Fly to Punta Arenas, Chile
For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.
Fly to the Antarctic and sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience the Antarctic Peninsula’s incredible vistas and abundant wildlife. Headed by five exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable staff, you will intimately experience penguins, whales, and mountainous scenery during 11 landing days. Our small group will benefit from the ease and flexibility of getting such a small number of folks ashore, which means a strong likelihood of visiting sites rarely or never accessed by larger tour vessels. Your time in the field will be unrivaled as you explore in quiet serenity. This expedition avoids the very challenging potential of crossing the Drake Passage that has for so long limited operations of small vessels. This expedition offers a great depth of exploration, enriching your understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem with substantial participatory citizen science aboard and provides unparalleled experiences for a small, intimate group.
• Fly over the Drake Passage both ways, with stunning views from above, saving six days of ship travel.
• Get up-close and personal with whales, penguins, and seals.
• Enjoy the flexibility and serenity of being aboard a small, 12-passenger vessel.
• Be a part of scientific research.
• Experience beautiful sunrises and sunsets backlighting stunning landscapes.
Itinerary Updated: November 2018
|Jan 26||Depart home.|
|Jan 27||Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas|
|Jan 28||Free day exploring Punta Arenas.||Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas||B, D|
|Jan 29||Flight to King George Island and board ship.||Onboard the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Jan 30 - Feb 9||Explore South Shetlands and Antarctic Peninsula during 11 landing days.||Onboard the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Feb 10||Disembark and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas||B, L, D|
|Feb 11||Free day of exploration in Punta Arenas.||Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas||B|
|Feb 12||Fly homeward.||B|
|Feb 13||Arrive home.|
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.
For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. A transfer agent will transfer you from the airport to your hotel. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange your airport transfer and book extra nights.
Punta Arenas is located on the edge of the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of Chile. It’s a small port city with a history in the sheep and wool industry, as well as maritime trade, and is now seeing a boom in the petroleum industry and a hub for tourists and cruise ships. The city is very walkable.
Weather permitting, you will board the charter flight to King George Island and land at Teniente R. Marsh Airport, the northernmost airport on the continent of Antarctica. Then, you will transfer to the Hans Hansson to begin exploring the Antarctic.
The warm glow of sunrise reveals our position in the South Shetland Islands; we will include early and late landings and Zodiac cruises to take full advantage of the best light.
Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; our itinerary depends on the conditions. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible, abiding by the Guidelines for Responsible Ecotourism from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).
The South Shetland Islands ~ Deception, Half Moon, Livingstone, and Aitcho Island
The South Shetlands are a string of volcanic islands, some still active, that run parallel to the Antarctic Peninsula across the Bransfield Strait. Fondly known as the “Banana Belt of Antarctica,” these islands boast the richest concentrations of terrestrial wildlife in the Antarctic due to their proximity to the rich upwelling waters from the great Circumpolar Current. Even with our luxuriously in-depth itinerary, we will have to choose between many very compelling sites. Deception Island is a favorite and one of the most exciting islands on our voyage. This horseshoe-shaped, volcanic island is still active, as its hot thermal pools demonstrate. You may land on both the outside wall and inside the caldera that opens to the ocean via a narrow gap called Neptune’s Bellows. The landing at Bailey Head is home to about 100,000 chinstrap penguins, but the sea can make landings tricky with steep swells crashing on an exposed beach. Inside Deception’s huge caldera, you can hope to land and take a short hike up the mountainside among the lichen-draped cliffs to the scenic overlook. On the beach at Whaler’s Bay, you may find Weddell seals basking. Deception Island also offers one the most unique experiences of the voyage – plunging into the thermal pools alongside the beach surrounded by clouds of steam. The water temperature can be fairly comfortable, although it can get so hot that it’s necessary to mix in colder water!
On a clear day, the chinstrap penguins of Half Moon Island make a delightful foreground to the breathtaking eastern coastline of nearby Livingston Island. At this end of the Earth, the vast scale of nature will open our senses. Great respect must be given to the fragile vegetation and the wildlife colonies. We will allow you as much freedom as possible to enjoy the magnificent wildlife and landscapes within the bounds of safety and minimal impact.
Both chinstrap and gentoo penguins breed on Aitcho Island, an island covered in mossy green carpets making a surprisingly bright contrast to Antarctica’s intensely achromatic landscapes. Conditions permitting, take a walk across the island past the southern elephant seal wallows. This landing site and other similar sites with southern elephant seals offer a terrific chance to see (and smell!) the world’s largest species of seal, also perhaps joined by hauled out Weddell seals and southern fur seals.
From the South Shetlands, sail southwest across the Bransfield Strait into the fabled Gerlache Strait. Here you can expect whale sightings to ring out from the bridge as the Antarctic Peninsula landscape rises up around you into a glacier-draped view of mountainous proportion. You can expect whales among sculpted icebergs in the foreground and staggering mountain walls in the background, making for some of the world’s best Zodiac cruising. You can hope for magnificent sunsets, sculpted blue icebergs, and close penguin and whale encounters, each with the potential for an experience that you will never forget. You will visit sites where the penguins and seals that once sustained early Antarctic explorers have taken over, leaving only faint clues of the age of exploration and exploitation.
Western Antarctic Peninsula ~ Danco Coast and Neumeyer and Lemaire Channel
You will travel south along the picturesque Danco Coast on the west coast of Graham Land, which has awe-inspiring scenery with coastlines deeply indented with bays. Impressive mountains rise sharply from the coast to the central Graham Land Plateau and glaciers descend to narrow piedmont ice shelves. Extensive Zodiac cruising and opportunistic landings during the best light will allow us to soak in the serenity of this majestic place.
You’ll make your way down the coast into Wilhemina Bay, Neko Harbour, and Paradise Bay, among the most beautiful areas in Antarctica. These waters rank high on our long list of favorite places for Zodiac cruising. 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 plentiful summer feeding grounds. The krill swarms are enormous. You will find colonies of gentoo and chinstrap penguins, sometimes in mixed colonies, along with their attendant scavengers: snowy sheathbills, brown skuas, south solar skuas, and kelp gulls. Hope for a landing in Neko Harbour on the Antarctic continent proper, hopefully with an opportunity for a walk and an incredible view.
Enjoy the view from the ship as you navigate 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 you’ll find Petermann Island. Located at 65S, Petermann is an outstanding location to see gentoo and Adelie penguins on their nesting grounds, often with chicks chasing parents who have returned to feed them. The clear water is beautiful for observing and photographing penguins returning to land. Petermann has seen a reversal in abundance between the two species, with half the numbers of Adelie penguins we found twenty years ago, but twice the numbers of gentoos. Photogenic Antarctic shags are also found on the edges of the colonies.
Hope for good conditions to travel further south along the western side of the Peninsula, possibly down to Crystal Sound, the Antarctic Circle, Fish Islands, and beyond into Margarite Bay to explore the southern reaches of summer navigable waters. Look for snow petrel, Antarctic petrel, ice-loving Antarctic minke whales, and maybe an extremely rare Ross seal. When you are out in the golden light of an Antarctic evening, be sure to put your camera down for a moment and simply absorb the beauty and silence.
You’ll leisurely sail north, keeping your eyes out for cetaceans, including orcas and even rare beaked whales, and explore wonderful coves that are breeding areas for leopard seals. You will surely find yourself cruising with humpbacks as they swim and lunge feed among the icebergs offshore in these waters where whale populations escaped the worst of the whaling age. The region offers excellent opportunities to find Antarctic minke whales feeding and orcas cruising for seals and penguins. The photography in these rich krill areas of the Peninsula is truly fantastic. Port Lockroy, located at the end of the very narrow and beautiful Peltier Channel close to Neumeyer Channel, has a British Antarctica Survey maritime museum and a sprawling gentoo penguin colony.
You will dock at King George Island by early morning. After breakfast, you will disembark the Hans Hansson and fly back to Punta Arenas, weather permitting.
If the weather is unfavorable, today you may fly back to Punta Arenas from King George Island. Otherwise, you will have a full free day exploring Punta Arenas, the surrounding area and its wildlife.
Spend your last morning in Punta Arenas, and then our local agent will transfer you from the hotel to the airport.
Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.
Fly to/from the Antarctic and sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience incredible vistas and abundant wildlife.
The Hans Hansson was originally built for the Norwegian Lifeboat Association and in 2005 underwent a major refit, including renewing the interior to provide comfortable accommodations for our twelve passengers. She is ideally suited for extended voyages in comfort and safety anywhere in the world. Our vessel is a solid workboat, yet she boasts a comfortable main saloon and library/recreational area.
|Type||Description||Cost Per Person|
|Twin Shared||Bottom deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and shared bath facilities.||$17,995|
|Superior Private||Middle deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, office, wardrobe, washbasin, and private bath facilities.||$20,995|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except charter flights between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, South Shetland Islands), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
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. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost. 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.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$3,000|
|Second||June 15, 2018||$5,000|
|Final||August 15, 2018||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. Cancellations are non-transferrable. 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 June 14, 2018||$300|
|June 15 - July 14, 2018||10% of tour cost|
|July 15 - August 14, 2018||40% of tour cost|
|On or after August 15, 2018||100% of tour cost|
Antarctica has a cold, dry, sometimes windy climate even in the summer. Normal late summer temperatures are 25 to 40°F on the Peninsula, known as the ‘Banana Belt’. 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, but often it is with wind, so an umbrella is not usually practical. Waterproof gloves, warm cap, layers of light, loose, warm clothing, and water repellent outer garments are necessary. Sunscreen is critical.
In Punta Arenas in mid-January and February, the average temperature is 46°Fand it can be very windy. Weather can change quickly in this region and it is not unusual to have three seasons in one day with rain, hail, and accompanying wind, so be prepared.
Participating in this voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, but please be sure that you can: (1) stay without medical assistance for the duration of the trip, (2) swim or float, (3) be sufficiently stable on your feet that you can, for example, stand on a bus/train in normal conditions without (or minimally) holding on, (4) get in and out of a Zodiac on a beach with little swell, (5) walk 10 blocks without getting exhausted, and (6) climb a 6-ft vertical ladder. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within the specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing. Please contact us if you have any health or fitness concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Unless listed as included, airfare 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 January 27. Depart from Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) anytime on February 12.
Flights we book for you: The charter flights between Punta Arenas and King George Island. The cost of this round-trip booking is included in the tour cost.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness keep you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but of all those who have joined, we know of only one passenger who said that seasickness really affected the enjoyment of the trip. Still, that same passenger talked about repeating the trip, because the rest of the experiences more than made up for it. Because you are close to land most of the time other than crossing the Bransfield Strait, the seas tend to be gentle, but it’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure; you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness.
"It would have been enough just to look at the animals and scenery. The lectures and what the leaders added when we were on land or in the zodiacs just made the experience even better."
"Cheesemans' team: more staff and more landings than other expeditions. They offer landings in weather conditions that others don't."
"First class all the way around. Staff and fellow passengers were so eager to share their passion for whales, wildlife, and the awesomeness of the Antarctic Peninsula. The travel logistics were flawless, safety was always considered first, and the staff was the best ever!"
"Scott Davis was awesome! He helped me so much with my photography and was always ready to answer questions. Great outgoing personality."