Days 13-17 / Antarctic Peninsula
Sail into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness with its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, where you’ll have the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for Humpback, Minke, and Orca Whales to surface from below. Each day the Zodiacs will depart, if conditions permit, to cruise amidst colourful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on excursions led by the Silver Explorer’s team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary will allow you to take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. Each day the expedition leader and captain will determine the best course, depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encountered, with the possibility of visiting:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands (just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait) - Step off the Zodiac to explore the island, and it's very likely you'll be greeted by local penguins, including Gentoo and Chinstrap. Other annual seabirds include the Southern Giant Petrels. While heading back to the ship, you may have company as a leopard seal or southern elephant seal follows alongside your group’s Zodiac.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2200-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 Pintado Petrels use this as a breeding area, and birds such as the all-white Snow Petrel and Skuas may be seen from a distance. As you explore,you may spot a Weddell Seal basking in the sunlight or the Adelie Penguins standing along the shore, finally making their way into the surf.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel - This island was discovered by de Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice admiral in the French navy. Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins, and during Zodiac tours you may spot hauled-out Weddell and Antarctic fur seals; Snow Petrels and Pintado Petrels; while Wilson’s Storm-petrels nest in the higher scree of the island.
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. It's here that you'll actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac with expedition team members and 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 Minke Whales.
Paulet Island - As you arrive, you may be privileged enough to see Adelie Penguins covering the entire island as this island is home to 80-90,000 Adelies that come here to breed. On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of Blue-eyed Shags; Kelp Gulls and Snowy Sheathbills are amongst the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s Storm-petrels are regularly seen too. And, if time permits, hike to Crater Lake or take a Zodiac cruise to view impossibly-blue icebergs and the Adelie penguins making themselves at home on the ice floes.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago - The on-board geologist will take the opportunity to point out various geological features such as the many basaltic dikes along the shoreline and the more granite composition of the small summit, where rock surfaces show glacial polish and some glacial grooving. During the landing, you'll also be able to observe rookeries of Adelie Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago - Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel. Amongst the common breeding birds are Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas. See the Gentoo Penguins during a landing and southern elephant seals that are often hauled-out in wallows, and enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island) - Deception Island is home to a collapsed volcano and 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. The expedition plans to sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. The resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while the historian will 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.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island - The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s and since 1996 as a museum and gift shop. Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam outside the museum and you may also see a whale or two while on your Zodiac cruise.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Colin, your expedition leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for photography and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity.