Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters - Antarctic Cruise

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters | Ortelius | Antarctica Tours Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters | Ortelius | Antarctica Tours

Enjoy the birds-eye view of Antarctica

The m/v Ortelius' helicopter allows you to view the rookery of 4,000 emperors south of Snow Hill Island. The Weddell sea may be blocked by heavy ice, while the ice in the rookery could break and melt sooner than anticipated. The goal is to find penguins as they are on their way out of the water. This search is made possible by the thrilling helicopter flight, which allows you to land at locations that would otherwise be inaccessible so early in season. You can take a helicopter transfer from your ship to Snow Hill Island if the conditions of the ice are good and there is no multi-year pack-ice on the way. This will be about 45 minutes walk to the Emperor Penguin rookery. This is an experience that you will never forget if it goes well. Remember that the nature dictates the itinerary: Snow Hill Island was not reached on all voyages from 2012 to 2019. In 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019 conditions are favorable for landing by helicopter and visiting the Emperor Penguin rookery on Snow Hill Island.

11 Day Antarctica Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia & Beagle Channel

Where the world ends, your journey begins. Ushuaia is the southernmost town in the world, located at the very southernmost tip of South America. You will depart from the small town of Tierra del Fuego (nicknamed "The End of the World") in the late afternoon and spend the rest of the night sailing the Beagle Channel, which is surrounded by mountains.

Day 2 & 3: Drake Passage & Antarctic Convergence

You will experience the Drake Passage in the following two days, and you may even see a fin-whale spraying seawater. You are now in the circumantarctic upwelling area after passing through the Antarctic Convergence, Antarctica's natural border formed by cold north-flowing waters colliding with warmer subantarctic seas. Avian life also changes. You may see Wandering Albatrosses.

Day 4, 5, 6 & 7: Antarctic Sound, Duse Bay, Seymour Island, Devil Island, Gourdin Island

Antarctic Sound is the best way to enter the Weddell sea. You will see huge tabular-shaped icebergs as you approach the Antarctic Peninsula's eastern end. The search for Emperor penguins is underway during this portion of the voyage. You can find these penguins using both helicopters and the ship. If conditions permit, you can also take scenic flights and land helicopters at locations that are otherwise impossible to reach during this season. The benefits of helicopter flights include the following:

West slopes of Antarctic Sound - This area can only be seen by air from the west, but the scenery is worth it. Layered sandstones and lava flows are accompanied by icebergs, glaciers, and packs of ice. On the ice floes you can often see emperor and Adelie Penguins as well as Kelp Gulls, Skuas, or different breeds of Petrel. The snow is lacerated by jagged mountain peaks, while huge walls of ice are scattered on the slopes.

Duse Bay - It is possible to land on an ancient refuge hut or a hill near a bay from soaring helicopters. This time of year there is still plenty of snow and ice, but the majority of this walk takes place on frost-shattered rocks covered in lichens of every color and shape.

Seymour Island - The Swedish Antarctic Expedition wintered here in polar conditions. This location is characterized by sedimentary rock, extensive views, and fossils. The Zodiac trip may also include the following:

Devil Island - This island is home to an enormous colony Adelie Penguins. Hikers who are willing to climb the steep hill can enjoy a spectacular view. The melting ice can sometimes form a waterfall that drops from the cliffs near Cape Well-met.

Brown Bluff - Possibly the most picturesque location on the northernmost tip of Antarctica: canyon walls with sheer drops, boulders that have fallen, and volcanic formations topped by ice. Here, a large Adelie-penguin colony lives. Gentoo-penguins nesting and snow petrels can also be seen.

Gourdin Island - This island is a great place to land if you are continuing your Antarctic expedition.

Esperanza Base - This Argentinean research station could be used as a landing site alternative. It is open year round and one of the only two civil settlements on Antarctica.

Day 8: Deception Island

You will sail in the morning to Deception Island, for your last landing on the trip, at either Pendulum Cove, or Whalers Bay. The conditions on Drake Passage will determine when you depart.

Day 9 & 10: Familiar seas, familiar friends

You're not alone on your return trip. You're greeted again by the seabirds you remember from your journey south as you cross the Drake. They are now more familiar with you, as you have become to them.

Day 11: There and back again

No matter how great the adventure may be, it must come to an ending. Now it's time to leave Ushuaia with all the memories you will carry on your journey.

Day 5 & 6: Alternate Program if there is less than 50% probability of pack ice on the Snow Hill Island route

While helicopters offer a convenient means of reaching the emperor penguin colony, nature ultimately dictates the terms of access in Antarctica. If weather conditions permit, you'll have the opportunity to spend the first two days observing the penguins at their rookery. The helicopter operation itself takes a full day, with flights lasting approximately 15 minutes. Each helicopter can accommodate 4 to 6 passengers per trip, and landing sites are carefully selected to minimize disturbance to the penguins. Following the helicopter ride, there's a 45-minute walk to the rookery. It's crucial to remember that you're venturing into the world's most remote region, where there are no guarantees. Conditions can change rapidly, potentially affecting helicopter operations significantly. It's essential to understand and respect these limitations. Safety is our paramount concern, and no compromises will be made.

Itinerary Map

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters

11 Day Antarctica Itinerary Includes

  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes
  • Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia.
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.

11 Day Antarctica Itinerary Does not Include

  • Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post- land arrangements.
  • ​Transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia and Ascension and from the vessel in Ascension and Praia; passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, 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.
  • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).

11 Day Antarctica Itinerary Highlights

  • Enjoying scenic cruises in the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Sailing into the Weddell Sea, home to tabular icebergs and emperor penguins.
  • Sailing through the Beagle Channel, one of the most scenic waterways in the world.

Meals Included

  • Breakfast Served Daily
  • 10 Dinners
  • 11 Lunches
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11 Day Antarctica cruise activities

Sea Kayaking
Under full instruction from your sea kayaking guide, experience true tranquillity as you paddle through clinking ice floes and realise the enormity of the surrounding scenery. Look out for breaching whales, lounging seals and penguins zipping alongside your kayak. Some experience is required.
Ice Camping
Camp out on the ice and experience the silence which blankets the continent by night. This is your chance to completely connect with this ethereal ice world – wrap up warm and embrace the Antarctic elements.
Get a spring in your step when you slip on a pair of snowshoes in Antarctica. Enabling you to easily scale gentle slopes, this unique activity allows you to access hard to reach places and seek out the most impressive views.
Learn to capture wildlife and landscape shots in a small group photography program, including critiquing sessions and editing classes. Plus, Explorer Boat excursions with a dedicated photography expert on landings.
Explorer Boats
Achieve the best views and photographs from a forward facing Explorer Boats. They allow you to sit comfortably and securely while crackling through the ice-strewn waters. Look out for wildlife such as penguins, seals and whales as you cruise.
It doesn’t get more serene than complimentary yoga classes to the tune of glacial scenery. Join the most unique exercise setting in the world after a day of exploration. Classes are regular but are dependent on weather conditions and swell.
Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters
11 Days
From $7,900.00 per person

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