Always one of the most popular departures, this expedition gives more time where it matters, below the Antarctic Circle.
After a few days exploring the 'deep south', there are further shore excursions on the northerly route along the Antarctic Peninsula. The ship is small enough to navigate through the narrow Lemaire Channel, with glacial walls towering high on both sides, leading to a jigsaw of jewel-like islands that are home to huge penguin rookeries, Elephant seals and countless seabirds. There are also whales: imagine a pair of Humpbacks, at least 30 tonnes of mammal, rising imperiously against a turquoise ice-wall viewed from a Zodiac only metres away, and you have the essence of the Antarctic.
All meals while on the ship included. *Typical Meals* The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale. *Breakfast:* Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal. * Lunch:* Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ. *Dinner:* Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.
The morning is free to explore Ushuaia and the surrounding area, to do some last minute shopping, stroll around Ushuaia and down to the port or maybe go for a walk in the nearby National Park. The transfer to the ship takes place in the afternoon. Once on board there is a get together for introductions to the expedition team, to learn about the ship and its layout, talk about the itinerary for the next 13 days and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. Departure from Ushuaia is normally around 6:00 p.m, and we set sail through the Beagle Channel in the early evening. The long days mean plenty of evening light in which to experience the beauty of the channel, and to perhaps enjoy your first wildlife sightings.
Sea conditions in the Drake Passage can vary from dead calm (known as 'Drake Lake'), to rough and stormy (known as 'Drake Shake'). As you cross the Drake Passage our team of experts is out on deck to help you spot whales and identify seabirds. There is also a programme of talks, covering the wildlife, the ice, and polar history to prepare you for your adventure to the 'White Continent'. The excitement intensifies as you cross the Antarctic Convergence, where the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean meet the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You feel the change as the air gets cooler. Huge icebergs loom up against the horizon in increasing numbers, and Wandering albatrosses, petrels and other birds which thrive in this cold, remote ocean are frequently seen.
Our itinerary for these days is necessarily flexible, and will be decided upon by your expedition leader in consultation with the ship's captain. It will depend on ice and weather conditions, and may start by sailing as far south as possible, hopefully to the Antarctic Circle, and then working our way back north along the peninsula and finally visiting the off-shore Shetland Islands group. On the other hand the order may be reversed, first cruising among the volcanic South Shetland Islands before travelling to the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, and further south. The itinerary focuses on the areas with the greatest promise of wildlife, and frequent shore excursions are planned at perhaps Livingston, Half Moon, Aicho or King George Islands. This area is a favoured feeding ground for Humpback whales and, with luck, you may see them dining on krill. Nearby, around 80,000 Adelie penguins have established one of the largest rookeries, alongside Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, providing great opportunities for photography. At crescent-shaped Half Moon Island, a breeding colony of Chinstrap penguins shares their territory with Fur seals and Blue-eyed shags; while at Livingston Island you may observe Weddell seals, Elephant seals, skuas, Giant petrels, Antarctic terns and rookeries of Chinstrap, Gentoo and Macaroni penguins. Weather permitting you may also enter the flooded caldera of Deception Island, a recently active volcano and one of the most perfect crater islands in the world. Steam rises from the black sand beaches in places along its shores where the cold Antarctic waters mix with the steaming thermal waters of the bay - although this is very much dependant on the tide and the hot water flow. You may also observe the island's large Chinstrap penguin colony and enjoy spectacular walks to the higher points of the crater rim. We may visit Paradise Harbour further south or Hope Bay to the north, both situated on the Antarctic mainland, to see some of the most dramatic scenery the continent has to offer. Here, there are further opportunities for spectacular photography. Ringed with overhanging ice cliffs, the bay is filled with a wild assortment of floating icebergs that reflect a stunning array of the colours, including the most exquisite blues, turquoise and indigo. On one or two occasions we may also go ashore to visit some of the research stations maintained by several different countries on the peninsula or offshore islands. Back on board whilst we cruise between landing points, you will be tempted to spend time out on deck if conditions are calm, just watching and marvelling at the glory of the passing scenery. Penguins are often seen 'porpoising' in the water, or resting on ice flows, which pass by the ship, and the scenery of the Lemaire Channel can be absolutely breathtaking. South of this channel we hope that the seas will be clear enough to take us right down to the Antarctic Circle; the scenery remains outstanding, and although there's no 'marker on the sand', it's a great feeling to know when we've reached the line.
Leaving the Antarctic Peninsula behind our ship heads back across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage. The crossing is completed with the rounding of Cape Horn, weather permitting.
In the early morning we arrive back in Ushuaia where your voyage ends. You will be transferred either to town on to the airport for your onward flight to Buenos Aires.
* All meals while on the ship * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout and qualified Expedition Staff * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
An awe-inspiring experience which exceeded all our expectations. The scenery is truly stunning, as were the encounters with wildlife. Life aboard the Academik Ioffe was very comfortable, the food was good and experts were on hand to help us with all aspects of the trip. After the first spectacular day of expeditions, we wondered how the rest of the trip could even begin to match the early promise, but each day brought new experiences and excitements.
One of the best experiences of my life. Icebergs, whales, seals, penguins, historic huts and awe inspiring (in the true sense of that overused term) scenery.
The trip delivered everything promised - and more. The scenery and wildlife were as hoped for and the Zodiacs got us to the right places. The programme of talks on passage days and in the evenings were excellent. The ship (Ioffe) was better than I expected - comfortable, quiet, well maintained, and with a helpful crew.
An absolutely exhilarating experinence cruising on Akademik Sergei Vavilov whilst being surrounded by large white and deep blue icebergs, pushing through the ice trying to cross the Antarctic circle..An unforgetable experience observing and photographing colonies of penguins - those guys are so curious! They ask you to stay away at least 5 meters from the wildlife but nobody told the wildlife to respect that distance!!
The scenery was as breath- taking as I expected - if not more so: the animal life fantastic. What made the journey was the informative guides, the high quality food and the friendliness of all concerned. A fabulous trip that involved crossing the Antarctic Circle and visiting several historic sites and preserved huts of past years.
I was introduced to Antarctica in the most amazing way. When we arrived there was a blanket of heavy fog the team got us on the zodiac and navigated on compass bearings. Suddenly like the curtain of a stage being pulled back we sat in sky of blue surrounded by a wild and pristine environment.
Another fantastic trip to the wilderness that is Antarctica. Brilliant from start to finish with awesome scenery and wildlife experiences throughout on a fantastic ship.
A holiday that exceeded all expectations. Stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, a great team and a superb boat and crew
An absolutely amazing trip! It had been a long time coming as I booked it 18 months previously, but it did not disappoint.
A fantastic trip encompassing magnificent scenery and wildlife viewing.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.
At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.
All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.
Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.
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