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Weddell Sea Quest

Overview

This incredible excursion takes you into the depths of Antarctica and The South Shetlands ans follows in Shackleton's footsteps!

Beginning in the Southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, set sail into the Beagle Channel, sailing through scenic waterways and enjoying the first glimpses of this icy wonderland.

During the coming days you will cross the Antarctic Convergence where there are many opportunities to spot rare birds and as you get nearer to the South Shetlands, the first icebergs of the trip slowly reveal themselves!

The following days are spent in the real heart of the Antarctic, through 'High Antarctica'- where you can spot your first penguins The Gentoo Penguins! Over the next few days you have a few chances to actually step foot on Antarctica itself surrounded by an incredible landscape of glaciers and icebergs. You have a good chance of seeing Humpback Whales and Minke Whales in this area as well as more Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.

On arrival at the South Shetland Islands enjoy the pleasantries of it's fauna and rare birds. In Deception island we find hot springs, rare birds and a fascinating abandoned whaling station! En route back to Ushuaia you are followed by an amazing selection of seabirds and pass out of this pristine landscape before arriving back into Ushuaia for your onward journey home.

Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia
Embark in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. After you have settled into your cabins you will sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass.

Days 2 & 3: At Sea – Crossing the Drake Passage
Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As you sail across the passage, your expeditions’ lecturers will be out with you on deck to help with the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in the wake.

The open bridge policy allows you to join your officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. A full program of lectures will be offered as well. The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819. With favourable conditions in the Drake Passage our lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals on Day 3!

Days 4-6: Exploring The Weddell Sea
This is where huge tabular icebergs roam. In some years, the Erebus & Terror Gulf and Weddell Sea are chock-a-block full with ice, making for exciting ice navigation. Get up early and go out on deck. It may be 3:30 h in the morning, but the sunrises will be unlike anything you´ve ever seen! Huge tabular bergs break from the Larsen, Ronne, and Filchner ice shelves and combine with one-year-old and multi-year sea ice to produce a floating, undulating panorama of rugged ice scenery.

All-white Snow Petrels are likely to be coursing over the floes, often joined by Pintado Petrels. The usual passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula traverses the Antarctic Sound. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza, are located on the western side of the Sound.

Brown Bluff, a promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula, is located south of Hope Bay. Both of them might be possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the center of the Peninsula’s Adélie Penguin population. Devil Island, Paulet Island and the already mentioned sites, might give us ample proof of this. The numbers of penguins are breathtaking. Sometimes juvenile Emperor Penguins have been sighted, riding ice floes but are by no means regular in the area.

This region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Four visitor sites have links to this expedition: Hope Bay, Paulet Island, Snow Hill Island, and Cape Well-Met on Vega Island. Our expedition staff will be pleased to share their exciting story with you!

Days 7-9: Exploring The Antarctic Peninsula And South Shetland Islands
The Antarctic Peninsula´s remarkable history will also provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as Minke whales and orcas at close range. We hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways: the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel and Neumayer Channel. Possible landing sites may include: Paradise Bay, which is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post office at Port Lockroy.

Further exploration will lead you to the South Shetland Islands. The volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauling out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, so is visiting the crescent-shaped island Half Moon, home to Chinstrap Penguins in breath-taking surroundings. There might also be a chance to visit the enigmatic Elephant Island. Sir Ernest Shackleton fans will need no introduction to this historic windswept island. In 1916 Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will return with a greater knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a truly remarkable part of the world.

Days 10 - 11: At Sea - Crossing the Drake Passage, Northbound
Leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join our lecturers and naturalists on deck as you search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.

Day 12: Departure - Ushuaia
You will arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the ship after breakfast.

Please Note:
The above itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the Captain and/or Expedition Leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions and they will try their best to reach the Weddell Sea. However if ice conditions do not allow access the route might be changed to West Antarctica. A daily program sheet will be issued on board.

Would you like us to organise all your pre-departure arrangements for you? Just get in touch and make your booking hassle-free!

Map

Essentials

Included:
  • Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes aboard ‘Plancius’
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation)
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material
  • Not Included:
  • Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights
  • Pre- and post land arrangements
  • Transfers to the vessel
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Meals ashore
  • Cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended)
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges
  • Customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided)
  • Essentials

    Are you wondering about flights, deposits and other bits and pieces? Here are a few items of essential information that could help with the planning of your trip with Tango Tours. If you have any questions please just contact us.

    International Flights
    Getting to Ushuaia (the starting point for all our Antarctica tours) is straightforward from most areas of the world, but you may find that the choice is bewildering, or you’re not sure about the easiest route. Tango Tours are experienced in planning flights and we are very happy to advise you on the different choices available. Because prices tend to increase closer to your departure date, we advise that you buy your international flight tickets as soon as you have made a decision about your trip. As an ATOL bonded tour operator, we can assist in your purchase of international flights. In fact, your entire tour can be protected under our ATOL licence by booking your international flight with us. Please note that 100% of your flight ticket price is payable on tour confirmation and is non-refundable.

    Internal Flights
    As with international flights, Tango Tours' friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to book your internal flights within Argentina to Ushuaia. For Antarctica itineraries, you will need to arrive at a particular destination at a required time/date in order to board the expedition boat, therefore it is vital that you book the correct flights and times of arrival. Our ATOL licence will protect your whole tour if your internal flights are purchased through us. Please note that flights are non-refundable and 100% of your flight ticket price is payable on tour confirmation.

    Payment
    To confirm your booking with Tango Tours, we require a payment of 20% of the ground-based arrangements and 100% of all flights booked with us. The remaining balance of your tour is then payable 10 weeks prior to departure. For any bookings made within these 10 weeks, the full amount is payable.

    Activities
    We provide brief information about activities/ excursions in the itinerary, if you would like to know more we are very happy to provide more in-depth details. Please note all itineraries may be subject to change.