A total solar eclipse only occurs every one to two years and where better to see it than the pristine Antarctic continent. Late spring in this wilderness is the perfect time to photograph glistening icebergs, witness penguins building nests and watch whales emerge from the deep, to feed. For the eclipse you'll find yourself in a favourable position in the Weddell Sea, ready to enjoy one of nature's most ethereal spectacles. In South Georgia, encounter seal beach masters defending their harems and walk among some of the largest king penguin colonies on earth. On this special voyage, you will be joined by a NASA scientists, eager to share their knowledge of this natural phenonmenon and guide you through the scientific importance of this Great White Continent. Witness a total solar eclipse in Antarctica - on this once-in-a-lifetime trip Journey alongside NASA scientists - enjoy an engaging series of on-board lectures Retrace Shackleton's heroic mountain crossing - in South Georgia Sail to the Falkland Islands - explore this magnificent archipelago, rich in birdlife
Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be transferred to your downtown hotel. The rest of the evening is at your leisure.
Your luggage will be collected in the morning from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for clearance and loading onto the ship. You will have the first part of the day to explore Ushuaia on a city-tour, before boarding commences at 4 p.m. After settling into your cabin there will be safety briefing held out on deck, as you sail out across the Beagle Channel, with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. This evening, you will have time to get to know your friendly crew and fellow expeditioners at a welcome dinner, celebrating the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica and South Georgia.
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for your first landings, with important wildlife guidelines and they will also start their informative lecture program. You will learn more about Antarctica's history, wildlife and environment, preparing you for the days ahead. Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabird, including majestic albatross and giant petrel, following in our wake.
Nearing the tip of the South Shetland Islands, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on the bridge, keeping a look out for the first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence, and we are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Over the next five days, a host of choices are open to us and depending on ice and weather conditions, the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make the best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. An abundance of wildlife can be found on the Antarctic Peninsula - from whales to rookeries, birdlife to seals - there will be plenty to take in over the next few days whilst we explore this frozen land. The scenery is simply breathtaking and we will have plenty of time on shore and in Zodiacs, to soak up our surroundings.
Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. We will generally make landings or Zodiac excursions two and occasionally three times a day, where we will enjoy; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface, landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home.
Enjoy lectures and on-board presentations from the Expedition crew as they share their deep knowledge of the wildlife, heroic tales of polar exploration, and central to this voyage, astronomy.
According to NASA, the optimum position to experience the solar eclipse is well into the Weddell Sea. The eclipse is visible from the following geographic regions: Antarctica, South Africa, south Atlantic, but the full eclipse will only be visible in Antarctica. The instant of greatest eclipse takes place on Dec 04 at 07:34:38 TD (Terrestrial Dynamical Time) or (07:33:28 UT1). Historically, early December would be considered too early to visit South Orkney Islands because of extensive sea ice. However, conditions have been changing every year and it may be possible to get into the South Orkneys on 04 December, 2021 - the unknown is part of what makes the experience even more thrilling. The eclipse belongs to Saros 152 and is number 13 of 70 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the Moon's descending node. The total solar eclipse of 4th December 2021, is preceded two weeks earlier by a partial lunar eclipse on the 19th November 2021. These eclipses all take place during a single eclipse season. An eclipse season is a period during which the Sun appears close enough to one of the Moon's nodes to permit an eclipse to occur. Each season lasts approximately 34 days and repeats at about 173-day intervals. Our on-board NASA scientist will guide you through this natural phenomenon and will be out on deck enjoying this incredible moment with you.
Enjoy an exciting day at sea, spending time on deck in the company of many seabirds. We'll learn the story of Shackleton and hear how his ship, the Endurance, was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, before him and his men climbed into three open boats, spending 16 months at sea, before finally making landfall on this tiny toe of rock and ice in the vastness of the Southern Ocean on 14 April, 1916. Weather and time permitting; we hope to Zodiac-cruise and perhaps land at Point Wild, where the men eventually set up camp under two of their upturned open boats and some old tents.
Back on the peninsula, we continue our exploration of the small islands, straits and bays around the tip of the White Continent. There are many exciting places we can choose to visit such as the magnificent Paradise Harbour, a protected bay surrounded by spectacular peaks and glaciers, the wildlife- rich island of Half Moon Island where you will encounter a large chinstrap penguin colony, and if ice permits, you may have the opportunity to sail through the narrow Lemaire Channel, where the water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface. There is plenty to delight over the coming days and your captain and crew will ensure that opportunities are fully maximised.
Port Lockroy is a British station from the Second World War that was turned into a museum in 1996. It is one of the most popular visitor sites in Antarctica and offers a peek into life on an Antarctic base in the 1950s. Designated a historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996, it was discovered in 1904 and used by the whaling industry in the first half of the 1900s. Today, Pork Lockroy is manned by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and operates as a museum, gift shop and post office for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. You can even send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world's most southern Post Office.
En route for South Georgia we'll head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. On 24 April, 1916, they piled into the James Caird, the most seaworthy of their open boats, to attempt this perilous journey to South Georgia, some 1290 km (802 miles) distant. Shackleton hoped to reach South Georgia in two weeks. There he would enlist the help of the whalers to return to Elephant Island and rescue the men who had been left behind.
As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside our naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from our historian.
South Georgia is one of the world's most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the World's largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds. Over the next few days you'll explore the wildlife oasis of South Georgia. Witness one of the World's largest King penguin rookeries, spot the wandering albatross and step back in time, as your on-board historian retraces Ernest Shackleton's route from Fortuna Bay to Stromness. You'll enjoy some free time to roam secluded beaches, alive with basking elephant seals and you'll have the chance to cruise by Zodiac alongside penguins and playful fur seals. We have ample time to explore South Georgia's spectacular northern coast, penguin rookeries and majestic albatross nests.
A 3,000-metre mountain range forms the spine of this long, narrow island. Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline - a landscape that is synonymous with the epic expedition of survival by Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean. Abandoned rusting whaling stations and remnants of explorers reflect a time of long ago, while summer workers conduct scientific and regeneration projects. Kelp-strewn beaches are cluttered with basking elephant seals, feisty fur seals and penguins.
We will explore the King Penguin rookeries that this area is renowned for, where hundreds and hundreds of penguins dot the landscape. Lose yourself amongst these gracious-looking creatures and ensure cameras are fully charged for this incredible wildlife spectacle - an absolute highlight of South Georgia.
You will also have the opportunity to visit the fascinating whaling museum at Grytviken, as well as pay your respects to Sir Shackleton, at his nearby grave. Originally a Norwegian sealing and whaling station, Grytviken was finally closed in 1965. Now it is the administrative centre and a hub of activity in South Georgia. The former whaling station stands as a solemn testament to the whaling days, but the museum offers much more than a whaling past. It has many of the local animals on display, as well as the island's history of exploration. As we wander around the site, skirting the ruins of factory buildings and peering into the past, we must be careful to avoid sleeping elephant seals or disturbing small groups of king penguins, as we imagine what it was like when whale processing was in full swing. Abandoned ships lie sunken alongside hundred-year-old wharfs, while pitted concrete walls remind us of the more recent Falkland's War which started here.
Between South Georgia and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow our wake, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, we are usually travelling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate our arrival time in the Falkland Islands. Our lecture program will continue and highlight all of the amazing sights we have witnessed over the past few days. We'll have ample time to enjoy the rest of our time observing the seabirds, whale watching from the bridge, or simply relaxing in the bar with a book.
We continue to cross the Scotia Sea and edge closer to the Falkland Islands.
Located 477 kilometres east of southern Argentina, the Falkland Islands are a unique mix of wildlife hotspot and inhabited outpost. An archipelago of over 700 islands but consisting of two main islands, East and West, only seven of the islands are inhabited. The cold, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands makes them a prime location for marine life, including seabirds and seals. Our time in the Falkland Islands includes a short walk from Stanley town.
You may choose to spend the sea days returning to Ushuaia editing your photos, enjoying the onboard facilities, or listening to an informative lecture.
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we will be free to disembark around 8.00 am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers, before you continue on with your onward journey. A transfer is included to either downtown Ushuaia or to the airport, depending on your onward arrangements.
20 Break Fast(s) 19 Lunch(es) 20 Dinner(s)
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