Deep South

Antarctic Peninsula

Feburary 18 - March 4, 2018
Cost: $11,495 to $19,495
Leader: Ted Cheeseman + 14
Group Size: 98
Days: 15

Safari Overview

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.

HIGHLIGHTS:
• 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



Ship Info Print Trip Safari Options
Date Description Lodge Meals
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.

Our Trip Leaders

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

International flights

Feb 18

For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.

Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile

Feb 19

We are full-members of IAATO

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).

Flight to King George Island, Antarctica

Feb 20

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

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).

Antarctic Peninsula towards the Antarctic Circle

Feb 21 - 25

Crab-eater Seal

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.

Antarctic Circle South to Detaille Island, Matha Strait, and Marguerite Bay

Feb 26 - 28

Adelie Penguins

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.

Return through the Drake Passage and Beagle Channel

Mar 1 - 2

Humpback Whales

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.

Disembark in Ushuaia and travel homeward

Mar 3

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.

Flights homeward

Mar 4

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

Antarctic Peninsula

Sail amid glaciers to south of the Antarctic Circle—explore scenery and huge penguin colonies on shore and by Zodiac.

-65.076998, -63.978584

Ship Information

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

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.


More Information
Akademik Sergey Vavilov with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

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 Schedule

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.


Cancellations

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

Included

  • 11 nights and 12 days on board the Vavilov.
  • Charter flight on February 20 from Punta Arenas, Chile to King Georgia Island, South Shetland Islands.
  • Meals from breakfast on February 20 through breakfast on March 3.
  • All landing fees, passenger fees and port taxes, including an IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) passenger fee.
  • Airport transfers in Punta Arenas and Ushuaia as described.
  • Lodging in Punta Arenas on February 19.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
  • Waterproof boots on loan for the duration of tour.
  • Camping activity and all required camping equipment (optional).
  • Lectures during days at sea.

Not Included

  • Airfare, airport arrival/departure taxes, excess baggage fees, and any airport transfers on return trip through Buenos Aires. Airfare is approximately $1,300-$2,000 round trip from the USA, depending on origin.
  • Joining the sea-kayaking group with guide costs $795 extra and you must sign up before the expedition.
  • Visa fees or reciprocity fees. Canadian and Australian passport holders are required to pay a reciprocity fee before entering Argentina. Details will be provided in our trip materials.
  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew: Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting $10 to $15 per passenger per day for February 20 – March 3 aboard the Vavilov (about $120 to $180 total per passenger) to be divided among the crew and officers, including cabin and dining room service staff. Expedition leaders do not expect a tip.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, fax/phone/email charges, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. Read more about travel insurance.

Climate

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.

Fitness Level

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!

Medical Questionnaire
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.

Flights

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.

FAQ

Accommodations

Seasickness

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.

Transportation

Conditions

  • Non-Smoking Policy: Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris has a strict policy of only taking non-smokers on our safaris and expeditions. However, because this is a joint expedition with One Ocean Expeditions, who do allow smoking on their trips, it is possible that there will be participants on this trip that do smoke. Smoking is only allowed at designated outdoor smoking areas on the ship and prohibited everywhere inside, including cabins. For those travelers who we are finding roommates, you are guaranteed to be partnered with a non-smoker. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact us.
  • Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, wildlife sightings, or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Joint expedition: This is a shared expedition between Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and One Ocean Expeditions; we will provide leaders to compliment those provided by One Ocean Expeditions.