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Day 1 Buenos Aires - City of many passions
Buenos Aires moves to a rhythm that is unmistakably unique to the Argentinian capital. Just ask a local and they’ll tell you straight away: It’s the diverse melting-pot of people who inject vibrancy into the city. These porteños (port people) have roots from all across the globe, bringing their diverse cultures with them. The result is an intoxicating blend of romantic music, tango dancing around every corner, Maradona soccer fans, Old World colonial architecture, and flavorful food.
You’ll spend one night at a hotel in the city before catching an early flight the next morning. Depending on when you arrive, you could fit in some time to explore a slice of this bustling capital. Visit Teatro Colón, a beautiful opera house dating back to 1908. Then pop into the historic Café Tortoni for Parisian-inspired coffees and chocolate-dipped churros. Caminito is a multi-colored street museum in the La Boca neighborhood, filled with lively markets and restaurants hosting live folk dancing and tango shows. The party doesn’t stop there, though. Late into the night, the upscale Palermo district is filled with bars and boliche clubs.
If you’d like to extend your vacation, come a few days early to participate in our Pre-Program and explore the wild land of Patagonia.
Day 2 Buenos Aires/Ushuaia
Estimated time of departure is 7:00 PM
Today you’ll have an early start. We meet in the hotel lobby in the morning to head to the airport for our flight to Ushuaia. The capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province sits on a bay backed by the snow-capped mountains of Martial Glacier, to the north. Although Ushuaia claims to be the world’s southernmost city, two other Chilean cities also lay claim to this dubious title. Your base camp at sea, MS Roald Amundsen, will be waiting here at the port. Once on board, you’ll meet the Expedition Team, who will conduct a mandatory health and safety briefing. Afterward, you will have time to tour the ship and settle into your cabin before we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Your expedition has officially begun!
Day 3-4 Drake Passage
It takes two days of sailing to reach Antarctica. This is a good thing! Two days is the perfect amount of time to both relax and prepare for the adventures ahead.
To make sure you are ready for the days of exploration ahead of you, the Expedition Team will launch a series of insightful lectures at the Science Center. Each member of the Expedition Team specializes in a different subject. You’ll see that they are walking, talking, treasure troves of fascinating stories and information. Listen and learn as they share information about the local wildlife and the IAATO-approved sustainability protocol you must follow if curious penguins or seals come too close to you. The IAATO guidelines include learning the importance of wearing sterilized rubber boots during all Antarctica landings and why we thoroughly vacuum any foreign particles from our clothes beforehand.
You’ll also appreciate how the ship is equipped with all services and facilities added for your comfort. Work out in the gym and or run along the outdoor track circuit. Steam away the soreness from your workout in the sauna, or let masterful hands relax you during a message in the Wellness Spa. Three different onboard restaurants will delight your palate, while the Explorer Lounge & Bar is always the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine or a bit of bubbly. Just because the expedition is exciting doesn’t mean it can’t be luxurious too!
Day 5-9 Antarctica - The Seventh Continent
Antarctic landscapes stretch as far as your eyes can see—a gorgeous world sealed by pristine snow and ice. Tabular icebergs, parts of the great shelves, tower above the waters, while ancient glaciers break off or ‘calve’ into blue-hued icebergs, sculpted magnificently by the wind and the sun. We have entered another world, one devoid of human influence. It is a haven for wildlife like whales, penguins, and seals.
Just as the Antarctic icescapes change throughout its seasons, so does the wildlife. For example, whale populations begin to steadily increase from October through to January, both in number and range of species, and reach their peak in February and March—this is the best whale-watching opportunity. Around this time, the large amount of krill in the waters attract the most whales, in which multiple species swim over for a veritable feeding frenzy. If you arrive here in November, you might spot thousands of penguins courting and building their nests. December arrivals may have their hearts melted by painfully cute penguin chicks, whereas March is usually filled with scenes of adolescent penguins maturing and finally learn how to swim. Other birds, which unlike penguins actually fly, vary throughout the summer months. Eager birdwatchers will be pleased to spot cormorants, shags, egrets, sheathbills, and many more.
You have five days to take in every magical moment. Prepare for the unmatched scenery of Antarctica to leave you breathless. Gaze at distant white mountains during a stroll along the shore, or let a playful pair of Weddell seals delight you as they surface next to your small boat (RIB). They’re checking you out, too, with their large inquisitive eyes. Or hit the jackpot if the weather allows you to join optional activities such as kayaking, snowshoeing, or even camping. These are the kinds of experiences awaiting you in Antarctica. We make the most of each landing and choose the best sites from among numerous possible locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and its surrounding islands.
The Expedition Team will provide ongoing lectures, be it on board the ship, ashore during landings, or even when navigating through icebergs and ice floes on cruises in small boats (RIBs). The topics range from glaciology and the impact of climate change on the Antarctic ice shelves to an explanation of the cold continent’s history, stemming from the whaling era to its present status, under an international peace treaty. The Expedition Team’s insights will prove invaluable throughout your journey, enhancing your sense of discovery a hundredfold.
Think about having a chat with the Expedition Team’s professional wildlife and landscape photographer for a few tips and tricks to improve the quality of your images. These skills will definitely come in handy if you choose to participate in one of the numerous Citizen Science programs. One of these is the HappyWhale project. Any photos you take of whales you spot can be uploaded to a global database that helps researchers track the migration patterns and overall health of the population. That way, aside from being precious memories, your photos contribute to the greater good of scientific research.
Day 10-11 Drake Passage
Saying goodbye to Antarctica is hard, but the time has come to point the ship northward once again. You can spend the two days crossing the Drake Passage sorting through your breathtaking photos of Antarctica, and putting in another memory card for what’s about to come next. You might also have the option to join workshops where you can channel your memories of Antarctica into painting penguins or learning how to tie complicated sailor’s knots.
The Science Center will be brimming with activity. The Expedition Team will be offering presentations that are sure to whip up your enthusiasm for the final few days of your voyage in the Falkland Islands. These lectures would touch on the tense history of the islands, along with the birds species seen around their beautiful beaches. In between lectures, you can use the Science Center’s advanced microscopes to examine water samples at a cellular level. You’ll discover a plethora of microscopic lifeforms, including krill and phytoplankton, which also tie into an interesting and valuable Citizen Science initiative.
Day 12-14 The Falkland Islands
The remote Falkland Islands archipelago is split between the two main islands: East and West Falkland, and nearly 800 smaller islands. For many years, both the United Kingdom and Argentina have claimed sovereignty over the islands.
Your three days of exploration here, along with each day’s landing sites, will be determined by local weather conditions at the time. After the barren, white scenery of Antarctica, it may be reassuring to see grassy hills, blooming wildflowers, stunning white-sand beaches and turquoise waters! It won’t be too different, though, especially since several thousand penguins will be there for you to catch sight of, too! These few days will entail an attempt to view these penguin colonies, which often have families of fur seals sprinkled in among them. We will keep a safe distance, of course, in order not to disturb them or their tuxedoed neighbors.
For the first time in more than a week, you’ll spot signs of civilization in the family-owned farms scattered along the island, and in the capital of Stanley on East Falkland, where 80% of the islands’ population live. When you visit, you’ll find that the town is a slice of typical English life. Watch for the iconic red buses and phone booths, and of course the typical old pubs serving up British beer and friendly banter.
Day 15 At Sea
Your expedition is approaching its end. Make sure you enjoy your last day at sea. Head to the bar and share some drinks with the new friends you made during your journey. Swap adventure stories with the Expedition Team and learn more about these modern-day explorers. Treat yourself to a fine-dining experience at the à la carte restaurant or a refreshing massage treatment in the Wellness Spa. Or simply relax on deck. Watch the waves and relive fond memories of the voyage’s many highlights.
Day 16 Ushuaia/Buenos Aires
Estimated time of arrival is 8:00 AM
After two weeks enjoying exploring Antarctica and the Falklands, it’s time to dock back in Ushuaia. The journey has been epic and perhaps even emotional; we have seen and learned so much together. You might even shed a few tears when it comes time to bid each other goodbye.
Our hope is for your experience with us to leave a lasting impression on what is possible when expeditions are done in a sustainable way. We must do everything we can to protect these precious habitats and the wonderful wildlife that they harbor.
After the transfer to Ushuaia airport, you’ll fly back to Buenos Aires. From there, you can fly home or continue exploring. Since you’re already in Argentina, you might as well make the most of it! Why not join a Post-Program to the magnificent Iguazú Falls?