Antarctic Explorer - Marine Mammals

11 days
from
11 655 €
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
PTZ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Polar
Max group size:
146
Min age:
18

View Antarctica's whales in close proximity on this unique expedition

March is a time of great activity in Antarctic waters and historically we encounter a higher concentration of whales during this period. They are busy feeding prior to their annual migrations to tropical waters. However, scientists are now discovering that some whale species remain in the ice-free sections of Antarctica over winter. This is also a fascinating time to experience the change of seasons, with fresh dustings of snow on the peaks, and sea ice returning.

On this voyage we plan to visit several known locations along the Antarctic Peninsula that are the focus of longterm research projects by esteemed academic institutions including University of California (Santa Cruz), California Ocean Alliance and the Australian Antarctic Division's Marine Mammal Centre. We are joined on the ship by several world-renowned cetacean (whale) experts and observe their important scientific fieldwork in close proximity. They share with us unique underwater footage and scientific data and interpret the behaviour, migration characteristics and feeding patterns of adult whales and their calves. Their participation on our voyage is greatly valued and provides a fascinating glimpse into cutting-edge Antarctic research.

Antarctica’s seals are also found in sizable numbers late in the season, resting and storing energy that will sustain them over winter. For those with a passion for Antarctica's marine mammals, this unique voyage should not be missed. Oh, and did we mention it’s also our favourite time of the year for blazing orange and pink Antarctic sunrises and sunsets?

Highlights

  • Encounter large numbers of whales and observe important scientific field research
  • Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, Zodiac cruising and from the ship
  • Visits to historic sites and science stations
  • Travel on a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Key information

  • 17 nights on the ship
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
  • Countries visited: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, Chile, Argentina

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Mandatory tranfer package (including charter flight from Santiago to Stanley) which is £400 per person (or equivalent in booking currency) paid upon booking
Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly Santiago, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands and embark

    We depart Santiago this morning on our special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. We are met on arrival and transfer from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides our first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making our way to the port, we board our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our Expedition Team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail celebrating the arrival of a new year, and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Days 2-3

    At Sea - towards Antarctica

    We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Scotia Sea is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. We are joined by hundreds of seabirds including the Wandering albatross. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history of the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.

    There is great excitement when the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. This is one of Antarctica's most important historic locations and a fitting introduction. On the rocky beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and his men camped here for many months under their three upturned life boats, having lost their ship, HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. It was from this location that Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing and crossing of South Georgia on foot is considered one of the greatest tales in Polar history. If weather conditions permit, we aim for a Zodiac cruise to view the site from close proximity. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and sets the scene for an exciting expedition.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 4-6

    South Shetland Islands & Northern Gerlache Strait

    We head south overnight, navigating into the Bransfield Strait, wondering about the days of exploration ahead. The coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula provides literally a hundred or more sites for potential shore landings and excursions. The Expedition Team will be looking forward to showcasing some of the wellknown locations, and visiting a few hidden gems we have discovered over the years.

    Approaching the South Shetland Islands on our way south, we may aim for a shore landing at Half Moon Island – home to a boisterous colony of nesting Chinstrap penguins. A short hike brings us to Elephant seal haul out. These are fascinating animals to observe as the naturalist guides explain the unique family dynamics and behavior. There are several other nearby locations, including Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point which we may chose as alternative landing sites. A thrill for many will be sailing the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. At Whalers Bay, the remains of a rusting old whaling station provide a glimpse into history. There are a couple of excellent hiking routes here – one up to a high point overlooking the entire bay. Another to the far end of the black-sand beach where an old aircraft hanger can be viewed. It’s from here, the very first flight in Antarctica took to the air.

    It’s an awe-inspiring site as we approach with glacier covered mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. We enter the maze of islands and waterways and enjoy shore landings, Zodiac cruises and kayak excursions several times per day. Willhelmina Bay is always an impressive location and one we often find large pods of Humpack whales. Ship cruising into the Errera Channel, we have a couple of great landing sites to consider including Cuverville Island – with its sizeable Gentoo penguin rookery. Nearby Danco Island, has a fantastic hike to the snow-covered summit, providing staggering views. Neko Harbour is another possibility for a landing and maybe our very first opportunity to step foot on the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A very active glacier can be heard creaking and groaning, and it is common to observe large slabs of ice calving from the glacier face into the dark waters.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 7-8

    Southern Gerlache Strait Exploration

    While we’re enjoying the fabulous surroundings and revelling in our busy activity program, the research team will be out in the Zodiac’s observing and recording the movements of the migrating whales. This is done through non-invasive tags which attach to the animals using suction cups for around 12-24 hours. The digitally recorded data provides great insight into the feeding behavior, dive profiles and migration patterns of several whale species. The science team will share their observations and findings once back on board the ship and are happy to discuss their important work. It provides a fascinating insight into the current scientific field research happening in Antarctica.

    As we push further south we have a few more glorious locations to explore. Paradise Harbour provides us with another opportunity for a continental landing. A climb to the top of hill above the old Argentine refuge reveals another spectacular viewpoint. Zodiac cruising under the cliffs here allows us to observe nesting imperial cormorants, and after a short distance we come to Skontorp Cove. This narrow body of water is surrounded by immense glaciers on three sides – one guest likening it to a ‘heavenly ice cathedral’. It's easy to see why.

    We continue to push further south, hoping that ice conditions allow for a transit of the Lemaire Channel. Snow covered cliffs tower about the Lemaire on both sides and slowly navigating on the ship through here is a thrilling experience. At Pleneau Island, we visit and observe a substantial Gentoo penguin rookery. In the shallow waters nearby, we witness a vast field of icebergs which have run aground after drifting on the current and the winds. For many, a Zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the trip. A working science station is located in the vicinity and a visit to the base provides an intriguing insight into the life of permanent residents in Antarctica. The station staff welcome us ashore and provide a tour of the facilities and explain the important climate change research work taking place.

    Nearby Winter Island allows for an excellent hike over a snowy saddle to an old historic hut. As we return to the ship, we cast our gaze back to the north towards the soaring peaks of Mount Shackleton and nearby Mount Scott. This is an impressive sight. The time has come for us to weigh anchor and commence our return journey to South America.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 9-10

    Crossing the Drake Passage

    As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue, and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Disembark and end in Ushuaia

    In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The RCGS Resolute takes a maximum capacity of 146 passengers. The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with One Ocean Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.

Visas

Antarctica

No visa required for British passport holders.

Falkland Islands

No visa required.

Chile

British, most European and most other nationalities, including Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, do not require visas. All other nationalities should contact the nearest Chilean Embassy if in doubt. Citizens of Australia pay a fee on first entry into Chile by air (cash US Dollars only, no credit cards or cheques) $95 - valid for only 90 days). There is no fee for other nationalities at the time of writing. The one-time charge is valid for the life of your passport so keep the stub stapled in.

Argentina

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

No visa required for holders of British passport.

If you are crossing the border into Argentina from Chile on your trip, we will need to know your profession in order to provide when entering Argentina.

The Argentine government charges a reciprocity fee which applies to Canadian and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows: Australians - US$100 (multiple entry) Canadians - US$75 (single entry) This fee must be paid before you enter Argentina. For full details, and to make the payment, please visit: https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes

Vaccinations

Antarctica

There are no specific health risks.

Chile

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Argentina

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated the travel advice for Argentina with an update to the Health section – an outbreak of Hantavirus has been reported in Epuyén, Province of Chubut in southern Argentina; for more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers in Argentina, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Dengue fever is also a known risk in Argentina. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Due to a recent outbreak of Yellow Fever in the Misiones province of Argentina, vaccinations are strongly recommended if you intend to visit the Iguazu Falls.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

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.

Weather

Antarctica

Is this trip for you?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers).

There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

On some occasions, space is limited on the optional activities and needs to be booked in advance. Please ask our Polar Sales team for more information if you are interested in one of the options below.

Sea kayaking option

On many of our Antarctic voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship, and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are guided, and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available.

Basic kayak competence is required. You will need to complete a special questionnaire outlining your previous kayaking experience – please ask for a copy of this document if you are interested in joining the sea kayaking program.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

RCGS Resolute

The Antarctic Explorer - Marine Mammals voyage is offered on the RCGS Resolute which is a Polar Adventure Ship.  Designed for comfort, RCGS Resolute is modern, well appointed, safe and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, she has public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need. Two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180-degree views and a wonderfully stocked library provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. The sumptuous meals prepared for you by our culinary team are enjoyed in either of our two dining rooms, one of which features our popular bistro menu offering quick and easy meals for those prioritizing time out on deck. Both dining rooms have ample and open seating paired with modern furnishings and large picture windows with 180-degree views. Other facilities include our theatre-style presentation room, gift-shop, gymnasium, wellness centre, hot water spa, sauna and steam room and salt water pool.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Please contact our specialist Polar sales team on 020 8003 9957 or at [email protected] for further dates and prices.

 

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

 

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