Late summer offers the best chance to chart a course through the Weddell Sea’s shifting pack ice and vast tabular bergs, where Shackleton’s ship Endurance was trapped and crushed. We hope to explore fossil-rich islands, historic huts and set foot on the continent before retracing Shackleton’s heroic journey to save his men – first to Elephant Island, then on through waters where blue, sei and fin whales roam. South Georgia offers nesting albatross, mating elephant seals, the world’s largest king penguin rookeries and a visit to Shackleton’s grave.
Day 1 – Punta Arenas
Day 2- 3 – South Shetland Islands
Day 4 – 6 – Weddell Sea
Day 7 – 9 – Cape Wild
Day 10 – King Haakon Bay
Day 11 – 13 – Fortuna Bay / Stromness
Day 14 – 16 – Scotia Sea
Day 17 – 18 – Falkland Islands
Day 19 – 20 – Isla de los Estados / Ushuaia
Polar Pioneer Ship – Polar Pioneer is a small and sturdy expedition ship. A regular in polar waters having initially been built in 1982 as an icestrengthened research vessel, she was refurbished in 2000 to provide a comfortable range of triple, twin and suite cabin options for a maximum of 54 expeditioners. Her excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size, allowing her to access areas where larger vessels simply can’t reach.
Day 1 – Fly from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams, enjoy a lovely tour of this scenic port town, before stepping aboard Polar Pioneer to a warm welcome, safety and introductory briefing, before setting off down the Beagle Channel.
Days 2 – 3 – As we cross Drake Passage, we keep watch for giant petrels, wandering and black-browed albatross and our first icebergs. Fur seals and penguins pepper the sea surface as we approach our first landing in the South Shetland Islands.
Days 4 – 6 – An autumn dawn greets us in spectacular Antarctic Sound where we may stop at towering Brown Bluff before pushing on into the Weddell Sea. There’s a strong fossil focus this time of year, as the pack ice movement may allow a continental landing and the world-renowned fossil beds of Seymour, Vega and James Ross islands, and Nordenskjold’s Hut on Snow Hill Island.
Days 7 – 9 – So exposed is Cape Wild on Elephant Island, landings are rare, but we’ll try, if only to pay tribute to the man who’s leadership kept Shackleton’s men alive for four months while awaiting rescue. We keep watch for great whales while sailing to South Georgia, with a possible tour to the remote South Orkney Islands.
Day 10 – We enter King Haakon Bay and attempt a ceremonial landing at Cave Cove, Shackleton’s first landfall before continuing up past Peggotty Bluff, where Shackleton, Worsley and Crean set off to cross the island.
Days 11- 13 – We immerse ourselves in one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. King penguin rookeries half-million strong, chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguin colonies, wandering albatross on nests, beaches thick with elephant and fur seals. We walk the final leg of Shackleton’s epic, from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, before visting “The Boss’s” grave and whaling museum in Grytviken.
Days 17 – 18 – In Stanley, beautiful Falkland Islands capital, enjoy its excellent museum, post office, picturesque houses, welcoming shops and pubs. Sea Lion Island is home to extraordinarily diverse wildlife – from steamer ducks to magellenic and rockhopper penguins, ruddy-headed geese and cormorants, elephant seals and sea lions.
Courting leopard seals
Humpback and minke whales
Vast tabular icebergs
World class fossils
Nordenskjold and Shackleton
Fortuna to Stromness walk
Fur seals and albatross
Thousands of king penguins
Ushuaia – Ski town in winter, bustling port and Argentina’s “Gateway to Antarctica” on the Beagle Channel. Great shops, cafés, restaurants, museum and historic End of the World Train to Tierra del
Fuego National Park.
Falkland Islands – Elephant seals, fur seals and sea lions, whales, dolphins, five penguin species
(including the shy Magellanic penguin), albatross, cormorant and more than 200 other bird species can
be seen. Capital Stanley offers a warm British welcome and comprehensive war museum.
South Georgia – Swept by krill-rich waters, its glaciated mountains, offshore islands and deep bays are home to albatross, fur and elephant seals, rockhopper, macaroni and king penguin colonies a quarter-million strong. Follow in Shackleton’s footsteps, and visit Grytviken’s fascinating museum.
Cape Wild – Elephant Island is an ice-covered mountainous island off the coast of Antarctica in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands, in the Southern Ocean.
The Drake Passage or Mar de Hoces—Sea of Hoces—is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
Scotia Sea – Normally stormy and cold, the Scotia Sea is the area of water between Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, and bordered on the west by the Drake Passage. These island groups all sit on top of the Scotia Ridge, which frames the Scotia Sea on the north, east, and south. The islands are rocky and partly covered in ice and snow year round.