Travel in harmony with the elements to the White Continent. En route, you will experience the wild natural wonders of the Chilean fjords. Once in Antarctica, the sight of mighty glaciers calving into the ocean, flocks of penguins and whales in the icy seas will create indelible memories. On board there is so much to do: Science Center, exciting lectures, and more, all designed to enhance your trip.
From the steep mountains and valleys of the Chilean fjords to close encounters with Antarctic wildlife
Starting in Punta Arenas, this expedition will introduce you to the natural beauty of Patagonia before crossing of the treacherous Drake Passage to Antarctica and the mighty frozen desert of the south.
Endless white landscapes, teeming wildlife and fascinating history
In Antarctica, we will land at historic sites like ring- shaped Deception Island, a major harbour for whaling ships until 1905. Or Cuverville Island, home to one of the largest known colonies of Chinstrap penguins, and the British station Port Lockroy from World War II; and Wilhelmina Bay, often called “Whale-mina Bay”, because of the large numbers of humpback whales spotted here. Brown Bluff is recognisable by the 750 metre cliffs that dominate the landscape. Our landings offer you the chance to go hiking, take kayaks out on the water, cruise among whales breaching the surface and meet the local penguins. As modern day explorers, you will encounter an unspoiled wilderness in an environmentally friendly way as you sail aboard our state of the art expedition vessel.
A world of contrasts
Then we set course for the Falkland Islands. In this British territory, you will find a world of contrasts, from the red buses and English pubs of Stanley to vast open spaces, stunning white sand beaches and rich wildlife.
Back on board, you’ll have fun opportunities to learn and share discoveries with family and new friends in relaxed way MS Roald Amundsen is a ship built and designed to meet the needs of modern explorers – both on and off board. Our Science Center is where you can meet fellow adventurers for scientific fun with our engaging Expedition Team, no matter what age you are. The media room on board shows the highlights of the day, and if you haven’t joined an excursion or landing, you can see films and photos, and share in the adventures here at the end of each day. All scientific content is presented in a lively, fun and easily understood manner: first class edutainment, so to speak.
The capital of Chile is exciting and diverse. There is a lot to discover here, from the Andean glaciers at the city borders, tall mountains and skyscrapers to quiet parks, colonial architecture, bohemian quarters and the fast-flowing Mapacho River. Your adventure starts with an overnight hotel stay here.
You fly to Punta Arenas where MS Roald Amundsen is ready for this expedition to Antarctica.
Enjoy cruising through the Beagle Channel, with channels, fjords and mountains plunging straight into the icy water. This wild and remote area seems almost undisturbed by humans. The ice has scoured its way between the mountains, leaving isolated islands and hidden bays and creating the unique fjord landscape of Chile.
When ranking the most iconic places on Earth, Cape Horn is high on the list. At almost 56 degrees south, it is the southernmost point of South America. Before the Panama Canal, seafarers had to pass this infamous rocky island in order to cross from one side of the Americas to the other. We will do our best to make a landing on Cape Horn – however, this is an area known for high seas and challenging conditions and if we make it this will be a great achievement.
Then MS Roald Amundsen will use 1 ½ to 2 days to cross the Drake Passage, depending on the weather conditions. This enormous churn of water is funnelled by western wind drift from the Pacific through the Drake Passage and into the Scotia Sea to the east. The Drake Passage is part of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the most voluminous current in the world. About 95 to 150 million cubic metres of water per second are transported from west to east. As you cross the Drake, you sail over the mid ocean West Scotia Ridge and over the nearly 6.000 metre deep South Shetland Trench. The weather can be terrible on the Drake, but it can also be placid, often called the “Drake Lake”. Usually, it’s somewhere in between.
Antarctica is isolated from the rest of the world by ocean currents. 90 per cent of the world´s ice is here, 4.000 meters thick, covering the landmass. In winter it is further cut off by sea ice forming off the coast – virtually doubling the size of the continent. In summer, it is a breeding ground for millions of penguins, whales and seals that, for the rest of the year, simply spend their time at sea. Most wildlife thrives on a cornerstone species: krill.
The krill population in the Southern Ocean represents the largest biomass of one species on Earth – including human beings. As outlined in the Antarctic Treaty, this is a continent dedicated to peace, science and tourism. No human activity is allowed to alter the perfect natural balance.
We are visiting a place that has evolved through millenniums without human interference. Therefore, we adhere to very strict environmental guidelines and rules. We want to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures! What is so overwhelming about Antarctica is that its location makes every voyage to the continent an expedition. Even the most sophisticated technology cannot override some of the climatic challenges that are a part of this environment.
Therefore, we need to be pragmatic; we change landings, re-route and shift plans as we go along. This also means that we will take advantage of the often ideal conditions – spend hours ashore, on the water with kayaks, hiking or simply cruising amongst huge pods of whales. Weather, wind and ice conditions have a great influence on our programme and schedule.
We will attempt to land several places, including Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Brown Bluff, Cuverville Island and Neko Harbour. All of these places are serene and offer untouched nature, opportunities to observe penguin colonies, seals, , glaciers, icebergs in every shape and colour and old whaling stations and. It´s hard to sum up all the impressions you will gain. As a well-known quote from veteran Antarctic travellers puts it: “If you can describe Antarctica with words, you have probably never been there.”
After exploring this superlative-exhausting continent, we set course back for The Falkland Islands. The Falklands consist of two large islands and around 700 smaller ones. Captain John Strong of HMS Welfare made the first recorded landing here in 1690. We will continue our lecture series that focuses on the dramatic history and diverse wildlife of the islands as we keep a watch for wandering albatross.
Having just been in Antarctica, it might seem a bit surreal to arrive in a town that looks like a miniature England, with red phone boxes, red buses and English pubs. Stanley is the capital on the Falkland Islands. Roam the city streets, the town is easy enough to discover in a day on foot, or join one of the excursions to explore the wilderness and wildlife in the surroundings. The Falklands are teeming with wonders of wildlife and nature. This is an unpolluted environment with fantastically clear blue skies, seamless horizons, vast open spaces and stunning white sand beaches. As we reach the westernmost settled outposts in the Falklands you will see remote farms that have been family owned for six or seven generations. The sheep graze alongside immense colonies of albatross and rockhopper penguins, while predatory striated caracaras patrol overhead and upland geese forage at the water’s edge. Bird lovers will rejoice if we go ashore on Carcass Island. This is a bird paradise with several ducks, geese, penguins, albatrosses, caracaras and wrens. It is also one of few islands down here with trees. We use our small boats to go ashore for exploring, hiking or take a closer look at all the birds.
As we complete the loop of the Magellan Strait, we will have a recap of everything we have experienced on this expedition. Make sure you spend some time on deck looking for wildlife.
We arrive back in Punta Arenas in the morning. After the flight back to Santiago de Chile, you can extend your vacation with a post voyage extension to experience the impressive region.