Antarctic Explorer Discovering the 7th Continent plus Cape Horn & Diego Ramirez
Starting From:£9,690 GBP
Antarctica is an incredible destination with the power to transform those who are fortunate enough to experience it. At Quark Expeditions, we’ve been delivering transformational polar experiences for three decades, and in that time we’ve realized that the more personalized an expedition is, the more enriching the experience will be. That’s why we’ve designed this guide; to help you plan your perfect expedition to the 7th continent.
If this is your first visit, this take on our classic Antarctic Explorer voyage gives you the best of the stunning Antarctic Peninsula, and on this special departure, the chance to land at the historical landmark of Cape Horn, and potentially visit albatross nesting grounds at Diego Ramírez Islands as well. Conquer the famed Drake Passage; explore majestic natural environments by Zodiac and on foot; get up close and personal with penguins, whales and other wildlife; and enjoy talks on history, biology and glaciology by our onboard polar experts.
Antarctica has been inspiring explorers for centuries—now it’s your turn. Be among the first guests on our pioneering new vessel, Ultramarine. This purpose-built vessel is designed to extend the boundaries of polar exploration and offer an unmatched Antarctic experience, including a flightseeing tour you’ll never forget and a range of adventure options more extensive than any other ship in its class. We’re excited to host you on your unforgettable adventure! Please feel free to reach out to our team of Polar Travel Advisers, who are happy to answer your questions and provide assistance at any time.
Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the tango capital of the world, and let us take care of the rest of your journey
Explore highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula
Enjoy helicopter flightseeing from Ultramarine for a unique perspective of the Antarctic Peninsula
Enjoy presentations on wildlife, history, glaciology & geology by our onboard polar experts
Experience abundant wildlife, such as penguins, seals and whales
Visit Cape Horn National Park, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Diego Ramírez Islands, nesting grounds for many albatross
Our portfolio of immersive itineraries allows you to choose where—and how—you’d like to explore the Antarctic with the best expedition team in the Polar Regions.
- Departing From:
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Starting From:
- £9,690 GBP* Per person(Incl. Transfer Package)
- 13 Days
Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.
After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America.
Depending on conditions, we aim to start our journey to the “edge of the earth” with a visit to historic Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). At the southernmost point of the Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire”) archipelago, this steep, rocky headland on Hornos Island marks the northern boundary of the famous Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. From the 1700s to the early 1900s, prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this cape was part of a major global trade route. If sea and weather conditions allow, you may go ashore for a hike out to the lighthouse, the tiny Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”) Chapel, and the albatross-shaped monument honoring the many mariners who lost their lives attempting to “round the Horn.” Atop the 1,394-foot (425 meter)- high windswept promontory, pause for a moment to take in the panoramic view and to enjoy the peaceful solitude that can only be found at one of the most southern stretches of land in the world.
Your ship will then continue cruising farther south, to the Diego Ramírez Islands, the most southern point of South America, a remote and rarely visited site. This small archipelago was actually thought to be the southernmost land mass in the world when it was discovered in 1619 by the Spanish Garcia de Nodal expedition. Named after the expedition’s cosmographer, the archipelago held this distinction for 156 years, until Captain James Cook’s discovery of the South Sandwich Islands in 1775. Weather-permitting, we’ll Zodiac cruise around these tussock grass- covered islands to admire the abundant birdlife. A designated Important Bird Area, and part of the recently-designated Diego Ramirez Islands and Drake Passage Marine Park, the archipelago is home to millions of breeding seabirds, and an exceptional place for birdwatching. Binoculars in hand, birders will marvel at the sight of nesting black-browed albatross and grey-headed albatross. These islands are the southernmost mollymawk albatross breeding ground in the world. Sightings of dolphins, South American fur seals, and rockhopper, macaroni and Magellanic penguins are also possible here.
If conditions look more promising toward the end of your expedition, this itinerary day may take place after your Antarctic Peninsula exploration.
The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage is an adventure unto itself. While being well taken care of by our expert onboard staff and leaders, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the ocean, take pictures of seabirds swooping around the ship, and get to know your Expedition Team and fellow travelers.
Once the Drake Passage is left in our wake and the South Shetland Islands come into view, your Antarctic adventure truly begins. You will begin to appreciate why this region has long captivated the attention of explorers and travelers alike. On every visit to Antarctica, we witness something new or unexpected, which means your expedition will be unlike any other—a unique, personal experience.
Each day, you will take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore local bays, channels and landing sites. With wildlife always at the forefront of our minds, you will visit penguin rookeries, scout for humpback and minke whales, and search for a number of southern seal species, including the cunning leopard seal.
The majesty of the Antarctic Peninsula’s mountains will enchant as you hike snowy pathways to vantage points offering panoramic views of your surroundings. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete isolation and silence, and the next you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into a brilliant blue sea or a penguin waddles by to inspect your footwear.
Amid the serene silence of Antarctica, noisy interludes become indelible memories, such as penguins squabbling over prized pebbles.
Each day will be different, carefully crafted by your Expedition Team to inspire and educate you about this wonderful part of the world.
The journey back across the Drake Passage provides a final opportunity to enjoy the invigorating Antarctic air. Spend time on the deck, watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team and celebrate the experiences you’ve shared exploring the remarkable world of Antarctica.
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a little taste of Patagonia with a Tierra del Fuego National Park tour before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
- Leadership throughout your voyage by our experienced Expedition Team, including shore landings and other activities
- All Zodiac transfers and cruising as per the daily program
- All shore landings as per the daily program
- Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
- All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices 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.)
- Select beer and wine during dinner; and coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock
- Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled
- A photographic journal documenting the expedition
- A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for landings and Zodiac cruising excursions
- An official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep
- Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
- All luggage handling aboard the ship
- Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person
- One 10- to 15-minute helicopter flightseeing excursion (weather and logistics permitting)
- International airfare
- Passport and applicable visa expenses
- Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned
- Meals unless otherwise specified
- Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance—strongly recommended
- Excess-baggage fees on international and domestic flights
- Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac landing and cruising excursions, or any other gear not mentioned
- Laundry, bar, spa services and other personal charges, unless specified
- Phone and Internet charges (connectivity may vary by location)
- Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and shipboard crew
- Additional overnight accommodation
- Arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated
- Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities
All we need is a little bit of information about your travel preferences and one of our Polar Travel Advisors will be in touch.
in open water
Staff and Crew
Ultramarine's off-ship adventures start here on Deck 2. This is where you’ll find the efficiently-designed Ready Rooms A and B next to the Zodiac hangar, where you'll embark on your off-ship adventure options. Ultramarine’s two ready rooms include an individual locker for each guest to safely store and dry personal items and expedition gear between outings. They're also equipped with benches that are handy when changing attire before or after off-ship excursions. Zodiac embarkation is at water-level which makes for quick deployment.
Deck 3 is where you’ll find Reception, where a crew member is available (during posted hours) to assist you. It’s also where you’ll purchase internet or email access cards and phone cards, arrange for a wake-up call, or settle your accounts at the end of the voyage. Also on Deck 3 is the Polar Boutique, which is stocked with expedition gear and a selection of polar souvenirs. The Clinic is located on Deck 3, as are the Explorer Triples and the Explorer Suites (two of which offer modified layouts and bathrooms for wheelchair accessibility).
- Explorer Suite
- Explorer Triple
Deck 4 offers guests two categories of suites. The Balcony Suites feature one double or two single beds, and a 52 sq. ft. (4.8 sq. m) balcony, a refrigerator, safe, TV, and a bathroom with shower and heated floors. (Some Balcony Suites offer interconnecting rooms.) The larger Deluxe Balcony Suites feature one double or two single beds, a 70 sq. ft. (6.5 sq. m) balcony, refrigerator, safe, TV, and a bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
- Deluxe Balcony Suite
- Balcony Suite
Deck 5 is home to Balena restaurant, featuring tables that accommodate 2 to 10 guests. Every seat in Ultramarine’s main restaurant offers views of the wraparound deck. At the opposite end of Deck 5 is the state-of-the-art Ambassador Theatre, where guests enjoy daily presentations and films on the high-definition LED wall screen. This space is large enough to accommodate all guests.
During your voyage you may be granted access to the Bridge to observe how the Captain and officers sail and navigate the ship. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how your vessel operates. Strict etiquette applies during Bridge visits which can be facilitated through the Expedition Leader. Also on Deck 6 is a selection of Deluxe Balcony Suites, Ultra Suite, Solo Panorama, Owner’s Suite and Terrace Suites.
- Ultra Suite
- Owner's Suite
- Terrace Suite
- Deluxe Balcony Suite
- Solo Panorama
- Balcony Suite
Guests can go to Deck 7 to visit Bistro 487, an alternative dining option to the larger Balena restaurant. Here, they'll enjoy selections from the main menu, healthy eating options and light snacks, as well as an early riser’s breakfast, afternoon tea and late night snacks. Also on Deck 7 are the Sauna (with floor-to-ceiling windows), the Library, Tundra Spa, a gym with the latest fitness equipment, and studio space for informal yoga.
- Penthouse Suite
Ultramarine’s two twin-engine H145 helicopters enable guests to enjoy the largest selection of off-ship adventures, all of which start at the two helidecks. It’s here on Deck 8 that guests will safely board the two helicopters to experience more unique aerial perspectives and heli-supported activities than are possible on any other ship in the industry.
If one of your expedition goals is to witness incredible icebergs and sea ice, Cierva Cove is the place for you. A massive glacial face regularly calves into the bay, and the floating ice can be quite spectacular. Seals can be spotted on ice floes, and later in the season, humpback whales occasionally feed in the icy waters.
Damoy Point is the site of a historical ice runway used by the British Antarctic Survey for their flights further south since 1975. The well-maintained hut was used as a staging-post to store supplies and for accommodation while awaiting ideal flying conditions. The point is also home to a penguin rookery and allows for spectacular views of the mountains of Anvers Island.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island’s protected coves were once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise exploring the island passes the rusting remains of a wrecked whaling ship, and provides opportunities to search for humpback whales.
This group of low, glaciated islands in Dallmann Bay is where you may see hauled-out male fur seals as they recuperate from their battles for supremacy at the end of their breeding season.
Located on the south side of Trinity Island and surrounded by stunning ice cliffs and several reefs, Mikkelsen Harbor is a 1.86-mile (3 km)-wide bay, discovered by a Swedish Antarctic expedition in 1901-04. Enjoy a Zodiac cruise of the beautiful waters, or if conditions allow, land at D’Hainaut Island, home to an Argentine refuge and whaling remains in the form of a wooden boat and whale skeletons. Weddell seals are often seen in the area and a gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the island.
A surveyor and a geologist lived in a makeshift shelter utilizing a water boat on this point from 1921 to 1922. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site. The aptly named Waterboat Point is also home to a Chilean Antarctic research station, named González Videla Base after the first sitting head of state to visit the Antarctic continent. When the base is manned, you may be welcomed inside for a visit by the base personnel, or you may visit the resident nesting gentoo rookery if the base is inactive.
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on a rocky beach at the north end of the island. Depending on when in the season you arrive, you may see the penguins building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island.
Home to gentoo penguins, this small dome-shaped island provides you with a stunning view of the Errera Channel.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island
As part of Operation Tabarin during the Second World War, a secret British base was built in this sheltered harbor, located on the west side of Wiencke Island. Now a designated historic site, the base is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases in Port Lockroy support the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, which preserves British and other historic sites dating to the Heroic Age of Exploration. A large gentoo penguin population resides here.
Humpback whales abound in “Whale-mina Bay,” as it’s nicknamed, and the scenery is spectacular. Sheer cliffs and glaciers surround the calm waters of the protected bay, named after Wilhelmina, queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. If you’re lucky, you may see the humpbacks bubble-net feeding: they exhale while swimming in a wide circle below the surface, trapping krill in a “net” of bubbles, and then swim straight up from below, mouths open, to engulf their prey. A truly astounding sight!
One of the most scenic locations on the peninsula’s west coast, this dramatic strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. The channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow, 6.8-mile (11 km)-long passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters.
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see whale vertebrae being used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. Climb up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbor.
Paradise Harbour (Paradise Bay)
Paradise Harbor is a wide bay and natural harbor on the West Antarctic Peninsula. Mountains, glaciers and ice cliffs offer spectacular views. Icebergs regularly calve from the glaciers, providing a place for seals, penguins and seabirds to rest and play. An Argentine research base, Almirante Brown Station—named after Admiral Guillermo Brown, father of the Argentine Navy—is also located in Paradise Harbor, and was operated from 1951 until a large section of it burned down in 1984. It has since been partially rebuilt and is used as a summer research base.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island.
Diego Ramírez Islands
About 62 miles (100 km) southwest of Cape Horn, these little-known islands constitute the southernmost point of South America. They’re also the continent’s most southerly inhabited outpost, as the Chilean Navy maintains a weather station here that was established in 1951. The archipelago is an Important Bird Area, home to nesting albatross, as well as blue petrels, diving petrels and sooty shearwaters.
Deception Island is a flooded circular caldera formed by the collapse of an active volcano. To reach this protected harbor, it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. Inside are several bays used at various times for whaling and scientific research. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach in some locations. The landscape of Deception Island often presents opportunities for longer walks to striking vistas. The stark contrast between snow and dark volcanic sand and the steam along the shoreline from geothermic activity when the tide is right, gives this location an atmospheric feel.
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis). Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals can also be spotted here.
A beautiful spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado petrels breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur and Weddell seals hauled out on the rocks.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery at this harbor, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here, you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune. Enjoy a rare chance for a longer walk along the expansive beach, dotted with historical artifacts and wildlife.
This group of small islands, some still unnamed, is situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife in the area, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries on the islands. Southern elephant and fur seals frequently haul out here, too.
Half Moon Island
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. While they tried to keep this productive location secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skuas.
On the southern coast of Livingston Island at Hannah Point, you may see chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries, along with the occasional breeding macaroni penguin. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, we are able to visit here only after January 10.
Departure Dates and Cabins
All we need is a little bit of information about your travel preferences and one of our Polar Travel Advisors will be in touch.