Dates, Prices & Info
Due to the limited capacity of our motorsailer vessel, the S/V Australis, this trip accommodates a maximum of just seven travelers, plus our Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition Leader and three crew. Such a small group guarantees an intimate and inimitable experience of Antarctica, with highly personalized guide and staff relationships.
Take this trip on a private basis, traveling exclusively with your immediate family, multi-generational family or group of friends. Click here for details and pricing.
Specialized 4x4 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers
Our Private Leaders
- Trip price includes: Accommodations, services of Nat Hab's professional Expedition Leader(s), boat crew and local guides, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on final day, some alcoholic beverages, most gratuities, airport transfers for those arriving by air on Day 1 and departing by air on the final day, gear including all kayaking equipment and camping equipment for optional overnights, all activities and entrance fees, all taxes, permits and service fees.
- Internal air cost includes: Flight to or from King George Island (this will be listed separately on our invoicing).
This is a true expeditionary polar sailing trip in an exceptionally remote wilderness area far from medical facilities. This challenging journey is not for everyone—it was developed specifically to provide a unique adventure for a select few intrepid travelers whose desire for the thrill of discovery goes beyond that of Nat Hab’s typical guests. This expedition requires more independence, self-reliance and physical capability than our other trips do, and, in return, it offers even deeper rewards. In Antarctica, we follow an exploratory itinerary guided above all by a concern for safety, and the specific activities we pursue on any given day are determined by weather, sea conditions and the judgment of our skipper and Expedition Leader. Given the unique and often unpredictable elements of this trip, its successful operation requires a commitment to group unity and a willingness to embrace the unexpected, including efforts to overcome any challenges we might face. Guests must be prepared for activities that take place in a rugged polar setting, such as hiking on snow and rocky shorelines, enduring unpredictable and changing weather conditions including cold temperatures and high winds, and traveling in very close quarters aboard a compact boat.
All participants must be in good health and fully mobile with substantial physical stamina to participate in this adventure. Guests cannot expect to rely on the assistance of our Expedition Leader with regard to navigating physical challenges. These include but may not be limited to:
* Stepping up and down a ladder to get on and off the sailboat
* Getting in and out of bobbing Zodiacs (rigid rubber boats), which requires flexibility and balance
* Zodiac landings, which can be unstable
* Walking uphill in snow, which may include sliding and post-holing
* Walking on ice
* Walking over rocks large and small, which are often slippery
Daily activities may include Zodiac excursions, kayaking and hikes ashore, of varying duration. We expect to operate in generally calm waters, but conditions can change quickly, and we may be exposed in open Zodiacs to cold, rainy, snowy or windy weather, with rough seas. Travelers who are susceptible to motion sickness or who have back problems or other health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions should take this into consideration and consult their physician before attempting this expedition.
Important Information About This Trip
It is important to be aware that sailing conditions in the Drake Passage and crossing to/from King George Island can be extremely rough, and should we encounter such conditions, guests may be asked to stay in their berths for long periods of time to ensure their safety (with bathroom breaks only). Expedition participants should be prepared for high seas, and to take necessary precautions for seasickness.
Due to the extremely remote nature of this adventure, we require that all travelers submit a medical form before departure. This form must be completed and signed by your primary care physician.
Accommodations on board the Australis are tight but comfortable, with one toilet and shower room shared by all guests (the crew share a separate bathroom). The reality of traveling aboard a compact boat necessitates that guests be in close quarters with fellow travelers for long periods with little to no personal space or time alone. Thus, a flexible and tolerant attitude toward other participants is paramount for the enjoyment of all. Whenever possible, for any single travelers who book this trip, we will match you in a cabin with a traveler of the same sex. However, due to the limited space on board, one guest will be required to share a cabin on board with our NHA Expedition Leader, who may be of the opposite sex.
For safety purposes on the charter flights, travelers are strictly limited to one checked bag weighing a maximum of 33 pounds. You may also bring one carry-on bag that cannot exceed 11 pounds in weight and 6 inches x 13 inches x 17 inches in size. Note that personal items such as purses and laptops are counted as carry-on bags. Your carry-on must fit in the small overhead bin or under the seat in front of you; bags are not permitted on your lap during flights. Please keep this in mind if you are carrying bulky camera equipment. You will not be able to purchase additional weight allowance for this flight.
Weather and local conditions permitting, we may also have the opportunity to camp ashore overnight, as allowed by our special permits. As this activity is completely dependent on weather, as well as other factors, it is important to note that there is no guarantee that camping will be offered on every departure. We will provide appropriate tents and sleeping bags rated for winter camping, as well as expedition-style camping pads, but keep in mind that overnight temperatures can fall below freezing (though it is usually warmer in the tents). Travelers who choose not to camp may sleep aboard the boat if they prefer.
Optional Sea Kayaking
Sea kayaking is offered; our intent is to paddle in largely calm seas, though weather can change with little notice, and excursions can take place in windy, snowy or rainy conditions. Shifting ice may also force us to alter our kayaking itineraries. Paddlers should be aware that kayaking in the weather, sea and ice conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula requires confidence and physical ability, and paddlers should ideally have previous kayaking experience in choppy conditions. Paddlers must also have the stability, strength and agility necessary to enter a kayak directly from a Zodiac. The paddling group will be accompanied by the Expedition Leader and followed by a Zodiac at all times, and if the weather deteriorates, we will return to the Australis promptly. No one will be allowed to paddle on their own without the group and guide.
Flight & Sailing Delays
Guests will fly one way between South America and Antarctica and travel the other direction across the Drake Passage aboard the Australis. Please note that weather-related delays or changes to your scheduled flight and sailing departures may occur. In light of unpredictable weather and its potential impact on flight schedules and operations, guests are strongly advised to have sufficient travel insurance to protect against both flight cancellations and delays, as well as potential marine delays. It may be necessary, for instance, to spend an additional night in Ushuaia or an extra night aboard the boat on King George Island, in order to wait for favorable weather conditions for the Drake crossing. Given the potential for such an event, we also recommend that guests consider booking an additional hotel night on the back end of their trip, in case of such a delay.
Environment & Weather
Summer in Antarctica can exhibit all kinds of weather—mostly governed by the prevailing westerly winds and the Antarctic ice sheet. The weather pattern is an unpredictable mixture of marine low-pressure systems and a more stable high-pressure inland climate. The weather is largely influenced by the immense ice sheet that covers the earth's southernmost continent. Temperatures typically range from 30 to 40°F. In other words, you should prepare for all kinds of weather—sunshine and milder temperatures as well as showers and snowstorms. Winds can be both fierce and shifting, and the Antarctic seas are famous for ferocious katabatic storms (rare, but possible).
Your safety is of paramount concern to us. Toward that end, we provide highly competent guides, a premier polar sailing vessel manned by a world-class skipper and crew with extensive experience in Antarctic waters, and the very best equipment. Our guides and crew are thoroughly trained in emergency wilderness first-aid techniques and maritime survival in polar waters. Ultimately, our guides make decisions with everyone’s comfort and safety in mind, while trying to maximize the adventure experience for each individual. We must stress that listening carefully to your guide’s instructions and directions is ultimately your responsibility and in your best interest and that of the group.
We provide all group gear such as life jackets, tents, sleeping bags and liners, expedition-style camping mattresses, kayaks, Mustang suits, waterproof overshoes, and a comprehensive first-aid kit and satellite phone for emergency communications. We will supply you with an individual and very comprehensive Clothing & Equipment list prior to your departure.
Please understand that the meals on board, while hearty and delicious, are specially planned and prepared for well in advance. Dietary requirements due to serious medical conditions or strict personal restrictions can be met, with ample notice, but must be adhered to while on the adventure.
To protect your investment and to provide peace of mind while you travel, we also strongly recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance. Plans may cover everything from medical treatment to trip cancellations and delays and lost luggage. Please contact our office if you would like more information about the medical evacuation and comprehensive travel insurance policies we offer by calling 800-543-8917.
Getting There & Getting Home
We can serve you best if our Natural Habitat Adventures Travel Desk makes your reservations, as we are intimately familiar with the special requirements of this program and can arrange the most efficient travel. Also, in the case if you are delayed at King George Island and must spend an additional night on the boat, we would be able to make international flight changes on your behalf. Please call us at 800-543-8917. Note that while we offer you the best possible rates available to us on airfare and additional nights' accommodations, you may find better fares online.