Punta Arenas, Chile
Air, Local Sightseeing, Flightseeing, All
USD USD USD USDPrice over $151
Information not currently available.
Approximately 11 hours
This tour, due to its fascinating and unique nature, comes with a very special set of conditions and alternatives. Please be sure to read the tour description in its entirety to make sure you are clear on what is involved, and be sure to read the associated notes below, to ensure that you are aware of what takes place if weather-related changes or capacity-related cancellations occur.
Antarctica covers an area of more than five million square miles and is the windiest, coldest and least-populated of planet Earth's seven continents. It differs from the Arctic in that there are no terrestrial animals in Antarctica, but there is terra firma under much of the snow and ice. All the wildlife consists of seasonal visitors that come ashore in the spring and summer, and an impressive show of birdlife in the form of penguins, as well as seals with lunch on their minds hunting the penguins or languishing on the ice for a mid-morning nap. Antarctica's massive ice sheet, covering almost the entire continent, represents the largest freshwater reserve in the world, containing approximately 90% of the world's ice and 68% of its water. Surprisingly, however, Antarctica is also the driest continent in the world -- drier than the Sahara Desert.
This fantastic excursion to the far reaches of the world is designed for our more adventurous and hardy guests -- those who wish to follow in the footsteps of the great explorers and adventurers of yesteryear -- Shackleton, Mawson, Amundsen and Scott.
Your expedition begins with a motorcoach transfer to the airport in Punta Arenas. If favorable weather conditions prevail, you will board a BAE-146 aircraft and take to the skies, setting a course southward over the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego Island, the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn. You will cross the Antarctic Convergence, where the Southern Ocean collides with the circumpolar Antarctic current, the natural boundary of Antarctica and, at latitude 60 degrees south, the political boundary as you enter Antarctic airspace.
During the 2½-hour flight, you will learn about the presence of human beings on the White Continent, as well as its history, geography, wildlife and politics. You will hear specifically about King George Island and all that you will see and do there. There will be a special emphasis on minimizing your impact on the pristine and fragile ecosystem (IAATO Guidelines of Conduct for Antarctica Visitors).
Your aircraft will land at Bellinghausen airstrip, which serves Frei Base and is managed by the Chilean Air Force. The base is one of the main meteorological and navigational stations in Antarctica and is composed of approximately 21 main buildings shared by eight nations. Chile's station was built in 1969 and houses 150 people during the summer months. The base is situated on an ice-free area of the island as, logistically speaking, less snow is better.
As you disembark from the aircraft, brace for below-freezing temperatures and for the utterly other-worldly experience of realizing you have just set foot in Antarctica -- a rare privilege and an event that will profoundly affect you.
Separating into small groups, you will begin your exploration of Antarctica, specifically focusing on the wildlife that migrates to this region.
Your first activity will be a one-mile walk on a dirt road to Villa Las Estrellas -- the Village of the Stars. Estrellas consists of permanent housing and scientific facilities for researchers and Chilean Air Force personnel. You will find that the buildings are neither luxurious nor charming -- but they are quintessentially Antarctic.
Weather permitting, you will board a Zodiac to cross over to Ardley Island -- ASPA #150 (Antarctic Special Protected Area). Ardley is one of the Antarctic's most protected areas where chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie penguins breed. Because of its status, only 20 persons are allowed on the island at one time. You will be accompanied by a certified Antarctic guide. The remainder of your day includes time in the Antarctic and the chance to wander about the local base.
Spend approximately four hours on land before re-boarding your aircraft for the return flight to the South American mainland. Enjoy a late lunch on board the flight before arriving in Punta Arenas, where you will re-board the ship, infinitely richer for your amazing day at the edge of the world.
Bring your passport. Items listed cannot be rented in Punta Arenas. A minimum number of participants must be met in order for this tour to operate. Torres del Paine National Park will be offered as an alternative route in the event that the Antarctica landing does not operate because of weather (historically a 50% chance). The tour price will be reduced to reflect the new route -- cost per person for Torres del Paine is $1,199. No cancellations will be possible due to the pre-reserved charter of the airplane and boxed lunches. Cancellation Terms & Conditions: Outside of 16 days prior to the service date -- no cancellation fee; 15 to 0 days prior to the service date: 100% penalty. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. Warm winter clothing is acceptable, similar to what you would wear if you were going skiing in a cold-climate area. Waterproof boot covers are provided, so sturdy hiking shoes are adequate. Other items listed below are suggestions that may make your experience more comfortable:
• Waterproof trekking boots suitable for snow/mud
• 2 pairs of thin wool socks and 2 pairs of thick wool socks
• 2 pairs of polar fleece or thick waterproof pants
• Windproof Gore Tex pants or ski pants
• 2 long-sleeved woolen t-shirts (no cotton) and 2 polar fleece sweatshirts
• Thin wool or polar fleece gloves and a pair of thick ski-type gloves or mittens
• Long winter parka made of Gore Tex
• Ski headband or earmuffs and woolen hat
• Scarf or neckwarmer
• Ski goggles
• Thermal/woolen long underwear
• First aid kit including prescribed medications in case of one or more unexpected overnights
• High SPF sunblock/sunscreen, lip balm, toiletries
• Camera, batteries and SD cards
• Backpack and/or fanny pack