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Antarctica: Fly and Sail Expedition

Antarctic Expedition to the Weddell Sea


Famed for its tremendous tabular icebergs, year-round sea ice, fascinating fossils, and the pivotal role it played in Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, the Weddell Sea offers unsurpassed opportunities for exploration. Embark on a true Antarctic expedition as you not only explore the west Antarctic Peninsula, but also attempt to venture east toward the icy perimeter of the Weddell Sea, often guarded by impenetrable pack ice and home to awe-inspiring tabular icebergs. To make the most of your time in Antarctica, flights to or from King George Island (averting the two-day Drake Passage crossing) are scheduled, weather permitting. See "What the Trip is Like" for specific details and contingency plans.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1
Punta Arenas

Arrive in Punta Arenas, where you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Overlooking the Straits of Magellan, Punta Arenas sits astride one of the world's most historic trade routes. Today, the city reflects a great mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, and it remains an utterly fascinating testament to Chile's rich history. Please arrive no later than 4:00 pm so that you may attend an important briefing this evening. At approximately 7:00 pm, meet your fellow expeditioners at a voyage briefing where your transfer times, procedures for your flight to King George Island, and IAATO regulations for visitors to Antarctica will be confirmed. Afterwards, there’s free time to enjoy the local cuisine at one of Punta Arenas’s many restaurants. Dinner is on your own. Overnight at Hotel Cabo de Hornos (or similar).

Day 2

Transfer to Punta Arenas airport for the charter flight to King George Island, Antarctica (weather permitting). The flight will take approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. Upon arrival at King George Island, the expedition team is on hand to greet you and prepare you for your Zodiac transfer to the vessel. You will have time to settle into your cabin before important safety briefings.

Note: King George Island is located at the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required for safe take-off and landing. Please refer to "What the Trip is Like" for specific details and contingency plans.

Days 3-11
Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula

It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on Earth is an experience that will stay with you forever. Upon arrival, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are yours to explore, and a host of choices is available. Because you are so far south, you will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions, and wildlife opportunities.

Landings or Zodiac excursions are typically made twice a day. You will want to wear plenty of warm clothing before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals, and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to shore, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts, and explore some favorite spots along the peninsula. While ashore you will stretch your legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and, of course, keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters—conditions permitting!

In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may cruise by ship some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales traveling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendor. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.

Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for many polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form the Antarctic Sound—the gateway to the Weddell Sea, with its well-deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley where large icebergs try to escape the Weddell Sea through Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult. However, the rewards can be great. Fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era—gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone. You may experience memorable wildlife encounters as the Weddell boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels. On thrilling Zodiac excursions or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, as well as humpback, minke, and orca whales. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.

Days 12-13
Drake Passage Crossing

Enjoy a final morning landing in the South Shetland Islands before re-entering the Drake Passage for the return journey to South America. With lectures and film presentations to complete your Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what you have seen and experienced. It is hoped you become ambassadors for Antarctica, telling your family, friends, and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here. As the ship approaches the tip of South America, the Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.

Day 14
Disembark in Ushuaia

During the early morning, the ship cruises up the Beagle Channel before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you will be free to disembark around 8:00 am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as everyone continues their onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.

On disembarkation, passengers on flights departing prior to 2:00 pm will be transferred directly to Ushuaia Airport, while those fortunate enough to be continuing their travels in this spectacular region of the world will be transferred to their post-voyage Ushuaia accommodation. Passengers flying after 2:00 pm will have time to explore Ushuaia, prior to an afternoon airport transfer, the details of which will be provided onboard prior to disembarkation. Please do not book flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12:00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.

Reverse Itinerary: Ushuaia to Punta Arenas (Feb 13-23, 2024)

Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia, overnight at group hotel.
Day 2: Embarkation.
Days 3-4: Drake Passage Crossing.
Days 5-9: Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 10: King George Island flight to Punta Arenas, overnight group hotel.
Day 11: Depart Punta Arenas.



Be awed by the array of wildlife who play and hunt in the Antarctic Sound
Marvel at enormous tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea
Learn about the incredible fossil-rich volcanic islands from an onboard paleontologist


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $16,195  
Arrive: Punta Arenas, Chile
Depart: Ushuaia, Argentina
Lodging: 11 nights aboard a 132-passenger expedition ship, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with dinner
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History, Special Interest, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

Expedition cruise, nature walks (some on uneven ground), sea kayaking options, Zodiac excursions with wet landings, cold weather, possibility of rough seas