Antarctica Tour: Exploring the Seventh Continent

A 8 day trip to Antarctica & Chile 
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Experience the spectacles of the Seventh Continent during your custom tailored tour of Antarctica. Soar over the Drake Passage on a picturesque flight to King George Island. Travel between the South Shetland Islands on a zodiac boat. Imagine yourself in the shoes of 19th-century explorers around the snow-filled expanse in search of elephant seals, sea lions, and an abundance of penguins. Discover the unlikely geothermal activity triggering a lunar landscape that contrasts the snow-white image of the region. Pursue whales, trek between secluded national research stations, and relish the unique opportunity of touching the isolated shores of the southernmost continent, Antarctica. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Punta Arenas, King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Paulet Island, Hope Bay, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Deception Island, Lemaire Channel 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Punta Arenas – Arrive in Chile with the Day at Leisure in Punta Arenas

Patagonia has gained a reputation for staggering beauty amidst dramatic landscapes. Mountain peaks pierce the skyline, vast plains sweep across the landscape, and the waters along the western edges of the Pacific lap against the chiseled corners of ancient fjords, hidden glaciers, and pebbled shorelines. The city of Punta Arenas in Chile attracts visitors to the coastline along the Strait of Magellan. The water carries a glinting gray tint across the cobalt blue capped with white crests. The streets of the city wind against the boundaries of Chile’s western border with the sea and the captivating landscape of Patagonia.

Buildings maintain the former decadence of the wool-boom and the port continues to serve the ships sailing around Cape Horn. Your flight lands at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon your arrival. The aroma of the saltwater drifts through the streets, accompanied by the scent of fresh ceviche emanating from the doors of a restaurant in Plaza Sampaio. You can hear the water lapping against the shoreline from the streets.

The colorful homes of former fishermen and sealers contrast the lapping water. Glitzy malls and bustling shops on the outskirts of the city center cater to the tourists traveling beyond the city to Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, and Argentina, resembling the explorers and sailors who helped turn Punta Arenas into the metropolis of Southern Patagonia. You settle into the comforts of your luxury hotel with the remainder of the day at your leisure to explore the streets of the active city established more than 150 years ago.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: King George Island – Fly South and Visit a Variety of Research Stations

The morning fills with the scent of sea water and the colorful sounds emanating from the Mercado Municipal on 21 de Mayo. Fish mongers and produce vendors provide bright and fresh goods to locals, including salmon, crabs, and sea bass, along with items perhaps less notable to visitors, such as sea urchins, razor clams, and seaweed. At breakfast, locals sip strong and hot coffee to battle the cool temperatures of Southern Patagonia. You enjoy the sweet and bitter flavor of a fresh espresso accompanied by a small cookie to counterbalance the flavorful morning coffee before meeting your private transfer in the hotel lobby.

You venture to the airport for your brief flight to King George Island. The aircraft is a BAE-146, a specialty plane preferred in areas with access to short runways. The cobalt and metal gray water below flickers beneath the sunlight. Sporadic icebergs peak out from the water. Their icy blue tips shimmer in a burst of sunlight. Snow blankets the landscape of King George Island, with sporadic rocks and boulders providing a hint of black to the bleached scenery. The cold air nips at your cheeks. The scent of the sea blends with the ice particles drifting through the air. King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands with an area of 440 square miles.

The island sits 75 miles off the coast of Antarctic and supports year–round global bases maintained by Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Poland, China, Russia, Uruguay, and South Korea. Countries including the US, Peru, Germany, Ecuador, and the Netherlands maintain summer research stations. The different bases are connected by nearly 15 miles worth of roads and tracks. Chile maintains the Eduardo Frei Montalva Station, which was erected in the 1960s along the iceless Fildes Peninsula on the southwest tip of the island.

The Chilean government encourages its citizens to reside on the base to incorporate the territory deeper into the country, housing families in a group of cream-colored single-story homes known as the Village of the Stars. Over 170 people live in the station permanently, many of who work for, or are related to, the military. The 15 brightly painted chalets decorate the hillside and contrast the blanketing snow. The hospital, school, bank, and post office are located in the red-orange building at the center of the base. Locals from different stations play a weekly soccer match in the large gymnasium on the property.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Antarctica – Cruise the Western Coast of the Antarctic Peninsula

In the morning, the sunlight reflects against the sprawling snow and ice. The polar landscape highlights the stunning qualities of nature, while also exemplifying the raw dangers of the scenery’s natural beauty. The sea has a frigid temperature punctuated by the intermittent floating icebergs. The snow crunches beneath your feet as you walk along the pathways between the bases, giving way to irregular patches of slick ice. You board a luxurious expedition vessel after breakfast specifically crafted to maneuver through the icy waters.

Your cabin has a picturesque view from the private window and a heating system that keeps you warm and comfortable against the harsh cool of Antarctica. The boat sets into the fjords and waterway situated between the South Shetland Islands for your first day of exploring the majesty of the Antarctic waters. You reach Elephant Island, which has a length of nearly 40 miles and a width of fewer than 25 miles. Moss banks on the island date back more than 2,000 years. The greenery unique to the island banks showcases the diverse climate of the Antarctic Peninsula over thousands of years.

The island and its unique environment have supported over 350 different species of mosses and lichens. There is enough warmth and moisture in the summer months to maintain the moss naturally, with the greenery growing along the banks up to a millimeter before freezing during the dark and cold winter. The long winters have preserved the mosses and provide paleo-climate scientists essential information on the study of climate in the region, along with a history of the evolution of the greenery.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Antarctica – Explore the Coasts and Landscape for Marine Life and Avifauna

In the morning, you find comfort in the cozy environment on board your cruise ship. The boat sails around the mass of floating icebergs. The captain and different lecturers onboard the ships have provided interesting facts about the floating frozen bodies of water. The icebergs begin as snowfall, which form the glaciers around the Antarctic continent before pushing towards the sea or rivers due to their own weight. They then reach the sea and break away from the ice shelf and crash into the water. In the year 2000, an iceberg over 4,000 square miles broke away from the ice shelf as the largest iceberg ever recorded.

You make your way by zodiac boat to Penguin Island, one of many small islands attached to the South Shetland atoll. The small, volcanic island has an easily scaled summit, reaching nearly 550 feet above sea level for views of the surrounding seas. Famous British explorer Edward Bransfield named the island after the local population of chinstrap and adélie penguins. You watch as Antarctic terns swoop over the water as the zodiac approaches the shoreline. The bird has white plumage with a sharp black head and can grow to 15 inches long.

They chirp as they fly over the water in search of mollusks, marine worms, and berries to eat around their northern breeding grounds. You can hear the adélie penguin colony before you spot them congregating around the coastline. They can reach up to 27.5 inches tall and eat krill, fish, and squid. They can also dive up to 575 feet deep but often hunt in shallower waters. White markings surround their eyes and the base of their bill. Their iconic appearance resembles a tuxedo with a white belly and a black back and neck.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Antarctica – Walk along the Distinctive Contours of Deception Island

The islands around the Antarctic continent shape the water and the ice shelf. One of the most famous of the South Shetland Islands is Deception Island, which is a collapsed, yet active volcanic cone. Cliffs protect the narrow entrance, framing the edge of an island with a diameter over seven miles long. Underwater volcanoes keep the bay from forming ice. More than half the terrain represents the geothermal activity, producing pockets of steam from the boiling water as the magma cools.

The freezing temperatures of the region keep eruptions in the area unpredictable. The island’s western area contains Kroner Lake, the only geothermal lagoon on the continent. The highest peak, known as Mount Pond, rises over the eastern edges of the island at nearly 1,770 feet above sea level. Argentina and Spain have permanent research facilities on the island to continue their studies of the geothermal activity and vegetation. South polar skua grow to 21 inches long with grayish brown plumage on top and off-white plumage on their belly.

The large, barrel chested bird preys on fish, penguins, and smaller birds, along with rabbits and carrion. They showcase less agility in their hunting and more brute force than common in other related skua birds. You walk carefully along the rugged landscape, noticing the lunar consistency of dark volcanic sand and rocks as opposed to the familiar expanse paved with snow and ice. The surreal scenery grows even more unique when you find the penguin colonies roosting near the shoreline in view of the desolate, black hills. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Antarctica – Find Beauty in the Diverse Scenery around Livingston Island

In the morning, the aroma of fresh coffee adds to the warm ambiance onboard the ship. After breakfast, you set out on another zodiac to visit Livingston Island, which contains the highest point of the South Shetland atoll at 7,800 feet above sea level. The western end of the peninsula contains the greatest concentration of 19th-century historical sites on the Antarctic continent. The island provided prosperity for sealers willing to venture this far south and continues to be a popular destination for travelers eager to view a 19th-century shipwreck from a boat constructed in Liverpool, England.

Southern elephant seals have grown in numbers since the decline of the seal trade around the world, with a global population estimated over 740,000 across subpopulations. The elephant seal is the largest of the pinniped family, which includes fur seals, sea lions, and walruses. They can grow to nearly 20 feet long and weigh more than eight tons. They have a short, stubby nose that makes a loud, roaring noise similar to an elephant’s trumpet.

You can hear the magnificent roar echoing around the shores of the Livingston Island as you walk along the pebbled beaches leading inland. Members of the colony rest in the sunlight near waddling blue-eyed shags. The bird is known for its purple or red iris and pink feet. Your guide leads you around the island’s borders to find the gentoo penguin colony, where you can recognize this specific species by the white strip extending from their head to bright orange bill.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Punta Arenas – Return to King George Island and Fly to Punta Arenas

In the morning, the boat wades in the quiet waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. At breakfast, you remember the distinctive scenery and marvelous wildlife you witnessed while visiting the South Shetland Islands, including the sensational peak of Bridgeman Island, which reaches nearly 800 feet above sea level. The visible summit is all that remains of the larger volcanic cone now situated beneath the sea. You return to the Chilean commune and board the plane at Teniente R. Marsh Airport on King George Island. The plane ascends over the snowbanks and cobalt water leading back to Chile.

You return to the South America knowing you have discovered the variety of experiences of the seventh continent. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the city on the Strati of Magellan. Casa Braun-Menéndez decorates the north end of Plaza Muñoz Gamero. The 19th-century mansion represents the former prestige of the home of a former wool baron. The interior houses the Club de la Unión, a gathering space for businessmen and politicians surrounded by artifacts from the life of Sara Braun and Jose Nogueira. The extravagant furnishings represent Patagonia’s former connection to Europe amidst impressive paintings and an elegant billiard table decorated with intricate details.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Punta Arenas – Depart for Home

In the morning, the fishing trawlers return to the port after long hours scrawling through the Strait of Magellan. Cafes and restaurants catering to local Chileans serve toast with delicious jelly and stews made from rice, potato, corn, and beef broth. On the outskirts of the city, ranches continue to herd sheep in the tradition beginning with the wool-boom. Estancia Fitz Roy carries out the process of raising and sheering sheep in the traditional methods brought from Europe. The impressive Andes Mountains decorate the skyline to the east, and Tiera del Fuego’s glistening fjords shine to the west of the ranch. Sheepdogs use skill and focus to round up the wandering flock and the shepherds expertly sheer, wash and spin the wool before shipping the material abroad. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you to Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport to check into your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.