Embark on a classic expedition to Antarctica from Ushuaia, through the scenic Beagle Channel and across the infamous Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. With two shore landings per day, set foot on the continent proper, get up close with the region’s wildlife and learn about the area from the expedition crew and lecturers.
Today your expedition to Antarctica begins. In the afternoon you’ll board your polar vessel, the Ushuaia, where you’ll meet the expedition and lecture staff who will be accompanying you on your journey. Once settled into your cabin, you’ll want to make your way to one of the open air decks so that you can admire the views as we set sail along the famous Beagle Channel and scenic Mackinlay Pass.
The next two days are spent passing through the infamous Drake Passage, a historically challenging channel of water which bears the name of renowned explorer Sir Francis Drake who sailed through here in 1578. On this journey through the Drake Passage you will pass over the Antarctic Convergence, where the warmer waters of the north meet the cold polar waters of the south. This interaction causes an upwelling of nutrients from the seafloor, resulting in the incredible diversity of algae, krill and other small sea creatures. <br/><br/> The Ushuaia offers the choice of four open-air decks where you can pass the time enjoying the views and keeping an eye out for seabirds. Expedition lecturers will be available at all times to help you spot and identify common and more obscure species. Thanks to the vessels open bridge policy, you can also join officers on the bridge to learn about navigation and watch for whales. <br/><br/> You’ll know when we’ve reached the South Shetland Islands as you’ll begin to see icebergs and snow-capped mountains. This group of twenty islands was first sighted by Captain William Smith back in February 1819. Should the conditions of the Drake Passage be favourable, you’ll enjoy your first land excursions on day 3 where you’ll have the chance to see penguins and seals up close.
A stunning archipelago home to an incredible abundance of wildlife, the South Shetland Islands is a crucial stop on every expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. Spanning 540 kilometres from northeast to southwest, this polar archipelago is made up of four distinct groupings of islands with some 150 additional islets, skerries and rock outcrops. <br/><br/> Perhaps the best known of the South Shetland Islands is Deception Island with its flooded caldera of an active volcano. The largest is King George Island which is home to several scientific bases dedicated to studying the island’s population of Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Kelp Gulls, Blue-eyed Cormorants, Antarctic Terns and Southern Giant Petrels. Another island worth visiting is Livingston Island, where you can spot more species of penguin as well as elephant seals. <br/><br/> The next four days are spent navigating the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel, and narrow passages of the Lemaire Channel with towering rock faces on one side and spectacular glaciers on the other. You’ll have the opportunity to join two landings per day, at locations such as spectacular Paradise Bay and the continent proper, as well as Paulet Island where you’ll be able to see the Adélie Penguin and Blue-eyed Cormorant colonies. <br/><br/> Exploring further south you may have the opportunity to visit Melchior Island, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour and Pléneau Island. Should ice conditions permit, you’ll also have a chance to see the southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins on Petermann Island.
Departing the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ushuaia will start its journey back across the Drake Passage travelling north. Once again you’ll have the opportunity to spot and identify seabirds and whales with the help of the naturalists on deck, as well as enjoy some final lectures.
Your vessel arrives into the port of Ushuaia early in the morning. After breakfast and bidding farewell to your expedition lecturers and naturalists, your Antarctic adventure comes to an end. The ship arrives at 7 am and disembarkation is normally at 8.00/ 8.30 am. We strongly recommend not to book flights departing before noon time.
From a first foray into Egypt in 1998, On The Go Tours have expanded their operations to more than 60 countries, offering award-winning small group tours to destinations around the world. Their Middle East and North Africa portfolio now includes Jordan, Israel and Morocco, whilst other regions include Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Indian Subcontinent. From Machu Picchu in Peru to the extravagant Taj Mahal in India, On The Go Tours get you to the main sights of whichever destination you choose to visit. There’s also a range of special festival tours, Christmas and New Year adventures and much more, from overland adventures to luxury cruises. They always uncover some hidden gems too, be it canoeing to a local home for lunch in Sri Lanka or riding a rickshaw around the maze of Hutongs in Beijing, China.
With three different ranges of trips to choose from, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Signature tours are everything that makes On The Go Tours special, with local tour guides, small groups and a great quality of accommodation. Essentials tours keep the costs down whilst still delivering true adventure, with a mixture of public transport in Japan and overland trucks in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Whilst on their Handpicked tours, On The Go Tours work with local partners to deliver authentic experiences in amazing destinations, from Iceland to the Galapagos archipelago.
Sustainability and environmental awareness are also at the heart of On The Go Tours’ operations. Whether it’s planting trees in Cambodia, donating stationary to a school in India or funding the conservation of endangered Bengal tigers, protecting the regions they visit is at the forefront of the way they do business. Signature tours with On The Go Tours also make use of locally-run hotels and eateries wherever possible, and tour guides are mostly English-speaking locals. Overall, around 70% of travellers holiday funds remain in the destination visited.