Day 1 – Ushuaia, Argentina
Gather in Ushuaia with time explore the community that lays claim to being the most southerly town. Embark Polar Pioneer in the afternoon for introductory and safety briefings, then set sail along the Beagle Channel.
Days 2 to 3 – Drake Passage
Our Drake Passage crossing offers cape petrels darting about the ship, black-browed and wandering albatross soaring, and Wilson’s storm petrels flitting above the sea. Learn about Antarctica from our expert naturalist and safety and environmental guidelines from our expedition team as we prepare for our first landing, possibly late on Day 3.
Days 4 to 9 – Antarctic Peninsula
An overnight passage along Gerlache Strait delivers us to the stunning Antarctic Peninsula, an ethereal wonderland of vast proportions. Aboard Zodiacs, we explore penguin rookeries, historic sites and scientific stations and cruise near exquisite icebergs. Our kayakers glide into secluded bays, climbers ascend pristine peaks and our snorkellers delight in marine discoveries. Stepping ashore on the continent creates an everlasting memory. We make the most of every day and a fair bit of each night. A curious leopard seal cruising amongst spectacular icebergs may mean postponing lunch (ours, not the leopard seal’s); loading Zodiacs after dinner for an orca cruise. If the weather allows, we may even sleep-out on the ice – a must for any Antarctic explorer!
Days 10 to 11 – Drake Passage
As the Captain steers the ship north across Drake Passage, our minds and souls revel in rich Antarctic experiences. There’s time to watch for seabirds, enjoy entertaining talks, discuss what we’ve seen and learned, exchange photos and stories. With luck, we may make a ceremonial rounding of Cape Horn before sharing a farewell dinner.
Day 12 – Beagle Channel, Ushuaia
We enjoy a gentle cruise along the Beagle Channel in the early morning. Disembark after breakfast for onward travel or to savour more time in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Day 1 - Arrive Ushuaia
Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to your downtown hotel (preferred flights only).
Day 2 - Embark the ship
This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before exploring Ushuaia on a half-day city tour.
Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests.
On this half day introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel.
During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the End of the World Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4.00 PM. Please note that opening hours to the museum can change without notice, and if the End of the World Museum is closed, we may visit the nearby Old Prison Museum.
As the Greg Mortimer pulls away from port, we’ll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
(Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch is at own expense)
Day 3 - Drake Passage
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Our expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Day 4 - Drake Passage and South Shetland Islands
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks, watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a long time. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Day 5-9 Antarctica Peninsula
Over the next few days a host of choices are open to us, and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. We will generally try for two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
During this voyage, there will be an opportunity to camp ashore (weather and time permitting). This will give you the chance to sample the style of adventure that Scott, Shackleton and other legendary Antarctic explorers experienced, although with slightly better equipment and in more comfort! Rest assured our warm and comfortable ship with its hot showers will only be a short distance away!
There are many exciting places we can choose to visit and our itinerary is deliberately flexible to allow us to pick the best spots on the day based on ice and weather conditions.
A sample of some of the types of places where we may cruise through, land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife include:
- Beautiful protected bays around the Antarctic Peninsula surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, areas that are havens for whales as we keep our eyes open for humpbacks, orcas, minkes, and crabeater seals, as we explore bays in Zodiacs.
- Wildlife-rich islands where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms; gulls nest on turrets, fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches.
- Lemaire Channel - If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.
- Send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world’s most southern Post Office!
Days 10-11 – Drake Passage crossing
Today, our landings come to an end as we re-enter the Drake Passage for our return journey to Ushuaia. With lectures and film presentations to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced, and the impact this voyage has had on our attitude to life.
As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
Day 12 – Disembark Ushuaia
During the early morning, we sail along the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we begin disembarking at around 8.00 am. Farewell your expedition team and fellow travellers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to either downtown Ushuaia or to
the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.