Small Group Expedition - Fly In/Fly Out
January 1 to 18, 2022
Fly to the Antarctic and sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience the Antarctic Peninsula’s incredible vistas and abundant wildlife; we are offering this trip in cooperation with our local operator and ship owner. Led by exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable expedition guide and crew, you will travel among curious penguins, whales, and mountainous scenery during 12 full landing days. You will benefit from the ease and flexibility of getting such a small number of travelers ashore. Conditions permitting, we will focus on areas completely out of range of larger tour vessels, so your time in nature will be unrivaled as you explore in quiet serenity. You’ll also avoid 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 and unsurpassed experiences for an intimate group.
- Fly to and from Antarctica over the Drake Passage, 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 12-passenger vessel during 12 full landing days.
- Experience beautiful sunrises and sunsets backlighting stunning landscapes.
- Guided kayaking excursions.
Itinerary Updated: November 2021
Ship Info Print Trip
|Jan 1||Depart home.|
|Jan 2||Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Carpa Manzano, Punta Arenas|
|Jan 3||Fly to King George Island and board ship.||On board the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Jan 4-15||Explore South Shetlands and Antarctic Peninsula during 12 full landing days.||On board the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Jan 16||Disembark and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Carpa Manzano, Punta Arenas||B, L, D|
|Jan 17||Fly homeward.||B|
|Jan 18||Arrive home.|
Our Trip Leaders
Hugh has over 20 years of professional guiding experience and has been a key member of the Cheesemans’ Antarctica staff since 1998. 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.
A glimpse into our journey
Arrive in Punta Arenas
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 hotel nights.
Fly to King George Island, Antarctica
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.
Explore South Shetlands and Antarctic Peninsula
The warm glow of sunrise reveals our position in the South Shetland Islands; you will have 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 your 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 your senses. Great respect must be given to the fragile vegetation and the wildlife colonies. You will have 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 as 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 polar skuas, and kelp gulls. Hope for a landing in Neko Harbour on the Antarctic continent proper, 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.
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 are recovering from the extreme exploitation of the 20th century whaling era. 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.
Disembark and fly back to Punta Arenas
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.
Spend your last morning in Punta Arenas, and then our local agent will transfer you from the hotel to the airport.
We will dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, by early morning. After breakfast, bid farewell to your shipmates, leaders, and the ship crew and disembark early for morning flights. If you wish to extend your stay in Ushuaia, we are happy to assist you with the arrangements.
The solitude amid these stunning landscapes will endlessly captivate you.
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 salon and library/ recreational area. The ship is equipped with two Zodiacs and enough kayaks to accommodate six people.
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Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Description||Cost Per Person|
|Twin Shared||Bottom deck cabins 5 and 6 feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and two shared baths.||$18,585|
|Twin Shared||Bottom deck cabins 3 and 4 feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and two shared baths.||$20,585|
|Superior Private||Middle deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, office, wardrobe, washbasin, and a private bath.||$24,585|
Costs are per person, depending on cabin type, double occupancy, not including airfare (except for round-trip flights between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, South Shetland Islands), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$2,000|
|Final||September 15, 2021||Remaining Balance|
Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $1,000 per person can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before July 14, 2021||$1,000|
|July 15 to August 14, 2021||10% of tour cost|
|August 15 to September 14, 2021||40% of tour cost|
|On or after September 15, 2021||100% of tour cost|
- All leaders, transport, permits, landing fees, passenger fees, and port taxes, including an IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) passenger fee.
- Round-trip flights between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, South Shetland Islands.
- Accommodations in Punta Arenas for the nights of January 2 and January 16.
- Thirteen nights on board the Hans Hansson.
- Meals from breakfast on January 3 through breakfast on January 17.
- Transfers between the Punta Arenas Airport and Hotel Carpa Manzano regardless of arrival and departure day, plus transfers between Hotel Carpa Manzano and the Punta Arenas Airport for your flight on January 3 and January 16.
- Non-alcoholic beverages plus wine and beer during meals while on board the Hans Hansson.
- Rubber boots on loan for the trip duration.
- Kayaking excursions, weather permitting.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Round-trip airfare is approximately $1,300 to $2,000 between the US to Punta Arenas, Chile, depending on origin.
- Passport and visa fees.
- We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
- Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we suggest budgeting $15 to $20 per participant per day for January 3 to January 16 aboard the Hans Hansson ($210 to $280 total per participant).
- Mandatory emergency medical and evacuation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
- Optional trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.
Antarctica has a cold, dry, sometimes windy climate even in the summer. Normal 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 consider. It is possible to get wet weather, but often it is with wind, so an umbrella is not practical. Waterproof gloves, warm cap, layers of light, warm clothing, water-repellent outer garments, and sunscreen are necessary.
In Punta Arenas in December, the average temperatures range from nighttime lows of about 37°F (3°C) to daytime highs of about 51°F (11°C). 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 come prepared.
Participating in this voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, but please be sure that you can do all of the following. Please contact us if you have any health or fitness concerns that may make this trip challenging.
- Stay without medical assistance for the duration of the trip.
- Swim or float.
- Be sufficiently stable on your feet that you can, for example, stand on a bus/train in normal conditions without (or minimally) holding on.
- Get in and out of a Zodiac on a beach with a little swell.
- Walk 10 blocks without getting exhausted.
- 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.
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 3:00pm on January 2. Depart from Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) after 12:00pm on January 17.
Flights we book for you: The round-trip flights between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, South Shetland Islands are included in the trip 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 at coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
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"Beautiful colours and shapes of the ice, amazing interactions with humpbacks, seals, and penguins. Learned a lot at the lectures and from staff during cruises & landings."
Isabell Bloechl, 2019
"I enjoyed everything on this trip. There were some days I was not up to going on both landings each day, so took that time to relax and enjoy the scenery from the ship or took a nice nap. The wildlife was AMAZING, and I know so much more about the different penguins, whales and seals. The icebergs were MIND BOGGLING - I will never forget how beautiful they could be, like works of art, or how big they could be. The lectures were wonderful and enjoyed those - they really added so much to the trip."