For everyone wondering which Antarctica itinerary and company I went with, this post is for you! Here you will find a general outline of the 10 Day “Discovering the 7th Continent” itinerary with the fantabulous Quark Expeditions!
I specifically chose this itinerary because it was during the summer (December), it offered paddleboarding and kayaking, and it had a 40% off special! A lot of the itineraries for the rest of the summer still have discounts so be sure to browse through a few options! I also HIGHLY recommend going with Quark! They made my lifelong bucketlist goal the best experience imaginable!
One thing they downplayed which I’m going to go ahead an up-play for them, is that the ship that does this itinerary, the Ocean Endeavor, is a HEALTH AND WELLNESS SHIP which means there’s a SPA with massages, yoga classes, a sauna, and even a heated pool (that’s only filled when the waters are calm enough). SO AWESOME!!
Things to note about itineraries:
You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary, and you will independently transfered to the group hotel (pre-night hotel included).
You can also arrive a few days earlier to explore Buenos Aires, but you’ll have to get your own hotel. This may be a way to find a cheaper flight though, and also, hotels and AirBnB’s aren’t that expensive in BA!
After breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will have a little time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier.
It’s a super cute little town, so definitely try to take a stroll around! Also last chance for any additional clothing/supplies!
Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you’ll see land you’ll be in the world’s most southern continent!
Prepare yourself for potentially rough water, but hope for a smooth sailing, as the Drake is unpredictable and always changing. You’ll spend these first days getting to know your shipmates while your Expedition Team provides safety briefings and insights into what excitement lies ahead.
TAKE THE SEA SICK MEDS THE DOCTOR GIVES YOU ONBOARD! Better yet: Bring Dramamine (or other non-drowsy meds), patches, and bracelets from home! Don’t feel embarrassed if you get sick or don’t feel well (I puked 3 times), it is expected, and most people sleep during the Drake Passage crossing. We even built “The Cave” in our living room (dark and comfy) and watched movies most of the time.
Also, don’t be afraid when the boat starts to rock…it is highly unlikely it will tip over, even if it feels that way because you can’t walk straight.
Once the Antarctic Convergence is left in our wake, you will truly begin your Antarctic adventure. It is perhaps the first sight of land itself that is embraced as the true beginning of any Antarctic expedition. You will begin to appreciate why this region has long captivated the attention of explorers and travelers alike. Every time we visit Antarctica, we witness something new or unexpected, which means that your expedition will be unlike any other—creating a unique, personal experience.
It’s literally like night and day going from the Drake Passage to opening your porthole window on calm waters and seeing ANTARCTICA!
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 expedition team literally found and brought us to every animal you can imagine seeing. Like, someone is on whale-watch duty all the time even when the ship is cruising, and they make announcements when they spot them!
The majesty of the Antarctic Peninsula’s mountains will enchant as you scramble up snowy pathways to vantage points offering you 360° views of your surroundings. One of these in particular, in Danco Island, affords us the opportunity to visit a penguin colony high up on a ridge. Here, you’ll have the choice between hiking to the island’s summit or spending time sitting quietly on a pebbled beach, enjoying the antics of curious penguins. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, participating in the Polar Plunge swim is about as crazy as it gets!
The hikes are super easy to do and definitely worth the views! YES the Polar Plunge is cold, but a MUST DO!!!
Amid the serene silence of Antarctica, noisy interludes become indelible memories, such as penguins squabbling over prized pebbles, or the boom and crack of a calving glacier in Neko Harbour.
Seeing a glacier/iceberg “calve” (a piece breaks off) is SO COOL!! You’ll find yourself staring at them for hours waiting to break!
Each day will be different, having been carefully crafted by your Expedition Team to entertain and educate you about this wonderful part of the world.
The Expedition Team is AMAZING and I want them all to be my best friends. They’re not only extremely knowledgable and experiences, but a lot of fun and wickedly entertaining! Always sit at tables with empty seats when you eat because they’ll randomly just come join you for meals!
This is all weather dependent. We skipped Shetland Islands because of a storm BUT got insanely great weather the rest of the time and got to go to a super rare island instead. But overall expect to have 3 days of landings and cruises, each with 1-3 excursions!
The journey back across the Drake Passage provides final opportunities to enjoy the crisp Antarctic air. Spend time on the deck, watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, or simply relax and reminisce about your experiences.
Or upload all of your epic photos and videos 🙂 The way back is a great time to relax and take in all the amazing things you just saw and did! Be sure to check the onboard photography chest near reception, where guests upload their favorite (usually professional) photos for everyone to share!
You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning, after breakfast.
After disembarking, you will get a little taste of Patagonia, touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
Feel free to cry a little bit out of happiness and sadness that nothing will ever be as epic as this trip.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
What they said.