This expedition offers the rate opportunity discover the awe-inspiring vistas of one of Antarctica’s most exceptional regions, the Weddell Sea, famed for gigantic tabular icebergs and the historic Shackleton voyage. Observe humpback whales gorging on krill and pods of orcas hunting. Zodiac cruise to fascinating fossil fields with an onboard palaeontologist. Marvel at gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins and capture the enchanting Antarctic light with an onboard polar photography guide.
Day 1: Punta Arenas
Day 2: King George Island
Days 3 – 4: Antarctic Sound
Days 5 – 7: Weddell Sea
Days 8 – 11: Antarctic Peninsula
Day 12: Drake Passage
Day 13: Ushuaia
Day 1 – Punta Arenas, Chile (arrival)
Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, your representative will meet you and transfer you to your downtown hotel. You will then have time to unwind and enjoy the bustling seaport at your own leisure.
Day 2 – King George Island, Antarctica
You will be transferred to Punta Arenas airport, where you will board a flight to King George Island, Antarctica. Enjoy a picturesque flight over the southern tip of Patagonia, and then across Drake passage, landing in King George Island, Antarctica. The excitement continues to build as the team welcome you aboard the Greg Mortimer expedition ship via Zodiac transfer.
Days 3 – 4 – Antarctic Sound
Weather and ice conditions permitting, the Greg Mortimer heads on a south-easterly course through the Antarctic Sound, where you may spot your first glimpses of the extraordinary tabular icebergs broken from the Larsen Ice Shelf. You may undertake landings at Gourdin Island, identified as an ‘Important Bird Area (IBA)’ by Birdlife International, home to approximately 14,000 pairs of Adelie penguins and over 500 pairs of Gentoo penguins. Potentially you may visit Brown Bluff, a flat-topped, steep-sided tuya (volcano) formed as lava erupted through the thick glacier ice.
Days 5 – 7 – Weddell Sea
As the ship pushes into the Weddell Sea, you will gaze in awe at the huge towering tabular icebergs, an area only accessible due to the Greg Mortimer featuring a class 1A ice-strengthened hull. The region is abundant with orcas, minke and humpback whales, curious Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seals. The Weddell Sea is famous for being the historic location of where Shackleton’s Endurance ship was crushed, starting one of the greatest ever survival stories. Ice and weather conditions permitting, the crew will aim to explore Seymore and James Ross islands’ fossil fields with further insight from the onboard palaeontologist. You may visit Paulet Island, known for its geothermic heat keeping parts of the island ice-free. It is also home to around 100,000 Adelie penguins as well as snow petrels, kelp gulls and imperial shags.
Days 8 – 11 Antarctic Peninsula
Over the next few days, you will explore the wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula’s west coast, with plenty of opportunity for Zodiac landings. Wildlife enthusiasts, photographers & kayakers will revel in the numerous opportunities the Expedition Leader and team will create for you, using their expert knowledge to maximise your experience based on local weather and ice conditions. You may visit the post office and museum at Port Lockroy, where you can send visitor postcards around the world. Perhaps discover fast colonies of chinstrap penguins at Astrolabe Island, or Zodiac cruise around Wilhelmina Bay and Enterprise Island, known for its waters rich in humpback whales and secluded rocky beaches where Weddell and Antarctic fur seals rest. Each day will be unique and magical, leaving you with lifelong memories.
Day 12 – Drake Passage
As your voyage nears its conclusion, the Captain steers the ship northbound headed for South America, keeping watch for soaring albatross and flitting petrels as you cross the Drake Passage. A jubilant atmosphere is found throughout the ship as you try to comprehend the incredible experience of the last 10 days, sharing stories with your travelling companions and newfound friends.
Day 13 – Ushuaia
Following breakfast, with a fond farewell from the crew, you disembark the Greg Mortimer in preparation for your onward travel arrangements.
The Greg Mortimer is due for completion in 2019. It is named after the Australian polar explorer, mountaineer and Aurora founder, Greg Mortimer.
This new ship marks a new direction for Aurora, as it is their first purpose-built Polar Expedition ship. The vessel features a state-of-the-art 'x-bow design', which has a piercing effect on smaller waves, making for a much smoother voyage.
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