The Ultimate Trip To Antarctica
- Once in a lifetime cruise to Antarctica with marine biologist Monty Halls & wildlife photographer Sue Flood.
- Our exclusive Antarctic cruise includes time in the wildlife hotspots of the Falklands Islands and South Georgia as well as the Antarctic Peninsula
- See up to seven species of penguin, three species of whale as well as fur and elephant seals
- Join Sir Ranulph Fiennes for a private dinner and lecture in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.
For anybody with a love of wildlife and wild places, an expedition voyage to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula is the ultimate experience. Nothing quite prepares one for the epic scale of Antarctica or the amazing sense of space. Towering ice cliffs, gigantic glaciers, bergs the size of skyscrapers – little wonder that Roald Amundsen wrote of Antarctica, that “the land looks like a fairy-tale”.
The wildlife is equally as spellbinding. None more so than the penguin colony of Salisbury Plain on South Georgia. Home to over 200,000 king penguins, the visual spectacle is extraordinary; so too the sounds and smells.
Why discover antarctica with steppes?
Steppes is very excited to be offering an exclusive cruise to Antarctica, in conjunction with Telegraph Tours. This has been many months in the planning and here are some of the reasons why we believe this to be the ultimate Antarctic cruise:
Akademik Ioffe – an ice strengthened expedition ship
We wanted to secure the perfect ship for your Antarctic cruise and in the Akademik Ioffe, we believe that is exactly what we have. Designed as a scientific research vessel, she is stable, quick and manoeuvrable – making your crossing of the Drake Passage that much more comfortable.
Thanks to an ongoing programme of refits and refurbishments she is comfortable and well-equipped for expedition cruising. Life on board is made congenial by a separate bar and lounge, a library, a theatre presentation room and a gym. With only a maximum of 100 passengers, it means less time is spent waiting to disembark or embark and thus maximising your time exploring Antarctica by zodiac, kayak and foot.
Expert led Antarctic voyage - our antarctic cruise Tour Leaders
The Ioffe’s team of Antarctic cruise specialists provide fascinating insight into polar history and the natural world but on our exclusive charter we felt compelled to augment their knowledge with a few of our own experts:
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Prior to setting sail we have organised for the world's greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes to meet with you for a private dinner in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. Sir Ranulph is synonymous with Antarctic exploration and will give your cruise a unique send-off.
Monty Halls is a writer, explorer, television presenter, public speaker and President of the Galapagos Conservation Trust. A former Royal Marines officer who worked for Nelson Mandela on the peace process in South Africa, he left the services in 1996 to pursue a career in leading expeditions. Having achieved a First Class Honours degree in marine biology, over the next decade he circumnavigated the globe four times on various projects, leading multi-national teams in some of the most demanding environments on earth. In 2002 he was awarded the Bish Medal by the Scientific Exploration Society for his services to exploration. Monty will give a number of presentations on board and will join in all of the excursions and activities offered throughout the Antarctic cruise.
‘’For a marine biologist with a background of leading expeditions to far flung places, the opportunity to travel to Antarctica with Steppes Travel was too good to miss. Antarctica is a hot spot for some of the world’s largest marine mammals and to say I am excited about the prospect of searching for whales in the Scotia Sea and the Gerlache Strait is an understatement. The history of polar exploration has long held a fascination for me and so to retrace Shackleton’s footsteps and to see his grave will be a humbling experience. I look forward to meeting you in Antarctica and sharing these remarkable experiences. ‘’ – Monty Halls
Sue Flood is a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Sue was an associate producer on the award winning BBC series The Blue Planet, and also more recently worked on Planet Earth. Her photographic highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face-to-face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming polar bears in the Arctic, and photographing the wildlife of Zambia. An Antarctic cruise provides for some incredible photographic opportunities and in Sue Flood we believe we have found the perfect photographic guide to help you capture the white continent’s spectacular landscape and fauna. Sue and Steppes have worked together on photographic trips all over the world but she is never happier than when she is photographing in Antarctica. She will give presentations and photographic workshops on board and will be on hand during excursions to give tips and technical advice.
‘’There’s something about an occasional stint in the Polar Regions that will bring out the photographer in all of us. But for Sue Flood, if it’s a cold place then that’s her territory. As an artist with the camera, Flood has a terrific eye for what makes the extremes of the ice domain so appealing, dangerous and poetic. She captures these landscapes, and the animals and people that inhabit them, with a clarity of vision and excellence of technique that most photographers simply don’t have.’’
- Nick Smith in the Explorers Club journal
Itinerary – making the most of your time in Antarctica
Having secured the Ioffe our next priority was the itinerary. South Georgia and the Falklands were "must-haves" as the wildlife here is prolific. Huge rookeries of rockhopper, Magellanic and king penguins can be seen on the open plains of the islands while significant numbers of both fur seals and the larger elephant seal can be found on the dark, volcanic sandy beaches. Seabirds are also abundant around South Georgia and the Falklands, with wandering and black-browed albatross particularly thriving. On South Georgia, the group will trek to Shackleton's grave and raise a toast to "The Boss".
Our next non-negotiable was the Antarctic Peninsula. Sea ice is broken up at this time in the season which increases the number of landing sites along the peninsula and on the South Shetland Islands. Take a gentle trek to a high point, find a quiet spot and reflect on the sense of openness and space. We are very excited at the prospect of following in Shackleton's footstepes and attempting to make a landing on Elephant Island.
Wildlife on the peninsula is remarkable and at this time of year chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins can be seen rearing young chicks so the rookeries are full of life. Marine wildlife is also rich in this area with humpback, minke and orca whale frequently seen.
Expeditionary style of travel
Just as important as the destinations visited on the voyage, was finding a partner in Antarctica whom shares our commitment to delivering an expeditionary style of trip. The staff and crew of the Ioffe have years of experience - between them they have seen over 20 million penguins - in operating safe, informative and exhilarating Antarctic experiences. The emphasis is on getting off the ship and getting Antarctic snow on your boots, maximising the extended daylight hours. Zodiac safaris, hiking, kayaking, camping on the ice and polar plunges are possible on our Antarctic charter. On board there will be a fascinating programme of talks and lectures, ranging from natural history to the history of polar exploration.
Is January-february a good time to visit Antarctica?
The Antarctic season runs from November to March and during this time there is not a bad time to visit. Travelling in late January/early February however has many added benefits:
- Heightened whale activity - at the very beginning of the season the whales are only intent on feeding and so sightings are less frequent. As the season progresses the whales become more inquisitve, making for memorable sightings and exceptional photographic opportunities.
- Reduced sea ice - by late January, the sea ice is less thick making access to some of Antarctica's more secluded sites possible. The bigger bergs are visible all year round and are a favourite subject for photography.
- Penguin chicks are active - the chicks are gaining in strength and confidence by this time in the season and so are very mobile and active. Interaction with parents and other chicks makes for great sightings.
- Good time for seeing massive numbers of king penguins - by the time our Antarctic charter reaches South Georgia, the king penguin colonies will be heaving as the birds will have all returned from feeding in the southern ocean. Some will already have chicks while others will be mating.
- Beaches in South Georgia are more accessible - elephant seals mate during November and December and so at this time, access to South Georgia's beaches can be a challenge - it is not advisable to get in between a 2,000 kg elephant seal and the object of his affection. When our Antarctic charter anchors off South Georgia the mating should be over and so access to the rugged beaches will be less hazardous!
The flight package cost of £2,195 per person is currently a provisional rate as we are waiting for British Airways to confirm their group rate fare. The package includes the following:
- International flights from London
- Domestic flights - Buenos Aires to Ushuaia return
- 1 night's accommodation in Buenos Aires (pre voyage)
- Welcome dinner in Buenos Aires with special guest, Sir Ranulph Fiennes
- 1 night's accommodation in Ushuaia (pre voyage)
- Farewell dinner in Ushuaia with special guest Sir Ranulph Fiennes
- 1 night's accommodation in Buenos Aires (post voyage)
- All transfers
We will happily send a copy of Sue Flood's beautiful photo-book 'Cold Places' to anybody joining us in Antarctica on our exclusive charter. If this doesn't get you in the mood for your polar holiday then nothing will.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.