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Weddel Sea - In search of the emperor penguin (including helicopters), 11 days (OTL23)

The Emperor Penguin rookery is situated south of Snow Hill Island. Although we will probably not be able to reach that far through the ice (less than 50 % chance based on our voyages in the last three seasons), the idea is mainly to situate ourselves in or between the Antarctic Sound and James Ross Island, close to the ice-edge and observe the emperor penguins on their way to the open water. We will use our helicopters in our attempts to search for individual Emperor Penguins and to make scenic flights.

We will start and end the expedition in Ushuaia in the land of fire, Tierra Fuego.


Emperor penguin (klick to enlarge)

Route in short
Day 1: Departure Ushuaia
Dag 2-3: At sea
Dag 4-7: Weddel Sea *)
Dag 8: Half Moon Island
Dag 9-10: At sea
Dag 11: Arrival in Ushuaia and disembark

*) Day 5-6: Alternative program if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi year pack-ice (less than 50% chance)

Read more about the vessel we travel with M/V Ortelius

 Travel date (OTL23-17)
  2017: 26 November - 6 December
 Price (Euro) per person:
 
Type of cabin Price Euro
Quadruple with porthole 9 100 €
Triple with porthole 9 800 €
Twin with porthole 10 350 €
Twin with window 10 800 €
Twin Delux 11 300 €
Twin- och Dubbelhytt Superior *) 11 900 €
Single cabin 1,7 times cabin price
*) The Superior cabin is equiped with a double bed and a single sofa bed. The cabin has at least two windows.

 

 
 The price includes
  • 10 nights onboard Ortelius.
• Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed). *)
• All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
• Free use of rubber boots
• All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
• Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
• All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
• Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).

*) Helicopter will be on board during the voyage. Providing the conditions, such as but not limited to ice and weather conditions, are suitable, the captain of the vessel will position the vessel at a safe and (for the helicopters and helicopter pilots) feasible distance from the intended landing site. Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers will enable us to offer the scheduled shore excursions, but every passenger who participates in those mentioned voyages, understands and accepts that no guarantees can be given, including a specific amount of helicopter time.

 The price do not include
  • Any flights
• Pre- and post land arrangements
• Transfers to the vessel
• Passport and visa expenses
• Government arrival and departure taxes
• Meals ashore
• All items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges
• The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
• Travel insurance (mandatory)
• Cancellation insurance

Program
N.B.!
This is a plan and the program can change, due to weather, ice conditions or other circumstances. Flexibility is the key for a successful expedition!

PLEASE NOTE: A typical itinerary to the Weddell Sea is illustrated below. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. If ice-conditions are favourable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice, we will reschedule our voyage and offer ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (as carried out successfully in 2013) at approx. 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin Rookery. If we succeed, this will be a fascinating and a once-in-a lifetime experience. However, we made attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012, 2013 and 2014. We only succeeded in 2013; therefore the chances to reach Snow Hill Island are indeed less than 50 %.

Day 1: Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Day 2-3 At sea
During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering albatrosses, Grey-headed albatrosses, Black-browed albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty albatrosses, Cape petrels, Southern fulmars, Wilson’s Storm petrels, Blue petrels and Antarctic petrels.

Foto: Hanneke Dallmeijer-Veda
Photo: Hanneke Dallmeijer-Veda

Day 4-7: Weddel Sea
A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.

We will sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

During these days we use the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we were always able to locate emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us - helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.


Helicopters are used to extend our reach and to get great panorama views over the area. (Click to enlarge)

Possible landing sites is for example Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbling boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is complete with thousands of adelie penguins nesting on the slopes, and a few gentoos mixed in for fun.


Brown Bluff is a remarkable place were a gigantic explosion happen million years ago when a glacier melted into a vulcano. Here we find gentoos and adelei penguins.

Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area usually only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual emperor penguins and adelie Penguins on the ice floes; cape, snow and giant Petrels fly high in the sky while kelp gulls, skuas and wilson’s storm petrels scavenge down below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.


We use our helicopters to do scenic flights over the area. We might be able to reach the emperor penguin collony.
(Klick to enlarge)

A beautiful helicopter flight over huge blue ice bergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors.

If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adelie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.


Ortelius is parked as far as possible in the ice.

On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for emperor penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; chinstraps, gentoo and adelies.

Day 8: Half Moon Island & Deception Island
In the morning we plan to visit Half Moon Island where we can see chinstrap and gentoo penguins, various other bird-species and southern elephant seals and Weddell seals.
Early in the afternoon we will sail to Deception Island where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay.


Deception Island - Photo: Mikael Grönvik, Grönlandsresor

Day 9-10: At sea
In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.

Foto: Rinie van Meurs

Day 11: Ushuaia
We arrive in the morning and disembark.

 

Day 5-6: Alternative program if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice (less than 50 % chance)


The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.


Terms and conditions
Read the terms and conditions here

Resevillkor
Läs resevillkoren här »

 

   
 


Foto: Mike Murphy
Foto: Mike Murphy

 

Foto: Rinie van Meurs
Foto: Rinie van Meurs

 

Photo: Erwin Vermeulen
I can fly! A chinstrap pinguin at take off!

 

Photo: Mikael Grönvik, Grönlandsresor
Photo: Mikael Grönvik, Grönlandsresor
I'm not talking to you! A pair of Gentoos disagrees about something

 

Photo: Jamie Scherbeijn
Gentoo Penguin sounding out there characteristic "song".

 

Photo: Erwin Vermeulen
Wandering Albatros

 

Photo: Rob Tully
An elephant seal newborn

 

Photo: F. Banfi
Chinstrap Penguin

 

Photo: Wim van Passel
Maccaroni penguin


Emperor penguin

 

Photo: Jan Veen-Veda
Blue Eyed Shags