Private Journeys

Antarctica: In search of the Emperor penguin

15 days from £11,520pp

Antarctica

OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS ©

Essentials

Transport

2 flights (longest 3-5); 11 day cruise.

Accommodation

The accommodation in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia is in good, practical mid-range options; the Buenos Aires hotel is a stylish, contemporary property. In Ushuaia you stay at a modern Patagonia-style hotel in a lofty location overlooking the city and Beagle Channel. MV Ortelius is an ice-strengthened, European-operated expeditionary cruise vessel with comfortable cabins, observation deck and presentation lounge. 

Meals

Breakfast daily; dinner day 4; full board days 5-13.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary Of Nights

15 days, 14 nights: Buenos Aires 2; Ushuaia 1; Antarctic cruise 10; Buenos Aires 1.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso. The ship works with US dollars and accepts credit cards.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

On the cruise ship you can pay your bill for extras at the end of the cruise with a credit card (Visa or Mastercard), or in US dollars or Euros.

For our latest currency advice for Argentina please see our FAQs section.

Daily Spend

Meals and some drinks are included on board the Ortelius. You pay for your extras (in US dollars, Euros or by credit card – Mastercard, Visa or Diner’s Club) at the end of the cruise. 

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have an allowance for cruise ship staff, hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants. On the cruise, a tip of $US 8-10 per person per day for the crew and guides is considered appropriate. 

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Make sure your insurance covers you for the full amount if you have to cancel.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey Grade

The flight to and from Ushuaia is a regular departure operated by a national airline using a commercial jet 

The cruise:

Antarctica is very remote: once committed to your journey, you are at the mercy of the weather and ocean conditions, the melting and freezing of ice-packs, and the movement of icebergs. This is expeditionary cruising: you will be facing the same environmental challenges as the early explorers, albeit in much greater comfort, and with the assistance of modern technology and communications. 

You must be in good health generally and you should be able to walk over slippery and rocky terrain, although the expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although you spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. 

The helicopters accommodate 6 passengers per flight. The flight duration is about 15 minutes. Helicopters will only fly in good weather conditions.

There is a doctor on board but bear in mind that if you have a health issue while on the cruise or an accident it could be a long time and maybe an arduous journey before you return to a destination with good medical facilities, so bear this in mind if you have a pre-existing condition. 

Climate

Buenos Aires is hottest January-March with temperatures of 30-40°C with high humidity.

Tierra del Fuego will be visited in the summer (December-February) when days are long; temperatures can be and mild but snow flurries are not unknown.  March and November can be sunny and clear, but it can be windy. 

Antarctica is visited from late October to March, the southern hemisphere summer. Outside this period days are short and dark. The Peninsula has a typical maritime climate with average temperatures during the cruising season varying between 1°C and -15°C. Antarctica is a desert, so you won’t see much precipitation.

Clothing And Special Equipment

The southern hemisphere summer is hot in Buenos Aires so take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort at this time. Spring and autumn are milder and less predictable.

South America is in general a relaxed continent and you won’t need clothes for formal dining but you may wish to take some smart casual wear for dining on the mainland. 

On the cruise: 
Protective clothing is the single most important way of ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable cruise and the key is to dress in layers. For Antarctic landings we recommend a breathable, thermal base layer to wick away perspiration; a warm mid-layer such as a fleece or down sweater and a wind and waterproof (but breathable) outer shell garment. Trousers should have a thermal lining (or wear a base layer of thermal leggings) and you will need waterproof trousers to wear over them. Plus of course warm socks, hat, scarf, gloves and sunglasses. Rubber boots are essential for Antarctic landings; these can be pre-ordered and are loaned on board free of charge.  Dress on board ship is informal and it’s sensible to bring a spare change of warm, dry clothing for wearing out on deck between landings.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements. 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Travelling Alone

Cruise ships will accept individuals travelling alone who are willing to share a cabin with a person or persons of the same sex, they will be charged a price based on the rate per person according to the size of the cabin (twin, triple or quadruple). If you prefer not to share a cabin you can opt to pay a single cabin supplement.

The Nature Of Antarctic Travel

Once on board ship many factors play a role in shaping the expedition’s progress – the prevailing wind, weather and ice conditions, for example. Ideally, depart the ship by zodiac to explore the peninsula with at least 2 excursions daily – on land, by zodiac or a combination of both, lasting anything between 2-4hrs.  There are no man-made jetties in Antarctica so landfalls are ‘wet landings’ where you scramble ashore from the zodiac in wellingtons and waterproofs. You are then free to explore on your own or in groups, before later being picked up again by zodiac. Evenings may be spent relaxing, reliving the days’ events with a briefing or lecture, or out on the deck, keeping an eye on the dramatic, ever-changing scenery. Itineraries will vary from the original plan if conditions demand/permit. 

It’s a long time at sea, but the variety and intrinsic fascination of what can be seen is spell-binding.

What To See And When

The theatre of wildlife in Antarctica as a whole displays an ever changing narrative of birth, struggle, pleasure, fulfilment and death. You may witness the comedy of a waddling penguin building its nest, a mother bird feeding its young or reuniting with a returning mate; a wily seal escaping the clutches of a hunting whale.

A large variety of marine birds (includes 6 species of penguin – Emperor, King, macaroni, chinstrap, gentoo and Adélie) visit the White Continent. Mammals abound here: blue, orca, humpback, minke and southern right whales prowl the chilly ocean, while Weddell, Ross, crab-eater, leopard and elephant seals sprawl on the beaches. 

Plant life in Antarctica proper is restricted to lichen, mosses and algae but there are hundreds of colourful varieties of these. 

What to see as the season unfolds:
December – January:

  • Long days of summer light, milder temperatures.
  • Penguin chicks hatch in the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Whale sightings increase.

February :

  • Excellent whale-watching opportunities.
  • Penguin chicks begin to fledge.
  • Fur seals increasingly numerous on the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Colourful snow algae break the snow white domination of the landscape.
  • Spectacular sunrises and sunsets add a rosy glow to the ice.

Specific to your cruise:

South Shetland Islands:
Visitors include chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and Adélie penguins; giant petrels, Wilson’s and black-bellied storm petrels, brown and south polar skuas, Cape pigeons, Antarctic terns, blue-eyed shags, Dominican gulls, elephant, fur, 
leopard and crab-eater seals; humpback, minke and orca (killer) whales offshore. 

Weddell Sea:
Emperor penguins

Country info

When To Go

Antarctica is accessible by ship from late Oct- Mar, the southern hemisphere summer. Outside this period, days are short and dark.

Currency

On board your cruise ship you can use US dollars or euros to pay for goods and services. The most popular credit cards are also accepted on most boats.

Time Difference

Officially Antarctica Standard Time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and does not operate daylight-saving. However owing to the Pole’s position at the foot of the world, you can walk through all 24 time zones in a few seconds. Bases and stations tend to keep either the time relating to their home territory or the supply line that feeds them.

Combines With

The Falkland Islands, another wildlife wilderness, frequently visited on longer cruises to Antarctica. A holiday in Argentina; you can spend time at a luxury estancia in Patagonia, or, much further north, visit Buenos Aires and the Iguazú Falls. A beach warm-up and wind-down at Punta del Este, Uruguay, easily reached from Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Getting There

There are no direct flights from the UK to Antarctica. Most European and American visitors take a cruise from Ushuaia, a port on the island of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina at the southern tip of South America, which can be reached via Buenos Aires. There are also fly-cruises from Punta Arenas in Patagonian Chile.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives, local and cruise guides
  • All land and domestic air transport; ocean cruise
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • City tour of Buenos Aires
  • Shore excursions on the Antarctic cruise

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives, local and cruise guides
  • All land and domestic air transport; ocean cruise
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • City tour of Buenos Aires
  • Shore excursions on the Antarctic cruise

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

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    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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    Jamie backpacked across Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil before joining us; he has a degree in politics and is also a keen sportsman..

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    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Product & Marketing

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

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