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INAUGURAL ANTARCTIC VOYAGE

BUENOS AIRES TO USHUAIA

NOVEMBER 15, 2017 | 16 DAYS | 

Expedition Highlights:

  • Follow in the footsteps of the great Antarctic explorers and visit sites that Byrd, Charcot, Fiennes, de Gerlache, Shackleton, and Weddell explored.
  • Visit one of South America’s most important paleontological museums and explore South America’s first paleontological park looking for ancient fossils.
  • Visit the Valdes Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Hike across New Island and West Point Island to see Black-browed Albatross.
  • See snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers and spectacular icebergs.
  • Encounter Rockhopper, Gentoo, Macaroni, Adelie, Magellanic and Chinstrap Penguins, and with some luck also King Penguins.
  • Watch for Commerson’s and Peale dolphins in the Falkland Islands and Southern right whales close to the Valdes Peninsula.
  • Identify different species of albatross, shearwaters and petrels.

Day 1 — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Embark Silver Cloud in Buenos Aires and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board.

A mandatory safety drill will take place before you set sail. During the afternoon you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and important members of the crew.

At sail-away say goodbye to the Capital of Tango –Tango is recognised as an Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.

Days 2-3 — At Sea

Take the opportunity to relax after your long flight to join Silver Cloud in Buenos Aires and have a leisurely breakfast before you join one of the talks by our Expedition Team members. These talks will cover a wide range of subjects –from geology to history, biology and even botany (to be seen in the Falkland Islands).

You will also be invited to attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party hosted by the Captain, who will introduce his senior officers and various members of the Silver Cloud crew.

Day 4 — Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Puerto Madryn is the starting point for two different excursions: a full-day tour to the Valdes Peninsula (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to see Southern right whales, penguins and seals or an extended half-day tour to see one of the most accessible fossil sites in Argentina.

To reach the Valdes Peninsula and its attractions one has to travel close to 100 kilometres by bus. Sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals are found along the shore of the peninsula, as well as orcas. Southern right whales can be found in the two bays adjacent to the peninsula. A museum and interpretive centre will introduce you to the terrestrial and aquatic fauna of Patagonia and permits a view of both gulfs (Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San Jose) from a watchtower at the narrowest part of the isthmus connecting Valdes Peninsula with the mainland. A site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals the peninsula will be one of the highlights of this voyage.

If you are more interested in the evolution of animals and fossils, the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio and the Paleontological Park Bryn Gwyn (some 70 kilometres south of Puerto Madryn) will be to your liking. Both the museum and the park have an outstanding collection of fossils from the last 40 million years and will show the evolution of life in this part of Patagonia.

Day 5 — At Sea

Taking advantage of the day at sea, the Expedition Team will present talks about the Falkland Islands (Malvinas -as the Spanish-speaking world calls them) that will prepare you for the exciting adventures ahead.  Birders out on deck want to keep an eye out for Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels and Cape Petrels.

Day 6 — New Island and West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Today you have two opportunities to enjoy the remarkable beauty of the remote Falkland Islands.

During the morning we will visit New Island, a wildlife and nature reserve. The New Island Conservation Trust, a private environmental conservation group, protects its many birds and animals. Our Zodiacs will take us ashore near the island’s small settlement at Coffin Harbour. From there we will hike past the Barnard Memorial Museum crossing the island from east to west to reach the rocky cliffs and a rookery where Rockhopper Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags share the same nesting area. We will also observe Black-browed Albatross going about their daily routines and may even spot Upland Geese on our hike.

Our on-board historian might tell us about ‘Barnard’s barn’ — a stone structure once belonging to an early settler and now a museum, as well as the wreck of Protector III — an old minesweeper used for seal hunting, now grounded just off the shore not too far from our landing site.

During lunch Silver Cloud will sail in a northeasterly direction to West Point Island.  Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins with their distinctive black and white markings can often be spotted as one approaches West Point Island.

Our Zodiacs will take us to a jetty from where we will walk slightly less than 2 miles to Devil’s Nose. Walking across rolling moorland and past gorse we will be observed by Grass Wrens, Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Falkland Thrushes, Striated Caracaras and Turkey Vultures, but our goal is to reach colonies of Black-browed Albatross that nest side-by-side with Rockhopper Penguins. The winds at Devil’s Nose are usually so strong that the albatross only have to spread their wings to take off, while the penguins (as their name implies) have to hop from rock to rock to reach either the shore or their nests.

Once back at the farm, the hospitable island owners will invite you to have tea, coffee and home-made cakes and cookies and are always happy to answer your questions and share their stories.

Day 7 — Stanley, Falkland Islands

Stanley is the capital of the remote Falkland Islands, and –although Argentine authorities have repeatedly claimed the islands as part of their country- has a distinct British ambience. A reminder of the 1982 Falkland War between Britain and Argentina is the War Memorial.

Opt to take a ‘city tour’ by bus with a local guide or stroll through the charming streets of this colourful little town, lined with quaint cottages and a variety of traditional pubs. Visit the 19th-century Anglican cathedral (the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world) and wander through the Falkland Islands Dockyard Museum. For stamp collectors a visit to the Philatelic Bureau is a must.

Depending on local conditions there might be the chance to see Gentoo, Magellanic or King Penguins at Bluff Cove or Volunteer Point.

Day 8 — At Sea

Leaving the Falkland Islands behind, Silver Cloud will head for the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica.

The day at sea will be used to present further lectures. As we are heading for Elephant Island, our on-board Historian might talk about Shackleton’s Endurance expedition and the crew members awaiting their rescue at Point Wild, while our Marine Biologist and Ornithologist will cover the wildlife to be seen.

As part of the preparation to visit Antarctica, briefings regarding correct procedures when going ashore and a thorough inspection of clothing and outdoors gear will take place. Participate in other on-board activities or peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library. Take a stroll on deck and enjoy the solitude and splendour of the vast sea and sky.

Day 9 — Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands

Awesome glaciers and steep cliffs greet us as we approach Elephant Island — so named for its former abundance of elephant seals. The island is home to several Chinstrap Penguin rookeries, Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals as well as old moss colonies. Weddell seals and Macaroni Penguins can also be found here.

When Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea in late 1915, the crew was eventually stranded on the island for 135 days. A solitary bronze bust can be seen at Point Wild, honouring the Chilean pilot Luis Pardo, who took the cutter Yelchoacross the Drake Passage to rescue Shackleton’s men.

Days 10-14 — Antarctic Peninsula

While sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, every turn can reveal a new and breath-taking adventure. The pack ice becomes thicker the closer we are moving into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of close encounters with marine mammals. As late spring is the beginning of the Antarctic season, Silver Cloud will take you to seemingly untouched and never before visited sites.

Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day we will attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, we will cruise amidst colourful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by our team of natural history experts.

A flexible itinerary allows us to take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter. Here are some of the places we may visit:

Antarctic Sound

Named after Nordenskjöld’s ship, this 30 miles long stretch of water at the north end of the Antarctic Peninsula offers some of the best tabular iceberg observations.

Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2,225-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent).

Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-metre-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls, and Cape Petrels use this as a breeding area. Birds such as the all-white Snow Petrel and skuas may be seen from a distance.

As you explore the area, Weddell seals may be seen basking in the sunlight. If conditions permit, a hike onto a nearby glacier might be possible.

Cuverville Island, Errera Channel

The island was discovered during de Gerlache’s Belgica expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice-admiral in the French navy. The large, bare rock areas near the shore provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins, but the penguins also look for exposed rocks on the slopes. Snow Petrels and Pintado Petrels may be seen, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels nest in the higher scree of the island.

Depending on conditions a hike towards the top of the island for stunning panoramic views might be offered. During Zodiac tours, we hope to see hauled-out Weddell seals.

Paradise Bay (on the Antarctic Peninsula)

The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs. From the ship, observe Argentina’s “Base Almirante Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations. Here, you can actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. Close to the station Gentoo Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, Antarctic Terns, Kelp Gulls and skuas have all been seen nesting.

Depending on the conditions we can view the wildlife from sea level while cruising in our Zodiacs or cruise the bay with Silver Cloud. There’s a good chance you’ll come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, or, if you’re very lucky, your Zodiac driver may locate a Minke whale. 

Neko Harbor

The site is named after a whale factory ship, which often used this bay –and Neko Harbor still today offers good chances to see whales. A landing will provide an opportunity to see Gentoo Penguin rookeries and quite possibly Weddell seals and crabeater seals hauled out on the cobble beach. A hike to a lookout point will be a good exercise and will be rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier, Andvord Bay and the Gerlache Strait. 

Port Lockroy, Goudier Island

The British built a listening station on Goudier Island during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s. Bransfield House was restored in 1996 and since then has acted as a museum and gift shop. The Antarctic Heritage Trust operates a post-office at the station, which is open during summer.

Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam outside the museum and leopard seals often patrol the sea.

Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island)

Deception Island is an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. We plan to sail into the caldera through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows and anchor in sight of the former whaling station and the former British Antarctic Survey station.

Our resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area and their importance for science, while our historian might introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.

Conditions permitting, we might hike to Neptune’s Window for spectacular panoramic views.

Days 15-16 — Drake Passage

The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the funnelling effect of the mountain ridges and seafloor pushing winds and water eastwards. When Silver Cloud reaches the Antarctic Convergence, a fluid and fluctuating natural boundary where cold polar waters from the south meet warmer water moving southward, there is another good chance to see whales and seabirds as nutrients are pushed to the surface by the different currents.

Spend some time on deck watching Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmars, Cape Petrels and other seabirds gliding in the air currents of Silver Cloud’s wake.

There will be opportunities to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers, to edit the countless photos taken and to socialize with new friends as we travel north towards Ushuaia.

Day 17 — Ushuaia, Argentina

After breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud and transfer to Ushuaia International Airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires.

Onboard the luxurious Silver Cloud, you will experience;

  • Personalised service – the best crew-to-guest ratio in expedition cruising
  • Butler service in every suite and stateroom – all guests are pampered equally
  • Open-seating dining options – dine when and with whomever you please
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees and soft drinks, plus your own tailored mini-bar
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Gratuities always included in your fare
  • Free WiFi throughout the ship; unlimited in select suite categories

 

Remote North East India and Bhutan (18 days)

Departure Date: 29th December 2016

Experience two lands of contrasting sensibilities from the lesser travelled path of India’s remote north cruising the intriguing Brahmaputra River. A safari takes you in search of the rare one horned rhino through the grasslands where tigers roam. Presenting the key to the Cloud Kingdom of Bhutan, a land steeped in mythology and serenity, we truly push the boundaries of adventure on this two fold enriching encounter. 

  • Step into the colonial world of Kolkata getting close to icons including the Howrah Bridge and Hogg Market
  • Toast 2017 with a Gala Dinner by the pool of one of India’s most spectacular hotels
  • Meander the Brahmaputra River aboard the MV Mahabaahu enjoying Assamese hospitality in comfort
  • Admire the bewitching palaces and temples of Sibsagar
  • Sip the strong black tea of Assam, enjoying the pick of the bunch at a tea plantation
  • Admire the unfathomable intricacies of local handloom weaving in a Mising Village
  • Play dress ups learning how to tie a dhoti and a chador
  • Go in search of one horned rhinos and the elusive tigers of the Kaziranga National Park
  • Get closer to the action enjoying a safari through India’s answer to The Serengeti
  • Sail to Peacock Island to meet the rare and questionably coiffed Golden Langur
  • Fly North to the seldom visited Cloud Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Exhale and relax, breathing in the freshest air on the planet
  • Soak up the serenity of Thimpu, a capital city with barely any traffic
  • Uncover the secrets of Wangdue Phodrang and Punakha Dzong
  • Take the climb to the astonishing Taksang Monastery if you’re feeling sprightly – it’s certainly worth it for that view!

To view the full itinerary, please click here: Remote North East India and Bhutan