Join one of the most incredible expedition voyages on this planet. Journey below the Antarctic Circle and deep into the Weddell Sea, a part of Antarctica that few get to experience. Encounter huge tabular icebergs and an array of marine wildlife on this trip of a lifetime to the world's most remote continent.
Exclusive to New Scientist, you will be accompanied by marine biologist and author Helen Scales along with a highly knowledgeable and supportive expedition team (experts in exploration, science and wildlife).
Retrace the paths of early British explorer Ernest Shackleton, one of the greatest known survival stories of polar exploration. Hear first-hand from broadcast presenter and producer, Saunders Carmichael-Brown, who was aboard the Endurance 22 expedition that discovered the remains of Shackleton’s ship on the Antarctic seabed in 2022.
Aboard a new state-of-the-art polar expedition vessel, the Sylvia Earle. With a capacity for just 132 guests, it is large enough to offer luxury and to navigate deep into the ice but remains an intimate and highly personalised experience. With a full programme of talks, shore visits and Zodiac boat safaris.
Travel through the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires before setting sail from the port of Ushuaia, nicknamed the ‘end-of-the-world’. Embark on an incredible journey to the South Shetland Islands, before venturing into the Antarctic Sound, the gateway to the Weddell Sea. Follow Shackleton’s extraordinary adventure as you voyage further east, navigating as far as possible into the Weddell Sea, known for its vast tabular icebergs, abundant wildlife and historical significance.
Be rewarded with unforgettable encounters with wildlife that breeds and birth on sea ice. Keep watch for minke and humpback whales, abundant Adelie penguins and crabeater seals. Your expert expedition team will be by your side to enrich your journey with polar insight, wildlife spotting and stories of epic adventure. Zodiac-cruise on seas that have been declared by scientists as the clearest on Earth, around icebergs the size of skyscrapers to remote beaches to visit penguin rookeries and historic huts.
Your expedition is a carefully curated mixture of daytime activity designed to immerse you in your polar surroundings and talks in the evenings and whilst sailing across the Drake Passage. During the day the itinerary remains flexible as the captain will look at prevailing conditions and sightings, to give you the best opportunity for wildlife and iceberg encounters.
Marine biologist Helen Scales will accompany you on the activities and also give a series of private talks and fireside chats covering a broad range of polar science including how species adapt to survive in such challenging environments, polar research, geology beneath the ice and the importance of Antarctica to the planet’s wellbeing.
Saunders Carmichael-Brown will also be onboard. As part of the Endurance 22 expedition team, he will give talks on this amazing adventure, sharing his experiences from the expedition and the challenges involved including:
The onboard expedition team (at least one for every eight passengers) will help you experience a range of activities centered around daytime exploration via Zodiac boat safaris (investigating coves, icebergs and wildlife), guided hikes (exploring pristine beaches and stunning wilderness) and photography (helping you to improve your skills with a camera). In the evening and whilst transferring between sites, the team will give informative lectures on board covering wildlife, marine biology, exploration, history, photography and research.
In addition, there will be unique and engaging encounters with the ship's operational crew, allowing you the opportunity to go behind the scenes of polar exploration and cruising.
• How to navigate in the polar environment.
• Reading the weather patterns, the ice and the currents.
• If operational circumstances allow, we will take you in small groups for informative tours around the bridge and the engine room.
You will also have the opportunity to participate in AE’s unique Citizen Science Program which is designed to be a hands-on, immersive and transformative experience that helps you to protect the beauty of our planet. Various sampling and data collection projects will be conducted on your voyage and a Citizen Science Coordinator will be on hand to introduce and assist you.
Experience the enormity of Antarctic ice and enormous tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea.
After touching down in Buenos Aires, check into the five-star Sofitel Buenos Aires, located in the Recoleta district of the city, home to grand buildings, fine restaurants and the Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Eva Peron. You may choose to arrive a few days earlier and explore this cosmopolitan and historic city.
In the evening, our partner Polar Routes will hold a drinks reception where you will be briefed on the expedition ahead and you will also enjoy an introductory talk from the New Scientist accompanying expert Helen Scales. Throughout the expedition, Helen will be on hand to provide insight, accompany your polar excursions and give private talks on a wide range of topics.
After breakfast, return to the airport with Helen for a flight to Ushuaia at the Southern tip of Argentina. Ushuaia is set on a bay off Isla Grande between the Beagle Channel, the towering glacial peaks of Cerro Martial and Monte Olivia, and is the principal gateway to Antarctica. It is fondly known as 'El Fin del Mundo' or the End of the World.
Upon arrival, you will be met by a representative of AE Expeditions and transferred to your group hotel. In the evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception.
The morning is at leisure to explore the port town of Ushuaia in the afternoon, there is an optional catamaran cruise, where you sail the Beagle Channel, towards the city’s iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Crossing the Bridges Archipelago, you’ll slow down to watch colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants sun themselves on the rocky outcrops, while gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses and cauquenes are often sighted.
Later in the afternoon, transfer to your home for the next 12 nights, the Sylvia Earle. Once onboard, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before a passenger briefing.
As the ship pulls away from port, you’ll gather on the deck to commence your adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
In the evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
As you commence the Drake Passage crossing, the expedition team will prepare you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and start the lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment. Plus, there will be the additional talks throughout from marine biologist Helen Scales and Sanders Carmichael-Brown on the Endurance 22 expedition.
The wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following the vessel. Throughout the voyage, you can enjoy the facilities on board the vessel including the gym, sauna and spa or relaxing in one of the observation lounges.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the afternoon of day 4, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks watching for your first iceberg.
The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once you are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, the expedition team may attempt your first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
A voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula is by its very nature a genuine adventure, but to venture to the Weddell Sea region located on the wild eastern side of the peninsula is turning up the dial a few notches. A considerable aspect of a voyage to the Weddell Sea is the thrill of not knowing if the ice will allow us to enter its frozen realm. The Weddell Gyre pushes enormous amounts of ice from the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf up towards the area near Antarctic Sound, blocking the entrance to the Weddell Sea, but a visit to the region has numerous rewards.
Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for many polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form the Antarctic Sound, the gateway to the Weddell Sea. With a well-deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley, many large tabular bergs escape the Weddell Sea through the Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult.
Towering icebergs, the size of skyscrapers, dwarf the Zodiacs as you attempt to push through the seemingly impenetrable sea ice to land on remote beaches where ancient fossils can be found.
The wildlife you may encounter in the Weddell Sea region makes the attempt worthwhile. The abundant ice attracts ice seals such as crabeater, leopard and Weddell seals, which all breed and birth on sea ice. The Weddell Sea boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of the Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels.
You generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to layer up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some well-chosen spots along the peninsula and in the Weddell Sea region. On thrilling Zodiac cruises or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, as well as humpback, minke and orca whales.
In the Weddell region, fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era – gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.
While ashore the aim is to explore by foot, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If conditions allow, you will land at some of the historic locations that provided a backdrop for this incredible story of Shackleton’s Antarctic survival.
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may ship-cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to marvel at sculptural icebergs and photograph spectacular scenery. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (open at the captain’s discretion) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they break off, calving into the sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
You will enjoy a final morning landing before re-entering the Drake Passage for the return journey to South America. With lectures and film presentations to complete your Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what you have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
As you approach the tip of South America, the Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
During the early hours, you will cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you will disembark for your onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.
If your flight schedule allows, there is half day tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. A beautiful area on the shores of the Beagle Channel with lakes, lagoons, rivers and windswept shores. The park was created in 1960 to protect the southernmost forests of the Beagle Channel and covers an area of 69,000 hectares.
After the tour, you will be transferred to Ushuaia Airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires.
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