In 2004, Quark Expeditions made polar history when they conducted the first-ever ground visit to the remote emperor penguin colony near Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Driven by a true expeditionary spirit—and guided by years of polar expertise—the Quark Expedition team sailed past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea to experience the legendary rookery, which now numbers 8,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins. Today, it is one of the most exclusive wildlife viewing experiences on the planet.
Experience a true polar quest as you journey on Quark's new ship, Ultramarine, which is equipped with two twin-engine helicopters that will fly you to the vicinity of this rarely-visited rookery, whereupon you will walk across the thick sea ice to stand within metres of the most coveted penguin species on the planet. Anticipate scenes reminiscent of “March of the Penguins” and BBC’s “Frozen Planet.” Just imagine the penguins tobogganing across the ice towards the sea. Such wildlife moments are too precious for words!
Make it to Snow Hill or get 50% off a 2024 Voyage
Quark were the first to reach this Emperor penguin rookery, offering one of the most exclusive wildlife encounters on the planet. Their Expedition Team has the deepest experience in the industry, bringing more people on more successful Snow Hill landings than anyone else. With the best team, onboard Ultramarine with its unmatched helicopter capability, the goal is to get you there at least once. But it's also clear that this is one of the most daunting destinations in the polar regions, where every explorer must embrace the unexpected.
If conditions mean that no landing is possible for you to visit the Emperor penguins, you will still revel in the once-in-a-lifetime wonders of the Weddell Sea and set foot on the seventh continent’s eastern Peninsula, but Quark will go to the end of the earth to make it up to you.
And that includes both ends of the earth: 50% off any applicable on select voyages departing between January 1st, 2024, and December 1st, 2024, booked and confirmed with full payment before February 1st, 2024.
Terms and Conditions
Emperor Penguin Quest Special Offer Terms and Conditions
Quark Expeditions guarantees that you'll visit the Emperor Penguin colony of Snow Hill Island during your expedition. If you don't, we'll offer you the opportunity to travel on any* expedition during 2024 at 50% off.
Snow Hill Promise Terms and Conditions
Offer valid for guests with existing and new bookings on Snow Hill: Emperor Penguin Quest departures in November 2023.
The 50% discount offer is valid on select voyages departing between January 1st, 2024, and December 1st, 2024, and needs to be booked and confirmed with full payment before February 1st, 2024.
Excluded voyages: Ultramarine voyages beginning on January 13th, 2024; March 1st, 2024; August 15th, 2024, August 24th, 2024, and September 2nd, 2024.
• Applied to voyage full fare only.
• Excludes Triple Cabins.
• Based on cabin availability at time of booking.
• Full name required to book.
Bookings made after February 1st, 2024, do not qualify for the savings.
The offer is only combinable with the Shackleton past passenger offer. Not applicable to transfer packages, adventure options, additional hotel accommodations, pre/post tours, insurance, flight, or group bookings.
Quark Expeditions has the right to limit, change, or discontinue offer at any time without notice. No cash value.
If Quark Expeditions cancels the voyage, Quark Expeditions will offer a future travel credit or a cash refund for the amount paid. A voyage for voyage match for a future date will not be honored.
The offer does not apply if severe ice conditions prevent all operators from reaching the colony during your trip, your trip is cancelled, or a regulatory change prevents Quark Expeditions from making the excursion to the colony.
Upon arriving in this fascinating city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in the mandatory transfer package).
After an early breakfast at the hotel, your group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to enjoy time on your own to explore quaint Ushuaia—the world’s southernmost city—before making your way to the pier. After late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Enjoy the air of anticipation as you depart—the next land you see will be the Antarctic!
The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage, which lies at the confluence of the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, is an adventure unto itself. While being well taken care of by our expert onboard staff and expedition team, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the expansive ocean waters, photograph seabirds as they swoop around the ship, and get to know your Expedition Team and fellow travellers.
Onboard presentations by world-respected experts will enrich your polar quest, conveying what it was like a century ago for the brave polar heroes who embraced the unknown. You’ll also learn more about the ice-dwelling emperor penguins.
The journey toward Snow Hill Island will put you in explorer mode as the captain and Expedition Leader keep you updated through weather briefings, and meteorological and sea ice condition reports. The thickness of the ice will determine how close Ultramarine can get to Snow Hill Island, then the twin-engine helicopters will take over.
Like summitting a mountain from base camp, parties will set out from Ultramarine towards the emperor penguin colony. Your adventure begins with an extended helicopter transfer that will reveal a landscape of snow-capped peaks and apartment-building-sized tabular icebergs. The rookery itself is located on the sea ice off the south coast of Snow Hill Island and the landing will be as close to the penguins as possible, yet at a safe distance to avoid disturbing the birds. Upon landing, your party will walk across the ice to the fabled emperor penguin colony. The wind. The ice beneath your feet. Walking next to paths in the snow carved by penguins that came before. And then there are the incredible sounds of the penguins in the distance as you march toward one of the rarest wildlife opportunities on the planet: the colony of thousands and thousands of rarely-seen emperor penguins.
The goal of the expedition is to get every guest to the remote rookery once. The Expedition Team and special experts will be close by to answer your questions and ensure you take in everything there is to see. You’ll observe close-up how the emperor penguins behave as a tight-knit community, how they care for their young, and how they body surf across the ice in a way that can only be described as quirky yet efficient. The helicopter expedition in search of the emperor colony might just be the adventure of a lifetime
And while at base on Ultramarine with your attentive Expedition Team, you’ll be immersed each day in the polar experience of the Weddell Sea. Daily activities will include Zodiac cruising among the icebergs, adventuring and learning while atop the ice, paddle-on-top kayaking, or working with our team to observe the weather forecasting and ship operations up close.
A particularly enriching component of your voyage will be the bespoke educational programs tailored specifically for this expedition that offer both traditional (lecture format) and hands-on opportunities for learning about this fascinating region. Each day our polar experts, who include penguin scientists, biologists and polar historians, will present various aspects of emperor penguins and their behaviours, ice formations such as the tabular icebergs which you’ll see from the deck of your ship, and the experiences of polar explorers who braved the Weddell Sea over a century ago. Or you might, on one of these days, decide to take the polar plunge or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Then again, maybe you’ll enjoy a little pampering. If so, you can choose from Ultramarine’s excellent onboard amenities, including the spa, sauna and fitness room.
The emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill is the goal of this expedition. However, if weather or ice conditions prevent you from visiting the colony or shorten the duration of our visit, you may explore some of these other sites. Your possible landings in Antarctica will take place on the eastern side of the Peninsula, which is an extension of the Transantarctic Mountains and is the most northern stretch of Antarctic land.
An immense cliff of volcanic rock which towers 2,225 feet (678 meters) over rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins, some of which will be incubating their eggs.
The Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04 discovered the narrow island, which is 1 mile (1.6 km) long and has a low summit at each end.
Three members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901-04) spent the winter in a hut on the shores of Hope Bay. The hut is located close to the jetty of Esperanza Station, an Argentine research station.
Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large Adélie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone that rises 1,158 feet (353 meters), the island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to penguins, you may be interested in visiting a historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04. A cross marks the gravesite of crew member Ole Wennersgaard.
Northeast of Snow Hill Island is a smaller island that was originally mistaken for a cape. Seymour Island is significant for fossil finds and for the remains of the KT Boundary, which marks the transition between the Cretaceous Period (dinosaurs and reptiles) and the Tertiary Period (mammals) of geological times. This era is known for the mass extinction of many forms of life, including dinosaurs.
The journey back across the Drake Passage provides a final opportunity to enjoy the invigorating Southern Ocean air. Spend time on the deck watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, and celebrate the experiences you've shared getting off the beaten track in the remarkable world of Antarctica.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park for a taste of Patagonia, after which you’ll transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
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