Home » Vavilov: Ultimate Antarctica – Weddell Sea and Falkland Islands
On this exceptional voyage, we explore the South Shetland Islands and the spectacular waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. We then enter the Weddell Sea, the ice-choked region made famous by Shackleton and his men from the Endurance Expedition nearly 100 years ago. Images of massive tabular icebergs, abundant wildlife and human hardship come to mind when contemplating the Weddell Sea. Our journey then takes us north to the beautiful Falkland Islands and we enjoy a day exploring the western archipelago discovering several additional penguin species and viewing nesting albatross.
Duration: 13 Days
Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. We gather at a central location and transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at King George Island, we embark our ship via Zodiac. After settling into our cabins and exploring our new surroundings, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome refreshment and set sail. No doubt, everyone will be looking forward to the adventure ahead.
Overnight we have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and wake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent laid out before us. For the next few days we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. If ice conditions allow, we cruise through the Lemaire Channel and visit sites which may include Pleneau Island and the Penola Strait. To the south lies Petermann Island, home to a sizeable penguin rookery where both Adelie and gentoo penguins nest side by side. A visit to an active science station nearby provides a fascinating insight into the important climate change research occurring in Antarctica. There’s a fantastic walk on a nearby island and we hope to make a full traverse across a snowy knoll from one side of the island to the other. The old British Antarctic Survey hut of Wordie House begs for further investigation. Returning north, we pass the massive granite sentinels of Mount Scott and Mount Shackleton and may attempt a second transit of the Lemaire Channel. The landscape all along this section of the Antarctic coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow.
Our activity program is in full swing by now. Each day we enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies and Zodiac cruising among the ice with our expert guides, providing insight and interpretation. Planned visits could include Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay. Or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where we frequently encounter pods of humpback whales feeding. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that we plan to spend a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. We have all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen - all you need is an adventurous spirit! If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, we will always go for it. Camping is included in the voyage price and there is no need to pre-book this activity.
We are now heading north towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way we hope to make a planned visit at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, we sail the ship right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and home to several penguin rookeries along the black sand beaches. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and old wooden structures. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is an outstanding hike here to a location known as ‘Neptune’s Window’ – high up onto the rim of the crater.
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating into the sound we witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. This is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea we notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation – and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far.
The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the penguin rookeries visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions in the Weddell Sea region may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice floes through which we navigate the ship. We have enjoyed a number of emperor penguins sightings in this area in recent years and they are known to inhabit the area. The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjöld’s Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after the ship had been lost in the ice pack months earlier. As we head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset will make some of us pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before us.
Point Lookout on the southern tip of Elephant Island is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. Both southern elephant seals and fur seals are hauled out on the rocky beaches. If conditions permit, we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat – the 'James Caird'.
While sailing north to the Falkland Islands our on-board polar experts will recap on our adventures in the Weddell Sea and prepare us for the days ahead. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular pelagic seabirds including several albatross and petrel species, are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. Photographing these stunning birds in flight takes great patience and skill and our resident photography expert will show you the best techniques. Our educational program continues and our experts entertain us with interactive presentations and leading lively discussions.
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore the island of West Point and nearby Saunders Island – in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its rockhopper penguin rookeries and substantial nesting black-browed albatross colony. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easily forgotten. Other potential locations we may visit include New Island and the remote Jason Island group, situated in the far north-west of the archipelago. One final highlight awaits – a visit to the wildlife-rich Saunders Island. Along the white sand beaches and in the surrounding tussock grass we hope to encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper - and our ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders Island is a fitting end to our epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life’s great travel experiences.
In the early morning, we navigate the ship through the narrows and into port. Stanley - the capital of the Falkland Islands, is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is a charming location, with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. We have time to explore town before a transfer takes us to the airport for our return flight to Punta Arenas (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. Otherwise enjoy a night in Punta Arenas, or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.
|20 Jan 2020 - 01 Feb 2020||$19993 AUD|
|Triple Share Cabin||$19993 AUD||Contact us|
|Twin Semi Private Cabin||$23616 AUD||Contact us|
|Twin Private Cabin||$26355 AUD||Contact us|
|Superior Cabin||$27819 AUD||Contact us|
|Shackleton Suite||$30862 AUD||Contact us|
|One Ocean Suite||$33471 AUD||Contact us|
Located on deck 3, 1 upper berth and two lower berths (one of the lower beds can be converted to a sofa), a washbasin, writing desk, chair, storage space, two portholes, shared washroom facilities.
Located on deck 4, 2 lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa), a writing desk, storage space, wardrobes, semi-private facilities — a shared washroom with the adjacent cabin.
Located on deck 3, 4 and 5, two lower berths, writing desk, chair, in-room clock radio with iPod connector kit, storage space, wardrobe, window (cabins on deck 3 have portholes instead of windows), private bathroom, shower.
Located on deck 3 these cabins have two lower berths, sofa, writing desk, chair, storage space, private bathroom, shower, porthole, access to the outer decks, the dining room and gangway.
Located on deck 4 and 5, 1 double bed in separate sleeping area, sofa bed, sitting area, writing desk, iPad with polar literature, documentaries and movies and webmail access, mini bar, private bathroom, capsule coffee maker, mini stereo, window.
Located on deck 5, 1 double bed in separate sleeping area, sofa bed, large forward facing windows, large table, sitting area, writing desk, iPad with polar literature, documentaries and movies and webmail access, mini bar, private bathroom, shower, bathtub,, capsule coffee maker, mini stereo.
A special feature of our adventure program, full day sea kayaking led by world re-known sea kayak guides allows for a full experiential introduction to the Arctic by kayak. Travelling amidst icebergs in a traditional manner, paddle in hand creates a perspective not available to many travelers in these regions. These full day excursions are built to explore, and immerse yourself in the Arctic climate. By donning a Kokatat, Goretex drysuit with all top notch gear, one may even forget the temperatures of the water they traverse.
If you have some experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. We cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand.