WWF Giants of Antarctica,11 days, SAVE $3,511
Immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Great White Continent.
Welcome to the pinnacle of expedition travel - Antarctica. It's a place of extremes, where the wildlife and landscape paint a picture like nowhere else in the world. The extraordinary islands around the Antarctic Peninsula are a stunning reward for those who conquer the infamous Drake Passage - which is all of you - and amid the Antarctic's barren beauty you may well encounter orcas, humpback whales, seals and penguins. Explore the ice-filled waters by Zodiac then set foot on the rock and ice that makes up this mysterious continent, and spend your evenings enjoying the state-of-the-art ship and its health and wellness facilities. You'll be talking about this journey for years to come.
Day 1 Ushuaia
Welcome to Ushuaia, Argentina, the world's southernmost city. You'll be briefed at the hotel tonight on the journey and details for tomorrow's embarkation, but if you happen to arrive early there are a surprising amount of ways to entertain yourself at 'the End of the World'. Check out the Museo Maritimo to brush up on the region's history, or take a stroll down Avenida San Martin if you're after any last-minute essentials before departing. Oh, and did we mention this is Argentina - if all else fails, head to a local restaurant to get your fill of red wine and steak. Muy bueno. An arrival transfer from the airport on day 1 is included in your voyage fare. Full details will be sent with your final joining instructions.
Day 2 Ushuaia (Embark)
This afternoon you'll board the Ocean Endeavour, settle into your cabin and begin cruising down the stunning Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin's ship. The channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America, and as the ship pulls away from port there's always an air of anticipation. Travelling with you on this voyage is marine ecologist Dr Ari Freidlaender and a small team of scientists, who are heading to Antarctica to undertake crucial research on the migration and feeding patterns of baleen whales. Wave goodbye to Argentina and know that the next time you see land you'll be staring at Antarctica.
Day 3 to 4 Drake Passage
The time has come to cross the Drake Passage, the legendary body of water named after English explorer Sir Francis Drake. If the conditions are right, enjoy some time out on deck to spot dolphins, orcas or perhaps albatross. If the waters are a little rough, the Ocean Endeavour is equipped with some seriously lush facilities for you to take advantage of. As well as safety briefings, a comprehensive lecture program will run throughout the journey delivered by experts in Antarctica's history, geology and biology, Dr Freidlaender and his team of researchers. With any luck we'll make it to land by early evening on day 4 - a moment that always brings much excitement.
Day 5 to 8 Antarctic Peninsula
The adventure truly begins once the Antarctic Convergence is left in your wake and exchanged for four incredible days of exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. Stare wide-eyed at glaciers, mountains and an unimaginable array of wildlife as the sheer magnitude and rawness of the area comes to light. Every day is a new adventure, and you'll explore ice-filled bays and channels as well as Antarctica itself on Zodiac excursions and by foot. While the landscapes will no doubt take your breath away, Antarctica is all about the wildlife. Visit penguin rookeries, spot humpback and minke whales and look out for leopard seals, all while calving glaciers crack through the immense silence. As you head out on your guided Zodiac cruises and immersive shore landings, the research team travelling with you will take another Zodiac to search of whales. Dr Friedleander and his team will deploy non-invasive tracking tools to gather data such as whale orientation, movement and speed. The suction-capped devices used also have two cameras attached, providing a first-person (or first-whale) view of underwater lives. The researchers will also use drone technology to track whale size and movement from above, as well as to observe krill populations in the southern oceans. While they may be exploring in different regions to you on any given day, they will report back regularly at the evening recap presentations. Dr Friedlaender presents engaging research lectures worldwide, and will contribute to your onboard lecture program as well as being available for less formal interactions on the vessel.Potential excursions and landing sites are determined by weather and ice conditions and cannot be guaranteed in advance. For a list of possible landing sites in Antarctica, go to intrepidtravel.com/antarctica-landing-sites.
Day 9 to 10 At Sea
Say goodbye to the Antarctic Peninsula as we begin our return leg to Ushuaia. Take the opportunity to share photographs with fellow travellers, enjoy some final lectures from polar experts and speak with the WWF-Australia team about their whale research findings from their time on the Peninsula. Ultimately, Dr Friedlaender and his team hope that their research will lead to the establishment of an Antarctic marine protection area, preventing krill fishing in the region and safeguarding the health of baleen whales. With The Intrepid Foundation helping to facilitate this research voyage and supporting WWF-Australia's Protecting Antarctic Giants project, this is a cause to get behind. Your last days onboard are also a great opportunity to make use of the Ocean Endeavour's health and wellness facilities, including its saunas, spa, heated pool, yoga classes and gym.
Day 11 Ushuaia (Disembark)
Your Antarctic adventure draws to a close after breakfast this morning. Farewell your shipmates and transfer to the airport if you're flying out today, or perhaps spend some more time exploring this incredible part of the world.
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