For many this is the ultimate wildlife and wilderness experience – it’s nature at its most extreme
There are few places in the world as evocative as Antarctica. These expeditions offer the ultimate wilderness adventure, exploring a pristine area navigable only by small ice-strengthened vessels.
Quark Expeditions Price Match:
We are proud to offer award-winning polar expeditions through our sister company Quark Expeditions and strive to offer the highest quality adventures at the best possible prices. If you see a Quark voyage listed cheaper elsewhere, we promise to match the price like-for-like. Please contact our specialist Polar sales team to discuss. For T&C’s please refer here
TRAVEL TO ANTARCTICA: WHERE TO GO?
A trip to the Antarctic Peninsula is a trip of a lifetime. The otherworldly landscapes here are spectacular and completely breath-taking. There’s really nothing like it.
Large luminous blue icebergs rear up against the horizon in a thousand different shapes and forms – seemingly lit from within – whilst chunks of broken pack ice dot the water. Inland, a sweeping ice-cap covers mountains and fills trenches, binding together a continent that is about the same size as Africa.
The peninsula is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife: five species of seal including the Weddell seal, the predatory Leopard seal, and the Crabeater seal, massive penguin rookeries, a significant number of whale species and a wide variety of seabirds, including albatross, petrels, shearwaters and skuas.
South Georgia is one of the most remote destinations on this planet: located just north of Antarctica, this rugged island archipelago is about as wild as you can get.
Here you can follow in the footsteps of famous explorers, like Captain Cook who visited in 1775, and Ernest Shackleton, who tragically died just off the coast and is buried here. Now there is just a British Government office, postmaster, museum staff and scientists who inhabit the island alongside a whole host of seals, penguins and birds.
Join award-winning photographers Paul Goldstein and Mark Carwardine onboard this once in a lifetime photographic expedition to South Georgia & the Falklands, where every hour of daylight is going to be maximised!
The Falkland Islands boasts crystal-clear air, haunting landscapes, phosphorescent night skies and wildlife to rival even the Galapagos. The rock-strewn beaches and rugged cliffs are teeming with bird and marine life, untroubled by curious crowds. It’s no wonder the islands have starred in more than one Attenborough film; this isolated landscape offers the chance for the kind of wildlife encounters many dream about but few ever get to experience.
The absence of visitors have made the hundreds of thousands of island penguins amazingly unwary: here you can witness colonies of comic, tiny and inquisitive Gentoo penguins, Rockhopper families leaping and preening, bizarre burrowing Jackass penguins and the noble King Penguins in black tie. With soft white swan-like feathers and an enormous wingspan of up to 2.5 metres, the gentle Black Browed Albatross are the real wildlife treasure of The Falklands. Rarely seen outside these islands – which boast at least 80% of the world’s nesting population – they glide along the cliff tops in silent, effortless and graceful flight, sometimes coming so close as to brush your hair with the tips of their wings.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Peninsula do not reach 66° 33′ S. Celebrate this event in style with a well-earned glass of champagne! With a toast to the first explorers who ventured this far south, you can take pride in knowing you’ve made it to a part of the world still visited by very few people. This far south is raw Antarctica, home to the midnight sun, Weddell seals and some of the most magical, odd ice formations seen anywhere in Antarctica.
WHEN TO GO?
Late Spring and Early Summer – October & November
The start of the season in Antarctica is the most adventurous time to travel. On shore the snow is pristine after the long winter and you’ll encounter truly breath-taking, exquisitely sculpted icebergs emerging from their frozen hibernation. Many of these blue bergs house courting, nesting and brooding penguins.
High Summer – December, January & February
Close to the solstice you’ll experience almost perpetual daylight in Antarctica. These are the mildest months and when the first Adelie and Gentoo penguin chicks are hatched. It’s also the time to encounter seal pups on South Georgia. As the water warms the whale sightings also improve.
Late Summer – February & March
This is the time for some incredible encounters with whales, especially Minke and Humpback whales who migrate to these waters to feed. The receding ice also allows for further exploration and penguin colonies are very active with adults feeding their chicks.
“It’ll be a real pleasure to have several weeks to teach Paul and Chris a thing or two about photography (I know they’re both keen to learn) in one of my favourite places on the planet. And expedition adventures don’t come much more comfortable than on the Resolute.
“One ship, three Canons…. this will be something. I cannot wait to lock horns with these ‘sometime’ friends again and help share the seventh continent with a hundred or so polar pilgrims. Will the three of us be talking at the end of it? Come and find out!”
“You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to get a good photo . . . but it helps! Snow and Ice, Golden Penguins, a Humpback Surprise . . . and these are just the cocktails at the bar! Seriously, this will be amazing.”
WHAT TO EXPECT ON AN ANTARCTIC CRUISE
Our Antarctic cruises are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.
All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only – it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.
Zodiac excursions from the ship allow you to explore the many bays and channels as well carrying you to the landing sites each day. On the longer Zodiac cruises you will be sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind – if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. However, the chance to see penguins gliding through the water and seeing seals lounging on ice floes more than make up for the cold! Curious whales, such as Minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs too, giving us a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals.
On the shore excursions, most of the landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle-deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. The expedition team will be there to advise where you are free to explore during a landing and make suggestions as to what you can see. On some landings there may be the option to do a guided walk – the expedition team will let you know the details in advance.
We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Cruise Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. During the time at sea, a series of presentations will be scheduled to prepare you for the coming adventure.
In addition to regular shore landings and Zodiac excursions, on some departures in Antarctica there are other optional activities on offer which you may wish to experience.
On many of our Antarctic cruises there is the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are expertly guided and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available.
Camping on Ice
Spending a night camping on ice is a unique experience we offer on some of our Antarctic departures. No previous experience is needed to participate in our camping option. We provide the equipment: you contribute a desire for a personal and intimate connection with the continent.
Combining surfing with kayaking or canoeing, stand-up paddle-boarding will give you a very personal and unique perspective on Antarctica. Guided by experienced staff in small groups in good weather conditions on calm bays and harbours, reservations for a limited number of paddle-boarders will be taken at time of booking. Other paddle-boarding opportunities may be offered via sign-up, onboard ship, on a first-come, first-served basis.
ANTARCTIC POLAR CRUISE FLEET
Small ships make the difference. The key to really making the most of your time in Antarctica is to ensure maximum shore and Zodiac time. Ships with more than 200 passengers often find their landing sites are limited, and the logistics of disembarking the ship’s complement into Zodiacs can be slow. Our small expedition cruise ships generally offer twice daily ‘off-ship’ activities – both morning and afternoon – with waiting time being almost non-existent. Our ships are all ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters and are able to travel to areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are excellent and every guest will benefit from the technical advances of this superb fleet. For more information see our Polar Fleet page.