|Antarctica, Argentina, Chile|
If you’re looking for a more efficient Antarctic experience, this is it. You will cruise south across the Drake Passage and experience the first Antarctic land and wildlife sightings with your fellow shipmates. After your penguin, seal, whale, iceberg and glacier cravings have been satisfied, you’ll take the relaxing way home by flying from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile.
This quaint city at the southernmost tip of South America is your gateway to Antarctica. The city itself provides a wide range of jewellery shops, cafés, gear shops and restaurants to explore before your voyage. Outside the city, snow-capped mountains and hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park offer ample adventure activities if you enjoy exploring nature.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
You will embark in the afternoon, with a journey through the picturesque Beagle Channel. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled and be out on deck, as the channel is home to a wide variety of wildlife including seabirds and seals.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Legendary for its high winds and rolling seas, you may get lucky and have surprisingly calm seas. Spend your time in the lounge or chatting with your fellow travelers. As you develop your sea legs during the crossing, our Expedition Team will begin their series of presentations to help prepare you for your upcoming Zodiac and land excursions. You officially enter Antarctica when your ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence, a biological boundary that fluctuates around 60° south.
Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
Icebergs are the first attractions that welcome you to Antarctica. Massive floating bergs become more common as you get closer to land and you catch your first glimpse of the Peninsula, with its grand snow-covered mountains. In addition to spotting icebergs, you’ll likely spot Adélie penguins chilling out on ice floes and minke or humpback whales feeding and swimming in the frigid waters.
As soon as possible, the Zodiacs will be readied for your first landing in the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Experiencing this immense wilderness up close for the first time can be a numbing experience. The silence is great, the vastness is even greater. Thankfully the noisy locals – penguins and seals – are there to remind you that this wonderful landscape isn’t just a dream.
Your Expedition Team will monitor the ice and weather conditions to determine which landing sites can be visited. With many sites to choose from, each expedition presents new opportunities for exploring the white continent by Zodiac and land. Swimming in Antarctica is perhaps the most adventurous option to tempt you, by taking a Polar Plunge in the water at Neko Harbour!
A typical day in this wildlife wonderland will be spent listening to calving glaciers at Petermann Island, watching penguins waddle around a beach, or taking a hike atop a hill for a panoramic view of Port Lockroy. Whatever you prefer, the photographic opportunities are endless.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
As the ship turns north, you’ll say goodbye to the penguins, as well as many of your shipmates. With only the Drake Passage ahead, you’ll disembark and enjoy a bit of time on King George Island before flying off to Punta Arenas, Chile. Once you’re in Punta Arenas, we’ll transfer you from the airport to your hotel, where you’re free to explore and enjoy a final dinner out.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
The trip ends today in Punta Arenas.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
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.
Argentinean Reciprocity Fee (visitor visa)
This will now be done entirely ONLINE, effective October 31, 2012 (for arrivals to Aeroparque airport) and December 28, 2012 (for arrivals to Ezeiza airport).
Until now, this fee was paid upon arrival at the airport. From the dates listed above, US/AUS/CAN tourist or business visitors must pay the reciprocity rates with their credit card through the online system. After these dates, cash payments will NOT be accepted at the airports.
The rates are USD160 for Americans, USD100 for Australians and USD75 for Canadians, for single entry.
How to pay the reciprocity fee online:
• Visit www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar and register to start the process
• Fill out the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information
• Print the payment receipt
• Present the printed receipt at Immigration Control on arrival in Argentia. The receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and entry to the country will be registered
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!
18 September 2013