Antarctic Explorer 2014-15
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.
Day 1 - Ushuaia
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.
- Arrive at any time and perhaps explore Ushuaia
Day 2 - Ushuaia - Embarkation Day
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).
Breakfast | Dinner
- Board the ship set off through the Beagle Channel
Day 3-4 - Drake Passage
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.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Cross Drake Passage and keep an eye out for the abundant birdlife
- Perhaps take in some optional presentations and talks on wildlife, ice and polar history aboard the boat
- Prepare for a noticeable drop in temperature and look overhead for sightings of albatross and petrels
Day 5-8 - South Shetland Islands and Antarctica
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.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Set off on Zodiac boats and cruise the bays, channels and landing sites
- Visit penguin rockeries, scout for humpback and minke whales, orcas and a number of the southern seal species, including the leopard seal
- Scramble up to vantage points in the Peninsula’s mountains
- Visit a Chinstrap Penguin colony high up on a ridge in Orne Harbor
- Perhaps spend time sitting on a pebbled beach as curious penguin chicks approach
- Perhaps be brave enough you can take part in the Polar Plunge, taking a dip in the frigid waters of an icy Antarctic bay
- Be left awestruck by the massive icebergs that come in many different shapes and sizes
- Set foot on the Antarctic continent (if weather permits)
- Spend plenty of time on the bridge or on the deck of the boat, soaking up the incredible views
- Experience the complete silence of Antarctica
Day 9-10 - Drake Passage
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?)
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Journey back across the Drake Passage and spend on deck watching the seabirds and scouting for whales, attending presentations by the Expedition Team or simply relaxing and reminiscing about your experience
Day 11 - Ushuaia
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.
- The trip ends on arrival back to Ushuaia
What to Know
- One night pre-expedition hotel accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia as indicated in the itinerary. (The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available)
- Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping.
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage. (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)
- All shore landings per the daily program.
- Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader, including shore landings and other activities.
- All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program.
- Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled.
- Photographic Journal on DVD, documenting the voyage.
- A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings.
- An official Quark Expeditions parka to keep.
- Coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock.
- Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin.
- Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Antarctic Reader.
- A group transfer upon disembarkation in Ushuaia from the ship to the local airport.
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
- All luggage handling aboard ship.
- Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $100,000 per person.
- Group transfers in Ushuaia from the airport to any local hotel.
- Group transfers from a designated location in Ushuaia to the ship on embarkation day.
- Snowshoes available on loan for shore excursions on designated voyages.
- Headsets available on loan for listening to staff presentations and commentary.
- Access the world’s largest floating collection of polar books and DVD’s in many languages.
- A comprehensive photography program that includes the services of a resident photography instructor, a program of lectures on photography and digital image manipulation, photography focused excursions at landing sites.
- Any airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
- Passport and visa expenses.
- Government arrival and departure taxes.
- Any meals ashore with the exception of breakfast at the host hotel before embarkation and lunch on specified Fly and Cruise programs.
- Baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance.
- Excess baggage charges.
- Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified.
- Telecommunications charges.
- The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew.
- Massage services are available for onboard purchase.
Safety is paramount on a Gecko's voyage. Due to International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by a Gecko's representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
Sail aboard the Ocean Diamond, a modern, stable super-yacht and experience Quark's Antarctica. Carrying a maximum of 189 passengers, this outstanding vessel features numerous adventure options plus onboard amenities such as a massage and wellness program and a well-stocked polar library. The Ocean Diamond is staffed with experienced captains, officers, expedition leaders, and guides.