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From Montevideo to the depths of Antarctica - challenge, desolation, unlimited wonder. It's not difficult to grasp what attracted the great explorers to Antarctica. Get a personal appreciation for the struggle to tame the bottom of the world on this 22-day adventure to the land that entranced Shackleton and countless others since. What better year to travel, than the centenary year of Shackleton's epic journey! After time visiting Montevideo, you'll set sail to explore the Falkland Islands, encounter abandoned whaling stations on South Georgia Island and pay your respects at Shackleton's grave. Elsewhere, you'll catch up with penguins - king, chinstrap and gentoo varieties - and learn all about them through daily lectures, get close to whales and cavorting seals from a Zodiac boat and keep your eyes peeled for towering icebergs and massive glaciers. Prepare to be astonished.
20 nights premium boat
1 nights premium hotel
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Montevideo, the capital and largest city of Uruguay and enjoy its rich and vibrant culture.
You can arrive at any time and an arrival transfer is included if arriving in on day one of the itinerary. Upon arrival into Montevideo Airport (MVD) or the ferry terminal, please collect your luggage and look for a representative in the Arrivals Hall, holding a sign with your name on it. If you have booked your flights or ferry independently, please make sure that you have advised us of your arrival details so that a transfer is booked for you. Be sure to keep all of your important documents - i.e. passport and travel insurance, and also your medication in your hand luggage, as your main luggage will be transferred separately to the hotel.
There are no activities planned today. If your flight or ferry arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore the city. Highlights include the Plaza Independencia, the heart of Ciudad Vieja (the Old Town) or why not wander through the charming narrow streets, past architectural landmarks such as the Teatro Solis and Iglesia Matriz. Montevideo has an eclectic mix of activities, with grand old theatres, late night music venues and cosy tango bars. You will not want to miss the fantastic atmosphere of the 'Mercado del Puerto' where you can sample the local Steak speciality, surrounded by street musicians and artists in this lively market place.
Hotel in Montevideo
Today we embark aboard the Expedition. The group will leave the hotel together in the early afternoon. The morning is free for you to do any last minute shopping or some final exploration of the city. The evening is spent onboard the ship sailing southwards towards the Falkland Islands.
Please note while it is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. On the first day on board, your Expedition Leader will give you an expedition overview.
As you make the passage south you have time to become acquainted with the ship and onboard staff and crew. Spend time on deck spotting wildlife including albatrosses and always keeping our eyes peeled for whales and dolphins.
During our first days at sea, we begin our lecture programmes, to learn more about the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region.
Soon to arrive in the Falkland Islands, try and catch a glimpse from deck of a Wandering Albatross in flight - this species has the largest wingspan of any living bird.
Today, we arrive in the Falkland Islands. From here, you have a rare opportunity to witness the biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the southern islands. Penguins, elephant seals and sea lions are abundant. Port Stanley provides an opportunity to meet the hardy local inhabitants whose colourful houses provide contrast to the long dark winters.
The islands consist of 700 small and mostly uninhabited islands and 2 main islands - East and West Falklands. Located 490 km east of Patagonia, the Falklands have always been a land of hot debate. Officially discovered on August 14, 1592 by John Davis they remained uninhabited until 1764 when the French built a garrison at Port Louis disregarding the Spanish claim to the islands. From that moment on there have been many disputes between Spain, France, Britain and Argentina over the next 200 plus years until the end of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982 brought the islands firmly under Britain's control. Now with a human population of only 2491, the islands are the first stop in our journey.
There is an abundance of birdlife in the Falklands and we hope to catch our first glimpses of penguins, including the Magellanic, rockhopper, macaroni, gentoo, and king penguins. With a little luck we may also see king cormorants, black-browed albatross, skuas, giant petrels and striated caracaras to name a few ..
Sailing east now we'll set course for South Georgia Island.
Our days at sea will be filled with lectures to prepare us for South Georgia and we will have plenty of time on deck to identify the abundant sea birds of the south ocean. We keep our eyes peeled for the whales that inhabit these waters.
We arrive in South Georgia Island, home to many marvels including Shackleton's grave, several former whaling stations, incredible scenery and prolific wildlife. Weather-permitting, we will have three full days to explore this island. A huge colony of king penguins is the highlight of this part of the journey and on nearby islands, we'll hope to spot wandering albatross in their nesting grounds.
South Georgia, Known for its brutal whaling and exploratory history, is an island that is 170 km long and 40 km wide. It is considered the first gateway to Antarctica and was the centre of the huge Southern Ocean whaling industry from 1904 to 1966. The famous captain, James Cook was the first to land on South Georgia on January 17, 1775 and named the island after King George III.
During the 62 years of whaling activities, any number between 183 whales the first year and the record 7825 whales in 1925-26 seasons, were killed annually for their oil. Whales weren't the only animals hunted for their oil at that time. A total of 498,870 seals - mostly giant elephant seals - were also slaughtered. Since the end of whaling activities 40 years ago, wildlife has slowly returned to the island. Today, the Island's wildlife is extraordinary, not only in its variety, but also for its sheer abundance. South Georgia is home to roughly 300,000 elephant seals, 3 million fur seals, and 25 species of breeding birds, including wandering albatrosses. The gravel beach at St. Andrews Bay has a king penguin rookery of 100,000 and an estimated five million macaroni penguins.
There will be plenty of time to explore these rookeries and to lose yourself amongst these gracious-looking creatures. Ensure cameras are fully charged for this fantastic spectacle of wildlife!
Also important, is the historic value of this area. The British explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, landed at King Haakon Bay on the southwest coast. He and his men, landed here after the 800-mile journey in a 20-foot open boat from Elephant Island. They proceeded to hike the ice covered mountainous terrain, arriving at Stromness whaling station on May 20, 1916. Shackleton returned to South Georgia in 1922 for one last assault on Antarctica, but passed away after suffering a major heart attack in his cabin. He was buried at the whaler's cemetery at Grytviken station, at the request of his wife.
More time to enjoy the island's diversity of wildlife. You will also have the opportunity to visit the fascinating whaling museum at Grytviken, as well as pay your respects to Sir Shackleton, at his nearby grave.
Plotting a southwesterly course we make way towards legendary Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands. The waters are rich with nutrients and the long summer days provide the ingredient that is missing most of the year. The result is a complex food chain topped by several species of whales, seals and seabirds.
More on-board lectures will be offerred to prepare for you for your landings in Antarctica.
This is what we've all been waiting for - a chance to step foot on the Great White Continent! Over the next four days we will navigate southwards, making stops in the South Shetland Islands then through the Bransfield Strait and to the Antarctic Peninsula. Our goal is to attempt two excursions per day while we navigate through the area, but our itinerary and daily schedule will be based on the local weather and ice conditions that we encounter.
The continent itself is roughly circular with a spindly arm, called the Antarctic Peninsula, reaching northwards towards Tierra del Fuego. South America is the nearest landmass, some 600 miles away. Considerably larger than either the United States or Europe, and twice the size of Australia, the continent is surrounded by a frozen sea that varies in area from one million square miles in summer to 7.3 million square miles in winter. Ninety-five percent of the continent of Antarctica is ice covered and contains the freshest water on earth - about 70 percent of all fresh water on earth in fact. The highest point in Antarctica is Vinson Massif, with an altitude of 16,864 feet above sea level; the lowest point is the Bentley Subglacial Trench at 8,200 feet below sea level, located in West Antarctica. Antarctica has the highest average
elevation of all the continents at about 7,500 feet about sea level. This is a continent of superlatives. It is the coldest, windiest, driest, iciest and highest of all the major landmasses in the world. It is the continent with the longest nights and the longest days and it is home to the world's greatest concentration of wildlife. It is also one of the last true wilderness areas left on earth - largely unchanged since the early explorers and whalers first landed on its inhospitable shores less than two centuries ago. The lowest temperature ever recorded anywhere on earth, -89.2°C, was registered on July 21, 1983, at Vostok Station. Winds have been recorded at 200 mph in the interior of the continent and the average annual water precipitation in the interior is only about 50 mm.
The Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands abound with wildlife activity. Penguins gather with their fast-growing chicks, whales are seen in great numbers, seals haul out onto ice floes and beaches, and numerous albatross and other seabirds trail in our wake. We may visit scientists working in modern research bases, and there is plenty of time to enjoy the sheer beauty and the breathtaking scenery of ice-choked waterways, blue and white icebergs, impressive glaciers and rugged snow-capped mountains. The Peninsula also has a remarkable history and, during the voyage, we will learn about some of the most important and dramatic expeditions to this remote corner of the world. Keeping a lookout from the bridge or the deck of the ship, as we thread our way along the continent, you'll feel the same sense of excitement as many of those early explorers.
We continue along the peninsula, visiting the numerous penguin rookeries. Penguins are speedy and agile swimmers, but extremely slow on land - three varieties that can be found here are; the Adelie Penguin, named after French explorer Dumont d'Urville's wife; the Chinstrap Penguin, identified by the distinctive black line connecting the black cap to below the chin and the playful Gentoo Penguin, with its orange bill and white flash above and behind its eyes. You will soon become an expert on spotting your favourite variety ! There will be plenty of time to walk amongst them or to simply, sit and relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery in front of you.
The scenery can be quite different in the early season. There will be more ice around and much more snow underfoot. Icebergs are just starting to thaw, as the warmer temperatures move in and you really do get a sense of the magnitude of these glacial beasts. Many of the landing sites will have remained untouched since the previous Polar season - there is something truly magical about being the first to set foot on this undisturbed terrain.
Heading north across the Drake Passage, spend two days enjoying the beauty of the sea as we sail towards Ushuaia.
Another day at sea and more time to reflect on the magnificent events of your three-week adventure.
The trip ends after breakfast on board the ship.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time after 9am. You will receive a complimentary transfer at the end of your trip. For those on morning flights, a transfer will take you directly to Ushuaia City Airport (USH). For those on later flights, you will be transferred to the luggage storage point and given time to explore the city. You will need to return later to retrieve your luggage and board a second transfer to Ushuaia City Airport in the afternoon, depending on flight times.
To add to your polar adventure, take to a kayak for an eye-to-eye view with seals and whales or camp in some of the most remote and beautiful places on earth. Kayaking is available as an optional excursion on your Antarctica trip from GBP 1079 per person. Camping is available as an optional excursion on our Antarctica trips from GBP 249 per person. You must book prior to travel and space is limited - so book early to secure your place! Please speak to one of our polar experts to request availability.
Dress on board is informal. Pack comfortable, casual clothing for all activities. Wind and waterproof outer layers are essential, and themost important piece of clothing you will bring is a parka. Beware of tight clothing that leaves no room for trapped air, which is an excellent insulator. Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibres, like polar fleece, retain heat better than cotton. Parkas This will be provided by the ship operator. Please register your size with us before travel and we will arrange for your parka to be available in your cabin on arrival. Gloves Keeping your hands warm and dry can be a challenge. Thin polypropylene gloves can be worn underneath warm outergloves. This allows you some protection from the cold when removing your gloves to operate your camera etc. We strongly recommend that you bring more than one pair of gloves, in case one gets wet (or lost). Hat/Cap Warm, woollen hat/cap to protect your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection, such as a balaclava. Trousers Water-resistant trousers of coated nylon or, even better, Gore-Tex® are essential for your comfort. They can be worn over your regular clothes to keep you warm and dry. We suggest that you purchase trousers a few sizes larger than you normally wear as you will be wearing them over other clothing. Gore-Tex® or similar fabrics are excellent for keeping out wind and water without trapping excess heat. Rain gear and Gore-Tex® products can be found in any outdoor sport clothing store. In addition to your waterproof trousers, warm ski pants are suggested if you have them. Warm trousers such as jeans, corduroys etc are also good. Socks Warm wool socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene socks should provide enough warmth and insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of socks, since you will inevitably get your feet wet. Outer Clothing Woollen, knit or cotton sweaters/tops, polar fleece tops (medium weight), several cotton turtlenecks and T-shirts for layering on and off the ship. Underclothing Thermal underwear is highly recommended as it will keep you warm without adding bulk. Most polar travellers prefer a lightweight version.
Complimentary, used waterproof boots will be supplied onboard. However, guests might want to bring their own if they are the following sizes due to the limited quantities onboard: - men's UK size 12 & 13 1/2 - women's UK size below three & seven and above Guests must bring their own if they are: - men's UK size six 1/2 or smaller - men's UK size 13 1/2 or larger - women's UK size two or smaller - women's UK size nine 1/2 or larger These are rubber, waterproof boots that are just below your knees with a strong, ridged non-skid sole. You usually have to step from the Zodiac into icy water up to 30 cm high on most landings. Do not bring heavy, cumbersome boots that make it difficult to walk or boots with metal cleats as they cannot be used for landings. For maximum warmth, wear loose-fitting boots and two pairs of socks. Try out your boots before the voyage.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. Please note that a 15kgs luggage weight limit is sporadically enforced on the internal flight to Ushuaia, occasionally charges may be levied against passengers taking luggage in excess of 15kgs.
Sunglasses and sun cream Personal toiletries A refilllable water bottle Books/reading material Camera and memory cards (and something to protect the camera when out in the elements) Seasickness remedy Walking poles Personal First Aid
At a nimble 105 metres (345 ft) in length, with a capacity to hold 132 guests, the Expedition is an ideal vessel to ply polar waters. The ship is large enough to provide stability, speed, spacious cabins and ample public space, but small enough to manoeuvre in remote areas and get you close to the action. Ship stabilisers ensure a smooth ride in rough waters, such as the infamous Drake Passage, allowing you to enjoy more of your time at sea. A fleet of ten zodiacs allows passengers to get out and actively explore the remote shores of our destinations. The Expedition is a speedy vessel. A top speed of 16 knots means you'll spend less time getting from A to B, and more time to explore your surroundings.
The lead-in prices on our website are based on outward facing, category one cabins on the lower deck. Category one cabins are triple or quad share. They are comfortable with a private toilet and shower, and porthole. The Expedition has a number of different cabin categories, ranging from quads, twins and suites - all are outside facing, with two beds (apart from the suites which have queen size beds). Some cabins have larger windows, depending on your cabin grade. We can also offer single occupancy at a supplement which will be subject to availability at the time of booking. A full layout of the deck plan can be found under the Polar Ships section on our website. Your confirmed cabin type will appear on your Booking Confirmation which will be sent on receipt of your deposit payment.
Onboard our expedition ship you'll find a diversity of gourmet international cuisines prepared and catered by professional chefs; all meals are included in the price of your expedition. Dining is casual, tables are unassigned and the dining room is capable of seating the entire passenger compliment at one time. There is always a selection of different meals available, and vegetarians will find plenty of options. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice; please advise us at time of confirmation. Coffee, tea and water are all provided free of charge. All other beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are not included and can be purchased in the dining room, pub or in the lounge.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. USA (If flights transit): you will need to apply for an ESTA if you are transiting the USA as you will have to disembark and clear immigration before re-boarding for the onward flight. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. When completing an application for transit you should enter the words 'In Transit' with your final destination location in the address line You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan in the past five years or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Programme. Instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.