South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula: Penguin Safari
Our South Georgia and Antarctica: Penguin Safari itinerary is the fastest way to get to the seldom visited South Georgia Island while also setting foot on the 7th continent
Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina
You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).
Fly to Ushuaia and Embark
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.
After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart!
Days 3 to 6
There are many activities available to keep you engaged while you are at sea. Learn to identify seabirds that glide alongside the ship, or attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team. You will be prepped on safety procedures for Zodiac cruises and shore landings, and also be given instructions for getting the most out of your optional sea kayaking adventures (extra cost), a truly intimate way to experience Antarctica.
If conditions are right, the first indication that you are approaching South Georgia is the sight of birds around a group of rocky spires called Shag Rocks. Have your binoculars and cameras ready to capture these rocky spires rising out of the icy ocean waters. Shags and prions often rest here, and due to nutrient rich upwellings around the rocks it can be a good place to keep a lookout for whales.
Days 7 and 8
After enjoying South Georgia from a distance, we’ll head toward its numerous beaches to find a bay for your first excursion. Landing sites are varied, largely determined by the weather conditions of your voyage. Whichever sites we visit, they’ll provide you with wildlife encounters unrivaled anywhere else on earth.
South Georgia is one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the world for sub-Antarctic wildlife, with beaches blanketed with penguins and seals. It won’t take you long to realize that you are in a bird paradise, as burrowing seabirds, albatross and petrels can be seen in abundance.
You’ll find that South Georgia, once a popular base for whalers and sealers, is also scattered with abandoned relics and evidence of human activity from centuries gone by. Your Expedition Team will help bring those days to life while you visit old whaling stations and enjoy presentations on the South Georgia of then and now.
One of the most significant sites you will visit on the island is Grytviken. This settlement is the first whaling stations established in sub-Antarctic waters. Many travelers find that this place has a special appeal, as it is the site of the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the most famous Antarctic explorers.
Days 9 and 10
Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with presentations and workshops led by your Expedition Team, who will prepare you for the wildlife and landscapes that will surround you upon your arrival.
Days 11 to 13
The most common reaction upon reaching the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words, since few places are as untouched and enduring as Antarctica.
You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete isolation and silence, and at the next moment you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into a brilliant blue sea or a penguin waddles by to inspect your footwear.
Your Expedition Team will take care of you at each excursion, whether you are Zodiac cruising, visiting a historical site or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. Keep a lookout for Antarctic whales, such as minkes, while on a Zodiac cruise. Each day and each excursion will present a new collection of creatures to delight you and keep your camera busy.
As exciting as the Zodiac excursions and landings are, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an extra-special Antarctic experience by partaking in an optional paddling excursion (at an extra cost) or cast reason aside and jump into Antarctic waters for the Polar Plunge!
Days 14 and 15
Crossing the Drake Passage
After more than a dozen days of unique wildlife encounters and remarkable landscapes, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake is your unofficial rite of passage. Spend time on deck watching for seabirds and whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, or simply relax and reminisce about your experiences.
Disembark in Ushuaia and Fly to Buenos Aires
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a little taste of Patagonia with a Tierra del Fuego National Park tour before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
*MANDATORY TRANSFER PACKAGE INCLUDES:
- One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Buenos Aires with breakfast (Note: The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available.)
- Group flight departing from Buenos Aires’ domestic airport (Aeroparque/AEP) to Ushuaia, and returning to Buenos Aires’ international airport (Ezeiza/EZE)
- Group transfer from hotel to airport in Buenos Aires
- Group transfer from Ushuaia airport to the ship, and return (Note: Transfer on arrival in Buenos Aires from airport to hotel at the beginning of the journey is not included. Please make your way to the included hotel.)
- Combined airport transfer and express bus tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park after disembarkation in Ushuaia
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
- Meet and greet on arrival at Airport.
- Accommodation and meals as indicated in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner).
- Entrance fees where applicable.
- Tours as indicated in the itinerary.
- Professional English-speaking guide/driver guide.
- Travel Protection is offered on all packages at an additional cost.
The newest ship in our fleet, Ultramarine, is designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, to discover new places, and to immerse you in the best the region has to offer.
Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, Ultramarine offers the most robust portfolio of adventure activities in the industry, the most spacious suites in its category, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships its size. It also features an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards.
With all this and more, Ultramarine is set to deliver the ultimate polar expedition experience.
Click here to download deck plan.
QEI’s Antarctic Express (8 and 11 Day Itineraries)
QEI will make every effort to ensure the Antarctic programs take place, but due to weather conditions, flying in this region can be difficult and is beyond the control of QEI. The following table illustrates the last itinerary day on which an attempt will be made to fly:
|Itinerary Name||Itinerary Days||Day 1|
|Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake||8 Days||Arrival in Punta Arenas|
|Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle||11 Days||Arrival in Punta Arenas|
International airfare, domestic airfare, any additional services purchased or change fees, will not be refunded by QEI. QEI will provide a trip interruption letter to be submitted by the passenger to their insurance company for airfare, change fees, and other expenses incurred due to the trip interruption.
QEI will issue the cruise fare refund back in the same form/medium in which payment was received.
16.2 Contingency Plan Itinerary
QEI reserves the right to send passengers on the charter plane the evening prior to the scheduled day. This may happen when we see a weather system that could cause a delay on subsequent days. It is for this reason that we request all passengers to arrive in Punta Arenas (PUQ) no later than 3:00pm on Day 1. There will be no refunds for passengers who miss the charter plane departure due to an arrival in Punta Arenas airport (PUQ) after 3:00pm.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
For each day of the itinerary after Day 1, if there is a delay, all guests will be briefed by the QEI ground staff on the flight status. Often we are waiting for a weather window to depart and could be required to leave with very little notice. All guests and staff will be on stand-by until notified by the QEI ground staff.
During the stand-by period, you must be at the airport, or at another location designated by the QEI ground staff to be ready to go if and when a suitably long weather window becomes available. If an opportunity to fly does not present itself, you will be returned back to your respective hotels. QEI will provide additional night(s) hotel accommodation and meals.
QEI reserves the right to make exceptions to the timing guidelines outlined in this section.