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Birds

. Legendary Snow Hill: March to the Emperor Penguins

14 days

Last offered by Quark Expeditions in 2010, this is your chance to be a part of polar history. You’ll have the rare opportunity to observe one of the most spectacular sights in the wild: the elusive emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island, whose existence was first confirmed in 1997, and to which the first ground visit was conducted by Quark in 2004. 

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina

You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentine hot spot is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or savor some handcrafted chocolate at a café in town.

Day 2 — Embarkation Day

In late afternoon, we will transfer you and your fellow travelers from your group hotel to the pier, where you’ll board Kapitan Khlebnikov. This iconic icebreaker should be instantly recognizable at the port, as the shape and bulk are distinctive, especially from a distance. 

Days 3 and 4 — At Sea

Crossing the legendary Drake Passage is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and seals are. With ideal weather conditions, your passage could be relatively easy, but be prepared for some rough seas in case the Drake lives up to its reputation.

Days 5 to 11 — Weddell Sea and Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin Colony

As we approach the island, remember that no two polar expeditions are alike, particularly this voyage through the icy Weddell Sea, since landings and wildlife sightings are determined by weather and ice conditions, as well as the natural cycles of the wildlife. But it’s exactly this element of the unknown that makes expedition-style travel so exhilarating and adventurous.

That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, such as landings, wildlife sightings, helicopter sightseeing and ice—truly massive amounts of ice! Having broken away from the ice shelf, large tabular icebergs, so named for their plateau-like flat top and steep sides, will signal your arrival to Antarctica. 

Located on sea ice, the emperor rookery is situated some distance from Snow Hill Island, so your captain will navigate your ship to a position in the ice that’s within helicopter range of the rookery. As we draw near, a few curious penguins may be attracted to the open water by the ship, so keep your eyes peeled for them. Deployed in a rotation of flights, our on-board helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, yet still at a safe distance (at least 0.75 nautical miles/1.4 km), to protect the birds. Since you must carry all your own gear for the entire distance to the rookery and back across sea ice several feet thick, you’ll want to keep items in your backpack to a minimum. A must-bring, however, should be your camera. 

Days 12 and 13 — At Sea

A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. Share stories and photos with your shipmates in the lounge, relax in our Polar Library or attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, who may even screen documentaries. Lecture topics can range from the Historic Age of Exploration to whales of the Southern Ocean.

Day 14 — Disembark in Ushuaia

This morning, you’ll say farewell to your Expedition Team and fellow travelers before disembarking to catch your homeward flights.

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Pre- and Post-Trip Options

Introduction to Buenos Aires Package

Savour a spectacular bottle of Malbec with fine Argentine steak, explore street art in colourful San Telmo or experience the world-class shopping on Avenida Florida. Discover the elegant beauty of Buenos Aires, a city that melds European charm with the frenzied pace of Latin life. This package includes a guided tour of the city’s impressive highlights, from the quaint, cobbled plazas to its most sophisticated neighbourhoods. In the evening, you will enjoy a spectacular dinner and tango show with a live orchestra. Please contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser for pricing.

. South Georgia to Cape Verde: Secret Islands, Rare Birds, and Legendary Explorers

33 days

On this brand-new avian adventure across the Atlantic—sailing from the far south, near the Antarctic Circle, to just off the northwest coast of Africa—you’ll truly get away from it all, journeying to volcanic islands that are so isolated and so rugged, many remain inaccessible and uninhabitable to all but the most unique wildlife.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

Day 1 — Embarkation Day in Ushuaia, Argentina

At the southernmost tip of South America, the quaint city of Ushuaia is the gateway for your voyage, offering a range of museums, shops, cafés and restaurants to explore before you embark your ship this afternoon. Once aboard, we’ll sail through the scenic Beagle Channel, looking out for seals, sea lions and seabirds. Be sure to be out on deck, ready to take it all in as your Atlantic adventure begins.

Day 2 — At Sea

While you’re at sea, dynamic presentations by our on-board experts will prepare you for all the excitement that lies ahead.

Days 3 and 4 — Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Upon arrival in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), you’ll be greeted by a feeling of rugged remoteness. Here, your camera will be put to work capturing the abundant wildlife and vibrant landscape. The archipelago contains two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, which you will experience up close by Zodiac and during shore landings.

Days 5 and 6 — At Sea

Sailing to South Georgia, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence, an invisible biological transition region encircling Antarctica. This meeting of oceans, where the cold Antarctic waters mingle with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is what creates the abundance of krill and marine life that attracts several species of whales (including humpback, blue, fin and southern right whales) to the area. Your Expedition Team will also keep an eye out for the Falkland skuas, thin-billed prions, and three species of petrels (southern giant, Wilson’s storm and common diving) that frequent the region.

Days 7 and 8 — South Georgia

South Georgia was a popular stop for many Antarctic expeditions and was once the world’s largest whaling center, and where elephant and furs seals were hunted nearly to extinction. As you’ll witness firsthand, wildlife populations have rebounded, but you’ll still see remnants of old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts scattered across the island.

Days 9 to 13 — At Sea

Your next few days at sea can be as busy or as relaxing as you like. You can attend presentations, peruse the books in our polar library or chat with your shipmates in the lounge, but we’ll bet you’ll want to enjoy the expansive ocean views from the bridge, spotting whales and seabirds. As we move to warmer waters, we might see our first subtropical species like the sooty albatross, spectacled petrel or great-winged petrel.

Days 14 to 17 — Tristan da Cunha Islands

With a long history of early oceanic exploration, the Tristan da Cunha archipelago has seen its share of shipwrecks. The most famous was the British Blenden Hall, destroyed in 1821 en route to Bombay (now Mumbai). Fortunately, all but two aboard survived. Isolated and with a rugged, volcanic terrain, most of these small islands host an abundance of birdlife and remain uninhabited to this day.

Days 18 to 22 — At Sea

We offer many activities to keep you engaged and entertained while at sea. Whatever you do—or don’t do!—take a moment to reflect on the amazing creatures you’ve encountered so far. Be sure to keep a lookout for the dolphins and seabirds that inhabit these subtropical waters.

Day 23 — St. Helena Island

The most inhabited of the islands we’ll visit, with 4,500 people living in the capital of Jamestown, St. Helena boasts a wealth of military history and was a major port of call for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa. Although the island was discovered in 1502 by the Portuguese, it remained “hidden” to the English until 1588, when Sir Thomas Cavendish visited to stock up on supplies for his return from a round-the-world voyage (it’s believed, however, that Sir Francis Drake likely located it earlier, during his 1577–80 global circumnavigation).

Days 24 and 25 — At Sea

These sea days take you to the islands farthest north in the British overseas territory of St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Britain’s second-oldest remaining colony. Seabird sightings may include Madeiran storm and Bulwer’s petrels. 

Days 26 and 27 — Ascension Island and Boatswain Bird Island

At first glance, Ascension may seem stark and completely barren (Charles Darwin, on a brief visit in 1836, famously called it arid and treeless). Indeed, most of the island’s 34 square miles (88 sq. km) are surreal, covered with lava flows and cinder cones, but you’ll spot several surprises along the coast: sandy beaches dramatically tucked in between mounds of striking black volcanic rock. The biggest of these is Long Beach, in the capital of Georgetown. Unsuitable for swimming, the beach is a major nesting site for thousands of giant green turtles, who journey from their feeding grounds in Brazil. Wildlife lovers will marvel as we try to view, from a safe distance, some of the females laying their eggs in the sand.  

Days 28 to 32 — At Sea

Bid adieu to your South Atlantic adventure, as your final destination, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde), awaits! As your ship surges north, crossing the equator, take a moment to swap stories and photos with your shipmates. Time spent out on deck may reward you with sightings of whale pods and dolphin pods.

Day 33 — Disembark in Praia, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

After breakfast aboard the ship, it’s time to part ways with your Expedition Team and newfound friends. With a reputation for morabeza (“hospitality” in Creole), Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) offers many activities, restaurants and hotels for passengers itching to explore more. Eager to experience North Africa or return to the comforts of home? From here, you can catch flights to a number of international destinations.

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. Crossing the Circle: Southern Expedition

14 days

Not only does this expedition include the most in-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula, it also offers the opportunity to venture further south across the Antarctic Circle. As you head towards a milestone few travelers reach, you’ll feel you are in a world without borders, sailing through an endless stretch of sea, snow and ice.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina

You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America.

Day 2 — Embarkation Day

As the ship sets sail in the late afternoon, you will begin your Antarctic journey, passing through the Beagle Channel. The channel opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean, where your next land sighting will be along the Antarctic Peninsula.

Days 3 and 4 — Crossing the Drake Passage

The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies and a calm ocean.

Days 5 to 7 — Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make a final approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready, as the continent’s coastline will make its first appearance, signaling the start of your adventure in the realm of the Antarctic.

Days 8 and 9 — Antarctic Circle

Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Peninsula do not reach this far south, which is officially noted at 66° 33' S.

Days 10 and 11 — Northbound Along the Peninsula

As you head north, Zodiac excursions will fill your days, and your Expedition Team will continue offering presentations while giving you time to reflect on everything you’ve experienced.

Days 12 and 13 — Crossing the Drake Passage

As you recross the Drake, Antarctica fades away, leaving you with a collection of memories to last a lifetime. Your Expedition Team will round up its series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of the great landing sites and wildlife you’ve witnessed over the course of your voyage.

Day 14 — Disembark in Ushuaia

Today you’ll say goodbye to your Expedition Team and fellow travelers, disembarking in the morning to catch your homeward flights.
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Adventure Options

Not very many people have the opportunity to say they’ve camped on the 7th Continent. This is one of the best ways to experience Antarctica in a more intimate manner, and take your expedition to the next level.

Camping is available on most Antarctic voyages and has a limited number of spots. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.

Pricing subject to change based on season. Please proceed to checkout or contact a Polar Travel Adviser for more details. 

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Pre- and Post-Trip Options

Introduction to Buenos Aires Package

Savour a spectacular bottle of Malbec with fine Argentine steak, explore street art in colourful San Telmo or experience the world-class shopping on Avenida Florida. Discover the elegant beauty of Buenos Aires, a city that melds European charm with the frenzied pace of Latin life. This package includes a guided tour of the city’s impressive highlights, from the quaint, cobbled plazas to its most sophisticated neighbourhoods. In the evening, you will enjoy a spectacular dinner and tango show with a live orchestra. Please contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser for pricing.

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