Day 1 Punta Arenas, Chile
After an overnight flight, you arrive in Santiago, Chile, clear Customs and Immigration, and then board your connecting domestic flight south to Punta Arenas (Airport code: PUQ). The flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas will take you along the Andes. Providing it is a clear day, those with window seats along the left-hand side of the aircraft will be treated to stunning alpine scenes including massive calving glaciers and their lakes, rugged mountain views, volcanoes and, if the pilot is of a mind, a possible fly-by of the magnificent Torres del Paine. After transferring to our hotel, spend the remainder of the day relaxing or becoming acquainted with this fascinating, centuries-old port. In the evening, join fellow expedition members for a welcome dinner.
IMPORTANT: Due to limited capacity this eclipse expedition accommodates only double occupancy - two people in a room in Chile and in a tent in Antarctica. Those traveling solo will be assigned a room partner of the same gender.
Day 2 Clothing Review – Rental Pick-Up
After breakfast, we meet with our expedition representative to check our Antarctic clothing and ensure we have all that we need to be safe and comfortable on the ice. This evening, before dinner on your own, meet up with fellow expedition members to meet the people that have made this entire expedition possible. Those of you that have rented expedition parkas, boots and pants will collect your gear at this time.
Day 3 - Baggage Pickup – Pre-Flight Briefing – Standby Begins
In the morning each traveler’s luggage is weighed (baggage allowance limited to 25 kg / 55 lbs per person) and prepared for loading on our chartered jet for departure, weather permitting. Any clothing not needed in Antarctica can be stored at your hotel until our return. Please note that once our Antarctic gear is picked up for our flight, we won’t be able to access it again until we arrive at Union Glacier. Later, we assemble for our expedition pre-flight briefing, which includes information on our flight south, the current weather situation, and what to expect upon arrival in Antarctica. Once concluded, we’re all on standby for our incredible flight south.
Day 4 - Flight To Union Glacier, Antarctica 79°S
We call your hotel room with an update on the latest conditions in Antarctica. If the weather is suitable for our flight, the key is to move fast – we have slightly less than an hour to prepare before the bus leaves our hotel. At Punta Arenas airport we pass through security and immigration formalities before proceeding to the aircraft, climb aboard, get a special safety briefing from the flight crew, and take off toward the south. Our route – with a flying time of approximately four hours – crosses the Drake Passage, whose storm-tossed waters have challenged sailors for centuries. It follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula before carrying on southward along the jagged spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. As Union Glacier at last comes into view, we land on its natural blue-ice runway – and then take our first steps onto The White Continent. From the blue-ice landing strip, specially adapted vehicles carry us on the short 8-km (5-mile) drive to Union Glacier Base Camp (79.767° S and 82.867° W), where the hospitable camp team welcomes us with a hot meal. After an initial briefing, you’re shown to your sleeping accommodations in a spacious and comfortable walk-in, 2-person clamshell tent.
Days 5-9 - Expedition To Antarctica & Total Solar Eclipse
In the morning we meet with our expert guide for an orientation to Antarctica, and Union Glacier in particular, including environmental and safety considerations for our time on the ice. We also tour our base camp and discover the intricacies of daily life in Antarctica. For the rest of the day, you can acclimatize to our new surroundings and participate in some optional easygoing activities. You can be as active or relaxed as you like while at Union Glacier. Each morning after breakfast we will meet with you to discuss the day’s options, and organize activities tailored to the weather and your interests. Using specially adapted vehicles, we have arranged an impressive variety of group excursions, and there are plenty of activities you can do on your own around camp. Take a walk, cross-country ski, or try out one of our fat-tire bikes on the groomed 10 km (6 mile) loop. If you’re looking for something more low-key, check out a book, movie, or game in our polar library. In the evenings, enjoy a delicious, chef-prepared dinner, then join our guest lecturers who will host engaging talks on a variety of topics from polar history to glaciology, astronomy, to, of course, the December 4 total solar eclipse. Many will share photos and stories of their own expeditions to remote parts of Antarctica and beyond.
Day 10 - Return To Punta Arenas, Chile
Weather permitting, the aircraft from Punta Arenas arrives at Union Glacier on our scheduled departure day with a new collection of avid explorers – and soon takes off with our group for the final leg of our Antarctic journey. Back in Punta Arenas, we transfer to our hotel. Our team will be on hand to assist wherever possible with arrangements for the conclusion of your journey.
Day 11 - Buffer Day In Chile
With the changeability of weather conditions inherent in this expedition, we have created this buffer day, affording flexibility as you make your plans for onward travels.
Day 12 - Onward Travel
After breakfast, transfer to Punta Arenas airport for your flight onward.