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Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

Itinerary

Antarctica expedition cruise mapDays 1 & 2: Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile
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 known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, vibrant cultural melange and European-style architecture that reflects its colonial heritage and the influence of many 19th- and early-20th-century immigrants. After a morning at leisure to rest up and relax, enjoy a guided afternoon city tour, including Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards and Eva Peron’s famous balcony.

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 square and nearby Presidential Palace, taking in expansive views from Santiago's many hills and parks.

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, 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 any day’s dive—rare images taken up to a thousand feet below the surface using our Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV).

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, climate and wildlife of Antarctica that we have witnessed, as well as the riveting human history of the White Continent. Take advantage of the ship’s leisure and recreation opportunities, including a fitness center, sauna, massage therapy at the spa, and a library filled with books about Antarctic natural history and polar exploration. Our escorts while crossing these legendary seas will surely include a host of marine life and seabirds including the black-browed albatross.

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.


Physical Rating: Moderate

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