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S/V Australis, Penola Strait, AntarcticaGentoo penguin, Paradise Bay, Antarctic PeninsulaS/V Australis, Lemaire Channel, AntarcticaAdelie penguins, Antarctic PeninsulaAntarctic PeninsulaAdelie penguin, Antarctic PeninsulaS/V Australis, Iceberg arch, Antarctic PeninsulaOvernight camp option, Dorian Bay, Antarctic PeninsulaS/V Australis, Dallmann Bay, AntarcticaS/V Australis, Penola Strait, AntarcticaKayaking, AntarcticaOvernight camp option, Antarctic Peninsula
George Grubb: Paradise Bay
Keri-Lee Pashuk: S/V Australis, Lemaire Channel
Skye Marr-Whelan: Ice and Australis, Penguin Close Up
Brad Nicholson: Dorian Bay Tent
Ben Wallis: Penola Strait
Suzanne Kiser: Camping
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12-17 Days / Starting at $21,995 (800) 543-8917 for Availability
Home Active Expeditions Arctic & Antarctica Sailing Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Nature Expedition Itinerary

Sailing Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Nature Expedition

On this sample itinerary, we sail from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula and fly back from Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina
Arrive in the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, located at the tip of Tierra del Fuego. Meet your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner on this first evening of your Antarctic adventure.

Day 2: Ushuaia—Estancia Las Hijas
This extra day is included as a "reserve day" if flights are delayed. You don't want to take a chance on missing your boat departure tomorrow! But there's plenty to see in the Tierra del Fuego region, too, and we’ve crafted an interesting all-day excursion to a traditional Patagonian sheep farm. A 3-hour drive takes us to Estancia Las Hijas, with stops en route for dramatic viewpoints. On arrival we'll learn about the property, its history and what life was like for the hardy pioneers who settled here in the 1930s. Lunch at the farm is a highlight, an authentic Fuegian meal cooked over a wood-fired grill. Savor barbecued lamb, empanadas, salads and dessert (vegetarian options available with advance notice).

This afternoon we observe activities that are part of daily life on the estancia: watching sheep dogs rounding up the flock, visiting the pens, learning about shearing and conditioning the harvested wool. Demonstrations are run by shepherds who live and work on the farm. We’ll also take an interpretive hike through the beech forest with beautiful views of the valley and river before departing for Ushuaia, with dinner on our return.

Day 3: Ushuaia—Board S/V Australis / Beagle Channel
Today our real adventure begins as we board our expedition sailing vessel Australis in Ushuaia harbor. After introductions and a safety orientation, we set out into the calm waters of the Beagle Channel. We're excited to be sailing with one of the world's preeminent mariners in polar waters and his seasoned crew. Drink in the views of Patagonian peaks that unfold as we make our way south, enjoying the long daylight of a southern summer.

Days 4–6: Crossing the Drake Passage
Named for renowned explorer Sir Francis Drake who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage is notorious for its often-fierce gales, creating large, wind-whipped swells—we're likely to have some raucous sailing! All guests are invited to help sail the vessel if they wish, and we'll set up a round-the-clock watch schedule so that those who want to may participate. The southern portion of the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological zone where a great upwelling of nutrients draws an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses that follow in our wake. The first sightings of icebergs and snow-clad mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands. If conditions are favorable, we'll step ashore for our first encounter with penguins and other wildlife of this southern polar wonderland.

Days 7–14: Sailing and Camping on the Antarctic Peninsula
For the next eight days we follow the best weather and safest water, sailing along the bays and fjords of the Antarctic Peninsula. These waters are a haven for a remarkable collection of wildlife, including vast penguin rookeries and beaches ruled by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals. We script our itinerary as we go, with plenty of time to truly explore as a small band of adventurers. Taking advantage of the perpetual light, we spend long days sailing among the icebergs, watching for whales and seals bobbing by. Birdlife is extraordinary, with huge populations of albatrosses, petrels, skuas, gulls, terns and cormorants. Where landings permit, we step ashore to hike.

Every day holds something different. While at times we are struck by the depth of the silence, other times we're amidst a cacophony of squawking penguins, honking seals and crackling ice. With our special permit from the National Science Foundation, we have the option to camp for a maximum of four nights, weather permitting, on deserted beaches, sharing the solitude only with the legions of wildlife. There are few places on the planet where the natural world feels more intact, while we have never felt smaller.

Day 15: King George Island
The only airstrip on the Antarctic Peninsula archipelago that can reliably serve the South American continent on a regular basis is located on King George Island in the South Shetland group. We arrive here today, one day prior to meeting up with our return flight home, as a hedge against any weather problems. Tomorrow morning, it will be time to say a reluctant goodbye to the Australis and her outstanding crew after a fortnight of extraordinary adventure.

Day 16: Fly to Punta Arenas
Weather permitting, we board our airplane for the 3-hour flight back to Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chilean Patagonia and enjoy an evening on the town.

Day 17: Punta Arenas / Depart
Fly homeward today from Punta Arenas, with a cache of memories to last a lifetime and then some!

Please see Dates, Fees & Inclusions for further details.

Important Note: When flying or sailing to or from King George Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, weather determines all schedules. If weather does not allow us to travel as scheduled, we must wait, either in Argentina or on King George Island, depending on the direction of our journey, for the weather to clear. Though historic weather patterns dictate that we should not be delayed for more than a few days, we can never predict when—or even if—inclement weather will clear so we can depart. While we have "padded" our itinerary a bit as a precaution against such circumstances, we ask that all guests purchase trip cancelation and interruption insurance to cover tour costs should your adventure be canceled because of the weather.

Physical Rating: Extreme Adventure

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