Cruise Route Map
Day 1: Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Arenas is a clean, modern city with a history based on maritime trade, sheep ranching, and petroleum. Just north are Puerto Natales and Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. There are many attractions within an hour's helicopter flight from Punta Arenas if time permits upon arrival or come early to enjoy Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
Day 2: King George Island (Maxwell Bay)
Fly to King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands. Sometimes called Antarctica's unofficial capital, eight national winter stations are based on King George Island. Because it is so accessible to South America, over eight countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Russia and South Korea have permanent year-round bases on the island. St Trinity, the first Orthodox church in Antarctica, is located at Russia's Bellinghausen station. Other countries, including Peru, Germany and the US have seasonal summer stations. The bases are connected by 20km of roads and paths. The remainder of the island is covered in glacial ice.
A popular landing site on the island is located on the southern coast at Turret Point. Easily accessible, the point is a favorite place to view Antarctic wildlife. Terns, Weddell and elephant seals, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, and giant petrels are just some of the wildlife that crowd along the coasts of King George Island.
The following sample itinerary will be adjusted based upon group interests as well as weather and ice conditions as well as the cruising speed of the sail boat or motor yacht.
Day 3: Deception Island
We sail through the Bransfield Strait towards Deception Island. Deception Island is a collapsed volcanic cone with a narrow 230m wide break in the volcano's walls known as Neptune's Bellows. Shaped like a horseshoe, protected by high cliffs and a narrow entrance, Deception Island is one of the world's safest natural harbors. The island's sloping, snow-covered walls, which reach 580m, tower above the beach. As the yacht proceeds through this narrow channel, you'll notice the striking colors of the rock faces on either side. Sealers were the first to take advantage of the island, but by 1915 whalers had taken the area over, establishing thirteen whaling stations within the harbor. Ghostly remains of the whaling stations - huge oil tanks, crude wooden huts, water barges - can be found throughout the island. We'll land at Whalers Bay on a black-sand beach cloaked in mysterious white clouds of sulfur scented steam. During its working years, forty-five men died and were buried in a whalers' cemetery on the island. Wander around the ruins of a whaling station established in 1906, which once was an important economic activity and part of Antarctica's history. A favorite destination on the island is Pendulum Cove. Its warm waters are heated by the island's volcanic activity, and allow visitors the rare opportunity to take a dip in the Antarctic Ocean. Trying to find a comfortable medium can be tricky in the cove waters; a couple inches to the left might be boiling hot, while a couple to the right may be frigid cold. The volcano on the island is currently dormant.
Day 4: Neumayer Channel and Port Lockroy
We'll sail via Croker Passage and Gerlache Strait to the entrance of Neumayer Channel and proceed through this scenic channel towards Port Lockroy to visit Base A, the former British station-turned-museum. Close to Port Lockroy is the gentoo rookery at Jougla Point, where other highlights include blue-eyed shags and a composite whale skeleton reconstructed on the shore. Mail polar postcards and enjoy a climb up the glacier with snow shoes.
Humpback Whales are inquisitive and could stay with us for as much as half an hour. They may approach our smaller dinghy and to play and dive underneath both dinghy and sail boat.
Day 5: Paradise Harbor
In Paradise Harbor we'll take the tender out for a spin around the ice calved from the glacier at the head of the bay. You may pass beneath blue-eyed shags nesting on the cliffs, which can be colored blue-green by copper deposits, emerald green by moss and orange or yellow by lichens. Paradise Harbor is undeniably beautiful with its majestic icebergs and reflections in the water of the surrounding mountains. Good chance to see Minke and Humpback whales which often come close to the boat. Cormorant and gentoo colonies combined with incredible scenery and visit Videla, an abandoned Chilean station.
Day 6: Andvord Bay and Neko Harbor
Deep inside Andvord Bay is located Neko Harbor, which is on Antarctica itself. Now we've officially set foot on the continent. The glacier across from the landing site often calves with a thunderous roar, offering dramatic video footage if we're lucky enough. As you gaze out over Neko's iceberg-filled waters, consider how American long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox must have felt when she swam nearly 2km in the 0.5°C waters here. In the evening we'll navigate back again through Gerlache Strait and Croker Passage towards Hannah Point.
Day 7: Hannah Point
In the afternoon we'll arrive at Hannah Point where we'll stay until the next morning. Hannah Point is famous for its large Chinstrap and Gentoo rookeries and the occasional Macaroni pair nesting among them. On a hill above the Hannah Point landing beach, a prominent red vein of jasper runs through the rock. From this lookout, you can survey a sheltered beach on the opposite side of the point where Elephant Seals bask and young male Fur Seals spar.
Day 8: Yankee Harbor
Yankee Harbor, or Hospital Cove as it was known to sealers, has a stone and gravel spit that extends nearly 1km in a wide curve. The spit is an ideal place for walking. Further up the beach several thousand pairs of Gentoos nest.
Day 9: Penguin Island and Turret Point
Just offshore from Turret Point is Penguin Island. While there are many islands with penguins scattered throughout the Antarctic, Penguin Island's pedigree is longer than most. You may see Chinstrap and Adélie penguins here. Penguin Island's highest point is the 170m Deacon Peak with an extensive crater at the summit. It's easy to climb, and so many people do that a path is worn into the ground early each season. There's also a melt water lake in a former volcanic crater. Turret Point takes its name from a group of prominent high rock stacks above the beach, a nesting area for Antarctic terns. You'll also find Chinstraps, Adélies, blue-eyed shags and southern Giant petrels.
Day 10: King George Island (Maxwell Bay)
Farewell to Antarctica. Experience the rustic environment and way of living of the people that call Antarctica their home. Fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile.
Day 11: Punta Arenas, Chile
Enjoy the city of Punta Arenas. Continue your trip in South America or begin the journey home!