You’re ready to explore the Antarctic Peninsula – and no Drake Passage crossings required! Included charter flights between Punta Arenas and Antarctica have you experiencing the majesty of the Seventh Continent with a spectacular aerial view before transferring to your ship in no time.
Keep your camera ready as you Zodiac cruise in search of whales, seabirds and astounding icebergs. Beaches dotted with leopard seals and penguins give way to icy plateaus, with snowcapped mountain peaks.
Day 1 — Punta Arenas, Chile
Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, the most populated city in Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and shops to keep you busy for days. By early afternoon, a Quark Expeditions representative will bring everyone together to your starting hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed about preparing for your embarkation day.
Day 2 — Embarkation Day
Your charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will have you crossing the infamous Drake Passage in only a few hours. Way below, the ship is approaching King George Island for your arrival. The dramatic Antarctic landscapes soon become visible as your plane descends for landing in the South Shetlands. After landing, stretch your legs and spend some time exploring the island before being transferred by Zodiac to your ship . Meet the rest of your shipmates and set sail for the Peninsula!
Days 3 to 6 — Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
There are few places in the world as evocative as Antarctica. As we approach the white continent, don’t be surprised if you are overcome by feelings of excitement and awe. Much of Antarctica is indescribable and can only be fully appreciated through the human eye.
Your first sightings will be from the ship itself. As the Captain and Expedition Team keep their eyes out for whales and seabirds, you’ll be alerted to any new sightings. Our team of expert lecturers will also provide in-depth explanations of the geology, history and wildlife of the region.
Even more exciting are your daily excursions to land. Your first Zodiac landing is something you’ll never forget! Walking up to a beach that is dotted with penguins and seals is the most intimate way to experience the unique wildlife of Antarctica. Each landing is different and is dependent on weather, but every day presents new sightings and photo opportunities. You may take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs in Pleneau Island one day, followed by a hike to a chinstrap rookery the next day. From the booming shot of a calving glacier at Petermann Island to the complete silence of night while camping in Antarctica, you’ll welcome each day with the excitement and energy of a young child. Our Expedition Team will be with you all along, providing insights into the places you visit and offering photography tips to get the most out of your expedition.
Day 7 — Disembarkation and Fly to Punta Arenas
After your four days of exploration, you’ll say goodbye to the Expedition Team and disembark at King George Island. Your three-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas, Chile brings your journey to an end. After we transfer you from the airport to the hotel, you can enjoy one final dinner (not included) to reminisce about all the sights and sounds of Antarctica.
Day 8 — Depart for Home
After breakfast, you are free to continue on your own travels or make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your homeward flights.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS
Stepping foot on Antarctica is a moment of pleasure that affects each
traveler differently. Your possible landing in Antarctica will take
place on the Peninsula, which is an extension of the Transantarctic
Mountains chain and is the most northern stretch of Antarctic land.
Formed by uplifted submarine troughs that were filled with sediment
about 220 million years ago, this is a dynamic land of both desolation
and diversity. To the east is the frozen, wild Weddell Sea. To the
west, howling winds and warming seas from the Southern Ocean create
perfect conditions for whale sightings.
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on a rocky beach at the north
end of the island. Depending on when in the season you arrive, you may
see the penguins building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant
petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.
If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll
likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbor
where Port Lockroy is located.
Home to gentoo penguins, this small island is easy to explore, at
only one mile (1.6 km) long. You can visit the marker of a former
British Antarctic Survey hut, where you can watch for a variety of
seabirds, such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A
Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.
You’ll see firsthand why this strait, which runs between Booth Island
and the Antarctic Peninsula, is one of the most scenic locations on
the peninsula’s west coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The
channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow 6.8-mile (11
km) long passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
This group of low islands in Dallmann Bay is where you may see
hauled-out male fur seals as they recuperate from their battles for
supremacy at the end of their breeding season.
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating
whale factory ship Neko. You might see whale vertebrae being used by
resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. Climb up a steep
slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbor.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the
southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. The dome of the
island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a
challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and
south polar skuas also inhabit the island.
As part of Operation Tabarin during the Second World War, a secret
British base was built in this sheltered harbor, located on the west
side of Wiencke Island. Now a designated historic site, the base is a
museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases in Port Lockroy
support the British Antarctic Heritage trust, which preserves historic
sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration. A large gentoo penguin
population resides here and is observed for any effects of tourism.
You may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected
to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the historic
area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior
lived in a water boat on the point from 1921 to 22. The remains of
their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site.
SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
The Bransfield Strait separates this archipelago from the Antarctic
Peninsula. The South Shetland Islands stretch for 335 miles (540 km)
from northeast to southwest. In the 1820s, sealers swept the islands’
beaches of seals. When the seal market collapsed, the sealers
retreated. Over the course of time, seals have returned to the
This group of small islands, some still unnamed, is situated in the
northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great
mix of wildlife in the area, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having
established rookeries on the islands. Southern elephant and fur seals
frequently haul out here, too.
Also known as Rancho Point, Bailey Head is a rocky headland on the
southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests
on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the natural
amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
HALF MOON ISLAND
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821.
Unlike sealers, who tried to keep their best locations secret, we’re
happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic
birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm
petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on this
point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the
rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only
visit here from January 10 onward.
Geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named
for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see
yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on
Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis.
Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the
island for breeding purposes.
A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as
early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado petrels
breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Your Expedition Team will be happy to point out that this is where
the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point,
situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here
are often crowded with southern elephant, fur and Weddell seals
hauling out on the rocks.
To reach Whaler’s Bay, it is necessary to sail through a narrow
passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from
1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbor created by the
formation of the circular flooded caldera known as Deception Island.
Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the
rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam
that may rise from geothermally heated springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbor, situated
on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here, you can see an
abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches
along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try
pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of
miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.