The ship you select for your Antarctica expedition cruise determines the start and end point of your journey. Guests traveling aboard the National Geographic Explorer or National Geographic Endurance arrive and depart via Buenos Aires, Argentina. Guests traveling aboard the National Geographic Orion arrive and depart via Santiago, Chile.
With an early morning arrival in Buenos Aires, Explorer or Endurance guests are transferred to the Alvear Art Hotel (or similar) to check in. Buenos Aires is Argentina’s sophisticated capital, set on the Rio de la Plata. This is one of Latin America’s largest metropolitan areas and a top tourist destination
After an early morning arrival in Chile's capital of Santiago, Orion guests check in at the centrally located Hotel Santiago by Mandarin (or similar). 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
Day 3: Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile / Ushuaia, Argentina
Travel by private chartered flight to Ushuaia this morning, surveying the peaks of Patagonia below before landing at the bottom of Tierra del Fuego, the foot of the southern Andes. There’s no mistaking the "end of the world" feel of the world’s most southerly city, which is the point of embarkation for expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula. If weather permits, we will have lunch on a catamaran cruise in the Beagle Channel, where steep mountains rise straight out of the sea, before embarking ship and setting sail.
Day 4: At Sea
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 challenging 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 seabirds. Our ship is likely to be escorted through the passage by resident wildlife, including dolphins, Cape petrels and wandering albatrosses.
Days 5–10: Antarctica
With nearly perpetual daylight on this classic Antarctic expedition, we make the most of the long 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 make Zodiac forays among towering bergs, walk the shorelines amid huge colonies of penguins, hike to a summit for a commanding view, and kayak along cliffside rookeries to look at 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 shore landings, where we walk among noisy colonies of four resident penguin species—chinstrap, emperor,
Days 11 & 12: At Sea
Making the return voyage across the Drake Passage, our days at sea are an opportunity to learn and relax. The ship sails with a full staff of onboard naturalists, scientists and historians who are eager to reflect upon the geology,
Days 13 & 14: Ushuaia / Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile / Depart
After breakfast, disembark in Ushuaia with time to explore this adventure-focused mountain town before our private chartered flight returns you to Buenos Aires or Santiago (the same destination where you started your expedition) for the night, in advance of homeward flights the next day.