Expedition to Antarctica Aboard L'Austral
Explore the Earth's last frontier aboard M.S. L'Astral , one of the finest vessels in Antarctica, featuring private balconies in 95% of the ocean-view staterooms. On this unique 14-day itinerary featuring nine nights aboard ship, experience fantastically shaped icebergs, turquoise glaciers, bustling penguin rookeries and breaching whales. Join an expedition team of world-class naturalists and board sturdy Zodiac craft for excursions. Enjoy two nights in Buenos Aires. Optional extension to Iguazú Falls.
Arrive in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and check into the Five-Star InterContinental Buenos Aires Hotel, ideally located within walking distance of the Presidential Palace (Casa Rosada) and the fin-de-siècle Avenida de Mayo. This evening, attend the Welcome Reception. InterContinental Buenos Aires Hotel (R)
Birthplace of the tango, Buenos Aires is a city of diverse and dynamic barrios (neighborhoods). See the erstwhile Italian district of La Boca, Monserrat’s grand public buildings, historic Plaza de Mayo, Palermo’s lavish parks, Puerto Madero’s fashionable riverfront community and the charming old quarter of San Telmo. Discover the elaborate vaults and majestic mausoleums of Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Argentina’s iconic former First Lady, Eva Perón. InterContinental Buenos Aires Hotel (B)
Fly to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and gateway to Antarctica. Embark LE BORÉAL this afternoon and cruise through historic Beagle Channel, named for the research vessel in which Charles Darwin surveyed the coast of South America from 1861 to 1865. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. L'Astral (B,R,D)
Cross the legendary Drake Passage and watch for wandering albatrosses, diving petrels and breaching fins of humpback whales feeding from nutrient-rich waters formed by the Antarctic Convergence. Your expedition team of naturalists will present insightful lectures, preparing you for your first landing in Antarctica. During the evening, enjoy the lingering twilight of the Antarctic summer. L'Astral (B,L,D)
Continue across the Drake Passage. Please note that the ship’s cruising pattern and positionings are dependent on weather, ice and sea conditions and are subject to change. L'Astral (B,L,D)
Cruise below the 60th parallel south to the outer shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula, Earth’s last frontier. Here, explore some of the world’s most pristine wilderness, where towering mountains of ice and volcanic rock create precipitous coastlines and islands, and ever-changing patterns of ice stretch as far as the eye can see. In this seemingly harsh environment, a vast array of marine wildlife flourishes, including millions of penguins, countless seabirds and thousands of seals and whales. An otherworldly topography of volcanoes and glaciers, populated with riveting wildlife and historic outposts unfolds, completely immersing you in the irresistible nuances of Earth’s most inaccessible continent for the complete Antarctic experience. Journey through breathtaking, glacier-lined Neumayer Channel to rugged Goudier Island. Visit Port Lockroy, an intelligence post for British espionage during World War II and converted to a scientific base in the 1950s. Nestled among serene mountain peaks as high as 6000 feet, the surrounding grounds are populated by blue-eyed shags and gentoo penguins. At the living museum known as “Base A”, gain insight into the daily life at the former research station and mail a postcard with an Antarctica postmark from the official British Post Office. L'Astral (B,L,D)
The rocky shores of Jougla Point on Wiencke Island offer a rare opportunity to view the skeletal remains of an adult blue whale and to see populous colonies of gentoo penguins and kelp gulls that inhabit the entire region. Call at Petermann Island, the southernmost point of your journey, where you can observe thriving rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins, blue-eyed shags, leopard seals and humpback whales. Flanked by sheer cliffs of towering glaciers between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island, pass through the translucent waters of the seven-mile-long Lemaire Channel, known as the “Kodak Gap” for its breathtaking mountain scenery. L'Astral (B,L,D)
Listen for the low rumbling of Rudolf Glacier as it calves colossal icebergs into Neko Harbor, named for an early 20th-century Scottish whaling boat. Surrounded by soaring glaciers and snow-covered mountains, this spectacular harbor is one of the most dramatic and spectacular sights of your expedition. Here, make your first continental landing in Antarctica. L'Astral (B,L,D)
In Paradise Bay, crystal cliffs of ice descend from the glaciated mountains into iceberg-laden waters along the Antarctic Peninsula’s western coast. Named by 19th-century whalers who sought shelter in its coves, it provides an ideal sanctuary for marine wildlife including humpback whales, crabeater seals and Cape petrels. The rim of a dormant volcano crater, Deception Island encircles the Port Foster caldera. The ship enters through Neptune’s Bellows, a sublime harbor ringed by snowcapped peaks and sheer cliffs. In Pendulum Cove, see the steaming, geothermally heated shallows. L'Astral (B,L,D)
Observe the astounding colony of over 100,000 pairs of chinstrap penguins at Baily Head. Walk along the black-sand beaches of Telefon Bay to nearby craters for firsthand insight into the pivotal volcanic activity that created the island and shaped the natural history of the region. One of the smallest but most alluring of the South Shetland Islands, crescent-shaped Half Moon Island is known for its craggy volcanic rock formations and tranquil lagoons. It is also the site of Cámara Station, a base monitored by Argentine biologists studying regional wildlife. Here, observe the antics of the island’s colony of chinstrap penguins. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. L'Astral (B,L,R,D)
Cross the Drake Passage and enjoy informative discussions about your Antarctic experience with the ship’s naturalists. L'Astral (B,L,D)
Disembark and fly to Buenos Aires. Continue on the Iguazú Falls Post-Program Option with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires or depart for the U.S. (B)
Cost and Details
This is an active tour in a remote location. For the safety and enjoyment of each participant and the group, participants must be able to:
- Walk on excursions often covering distances of at least one mile or more.
- Be able to walk ashore over rugged or uneven and/or slippery terrain.
- Negotiate a steep gangway and get in and out of the Zodiac inflatable landing crafts with minimal assistance.
- Have your doctor’s sign off on the Required Health Statement stating that you are sufficiently fit to embark on such an excursion.