Jump in Zodiacs to explore penguin rockeries and scout for humpback whales, orcas and leopard seals. Scramble up Orne Harbor view colonies of chinstrap penguins. Hike. Sit on the pebbled beach and introduce yourself to curious penguin chicks. Take the Polar Plunge (swimsuit optional). Cruise past icebergs as big as a city block. Set foot on the Antarctic continent. Tear up your bucket list.
The Pan American Highway ends here. If you got on your bike and started riding, in 17,848km you’d reach Alaska. You’d probably also be really tired. Free time here to do what you like before we embark on the big voyage.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Settle into the Geckos Adventurer, where each cabin has ocean views, an ensuite and a flat screen TV with DVD player. Possibly nicer than your actual bedroom. Then we’ll set off through the Beagle Channel (no actual beagles here, sadly).
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
If a shadow falls over the deck, don’t be alarmed. It’s probably just an albatross with its 3.5m wingspan flying overhead. The temperature will start to drop, so break out your expedition boots and parka for when we hit the islands (we’ll provide these at the start of the trip). You’ll feel slightly underdressed around the penguins but at least you’ll be able to feel your fingers.
Meals included: 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners
Spend the next few days pinching yourself (among other things), because you’ve finally made it. One of the optional activities is camping on the ice. You pitch the tent, we’ll provide the sleeping bags, and Antarctica will do the rest. One thing to note, seals are pretty big on spooning so just make sure you know who you’re cuddled up against when the temperature drops.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Make the most of “home” as we head back through the Drake Passage. There’s onboard massage therapy, yoga classes, aromatherapy treatments, a polar library, photography program and a fully-stocked bar (but you’ve already found that, haven’t you?)
Meals included: 1 breakfast
The trip is over, but once you’ve got your land legs back why not check out Tierra del Fuego National Park, Museum at the End of the World or Lake Escondido.
These Trip Notes should be read in conjunction with Gecko’s Antarctica pre-departure information that is provided to you shortly after booking (or which can be requested prior to booking). A second information manual dealing with Antarctic history, geology, geography, marine and bird life will also be provided.
1. Budgeting: in addition to funds for onboard expenses, it is sometimes possible to purchase souvenirs such as books, t-shirts, stamps, postcards, windcheaters, caps and similar items at some of the research stations in the Antarctic Peninsula area. Mail can sometimes be posted from these stations as well. Transactions are usually in US dollars cash.
2. Clothes: please read our Antarctic pre-departure information carefully. Although you don’t need to make expensive, specialist-clothing purchases for this trip, you will need clothes that adequately protect against cold and wet conditions. (Sea spray is common on board Zodiacs). It is recommended that you have warm, waterproof clothing available for use upon arrival in Ushuaia, to protect yourself against the inclement weather.
3. Motion sickness: the waters of the Drake Passage can be some of the roughest seas in the world, although at other times they are so smooth that it is referred to as the 'Drake Lake'! Although our vessel is among the most stable ship in its class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
4. Gratuities: we suggest you allow the equivalent of US$11-13 a day for gratuities for the crew and expedition staff. This is usually collected just prior to the end of the cruise. If you wish, the amount can be paid by Visa or MasterCard.
5. Sea kayaking: there are separate Trip Notes for the sea kayaking option. Please note that this option must be booked prior to your departure from home and it cannot be booked on the ship. Some prior experience is required.
6. Camping: if you chose to camp on the continent, we’ll provide all the required gear such as tents or bivouac (or 'bivy') sacs and sleeping bags. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations - a portable toilet is used and absolutely everything is transported back to the ship afterwards. Please note that this option must be booked prior to your departure from home, it cannot be booked on the ship. Spaces are limited.
Gecko's Voyage Documentation
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar regions with Gecko's, you will be required to complete a series of online forms. You will be sent a link via email (my polar forms) which will take you to an enrolment form, cruise contract, medical form, arrival/departure information form and expedition parka size order form. These forms must be completed.
Please note that the exploratory nature of this expedition involving weather, ice, wildlife or other mitigating factors may require that unscheduled or last-minute changes be made to the itinerary, sometimes resulting in the cancellation of certain shore excursions. Every effort will be made to adhere to the itinerary, within the limits of safety and time constraints.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
8 January 2014