Days 1 & 2: Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile
The ship you select for your Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia expedition cruise determines the starting and ending location for your journey. Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer arrive and depart via Buenos Aires, Argentina. Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Orion arrive and depart via Santiago, Chile.
With an early morning arrival in Buenos Aires, Explorer guests check in at the Sofitel Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is Argentina’s capital, set on the Rio de la Plata. This is one of Latin America’s largest metropolitan areas, and a top tourist destination known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, vibrant cultural mélange and a European-style architecture that reflects its colonial heritage and the influence of many 19th-and early-20th-century immigrants. After a morning to catch our breath, enjoy a guided afternoon tour of city, including Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards and Eva Peron’s famous balcony.
After an early morning arrival in sophisticated Santiago, Orion guests check in at the centrally located Ritz Carlton Hotel. Santiago is nearly surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop for an afternoon tour of this vibrant city. After a relaxing morning, we explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square and nearby Presidential Palace, taking in expansive views from hills and parks that dominate this leafy city.
Day 3: Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile /Ushuaia, Argentina
Today we travel by private charter flight to Ushuaia. The flight soars over Patagonia before landing at the bottom of Tierra del Fuego, the foot of the southern Andes. There’s no mistaking the "end of the world" feeling about the world’s most southerly city, which is the point of embarkation for expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula. If weather permits, we will enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise in the Beagle Channel, where spectacular mountains rise out of the sea, before embarking our expedition ship and setting sail.
Day 4: At Sea in the Drake Passage
The Drake Passage is legendary among mariners, and a milestone in any adventurer's personal travel history. Named for the 16th-century English privateer Sir Francis Drake, whose ship was blown far off course in these waters, this 600-mile-wide channel that separates Cape Horn from the Antarctic Peninsula is notorious for its frequent high winds and rough seas. Without a significant land mass, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flows unimpeded, carrying a tremendous volume of water through the passage. Midway across, the Antarctic Convergence mixes cold, northward-flowing waters with the relatively warmer south-flowing waters, creating a highly productive marine zone for Antarctic krill, the favored food source for whales, seals, penguins, squid, albatrosses and other sea birds. Our ship is likely to be escorted through the passage by whales, dolphins, Cape petrels and wandering albatrosses.
Days 5-10: Antarctica
With nearly 24 hours of daylight on this classic Antarctic expedition, we make the most of our days by keeping a flexible schedule to take advantage of the unexpected—perhaps watching a 40-ton whale surface off the bow, studying a particularly cinematic bobbing iceberg or watching the ship crunch through pack ice. On our daily excursions, we may make a Zodiac foray into towering bergs under a bright sun, walk along the shoreline amid a huge penguin colony, hike to a summit for a breathtaking view, or kayak along a cliff-side rookery in search of blue-eyed shags. Millions of animals thrive here, and visitors find a rich assortment of marine life including Weddell, Southern elephant, crabeater and leopard seals, and minke, humpback, sei and fin whales, as well as orcas. A proliferation of seabirds includes kelp gulls, various petrels, snowy sheathbills, skuas, shags and Antarctic terns. Zodiacs allow us to get close to wildlife and make landings on shore, where we walk among noisy colonies of four resident penguin species—chinstrap, emperor, gentoo and adelie. Learn from our experts how to identify penguins and get photo tips from a National Geographic photographer to help you capture the best possible memories. On board, our undersea specialist may present video from that day’s dive—rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV.
Days 11 & 12: At Sea
Days at sea are an opportunity to learn and relax. Our expedition ship has a full staff of naturalists, scientists and historians on-board who are eager to reflect upon the geology, climate, wildlife and human presence we have experienced in Antarctica. Take advantage of the ship’s leisure and recreation opportunities, including a fitness center, massage therapy at the spa, sauna and a library filled with books about Antarctic natural history and polar exploration. Our escorts while crossing this legendary portion of the sea will surely include a host of sea birds and marine life, including the black-browed albatross.
Days 13 & 14: Ushuaia/Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile/Depart
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia with time to explore the rugged southern town before our private charter flight returns us to a cosmopolitan night in Buenos Aires or Santiago, the same destination that started your expedition, for a flight home the next day.