For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.
Sail this glaciated peninsula to south of the Antarctic Circle with explorations of scenery and huge penguin colonies on shore and by Zodiac. This special “Deep South” Expedition sails to the far reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula to fulfill your once-in-a-lifetime experience of crossing the Antarctic Circle. You’ll fly from Punta Arenas, Chile, to King George Island along the Antarctic Peninsula to save two days of crossing the tempestuous Drake Passage. This also affords us more days to land and travel to possibly reach all the way to Marguerite Bay, even farther south than the Antarctic Circle. Besides spectacular scenery such as glacier-covered mountains and aqua-blue tabular icebergs lit by soft polar light, you’ll visit Adelie and Gentoo Penguin colonies, interact with Orca, Humpback, and Minke Whales, plus Zodiac cruise around icebergs topped with penguins, Leopard, Crabeater, and Weddell Seals. Join us to immerse in this truly pristine paradise and be engulfed in the wonder of nature. This is a shared expedition between Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and One Ocean Expeditions; we will provide four leaders to compliment those provided by One Ocean Expeditions.
• Fly over the Drake Passage, with stunning views from above, saving two days of boat travel.
• Cross the Antarctic Circle, a feat that very few ships accomplish!
• Experience beautiful sunrises and sunsets backlighting stunning landscapes.
• Optionally, camp on the ice for one night if conditions permit (equipment and cost included).
• Optionally, join the kayaking group to paddle landing sites with a guide (extra cost).
Itinerary Updated: January 2017
|Feb 18||Depart home.|
|Feb 19||Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Diego de Almagro, Punta Arenas|
|Feb 20||Flight to King George Island and board ship.||On board the Vavilov||B, L, D|
|Feb 21 - 25||Landings along the western Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.||On board the Vavilov||B, L, D|
|Feb 26 - 28||Cross the Antarctic Circle and as far south as Marguerite Bay.||On board the Vavilov||B, L, D|
|Mar 1 - 2||Cruise northward across the Drake Passage.||On board the Vavilov||B, L, D|
|Mar 3||Disembark the Vavilov and fly homeward from Ushuaia.||B|
|Mar 4||Arrive home.|
Ted grew up traveling extensively and began studying and photographing wildlife as a child. After completing a Master's degree in Tropical Conservation Biology at Duke University, Ted returned to California to lead and organize expeditions full time with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted currently leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean while pursuing a doctoral degree studying humpback whales. He also recently founded the citizen science project Happywhale.
Scott Davis is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, travel, and editorial imagery. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, Scott's research and photo assignments have taken him to far corners of the globe and all seven continents. His photographic work has appeared in numerous national and international magazines and newspapers, commercial websites, prestigious stock agencies, and corporate reports. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.
Expedition and Trip Leader, Naturalist, Geologist, and Photographer, Hugh has over 20 years of professional guiding experience. The vast landscapes and incredible wildlife of Alaska and the Polar Regions are his subject and passion, evident in his inspired leadership and stunning professional photos. Hugh receives unending praise for his amazing knowledge, delightful and accommodating personality, and attention to every trip detail.
Gina took an interest in biology at a young age, which led to a Master's degree in biology focused on ornithology. She spent 13 years as an ornithologist studying bird migration and the effects of habitat management on bird populations. Having a lifelong zeal for travel, she changed careers to nature-focused travel, merging this with her love of wildlife behavior. She now works for Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris organizing safaris and leading others throughout the world.
For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile by this evening. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, a transfer agent will meet you and transport you to your hotel. If you choose to extend your trip on our Falkland Islands safari, you will have two additional days to explore Punta Arenas. If you wish to arrive early as a buffer against travel delays or to spend extra time in the Punta Arenas area, we are happy to book extra hotel nights and to suggest or arrange field trips.
Note: Cheesemans' is a full-member of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO).
Fly to King George Island. Located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, King George Island is the largest island in the South Shetland Island archipelago. You will land at Teniente R. Marsh Airport, the northernmost airport on the continent of Antarctica via a charter flight since there is no regular scheduled public service to this airport. You will then be transferred to your home for the next eleven nights – the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Boarding the Vavilov will be done via Zodiac.
A note about expedition cruising: Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; the following itinerary depends on the conditions at the time of travel. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible, abiding by the Guidelines for Responsible Eco-tourism from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).
The Vavilov will make its way down the coast into Wilhemina Bay, Neko Harbour, and Paradise Bay, among the most beautiful areas in Antarctica. Enjoy views of sculpted icebergs and surfacing whales as you cruise the inner bays near spectacular glaciers and ethereal mountains. You can expect wonderful whale behavior in these summer feeding grounds. The krill swarms are enormous, sometimes even visible on the ship’s depth sounder. You can find colonies of Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, sometimes in mixed colonies, along with their attendant scavengers: Snowy Sheathbills, Brown Skuas, South Polar Skuas, and Kelp Gulls in Neko Harbour on the Antarctic continent proper. With good conditions, you’ll have an opportunity for a walk and an incredible view.
Enjoy the view from the ship as the Vavilov navigates through stunning Neumeyer and Lemaire channels or around the south end of Anvers Island into Biscoe Bay where you will be completely surrounded by ice-draped peaks soaring dramatically out of the water. Crabeater, Weddell, and Leopard seals are often hauled out on the ice floes and whales may even surface between the floes, so keep your cameras ready! Tall, hanging ice cliffs, the fronts of highly fractured tidewater glaciers, decorate most of the shoreline for unforgettable scenery. At the southern part of the Lemaire Channel is Petermann Island, an outstanding place to see Gentoo and Adelie Penguins on their nesting grounds. These sturdy birds will captivate you as they make their way down “Penguin highways” cut through the snow to return to feed at sea. Penguins will also be returning to land through crystal-clear waves crashing on the beach, affording many fantastic photo ops and chances to watch humorous penguin antics. Petermann Island has seen a reversal in abundance between the two species, with half the numbers of Adelie Penguins found here twenty years ago, but twice the numbers of Gentoos. Photogenic Antarctic Shags are also found on the edges of the colonies.
The next objective is to travel even farther south along the western side of the Peninsula, down to Crystal Sound, the Antarctic Circle, Fish Islands, and beyond into Marguerite Bay. Here, sail the southern reaches of summer navigable waters looking for Snow Petrel, Antarctic Petrel, ice-loving Antarctic Minke Whales, maybe an extremely rare Ross Seal, and otherworldly landscapes.
You’ll have the chance to explore landings such as Vemadsky Station – a working research base in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos. Scientists here are working on ongoing projects, including wildlife studies and larger climate change-related research.
Another opportunity to go ashore will be at Winter Island where the adventurous can hike over the snowy saddle of the island to explore Wordie Hut – a British Antarctic Survey hut from the 1930s. You’ll also have time as weather allows to Zodiac cruise in search of Humpback and Minke Whales.
Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut named Base W, is a fascinating landing site for those interested in the history of Antarctic exploration. If we are allowed to enter the hut, you will get a snapshot into the life of early Antarctic scientists and the harsh living conditions they endured.
If sea conditions permit, the Vavilov will travel all the way south to Marguerite Bay, a location few ships reach. This bay is located almost 100 miles south of the Antarctic Circle. Three research stations are located around this bay, one Argentinean and two British bases. The bay is surrounded by ice-capped mountains and glaciers pouring into the sea.
Additional landing sites along the western Peninsula are expected and depend on travel conditions.
During the entire voyage, look out for cetaceans, including Orcas and even rare beaked whales. The Antarctic Peninsula region offers excellent opportunities to find Antarctic Minke Whales feeding among the ice and Orcas searching for seal and penguin meals. The photography in these rich areas is truly fantastic.
As you sail north on the homeward leg, staff and passengers will have time to share delightful memories of experiences, enjoy a group slide show of images captured, and talk of plans for future travels. The wildlife, however, is not all behind you. Almost 500 miles north of the South Shetlands, near Cape Horn, the rich waters at the tip of the South American continental shelf attract large flocks of seabirds, especially Sooty Shearwaters, if the sea is calm. Peale’s Dolphins and other marine mammals may also be seen. Once in the lee of Cape Horn, any ocean swell will disappear and we will enter the Beagle Channel for a final scenic cruise down this historic channel to Ushuaia.
You will dock in Ushuaia by early morning. After an early breakfast, bid farewell to shipmates, expedition staff, and the crew of the Vavilov and disembark for flights. Local agents will collect your gear in the luggage van to be held until check-in time at the Ushuaia Airport for your flights homeward. Alternately, continue on our Picturesque Patagonia safari in Chile and Argentina.
Note: Cheesemans' are members of World Cetacean Alliance and abide by responsible whale watching practices.
Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.
Sail amid glaciers to south of the Antarctic Circle—explore scenery and huge penguin colonies on shore and by Zodiac.
The 98-passenger Vavilov was built specifically to sail in polar regions. Ship amenities include comfortable presentation room, fitness and spa centers, gift-shop, bar and lounge, outside BBQ and observation decks, and open-bridge policy. A fast cruising speed of 13.5 knots allows more time ashore and more flexibility in changing weather. The ship carries a fleet of ten Zodiacs for our shore landings. All cabins feature windows or portholes for ample natural light.
|Type||Description||Cost Per Person|
|Main Deck Triple||Deck 3 cabins feature two lower berths (one that can be converted to a sofa) and one upper berth, ample clothes storage, desk and chair, and two portholes (one opens). Facilities are shared but a washbasin is in the cabin.||$11,495|
|Twin Semi-private||Deck 4 cabins feature two lower berths (one that can be converted to a sofa), tall cupboards for clothes storage, desk and chair, bookshelf, and an opening window. Facilities are semi-private (shared with the adjacent cabin).||$13,695|
|Twin Private||Deck 3, 4, and 5 cabins feature private facilities, two lower berths (one that can be converted to a sofa), tall cupboards for clothes storage, desk and chair, bookshelf, and an opening window.||$15,295|
|Superior||Deck 3 cabins feature private facilities, two lower berths, a comfortable sofa, a writing desk and chair, plenty of storage space, and several opening portholes.||$16,125|
|Shackleton Suite||Deck 4 and 5 cabins feature two spacious rooms: living area and bedroom with private facilities. The living area is ideal for relaxation with a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, desk, chair, ample storage and a large window that can be opened. The bedroom has a double berth with upgraded linens and pillows.||$17,895|
|One Ocean Suite||Deck 5 cabin has two very spacious rooms: living area and bedroom with private facilities (with a bathtub and shower). The living area is ideal for relaxation with a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, desk, chair, ample storage, large windows overlooking the bow (forward facing) that can be opened. The bedroom features a double bed with upgraded linens and pillows.||$19,495|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. Single rooms are subject to availability.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding an additional cost; please contact us for details. If you are willing to have a roommate assigned to your cabin, we will not charge you a single supplement fee.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||November 1, 2016||$2,000|
|Third||April 1, 2017||$2,000|
|Final||September 1, 2017||Remaining balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our Payment Schedule and Cancellation Policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before Jul 1, 2017||$300|
|Jul 1- Aug 1, 2017||10% of tour cost|
|Aug 1 to Aug 31, 2017||40% of tour cost|
|Sep 1, 2017 to Feb 18, 2018||100% of tour cost|
Antarctica has a cold, dry, sometimes windy climate even in the summer. Normal late summer temperatures are -5 to 5°C (25 to 40°F) on the Peninsula. Penetrating cold is not usually a problem. Wind chill and wetness while riding in Zodiacs are the primary conditions to insulate against. It is also possible to get wet weather. Sunscreen is critical. The temperature on the ship is comfortably warm, but you may still wish to dress in layers.
Although participating in the Southern Ocean voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, you should be fit enough to walk up and down stairs on the ship and on the gangway that hangs on the side of the ship, able to get into and out of the Zodiac with assistance of Expedition staff and crew, and walk on sometimes unstable, rocky, and slippery terrain on shore. Once on shore, you can choose to walk for short or long distances (within the specified guidelines). Landing details will be given in advance of each landing. If you have any questions about your physical abilities, please give us a call!
In addition to your registration form, you will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire before traveling. Our ship’s doctor will review all information so that any concerns can be addressed prior to the voyage. A doctor’s signature is not required for participation in the tour except in certain cases as determined by our doctor and Expedition Leader.
Airfare, except flights listed as included, is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) by February 19. For most, this means leaving home by February 18, and most flights route through Santiago, Chile. Depart from Ushuaia, Argentina (USH) any time after 12:00pm on March 3. Most flights homeward route through Buenos Aires. Allow at least four hours to transfer between the domestic and international airports in Buenos Aires.
Flights we book for you: The charter flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island. The cost of this flight is included in the tour cost.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but those who join consistently state the experience of Antarctica more than made up for any sea crossing discomfort. For all but the most sensitive, motion sickness is only a problem during open ocean passages. This is a total of approximately two days on the return to Ushuaia. By then, hopefully you will have your sea legs, and the effect will not be as strong. Days and nights when we are landing or cruising between landings are quite calm because we are very close to land. The Vavilov has an excellent stabilizing system. The Southern Ocean has a reputation for the worst seas in the world, not because they are always rough (on the average day, the seas are actually quite calm!) but because their extremes are large. If we are hit by a storm during a crossing, the experience will be memorable. For this reason, unless you know you are immovable by the heavy seas, bring a good supply of medication. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness.