Experience a total eclipse from the unique perspective of a polar expedition ship, anchored at the very edge of the Antarctic sea ice in the remote Weddell Sea. This once in a lifetime voyage will also visit the far flung islands of the Falklands and South Georgia, as well as exploring the many natural attractions of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 1: embarkation in Ushuaia, Argentina. Your voyage begins where the world ends, from Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the planet. Departing in the afternoon, set sail for the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel.
Days 2-3: crossing the Drake Passage. Over the next two days on the Drake Passage you'll enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions in years gone by, from cool salt breezes, rolling seas and maybe spot a whale or two. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – you enter the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Here you will notice a change in wildlife and is a great area for keen birders with many different varieties flying the skies.
Days 4-6: Antarctic Peninsula. Explore the icy coast of the western Antarctic Peninsula. Once in the Gerlache Strait there are several opportunities for landings where you can set foot on Antarctica itself. Often seen in this area are Gentoo penguins, leopard seals, Weddell seals, minke whales and the mighty humpback whale. If ice conditions allow, the ship will sail into the Weddell Sea where colossal icebergs welcome you as you arrive on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. There is the possibility of visiting Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound as well as Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins.
Days 7-8: at sea. Giant icebergs and a good chance of sighting fin whales are the highlight of these days as the ship aims to venture into the pack ice to find the best possible position for viewing the total solar eclipse.
Day 9: Weddell Sea & the Solar Eclipse - 4 Dec, early morning. The ship will positions itself in the centre of the shadow of the moon, and if possible, some distance into the Scotia Sea drift ice. Some coordinates for the path of the moon’s shadow: 7.06 UTC: 58.47.7 S – 42.45.2 W, 1.39 minutes, 8 degrees above horizon 7.08 UTC: 60.42.4 S – 40.59.8 W, 1.42 minutes, 9 degrees above horizon 7.10 UTC: 62.22.3 S – 39.48.0 W, 1.44 minutes, 11 degrees above horizon
Day 10: at sea. Along the route there may be ice and the chance to spot some south polar skuas and snow petrels trailing the ship north.
Days 11-14: South Georgia. Arrive at the spectacular island of South Georgia. Some of the areas you may visit are Cooper Bay, Grytviken, Fortuna Bay, Salisbury Plains, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. Cooper Bay is a great place to spot macaroni penguins, fur and elephant seals. Grytviken is an abandoned whaling station where king penguins walk the street. Fortuna Bay offers beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, plus you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour are sites that not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they are also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Watch as the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil, and occasionally fight, over their territories where dozens of females have just given birth.
Days 15-16: at sea. Along this stretch the temperature gradually cools meaning nutritious water rises to the surface colliding with water columns which usually attracts a multitude of seabirds flying close to the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
Day 17: Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands. The capital of the Falklands and home to the vast majority who live on the islands, Port Stanley offers a charm of British life from yesteryear with its colourful houses, well-tended gardens and friendly English-style pubs and red telephone box. You will also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, a reminder of the sailors who lived here in the 19th century.
Day 18: The Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable and very curious. These islands are largely unknown gems, home to multiple species of birds and offering the chance to see Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters.
Day 19: at sea. Several species of albatross are likely to follow the vessel into the westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels. Enjoy your last night aboard the ship as you cruise towards South America.
Day 20: disembarkation, Ushuaia. Every adventure must sadly come to an end, and today you will disembark in Ushuaia with a head full of memories and a camera full of photos.
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