Antarctica

Best of Antarctica: Wildlife Explorer

From €6,500pp excluding flights
Depart From
Add flights from Ireland
Departure Date
Departures Dec '23 & Jan '24
Duration
11 days
Destination
Antarctica
Price
From €6,500pp excluding flights
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Immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Great White Continent.

Enter a spellbinding world of snow and ice as you voyage to Antarctica, a continent that has long captivated intrepid explorers. Set sail aboard the comfortable, spacious and well-appointed Ocean Endeavour on an exclusive 11-day voyage, discovering truly unbelievable wildlife and the world’s most remarkable scenery.

As you explore this icy wilderness, you’ll not only be accompanied by an expert expedition team, but also by penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds, set against a backdrop of towering icebergs, snow-capped peaks, imposing glaciers and ice-choked waters. Adventures like this don’t come along every day – there’s simply nowhere else on earth like Antarctica.

 

Explore an unspoiled wilderness, uninhabited by man, where penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds in their abundance are the true rulers.

Emerging from winter, the density of wildlife is increasing, and penguin rookeries are at full capacity with penguin chicks beginning to hatch from mid-December.

Seal and whale sightings become more frequent as minke, southern right and humpback whales return to Antarctic waters to feed, ensuring extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities.

Enjoy daily Zodiac excursions, onshore landings and take advantage of a range of adventure options during the voyage such as kayaking, camping, photography and snowshoeing.

Benefit from a variety of onboard activities including educational lectures on history, geology, and ecology by the expedition team.

When you’re not out exploring, enjoy the amenities onboard including expedition lounge, restaurant, bar, pool, jacuzzi, library, gym, sun deck, spa facilities and sauna.

Although our ice-strengthened ships are big and sturdy, the Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings, so please be prepared with medications to combat this – we’d hate for you to miss a single minute of this journey. There is also a doctor on board should you need further assistance.

Believe it or not, temperatures in the Antarctic can be freezing. And yet it can get surprisingly warm when the sun comes out, for instance, or with increased physical activity. It’s best to dress in layers when you journey outside and we’ll provide you with waterproof boots that are sturdy, warm and highly fashionable (in Antarctica, at least). Please see the trip notes for information about what to bring.

Depending on the weather, you’ll be zipping around in a Zodiac boat quite regularly to explore the area and search for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you dress appropriately and keep your camera safe and dry. Being cold and miserable is one thing, having no photos to show for it is another. Sturdy sea legs are needed for wet and dry landings from the boat, as well as on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. The Ocean Endeavour has a lift, but you’ll need to take the stairs to get to the gangway and some other parts of the ship that the lift does not provide access to.

The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure, and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially in such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognised sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are equally as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The ship’s library and educational lectures are ideal ways to stay entertained, while the wellness spa, saunas, gym and yoga classes will keep you fresh for when the weather clears.

Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina

Welcome to Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city. You will be briefed at your hotel this evening on the journey that lies ahead and the details for tomorrow’s embarkation. If you happen to arrive early there are many ways to entertain yourself at ‘the End of the World’. Check out the Museo Maritimo to brush up on the region’s history or take a stroll down Avenida San Martin if you're after any last-minute essentials before departing for Antarctica. Enjoy a traditional meal at a local restaurant and sample some of Argentina's famous red wine.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included: There are no meals included on this day.

Special Information: An arrival transfer from the airport on Day 1 is included in your voyage fare. Full details will be sent with your final joining instructions.

Day 2: Embarkation in Ushuia

This afternoon you will board the Ocean Endeavour and your epic adventure south begins. Take some time to settle into your cabin as you begin cruising the stunning Beagle Channel, named after the famed vessel 'The Beagle' that facilitated some of Charles Darwin's most significant voyages. The channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America, and as the Ocean Endeavour pulls away from the port, there’s always an air of anticipation. Wave goodbye to Argentina and know that the next time you see land, you will be gazing upon the White Continent of Antarctica.

Accommodation: Expedition Cruise Ship (1 night)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Days 3-4: At Sea, Drake Passage

The infamous Drake Passage, named after the famous English explorer Sir Francis Drake, separates the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula from the southernmost tip of South America. It is often rough and turbulent, but sometimes as calm as a lake. It is unpredictable, so be prepared!

The next two days at sea offer time to enjoy the fabulous onboard facilities. Maybe join a yoga class, or attend a presentation or two given by your expedition team to prepare you for what lies ahead, from the geology of Antarctica to the history, wildlife and even the ice!

Sailing towards Antarctica, the temperature falls as you cross the Antarctic Convergence and enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. The Antarctic Convergence is marked by an increased number of seabirds, whales and other species that are attracted by the nutrient-rich waters pushed to the surface by the colder waters of the polar region flowing north and meeting the warmer equatorial waters flowing south.

Head out on one of the spacious outer decks to look out for the mighty albatrosses that fly overhead. Scan the waters for breaching whales and icebergs or gaze out from the panoramic windows of the Ocean Endeavour's observation deck. Keep on the lookout for the first sighting of land early evening on day four – heralding your arrival to the White Continent!

Accommodation: Expedition Cruise Ship (2 nights)

Meals Included: Breakfast (2), Lunch (2), Dinner (2)

Days 5-8: South Shetland Islands & Antarctica Peninsula

You will spend the next four incredible days exploring the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, a region that has captivated explorers for centuries and now enthrals travellers.

Explore the region by Zodiac, cruising among the magnificently sculpted icebergs and making shore landings where you’ll mingle with penguins, climb to vantage points to absorb the spectacular panoramic views, and maybe visit a scientific or historic base. There may even be opportunities to day-paddle, snowshoe and learn more about photography with your talented expedition photographer capturing the moments as they unfold.

Antarctica will enchant you with its incredible scenery, from imposing glaciers to towering snow-capped peaks, vast icebergs and ice strewn channels. Not to mention the wildlife – from extensive colonies of chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins, to crabeater, Weddell, fur and elephant seals and a plethora of fascinating birds. Look and listen for the mighty crack of a glacier calving. Maybe you will be one of the brave few to take a polar plunge into the icy Antarctic waters! Every day brings a new experience and new landing sites to explore.

As you cruise from one landing site to the next, enjoy the continued lecture program and take in the scenery from the outer decks of the Ocean Endeavour. Make the most of the Ocean Endeavour's wellness facilities, from the relaxing spa and saunas to the saltwater pool and gym.

An average day onboard begins with a wake-up call from your expedition leader around 7am, giving you time to prepare for the day before joining your fellow expeditioners for breakfast in the Polaris restaurant. You will usually have two excursions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with a delicious lunch served on the Ocean Endeavour in between excursions.

Accommodation: Expedition Cruise Ship (4 nights)

Meals Included: Breakfast (4), Lunch (4), Dinner (4)

Days 9-10: At Sea, Drake Passage

Leave the Antarctic Peninsula behind as you set sail across the Drake Passage, enjoying some final lectures and presentations from your expedition team. Look out for wildlife from the observation lounge, outer decks, or the Ocean Endeavour's bridge as you head north across the Antarctic Convergence.

Having crossed the Drake Passage once more, enter the calm and tranquil waters of the Beagle Channel as you enjoy a final dinner and approach your home port of Ushuaia.

Accommodation: Expedition Cruise Ship (2 nights)

Meals Included: Breakfast (2), Lunch (2), Dinner (2)

Day 11: Disembarkation in Ushiaia, Argentina

Your Antarctic adventure draws to a close as you disembark the Ocean Endeavour following breakfast. Farewell your fellow guests and your expedition team and join a transfer to Ushuaia airport for your onward journey today. Or perhaps extend your stay to spend some more time exploring this incredible part of the world.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: A departure transfer to the airport is included in your voyage fare if you are flying out today. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent to organise this.

If you are flying out today, please do not book your flight to depart Ushuaia before midday in case of any delays caused by unfavourable weather conditions.

Please note: this itinerary is subject to change.

Price is per person, based on 2 adults sharing, and includes:

  • 11 day Best of Antarctica: Wildlife Explorer expedition
  • All excursions and activities as outlined in the itinerary
  • 1 night's accommodation in a comfortable hotel
  • 9 nights accommodation onboard the Ocean Endeavour expedition cruise ship
  • Meals: 10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners
  • Transport via Zodiac

Please ask us about great value:

  • Flights from your chosen departure airport
  • Travel insurance
  • Group rates
Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply. 

For more information please call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 696 5135, email info@shandontravel.ie, request a call back, or submit an enquiry through the form below.

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