A photographer's dream!

Snow Hill: March to the Emperor Penguins

Antarctica's Weddell Sea

Journey aboard the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, past thick, tabular icebergs to the ice-bound Weddell Sea. This exclusive Antarctic adventure, last offered in 2010, is your chance to be a part of polar history! A rare opportunity to observe one of the most spectacular sights in the wild: the elusive Emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island. Imagine flying in a helicopter to the vicinity of this astounding rookery, then walking across the sea ice to come within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  • Travel aboard the legendary Kapitan Khlebnikov, the legendary icebreaker and the only vessel to circumnavigate Antarctica twice
  • Cross the famous Drake Passage on your way to explore the Snow Hill Emperor penguin colony
  • Enjoy helicopter sightseeing and Zodiac cruising
  • Experience thousands of pairs of Emperor penguins, including chicks, in their natural habitat
  • View other iconic Antarctic wildlife, such as whales, seals and seabirds

The Legend Returns

Exclusive and unparalleled. As a polar pioneer, the mighty Kapitan Khlebnikov icebreaker has taken adventurers to some of the most inaccessible corners of the globe since 1992, and was the first ship in the world to circumnavigate Antarctica with passengers in 1997. The Khlebnikov now returns to tourist expeditions for the first time in several years. On this expedition, Khlebnikov (pronounced KLEB-nik-off) will take you to some of the most remote and remarkable regions of the world.


The Kapitan Khlebnikov is one the very few vessels offering aerial sightseeing flights and landings by expertly-piloted helicopters – an essential feature of icebreaker operations offering a unique perspective of the polar regions and this amazing ship working through the ice... not to mention transport to see the emperor penguins!     


When the BBC and Discovery Channel decided to produce Frozen Planet, the sequel to their popular Planet Earth TV series, the filmmakers turned to this very same voyage Emperor Penguins: Snow Hill Island Safaris aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov. On each voyage, the film crew delivered presentations and screened dailies—raw footage captured during each day’s filming—to the delight of all passengers!

Stewart's Take

An experience like no other, it’s like a wildlife documentary come to life!


Journey aboard the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, past thick, tabular icebergs to the ice-bound Weddell Sea. This exclusive Antarctic adventure, last offered in 2010, is your chance to be a part of polar history! A rare opportunity to observe one of the most spectacular sights in the wild: the elusive Emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island. Imagine flying in a helicopter to the vicinity of this astounding rookery, then walking across the sea ice to come within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!
DAY 1 | USHUAIA, ARGENTINA You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentine hot spot is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or savor some handcrafted chocolate at a café in town. DAY 2 | EMBARKATION DAY In the late afternoon, you and your fellow travelers from your group hotel will be transfered to the pier, where you’ll board Kapitan Khlebnikov. This iconic icebreaker should be instantly recognizable at the port, as the shape and bulk are distinctive, especially from a distance. As Khlebnikov sets sail, you’ll first pass through the historic Beagle Channel, which opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Named after the famed ship on which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents many great photo opportunities to capture seabirds hovering overhead and possibly seals and sea lions cavorting in the water. DAY 3 & 4 | AT SEA Crossing the legendary Drake Passage is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and seals are. With ideal weather conditions, your passage could be relatively easy, but be prepared for some rough seas in case the Drake lives up to its reputation. These two days will have an air of anticipation, as you prepare for your first landing at the elusive Snow Hill Emperor penguin rookery. Plenty of activities will keep you engaged at sea, including educational and informative presentations by your Expedition Team. You’ll learn about such things as the history of whaling in Antarctica and the Emperor penguins’ biology, unique habitat and adaptive behaviour. You may also want to spend some time on deck, with your binoculars and camera at the ready, looking out for wandering albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins. Crossing the polar front, keep a close watch, as you should see your first iceberg, too. DAY 5-11 | WEDDELL SEA & SNOW HILL ISLAND EMPEROR PENGUINS While approaching the island, remember that no two polar expeditions are alike, particularly this voyage through the icy Weddell Sea, since landings and wildlife sightings are determined by weather and ice conditions, as well as the natural cycles of the wildlife. But it’s exactly this element of the unknown that makes expedition-style travel so exhilarating and adventurous. That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, such as landings, wildlife sightings, helicopter sightseeing and ice—truly massive amounts of ice! Having broken away from the ice shelf, large tabular icebergs, so named for their plateau-like flat top and steep sides, will signal your arrival to Antarctica. Located on sea ice, the Emperor rookery is situated some distance from Snow Hill Island, so your captain will navigate your ship to a position in the ice that’s within helicopter range of the rookery. As we draw near, keep your eyes peeled for curious penguins that may be attracted to the open water by the ship. Deployed in a rotation of flights, our on-board helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, yet still at a safe distance (at least 0.75 nautical miles/1.4 km), to protect the birds. Since you must carry your own gear to the rookery and back across sea ice several feet thick, you’ll want to keep items in your backpack to a minimum. A must-bring, however, should be your camera. We encourage everyone—photographers and nature lovers alike—to carry a camera during our rookery visits, because any visit could reward with that once-in-a- lifetime shot. Your Expedition Team will include a professional photographer, who will conduct on-board workshops and assist you on-site to help you get the most out of your camera, whether you’re a newbie or a pro! Though we can’t predict how many excursions will occur during your stay in the vicinity of the rookery, rest assured that your Expedition Leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, and our intention is to spend as much time as possible in the area, to give you plenty of chances to observe the Emperors in their natural environment. Since we are visiting earlier in the rearing season than any other expedition, the Emperor chicks are still young, so you may see a few brooding on their parents’ feet or even several huddling together in large communal groups. It’s possible you may catch the impressive sight of a constant trail of adults walking or tobogganing in single file from the sea to the rookery to feed the chicks, and then heading back out again to hunt for more food. Listen closely for a parent trumpeting upon its return to the rookery—the call is instantly recognized by the chick, who whistles in response. To protect the penguins, we’ll remain at least 15 feet (five meters) away, but you may have the opportunity to encounter them up close. Curious creatures, Emperors are unafraid of humans, and if you stand still and remain quiet, the birds may actually approach you! If you are crouching on the ice, eyes focused down through your camera lens, pause for a moment and slowly look around you—you may find yourself surrounded by the very birds you’ve been trying to photograph! DAY 12 & 13 | AT SEA A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. Share stories and photos with your shipmates in the lounge, relax in the Polar Library or attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, who may even screen documentaries. Lecture topics can range from the Historic Age of Exploration to whales of the Southern Ocean. If you choose to spend time outside on deck, keep an eye out for the large seabirds that have accompanied mariners through the Southern Ocean since Magellan made his first navigation of the globe. By now, you should be able to recognize albatross and petrels on the wing. As you enter the mouth of the Beagle Channel on your way back to Ushuaia, a small vessel will come alongside and a local pilot will board your ship to help navigate this last stretch of water. If the weather is fine, you may want to watch from the deck, enjoying the soft light of the austral summer. DAY 14 | DISEMBARKATION IN USHUAIA This morning, you’ll say farewell to your Expedition Team and fellow travellers before disembarking to catch your homeward flights. PLEASE NOTE Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your Expedition Team must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no speci c itinerary can be guaranteed. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a polar expedition. INCLUDED ACTIVITIES Be sure to take your camera with you— photography is very much a part of the big picture. Presentations and lectures are slotted during periods of sub-optimal weather, to prioritize visits to the Emperor penguin colony. AERIAL SIGHTSEEING The Kapitan Khlebnikov is one the few vessels offering aerial sightseeing flights and landings by expertly-piloted helicopters — an essential feature of icebreaker operations offering a unique perspective of the Antarctic. With two helicopters aboard, you’ll witness astounding aerial views of pristine polar landscapes and the mighty Kapitan Khlebnikov as it crushes through pack ice. All helicopter flights are weather dependent and are included in the cost of your voyage. If time and conditions permit, consider booking additional private sightseeing flights for exclusive views (extra charge applies). OTHER EQUIPMENT ON BOARD Walking poles are also provided at each landing for your convenience. INCLUDED HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS Your included accommodation begins on Day 1 of your itinerary, and the specific hotel(s) will be indicated on your final voyage confirmation. If you are arriving prior to Day 1 of your expedition or are staying after the disembarkation day, please contact your travel advisor for hotel options. As accommodation space is limited, you are encouraged to request any extra nights as early as possible. Ushuaia accommodations range from hostels to mid-range properties, and hotel space is limited. You will be provided with the best possible accommodation within these parameters. A particular property cannot be guaranteed, but space is most often booked at Hotel Las Lengas, Hotel Los Acebos, and Albatros Hotel.

Icebreaker: I/B Kapitan Khlebnikov

Icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov

The Kapitan Khlebnikov will be your home away from home during your expedition. No mincing words: this ship can practically go anywhere—and you’re going with it. Not only was it the first in the world to circumnavigate Antarctica with passengers—it did it twice. No other vessel has transited the Northwest Passage more often. Originally designed to take on the rigors of northern Siberia, the 24,000 horsepower engine and advanced ice-breaking technology take you places no other ship can. The ship offers 51 outside cabins and suites, all featuring private facilities, large windows, desk, hair dryer, robes and large closets.

For full information about this vessel click here:

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Soft drinks plus Wine and beer at dinner service
  • Accommodation onboard with daily housekeeping All meals, snacks, coffee, tea, cocoa and juices onboard (please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible; unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals)
  • All shore landings per the daily program, weather permitting Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
  • Photographic journal documenting the expedition
  • Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled
  • Waterproof expedition boots on loan for the duration of your voyage
  • Expedition parka to keep
  • Life jackets and immersion suits
  • Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
  • Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Antarctic Reader
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
  • All luggage handling aboard ship
  • Emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of US$500,000 per person
  • International airfare
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above
  • Meals ashore unless otherwise specified
  • Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance are strongly recommended
  • Excess-baggage fees on international flights
  • Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, or any other gear not mentioned
  • Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified
  • Phone and Internet charges
  • Additional overnight accommodation
Rates and Share Bookings Prices shown are per person in US Dollars on a shared basis. If you are travelling alone and wish to share, you will be matched with someone of the same gender and pay only the share rate. If desired, Single occupancy is available at 1.7 times the twin share rate. Deposits Reservations require a deposit of 20% (minimum $1000 per person) at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 120 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments Balances are due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by bank transfer. Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of US$1250 per person or equivalent currency. If cancellation is received between 179 days and 120 days, the full deposit is forfeited. If cancellation occurs less than 120 days prior to departure, all payments are forfeited. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Booking Terms Please read carefully the Terms and Conditions for Expeditions Online (link at the bottom of this page). This voyage is operated by Quark Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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