Travel with the Antarctic Specialists The Ultimate Antarctica Guide
CONTENT Welcome to the Polar Regions ABOUTVIVAEXPEDITIONS Welcome to the Polar Regions 2 Why Travel with Viva Expeditions 4 Travelling the VivaWay 6 Antarctica Map 8 Polar Itineraries and Actvities 10
‘As long has been noted, just before the turn of the last century mankind knew more about the surface of the moon than it did about the seventh continent at the bottom of the world, the frozen lost land called Antarctica. In the famed Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration that followed, the icy veils that had so long covered the face and form of this mysterious place were courageously lifted, onebyone, to reveal that frozen face inall its terriblesplendour.’ - Peter FitzSimons It has been barelymore than 100 years since humans first set foot on the continent of Antarctica, and less than 200 years since sailors first cast their eyes on the Antarctic Peninsula. Yet even before they witnessed it, most early explorers were convinced a large, southerncontinent existed. Itwas commonlydescribedas ‘TerraAustralis Incognita’ –theUnknownSouthernLand.
Until recently, Antarcticawasadestination for nobodybut thehardiest of polar explorers – legends such as Scott, Amundsen, Mawson and Shackleton. It still has no permanent residents,butthereisnowanexcellentrangeofoptionsforAntarctictravel;anopportunity of a lifetime toencounter remarkablewildlife such as penguins, seals, whales andorcas, up close and in abundance amidst pristine, awe-inspiring scenery with only a minimal footprint. You can either join an expedition cruise departing from southern Argentina, Australia or New Zealand or, if you are on a tight schedule, there are now flights to and from King George Island where an Antarctic cruise can be boarded without the need to sail theDrakePassage.
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A Typical Day in the Polar Regions
ANTARCTICAFACTSAND INFORMATION LearnaboutAntarctica 20-25
ANTARCTICA What toseeanddo inAntarctica
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Cruises to theAntarcticCircle AntarcticWildlife Journey Weddell SeaandAntarctica
OceanAdventurer&WorldExplorer MVUshuaia&MSFridtjofNansen LeCommandant Charcot&MVPlancius
BeyondAntarctica: Stopover Itineraries
Why travel with VIVA Expeditions?
WeareAntarctic travel specialistsand there isgood reason for this claim, asalmost everyViva teammember has travelled to Antarctica.Wehave travelledonmanydifferent vesselsand itinerariesavailableover thepast decadeandhaveawealthof knowledgeandexperience tohelpyouput your trip together. Wehave inspectedandcontinue to thoroughly researcheach individual vessel weworkwithandonly choose those that havea reputation for environmental sensitivity, safetyand value formoney.Wealsoknowthat travellers visit thePolar regions for different reasons, whileone travellermaybe interested inwildlifeandphotography, anothermaybeafter a moreadventurousexperience.Weoffer avarietyof itineraries onnumerousdifferent vessels toworkaroundyour needsas muchaspossible.
designedasa researchvessel forNOAA, andwas comfortable, clean, and intimate. Staffandguideswereknowledgeable, informativeandpassionateabout theirwork. Foodwasgreat! We thoroughlyenjoyedour travel experienceand thankVIVA andPiaKnarston formaking it happen!" B, M&TRoyer "Thiswaseasilyour vote for thebest tripof our lifetime;made onlypossible fromyour recommendations. Vivaexpeditions, TheOrteliusandOceanwideExpeditions.WehaveNO HESITATION to recommend it toanyone interested in traveling to theAntarctic" SKPoh "I've just returned fromanamazingcruise to theFalklands, SouthGeorgiaand theAntarcticPeninsula. Taraat Viva Expeditionswasgreat todeal withandwas veryhelpful andpatientwithallmyquestions.WhenTarawason leave someoneelse fromthe companyalwaysgot back tome straight away sowouldhavenohesitation in recommending them. My cruisewaswithGAdventuresand thiswasalsoa5 star experience. Couldn't fault anything-except theweight gainbecause the foodwas sogood!" Pam
PIA KNARSTON, ANTARCTICASPECIALIST
TARA SUTHERLAND, OPERATIONS MANAGER
RACHEL WILLIAMS, FOUNDER &MANAGINGDIRECTOR Mymostamazingmoment inAntarctica, which is perhaps the most amazing moment of my life, was when we were kayaking around the Antarctic peninsula. It was a glorious, perfectly calm afternoon. Suddenly we seemed to be surrounded by whales; Humpback whales as large as buses, Fin whales & Minke whales, all feasting on krill beneath us. It was surreal, the whales came so close I could have reached out and touched them, and a remember looking down into the water at a whale gliding past me and seeing it looking directly at me, we made eye contact, it wasaspecialmoment. Every day in Antarctica is magical and I encourage anyone who is interested to go! Gonow! Youwill never regret it. HereareVivaweprideourselveson providingexpert, non-biasedadvice for those interested in travelling to Antarctica. Weworkwitha full range of Antarctica cruisevessels, offering various itinerariesandways to experience the frozencontinent and would love tohelpyoufind thebest fit for you.
Waking up after crossing the Drake and looking out the window; there it was, far in the distance - the first iceberg. With each moment that we got closer, it only grew in size... bigger and bigger. Cruising around huge icebergs in a zodiac and getting really close to them was an amazing experience. The colours are stunning, from pure white to unreal turquoise. On one of the days, we sailed into a harbour through what looked like thousands of floating ice shelves. I remember standing at the bow of the vessel and taking in the vastness of the region, themovement of big ice blocks/ shelves in the water and the stillness in the air. In the distance, more icebergs and huge mountains covered in snow stretched as far as the eye could see. It was just breathtaking, those magical momentswill staywithme forever! Working at Viva means I can share my experiences with clients and help them find the perfect expedition. The best thing is when clients come back and share their incredible experiences with us.
I remember waking up to gentle snow fallingandblanketingtheexpeditionship Iwason,andalongwiththemountainsof Antarctica as a backdrop, it was already a stunning day. Then we then boarded zodiacs and went exploring around the icebergs, the sky was dark and moody making the blue of the icebergs really pop. By the time we landed ashore, the snow was really starting to come down heavily. I wandered a little up the slope and just sat in the snow to watch penguin after penguin waddle down the hill, some stumbling and sliding, battling against the wind gusts, some stopping to peak at my boots as they came past. Penguins in a snowstorm inAntarctica, it isoneofmy fondestmemories! Antarctica holds a special place in my heart, and I have been lucky enough to work at Viva Expeditions, where Antarctica is one of our specialties. This means I have been able to live and breatheAntarctica forover 13yearsnow. I would love to help you experience the magical worldof Antarctica too.
Youare ingoodhandswhenyou travel withViva. Not only areyouguaranteeda life-changingexperiencebut also theexceptional knowledgeandexperienceof someof the industry’sbest consultantswhowill go that extramile to makeyour journey themostmemorable it canbe. Your Viva consultant hasalready travelled toAntarctica, soyoucan besure to receivefirst handadviceonwhichship, tour and activitieswill best suit your needs.
"WebookedanAntarctic tour throughVIVA, andour agent PiaKnarstonwasgreat! Shewasquick to respond toany questionswehadalong theway. Transferswereon timeor early.Thesightseeing toursPiaarranged for us inbothBuenos AiresandUshuaiaweregreat-beautiful and informative. Our lodgingwas cleanandcomfortable, andhotel stafffriendly andaccommodating. Our ship, theMVUshuaiahadbeen
These reviewsareadministeredbya thirdpartyandas such areunfilteredbyVivaExpeditions.
SUSTAINABILITY Here at Vivawe are committed to caring for our environment, for now and for future generations. While we encourage travellers to set sail for Antarctica, we do this in the hope that you will see, love it, SAVE IT! By experiencing the true wonder & beauty of the frozen continent you hopefully become an Antarctic Ambassador with passion to help protect this magnificent place. We strive to operate with consideration and responsibility at all times. This means being environmentally accountable, using only recycled or recyclable paper and minimising printing, with the ultimate goal of becoming a paperless organisation. As well we are a big supporter of the Mawsons Hut Foundation who work hard to protect Antarctica’s unique heritage. We also strive to ensure all Cruise operators we work with share our common goals andwe strive toworkwithoperatorswhoaremembers of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). The aim of this association is to ensure that travel to the Arctic and Antarctica is safe andminimizes impact on the environment andwildlife. EXTENSIVERANGE&UNBIASEDEXPERTISE We offer an extensive product range with over 25 world class Antarctic cruise vessels on offer, and over 130 different itineraries for you to choose from. What’s most important is that our teamof Antarctica travel specialistswill workwith
EXPERTKNOWLEDGE Most of our staff have travelled to Antarctica and the Arctic, some many times, and are well versed in consulting on the cruise and activity to suit you best, as well as the various regions including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and other sub-Antarctic islands. If you are passionate about the exploration history, we know exactly which cruises visit historic points such as Shackleton’s grave, Elephant Island or theNorthPolewhereonlyavery fewtravellers venture too. MADPROJECT The ‘Make A Difference’ Project is a registered, not-for-profit organisation that was set up with facilitation in mind, a place wherethosewhowanttohelpmakeadifferencetochallenged communities, theenvironmentandhistoricalpreservationcan come and find reliable ways to contribute. All of our projects have been thoroughly researched for their ethical and moral outcomes. TheMAD Project is supported by Viva Expeditions so that the project itself has no overheads, every donation made is passed onto the projects it supports, in full. Formore informationvisit www.madproject.org.
ONTHEGROUND INSOUTHAMERICA A majority of Antarctica cruises depart from the bottom tip of South America, whether in Argentina (Ushuaia) or in Punta Arenas (Chile). Wecanhelpyouwithall of your arrangements bothbeforeandafter your cruise. Weknowthebest destinationsand travel routesandour staff have all lived or travelled extensively within this continent. We have our own operations in Peru, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, directly employing local guides and local support staff. This waywe ensure that our quality standard is always carried out. Italsoallowsustocutoutnumerousmiddlemenandkeepour prices low.Weareconstantlysourcingnewproperties, routes, experiences, and new ways to visit locations, to make every journeymemorable. .
you to ensure your trip to the frozen continent meets and exceeds all of your expectations. We offer a range of cruise options ranging fromour shortest trips such as Antarctic Fly/ Cruiseoptions, toour longest expeditions such as the 34-day Spectacular Ross Sea voyage. On a Polar cruise you can also choose from additional activities that include taking a polar plunge, campingontheAntarctic ice, kayaking, hikingandeven paddle-boarding. We knowexactlywhat each ship offers and can tailor your experience tosuit your travel style. We know it can be hard to choose. But share with us your ideas about how you like to travel, and we’ll piece it together using our first-hand knowledge, offering you advice and working with you every step of the way. We can guide you on thebest timesand regions toseevariouswildlifeandcanalso guide you in terms of the onboard experience you expect. Whether it’s aboard a luxury ship or a traditional expedition- style cruise, with us, your itinerary is as you want it to be - we workaroundyou.
Proud partnerswith theworld’s leading Expedition cruise companies including:
Chimu Exclusive Cruises GENTOOPENGUINS Gentoopenguinshaveadistinctivebright orangebeakanda whitepatcharoundandbehind theeye.Theyar mainly found on theSubAntarctic Islandsandcanmakeasmanyas450 divesper daywhen foraging for krill, theirmaindiet. ANTARCTICAMAP
BLUEWHALES Southernhemisphere 'true' bluewhaleswere reduced fromaround225,000
pre-exploitationtoprobably lessthan2,000nowandareclassifiedasendangered.They areoneof the fussiest eaters in theAntarctic, usuallyeatingonlyAntarctic krill. SPERMWHALES The name 'sperm' comes fromthe liquidwax called spermaceti located in the whale's head. This substance was once used in lubricants, oil lamps and candles. Spermwhales are the largest toothed whale andcanbe foundanywhere in theopenocean.
MINKEWHALES Minke whales grow to nearly 9m long and are about 10 tonnes in weight. They are also very inquisitive animalsandareoftenseenapproachingships.
CHINSTRAPPENGUINS Chinstrapsareoneof themost distinguishableof all penguins.Theyhavea thinblack line running across their cheeksmaking themlook likechin straps.Theyaremedium-size inbuildand usuallybreedonhillsideslopes.
HUMPBACKWHALES Humpbacks are one of themost activewhales, they frequentlybreach, slapping their tailsand fins on thewater surface.They also have the longest annualmigrationof allmammals. ORCAS Orca whales are found almost everywhere throughout the earth's oceans.They catch single prey, ranging from fish, squid, penguins, seals, dolphins, porpoisesandevenwhales.
ADÉLIEPENGUINS Adéliesare foundaround theentire coast andsmall islandsof Antarctica.They areexcellent swimmersandhavebeen recordedswimmingas far as 300km to forage for food for their chicks.
South Sandwich Islands
CRABEATERSEALS Crabeater sealsare themost
MACARONI PENGUINS Macaroni penguins are mostly found on the Sub Antarctic Islands. Their longevity isnotwell known, but estimatedat 20yearsormore. KINGPENGUINS King penguins are the second largest penguin, standing 85–95cm tall. They typically breed in 2 years out of 3, they have no nests and their eggsare incubatedon theadults’ feet.
abundant of all seal species, witha total populationof 15million.They haveslender bodies, longsnouts and their fur ranges fromdarkbrown inwinter toblonde in thesummer.
LEOPARDSEALS With theexceptionof orcas, leopard sealsareprettymuchat the topof theAntarctic foodchain.Their name comes fromtheir spotted fur, which resembles that of a leopardskin. WEDDELLSEALS Namedafter BritishWhaler James Weddell, this seal is in fact foundall over Antarctica.Weddell seals canswimas deepas800metresandareconsidered oneof thecutest seal species inAntarctica.
EMPERORPENGUINS At 1.1m tall, the emperor penguin towers above any other living penguin on Earth. They are mainly found on the Antarctic mainland and are also the only species to breed in thewintermonths. ROCKHOPPERPENGUINS Their eyes are red and at 50cmare considerably shorter than other penguin species. They often burst fromthewater and landwithabellyflop.
SOUTHERNELEPHANTSEALS The largest of all seals, themalesouthern
elephant seal canweighup tofive tonnes.They arebest foundon theSubAntarctic Islands suchas Macquarie Islandor SouthGeorgia.
ROYALPENGUINS Royal penguinsget their name fromtheyellowcrest on their heads.Theonlyplace in theworld that theybreed is Macquarie Islandwhich isalsohome to its largest colony.
ANTARCTICFURSEALS Oneof thesmallest of all seals, theAntarctic fur seal is the commonnamegiven to theAntarctic , SubAntarctic andNew Zealand fur seals.Theyhave teeth, whiskers, thick fur andareable towalkonall fours.Theyaredistant relatives todogsandsea lions.
ROSSSEALS By far thehardest seal tosee, theRoss seal livesalmost exclusively in heavypack ice inEast Antarctica.Theyaresolitaryanimalsand their prey, mainly squidandfish, are caught inmidwater at depthsbelowthepack ice.
GIANTPETRELS Southerngiant petrelsbreedon theAntarctic continent, AntarcticPeninsula andonSubAntarctic Islands includingSouthGeorgia, Marionand IlesCrozet.
SUBANTARCTICSKUA They canbe foundon theSubAntarctic Islandsoffthe coastsof Australia, NewZealand, SouthAfricaandSouthAmerica.Their estimated lifespan isapproximately 11 years.
WANDERINGALBATROSS Wanderingalbatrosshaveawhitehead, neckandbody, awedge-shaped tail anda largepink beak.Theyarebest foundofftheSubAntarctic Islandswhich includeMacquarieandSouthGeorgia.
Polar Itineraries & Activities
OUR ITINERARIES Thewide rangeof includedandoptional activities availablearewhatmakes your Polar journey sucha special andmemorable experience.All passengersonexpeditioncruisesarewelcomedaboardandbriefedonsafetyprior totheship’sdeparture. You will enjoy educational lectures on the history, geology and ecology of this enigmatic land as you explore the natural wonders. Why notmake themost of the extended daylight and get even closer to the action by incorporating one ormore of themany optional extras available into your itinerary?Whether you simply want to observe and photograph the landscape andwildlife that this incredible wonderland has to offer, or seek a littlemore adventure, there are a host of activities that canmake your journey that little bitmore exciting! Talk to one of our Polar specialists today.
FLEXIBILITY ISTHEKEYTOSUCCESS The itineraries in this brochure act as a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and iceconditionsandopportunities toviewwildlife. Changeswill bemadeby thecaptainand/or expedition leader tofacilitate thebest results fromtheprevailingconditions. Adailyprogramsheetwill be issuedonboard. Flexibility is thekey to success.The activities and excursions described are available on select vessels and departures. Wewant thisbrochure tobeabible for all thingsPolar butwe'reaware that there is somuch information that somepeoplemayfind it overwhelming. If youneedhelp, pleasegiveusa call.
WhichAntarcticaTrip is right forme?
Value formoney Most affordableAntarctic itinerary and also one of our best selling itineraries.
Longer itinerary Enjoymoretimediscoveringtheregionwith visits to the Falklands&South Georgia. ExtensiveWildlife Exploration See a wider range of wildlife including the large and colourful king penguins, elephant seals, macaroni penguins and wandering albatross nesting sites. Historic Landmarks Walk in the footsteps of Shackleton’s Enduranceexpeditionandvisithistoricsites like Shackleton’s grave and Stromness whaling station.
True Expedition Style If you love adventure travel, reminiscent of early explorers, then this trip is for you. Untouched Territory Less than 50 tourists have travelled to Commonwealth Bay in the last 5 years. Plus visit unique Sub Antarctic Islands such as Macquarie and Campbell Islands. UniqueWildlife Discover rarely seen wildlife such as the Ross seal which lives in thick pack ice. SubAntarctic Islands Call in at some of New Zealand and Australia's Sub Antarctic Islands teeming with unique flora and fauna. See page 33 formore information
Experience Antarctic Peninsula and discover amazing wildlife such aswhales, seals, penguins andmore. the incredible
IconicWildlife Experience the most popular regions and discover amazingwildlife. Extensive Ship Range Choose from over 25 world class vessels. We have several Exclusive Charters doing this type of itinerary which are the best
Natural Biodiversity Discover the flora and fauna of the Sub
value options on themarket. See page 27 formore information.
Antarctic Islands andAntarctica. See page 28 formore information
SEAKAYAKING Paddle your way through the tranquil waters of the Antarctic or the Arctic with a small group of sea kayakers. No matter your level of fitness, this is a fantastic opportunity to view the spectacular ice and wildlife close up. All equipment is provided and an experienced guide leads you the whole way for your enjoyment and safety. This optional extra is very popular, so be sure to reserve your place at the time of booking your voyage. CROSS-COUNTRYSKIING Take in the unbeatable scenery of Antarctica’s inner remote regionswhileskiingoffthebeaten track! Youdon’t have tobe aprofessional but thisoptional extrarequiressomeprevious
DIVINGANDSNORKELLING Take the plunge and explore the Antarctic underworld with a scuba dive. These dives allow you to observe the Antarctic shelf below sea level, an absolutely incredible experience. Please note that this optional extra requires you to hold an advanced diving certificate and suitable dry suit experience. Limited vessels offer diving in Antarctica. CAMPING For theexperienceofalifetime,whynotspendanightashore the Antarctic shelf? Camping on the ice is an optional extra available on several voyages, however, places are limited so be sure to reserve your place at the time of booking. All camping gear is provided. BIRDANDWILDLIFEWATCHING Every direction you look during your Polar voyage offers a new opportunity for bird and wildlife watching. See an array of bird, penguin and seal species at their most beautiful and in their natural habitat. You might even be lucky enough to
catch sight of a whale splashing about at sea. The type of wildlife you come acrosswill depend on the voyage you take and the timeof year, butweguaranteeyouwill be impressed nomatter what creatures you see! HIKING Take your Polar adventure to new heights by opting for a guided hiking tour.These tours lead you to amazing vantage points and alloweven closer interactionwith local wildlife, so don’t forget your camera! This optional extra is available for all levels of fitness and interests, so talk to your consultant and book a place today! PHOTOGRAPHY Capture the Antarctic wonderland at its most beautiful with a guided photography tour that caters to all levels of photographers. This optional extra includes several workshops, presentations and excursions designed to optimise the many photographic opportunities available. This activity requires you to bring your own camera.
Enjoy regular on-shore excursions during your voyage with unbelievable opportunities to observe and capture the wildlife and landscape at their best. Your expedition team will be sure to make the most of these opportunities so that you spend as much time as possible exploring one of nature’s most spectacular wonderlands! You will even be able to visit scientific research stations and interact with the local communities. ZODIACEXCURSIONS Your ship is equipped with a fleet of Zodiacs, which provide a safe and efficient way to cruise the Polar waters whilst surrounded by soaring icebergs and wildlife. Zodiac excursions are a great way to explore remote bays in small groups led by a professional guide.
experience in skiing. MOUNTAINEERING
For the adventurous, why not take an exciting climb to the peak of an Antarctic mountain? Mountaineering is available on selected voyages and requires a basic level of fitness.
FEBRUARY Whale spotting reaches its peak this month and cruises are simply exceptional in this regard. The skies will sometimes be crystal clear, as is the ice, and the starkness and richness of colours in Antarctica make for simply magical scenery. On the Peninsula, there are now more fur seals than at any other time. MARCH As the ice recedes, you’ll be able to explore further south than at any other time of the year and encounter groups of curious penguin adolescents plus the plethora of whales that are still in-situ. The days are getting shorter but if the weather permits, night sky gazing can be hugely rewarding. The scenery is always spellbinding and breathtaking in Antarctica, so if the last month of the cruising season is the only time you have to visit, rest assured your cruise crewwill do their utmost togiveyouaonce-in-a-lifetimeexperience. APRILTOOCTOBER As autumn and winter descend upon Antarctica, the world’s most awe-inspiring continent slowly descends into a dark, windy and freezing existence. Temperatures can drop to -60 degrees Celsius and nights can seemingly last forever.
ANTARCTICACRUISINGSEASON TheAntarctic cruising season starts in lateOctober and runs until March. These are the only months of the year when temperatures are known to reach above 0 degrees Celsius during the day on the Antarctic Peninsula, and though the east tends to be colder, it is still more tolerable at this time of year. Here are just some of the amazing highlights you can look forward to on your Antarctic trip, month by month. These may help you in planning the trip of a lifetime and deciding exactly when to travel to the world’s most astounding continent. LATEOCTOBER-NOVEMBER Penguins become somewhat ‘romantic’ at this time of year, and if you book your Antarctica expedition in November you maybeprivytosomeof themostendearingcourtshiprituals in the animal kingdom. Dressed in their Sunday best, suave male penguins strut their stuff, singing and bowing their heads in a most impressive manner. If you include a visit to one of the research stations you’ll be welcomed effusively and you may also spot the first detaching icebergs of the year. Midnight photo opportunities are simply spectacular from mid-November to early December, and you’ll see packs of elephant and fur seals starting to mark their breeding territories in the SubAntarctic Islands. Travelling
As waters start to freeze over, pack ice covers the entire periphery of the peninsula, for up to 600km, rendering this location out of bounds for tourists. Itching to discover this formidable wonder?Then check out all the incredible expeditionswe canorganise for you toEast and West Antarctica and start planning the adventure of a lifetime!
in late October, you’ll find landing areas pristine as you’ll be among the first to set foot on the White Continent for the season. If seeing dramatic ice formations is your absolute priority, then November’s definitely the month in which you should visit. DECEMBER December is arguably the month where Antarctica is at its enchanting best. Summer is in full swing and days here can, on occasion, be bright and sunny though still cold and crisp. One can expect to see soaring albatrosses and lazy leopard seals basking in endless hours of daylight. With at least 20 hours of sunlight, the Antarctic world is your oyster and the opportunity formore frequent landings is higher. JANUARY The warmest period of the year continues in Antarctica and you may spot numerous penguin chicks hatching or see adorably fluffy newly hatched chicks! You may also be privy to watching baby seals waddling about. With higher temperatures, the ice begins to recede and zodiac excursions to outlying icebergs are incredibly rewarding as they are shaped and sculpted by the warmer weather. As January is part of the high tourist season, booking early is absolutely essential!
Wildlife sighting seasons
Who first saw Antarctic ice, and who first discovered Antarctica? We know the Polynesian people were superb navigators and explored far southern waters. Pacific oral history tells of a canoe voyage around AD 650 reaching Antarctic sea ice. Neverthelessmuch of Antarctica’s documented history starts off with the European discoverers. 1773 James Cook becomes the first person to navigate across the Antarctic Circle and proceed to circumnavigate the continent of Antarctica. Although he doesn't gain a visual on land, he does see deposits of rock in icebergs, which proved to Captain Cook that a Southern continent existed. 1819-21 Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy) cast his eyes on the Antarctic continent on 27 January 1820, three days before Edward Bransfield (a captain in the British Royal Navy) sighted land, and ten months beforeNathaniel Palmer.
1911 On 14 December Norwegian Roald Amundsen leads a five-man expedition that reaches the geographic South Pole for the first time. Scott’s polar party arrives several weeks later to find they have been beaten, and tragically perish on the return trip. 1911-1914 Mawson returns to Antarctica to lead the Australasian Scientific Antarctic Expedition, the first to be organised and led by an Australian. In January 1913 Mawson begins his solo trek back to his base after his two companions die. Against all oddsMawson survives. 1914-1917 Shackleton returns toAntarctica inanattempt to complete thefirst crossingof the continent.Their ship is crushed in the sea ice. The expedition makes its way over ice and water to Elephant Island. A small party led by Shackleton sets out in a small boat for South Georgia.The support partywaiting on the other side of the continent is eventually rescued in 1917.
1830s-40s Individual British, French and American expeditions confirm the status of Antarctica as a continent after sailing around the continuous coastline.
1929-1931 Mawson leads the British, Australian and New Zealand expedition that explores and maps the coastline of what was in 1936 to become the Australian Antarctic Territory, covering 42%of the continent.
1898 InMarch, AdriendeGerlacheand the crewof theBelgicabecome trapped inpack iceoff theAntarcticPeninsula in their first expedition to the continent.The remainingcrew, throughextremehardshipandon theedgeof insanity, become thefirst to survive an Antarcticwinter. 1901-1904 Captain Robert Falcon Scott, UK, leads his first Antarctic expedition to try to reach the South Pole, with Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson. They are forced to turn back two months later having reached 82 degrees south, suffering fromsnowblindness and scurvy. 1907-1909 Shackleton leads an expedition and reaches 88degrees south, the closest to the geographic South Pole to date. He turns back after supplies are exhausted. During the same expedition, DouglasMawson reaches the SouthMagnetic Pole and is in the first party to climbMt Erebus.
1957-1958 During the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58, 12 nations establish 50 stations inAntarctica, the beginning of formal, international cooperation. The first successful land crossing via the South Pole is led by British geologist Vivian FuchswithNewZealander Edmund Hillary.
1959 TheAntarctic Treaty is signed by 12 countries, includingNewZealand andAustralia.The treaty comes into effect in 1961 and the firstmeeting is held in Canberra in recognition of Australia’s effort in negotiations.
1998 Madrid Protocol designates Antarctica as a ‘natural reserve devoted to peace and science’ and prohibiting mining in Antarctica.
ATYPICALDAY INTHE POLARREGIONS
There is really, no such thing as a typical day in the Polar regions. Individual landing locations are different every time due to weather, ice, currents or light conditions. The time in the season will affect many of these items as will it affect what is happening with the wildlife. In addition, every ship has different configurations, rules and structures. For example some ships may serve all buffet meals on board while others may serve a la cartemeals. One shipmay have you keep your expedition boots and jackets in the mud room, another in your cabin. The below example is for a two landing day, but please be aware that every day is different – if the weather is poor then there may be no landings and sometimes asmany as four landings have been achieved in a single day. 5:00am The ship has travelled overnight and you’re now over 200 km from where you watched last night’s sunset (presuming you’re in an area and time of the season where the sun does set). You’re momentarily woken by the sound of the ship’s anchor as it clanks down to the icy depths below.The captainhasanchored ina relatively shelteredbay. As youdrift back tosleepyounotice theship isnowrelatively still compared with the rhythmic rocking you experienced overnight while the ship was travelling through open water. Some passengers stir and head to the lounge for an early coffee or pre-breakfast muffin while others wander to the opendecks toset eyeson themorning’snewlocation for the first time.
7:00am - 8:00am A buffet breakfast is served and you steady yourself against the ship’smotion at the buffet table as you consider if you should take a healthy fruit salad, a full cooked breakfast or both. After filling your plate you select a table next to some of your fellow passengers –meal times areagreat timetomeetsomeofyour travellingcompanions. As you start chatting away with the people at your table the waiting staff bring you some coffee and offer you some warm toast. Once you’ve had your breakfast you return to your cabin and get ready for your first landing. 8:00am- 11:30am Leaving your cabin, youwalk down to the mud room where you get dressed in your expedition gear, put on your boots and then join the queue for a zodiac. The linemoves quickly as the zodiacs shuttle everyone back and forth. You finally come to the gangway, take a few steps and the expedition teamhelp you board the zodiac and you take your seat. Once seated you feel the sharp bite of the cold wind on your face as the zodiac accelerates towards shore. On approach a couple of penguins breach next to the zodiac, as if to provide an escort for your arrival. Elephant and fur seals laze about in small groups, occasionally looking up to observe the new visitors on their beach. From the shore you take a short ten minute walk up to a nearby hill, where you get a stunning panoramic view of the bay and all its wildlife. An hour and a half goes by before you even know it and you climb back into your zodiac and return to the ship.
11:30am - 1:30pm Returning to your cabin you keep on your expedition trousers although you swap your hardouter shell jacket for a simple fleece. Lunch is called and the expedition crew have decided to prepare a BBQ lunch on the back deck and you head down there as you’re surprisingly hungry after your morning of exploring. As you enjoy some locally inspired food, you hear the anchor raise and the ship begins tomove again. Youorder awine and sit back and relax as the ship moves along slowly in the ice wilderness to your next landing site. 1:30pm - 3:30pm After lunch you put your expedition jacket back on as you prepare to undertake another landing. This timeyouhavearrivedata researchbase. Youtakethe zodiac and on this occasion you have a dry landing at a small pier. Some team members from the base welcome you ashore and offer to give you a tour of the base. Your host shows you through the base’s living areas and you get a feel for the life of a scientist at this base. They also show you some of the research projects that they are currently working on and explain the ramifications of their research. Finally you return to the ship oncemore. 3:30pm - 7:00pm Back on board the ship the expedition crew announce that there will be no more landings for the day so you head to your cabin and change out of your expedition gear. Some people head to the library to read or sit on the deck with a drink and some snacks as the ship begins tomoveagain. Oneof theexpedition teampresentsa
lectureonAntarctichistory in the lecture roomfor those that are interested. Around6:00pmtheshipcomes intodramatic scenery and an abundance of wildlife. Everyone heads out to the outer decks and as the ship moves on whales are witnessed breaching on the one side of the ship. On the other side of the ship a seal glances up from an ice floe as the ship passes by. As the ship progresses the sun drops in the sky and brilliant pink and orange hues light up the sky at the end of the channel. You look around as everyone gasps with wonder, the snaps of cameras crescendo as the ship passes through the end of the channel and the multi- coloured sky opens up in an iceberg littered bay. Everyone reluctantly leaves theopen decks as the sun disappears and the temperature drops. 7:00pm - 8:30pm Dinner is soon called and you sit down to an a la carte dinner. The ship sets course for its new location the next day. While waiting for your meals you trade images on your camera with your fellow passengers and talk about everything that you’ve seen during the day. You choose a chocolate mud cake dessert which is delicious. After dinner some people go to an evening lecture on the wildlife whilst others watch a movie on TV, head to the expedition lounge bar for some drinks or retire to the library to read a book. Everyday is different on a Polar cruise, with many special opportunities waiting to be experienced. Start planning your cruise today and contact us formore information onwhat to expect andwhat we can offer you as the Polar specialists.
WEDDELL SEA The Weddell Sea is known for its massive tabular icebergs. It contains the Weddell Gyre and is part of the Southern Ocean. The bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula shapes its land boundaries. Cape Norvegia at Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land, is the easternmost point, with the King Haakon VII Sea lying beyond to the east and covering much of the southern part of the sea up to Elephant Island. The sea lies within the two overlapping Antarctic territorial claims of Argentina and Britain, and partially within Chile’s territorial claim. The sea is around 2.8million km² in area, and at its widest measures about 2,000 kmacross. The Weddell Sea is named in honour of the Scottish sailor James Weddell, who entered in 1823. Weddell himself originallynameditafterKingGeorgeIV,but itwasrenamed in 1900. American sealing captainBenjaminMorrell also sailed the sea in 1823 and claimed to have seen land some 10–12° east of its actual boundary, calling it New South Greenland. This existence of this ‘new land’ was disproved when the sea was more fully explored in the early 20th century. Weddell got as far south as 74°S. Following his ventures, the furthest southern penetration before the modern era was by Scotland’sWilliamSpeirs Bruce in 1903. The sea is fringed by numerous ice shelves, including the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. The ice shelves on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula used to extend approximately 10,000 km² over the Weddell Sea, but by 2002 some had completely disappeared. Still the area that disappearedwas far smaller than the total ice shelf that remains. The Weddell Sea is notable for its designation by scientists as having the clearest water of any sea. In October 1986, Dutch researchers from the German Alfred Wegener Institute were able to see a Secchi disc at a depth of 80 metres, and proclaimed the clarity corresponded to that of distilled water. Among the animals characteristic of the sea are Weddell seals. These remarkable animals are able to remain submerged for more than an hour and rasp through ice using their teeth to maintain breathing holes. The Adélie penguin has also adapted to the harsh environment and is the dominant penguin species in this remote region.
The northernmost point of mainland Antarctica is known as the Antarctic Peninsula. To the casual viewer, it is the largest and most prominent peninsula on the continent, extending 1,300kmbetweenCapeAdams(WeddellSea)andamainland point south of Eklund Islands. Beneath the ice sheet, the peninsula consists of a string of mountainous bedrock islands. Separatedbydeepchannelswhosebottoms plunge considerablybelowcurrent sea level, these islandsare joined together by a grounded ice sheet. About 1,000 km away, on the other side of the infamous Drake Passage, lies Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America. The first sighting of the Antarctic Peninsula is thought to have been by Fabian Gottileb von Bellingshausen on 27 January 1820, during an expedition of the Russian Imperial Navy. The party reported an icefield broken up by small hillocks, but more than likely they had spotted the peninsula. A mere 3 days later on 30 January 1820 Edward Bransfield and William Smith were the first to officially chart part of the Antarctic Peninsula. The extreme northeast portion they found was later named Trinity Peninsula. John Biscoe is credited with the next confirmed sighting and named the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula, GrahamLand. Just as there is no confirmation of the first sighting, the first landing has been questioned. John Davis, a seal hunter in the 19th century, seems to have been the first. Seal hunters were a secretive lot though, and often recorded false information in their log books to protect their movements from the competition. Landing on the Antarctic Peninsula in February 1902, the ship Antarctica sank not far from the peninsula but all crewsurvived andwere later rescued by an Argentineship.TheBritishGrahamLandExpeditionbetween 1934 and 1937 carried out aerial surveys and concluded their namesakewas not an archipelago but a peninsula. A difference evolved over the use of the United States’ name ‘Palmer Peninsula’ or the British name ‘GrahamLand’. Agreement by the US-ACAN and UK-APC in 1964 on the name Antarctic Peninsula came about by making Graham Land the part of the Antarctic Peninsula north of a line between Cape Jeremy and Cape Agassiz, while Palmer Land was the part that lay south. The United States had chosen thename tohonour seal hunter, AmericanNathaniel Palmer. Chile, meanwhile, refers to the peninsula as O’Higgins Land, after the Chilean patriot and Antarctic visionary. Other Latin American countries call it ‘PenínsulaAntártica’, among them Argentina, which has more bases and personnel there than any other nation and also calls it Tierra de SanMartin. Because it is so close to mainland South America, the Antarctic Peninsula remains very popular with tourists, who are drawn by its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.
FALKLAND ISLANDS The Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory. They have a large degree of internal self-government, with the United Kingdom taking responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs. The archipelago lies in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf with the principal islands about 500 km east of the Patagonian coast at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago has an area of 12,173km² and comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. Their capital is Stanley, on East Falkland. The history of the Falkland Islands goes back at least 500 years, with active exploration and colonisation only taking place in the 18th century. The Falklands’ discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans is a circuitous tale. There have been French, British, Spanish and Argentine settlements during its history, and while Britain re-established its rule in 1833, the islands continue to be claimed by Argentina, which refers to them as Islas Malvinas. Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, resulting in the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between both countries. It resulted in the surrender of all Argentine forces and the return of the islands to British administration. The population consists mostly of native Falkland Islanders, the vast majority of British descent, and numbering about 2,840. Other ethnicities include French,GibraltarianandScandinavian. Immigrationfrom the United Kingdom, Saint Helena and Chile has helped to keep the population buoyant. The predominant and official language is English and under the British Nationality Act of 1983, Falkland Islanders are legally British citizens. The islands border the sub-Antarctic and temperate maritime climatic zones, withbothmajor islandshaving mountain ranges reaching 700m. They are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands because of the effects of introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports. Although oil exploration has been licensed by the Falkland Islands government, it remains controversial because of maritime disputes with Argentina.
SOUTH GEORGIA South Georgia is a real wildlife sanctuary and is home to over 400,000 birds, seals and other amazing creatures. It has been a BritishOverseasTerritory in theSouthernAtlanticOceansince 1775. It is by far the largest island in the territory, measuring 167.4 km long. Once a prominent whaling base during the 19th century until whaling ended in the 1960s, today the only remnants of this era are museums andwell preserved buildings. The Island of South Georgia is thought to have been first sighted in 1675 by Anthony de la Roché, a London merchant, leading to it being labelled Roche Island on a number of earlymaps. It was also sighted on 28 June or 29 June 1756 by a commercial Spanish ship named León operating out of Saint-Malo. Captain James Cook circumnavigated South Georgia in 1775 and made the first landing. He claimed it for Great Britain and named it the‘IsleofGeorgia’ inhonourofKingGeorgeIII.Britisharrangements for the island’s government were first established under the 1843 British Letters Patent. A German expedition for the First International Polar Year was permitteda stationat Royal Bayon the southeast sideof the island in 1882-83. These scientists observed the transit of Venus and recordedwaves produced by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. Throughout the 19th century, South Georgia was a sealers’ base. In the 20th century they were joined by whalers until whaling ended in the 1960s. Carl Anton Larsen of Norway established the first land-basedwhaling station and first permanent habitation in 1904 at Grytviken. The station operated through his Argentine Fishing Company until 1965. Volunteers from among the Norwegian whalers helped protect SouthGeorgianandAntarcticwatersagainstGermanraidersduring theSecondWorldWar, using two4-inch shoreguns that still canbe seen at Cumberland Bay and Stromness Bay. The Royal Navy also deployedanarmedmerchant vessel topatrol thewaters.Thebase at King Edward Point was later expanded as a research facility in 1949-1950 by the British Antarctic Survey. The abandoned whaling station at Leith Harbour on South Georgia was the starting point for the Falklands War on 19 March 1982, when a group of Argentinians posing as scrap metal merchants occupied it. On 3 April the Argentine troops attacked and occupied Grytviken. Among their commanding officers was Alfredo Astiz, a Navy captain who years later was convicted of felonies committed during the Dirty War in Argentina. British forces recaptured the island on 25 April inOperation Paraquet. In 1985, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were removed from Falkland Islands dependency, becoming a separate territory. The King Edward Point base, a small military garrison, transferred to civilian use in 2001, and is nowoperated by the British Antarctic Survey.
EAST ANTARCTICA East Antarctica (excluding the Ross Sea) is one of the least visited locations on Earth, due to the huge distances involved and its isolation. The region was originally explored by American, French and Norwegian explorers but noneweremore important than Australia’s Douglas Mawson. Mawson led two expeditions to the region with a flurry of scientific research and discovery. Mawson’s expeditions were so expansive that it lead to Australia attempting to claim almost half of the Antarctica continent. Australia still maintains three permanent bases along the East Antarctica coastline. Two-thirds of the continent is taken up by East Antarctica, also called Greater Antarctica. This desolate expanse is the coldest, windiest, driest and most isolated land mass on Earth. It includes a number of high mountains and lies on the Indian Ocean side of the TransantarcticMountains. East Antarctica is almost completely covered in thick, permanent ice. It lies almost entirely within the EasternHemisphere, hence itsname,whichhasbeen used for more than 90 years. After the International Geophysical Year (1957–58) and with explorations showing that the Transantarctic Mountains provided a useful regional separation of East Antarctica and West Antarctica, the name came into greater use and was approved in the United States by the AdvisoryCommitteeonAntarcticNames (US-ACAN) in 1962. Generally speaking, East Antarctica is higher than West Antarctica, and is the coldest place on Earth. Its internal designations include Coats Land, Queen Maud Land, Enderby Land, Kemp Land, Mac Robertson Land, Princess Elizabeth Land, Wilhelm II Land, Queen Mary Land, Wilkes Land, Adélie Land, George V Land, Oates Land andVictoria Land. The subglacial Gamburtsev Mountain Range in the centreof East Antarctica isbelieved tohavebeen the formative site for the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The range is about the same size as the European Alps.
TheRossSea isboth the richest andmost vulnerableecosystem on Earth. Found off southwestern Antarctica, itself the most unspoiled continent on Earth, the Ross Sea is valued for supporting countless colonies of mammals, seabirds and invertebrates. Itmayonlymakeup2%of theSouthernOcean, yet boasts more marine biodiversity than the remaining 98%. Mind you, the tiny portion that is the Ross Sea still comprises over 2.36 million square kilometres of seas. And not just any seas, but waters that are an irreplaceable breeding ground for several types of whales and home to various species of penguins and seals, as well as hundreds of millions of small crustaceans and countless plankton on which the larger predators feed. When it comes tomarine biology, the Ross Sea is an endless laboratory, one that offersscientistsan incredible look intowhat constitutes a perfect and balanced ecosystem. Experts claim that the Ross Sea is the most researched slice of the entire Southern Hemisphere, with data collection being an ongoing project since British explorer James Clark Ross first recognised its existence in 1841. He was attempting to reach the SouthMagneticPoleandmanaged tofindoneof themost easily accessible landing sites on the Antarctic continent. Due to warm currents which regularly flow in this section of Antarctic waters, the coastline has been almost totally explored, albeit only for geological purposes. Although sections of the Ross Ice Shelf freeze every year, it is still one of the parts of Antarctica with the least amount of ice cover and is regularly traversed by tourist expedition cruises. Over the last 175 years, the Ross Sea has never fallen victim to pollution or gross human influence of any kind. It has never been affected bymining, or invaded by foreign species of wildlife and has, so far, been protected from mass commercial fishing. Instead, ithasbeenwhollyshapedbynatural elements; bystrong polar currents and annual freeze-overs, resulting in waters that are perennially enriched by nutrients, attracting a phenomenal number of sea creatures. The Ross Sea became famous originally as the starting battleground for Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen in their respective expeditions to be the first to the South Pole. At the time these expeditions were so famous that they are likened to the astronauts of today. Amundsen won the race and Scott heroically died on his return journey across the Ross Ice Shelf. Ross Island can be visited onmost voyages.Three of the historic huts are located here: Scott’s Hut, Discovery Hut (also Scott’s) and Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds. The island is also home to Antarctica's largest research station, the US operated McMurdo Station.
Interested in visiting the Ross Sea? Ask us about our unique 30-day voyages to this spectacular region.
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