta Arenas to Port Stanley and George Island to Punta Arenas. From October 2017 final night hotel in Punta Arenas is included. On board accommodation, meals, snacks, tea and coffee. Use of on board expedition gear and boots. Shore excursions and activities; guided hikes; walks; presentations by expedition guides and on board naturalists.
International flights and taxes; visas; meals not shown; drinks; items of a personal nature. Kayaking must be pre-booked at an additional charge.
Getting there: This itinerary starts and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Akademik Ioffe is a purpose built oceanographic vessel accommodating just 96 guests.
Akademik Sergey Vavilov is almost identical to her sister ship, Akademik Ioffe.
A well-established and popular hotel in central Punta Arenas, convenient before and after an Antarctic cruise
/5 from reviews
Time: Arctic GMT -5 Antarctic GMT -3
Flight time: Flight time approximately 22 hours to Ushuaia (Argentina) or Punta Arenas (Chile) (no direct flights from the UK)
Language: English is the most widely spoken language
Visas: Not required for British nationals for Antarctica, South Georgia or the Falkland Islands.
Health: None required but tetanus may be recommended. No other vaccinations are compulsory.