Encounter whales in close proximity
March is a time of great activity in Antarctic waters and historically we encounter a higher concentration of whales during this period. They are busy feeding prior to their annual migrations to tropical waters. However, scientists are now discovering that some whale species remain in the ice-free sections of Antarctica over winter. We are lucky to be joined on the ship by several world-renowned cetacean (whale) experts and observe their important scientific fieldwork in close proximity. They share with us unique underwater footage and scientific data and interpret the behaviour, migration characteristics and feeding patterns of adult whales and their calves. Their participation on our voyage is greatly valued and provides a fascinating glimpse into cutting-edge Antarctic research.
Seals and sunrises
Antarctica’s seals are found in sizable numbers late in the season, resting and storing energy that will sustain them over winter. For those with a passion for Antarctica's marine mammals, this unique voyage should not be missed. Oh, and did we mention it’s also our favourite time of the year for blazing orange and pink Antarctic sunrises and sunsets?
Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 1. Santiago, Chile
Once you’ve arrived in Santiago, the cultural centre of Chile, make your way to our signature hotel for an included prevoyage stay. This evening, we encourage you to visit the welcome desk set up in the lobby of the hotel to check in with the One Ocean Expeditions' representative and to collect luggage tags for your voyage. By starting your voyage in Santiago, you’ve opened the door to countless pre-voyage excursion opportunities, such as exploring the colourful beach towns of the west coast or wine tasting at renowned vineyards.
DAY 2. Santiago, Chile and Stanley, Falkland Islands - embark RCGS Resolute
We depart Santiago this morning on our special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. We are met on arrival and transfer from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides our first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making our way to the port, we board our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth. [B,D]
DAYS 3-4. At sea towards Antarctica and Elephant Island
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Scotia Sea is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. We are joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history of the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. There is great excitement when the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. This is one of Antarctica's most important historic locations and a fitting introduction. On the rocky beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and his men camped here for many months under their three upturned life boats, having lost their ship, HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. It was from this location that Shackleton and five companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing and crossing of South Georgia on foot is considered one of the greatest tales in polar history. If weather conditions permit, we aim for a Zodiac cruise to view the site from close proximity. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and sets the scene for an exciting expedition. [B,L,D]
DAYS 5-6. Antarctic Sound & Weddell Sea
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating into the sound we witness for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. This is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea we notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation – and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far. The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the penguin rookeries visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions in the Weddell Sea region may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice floes through which we navigate the ship. We have enjoyed a number of emperor penguins sightings in this area in recent years and they are known to inhabit the area. The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjöld’s Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic centuryold story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after the ship had been lost in the ice pack months earlier. As we head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset will make some of us pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before us. [B,L,D]
DAY 7. South Shetland Islands
By morning we arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike, high up onto the rim of the crater. After leaving Deception Island, we cruise along the coast of Livingston Island which on a sunny day is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetlands including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. Hannah Point, with its elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels - is another possibility. In the evening, we navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage. [B,L,D]
DAYS 8-11. Southern Gerlache Strait Exploration
While we’re enjoying the fabulous surroundings and revelling in our busy activity program, the research team will be out in the Zodiacs observing and recording the movements of the migrating whales. This is done through non-invasive tags which attach to the animals using suction cups for around 12-24 hours. The digitally recorded data provides great insight into the feeding behavior, dive profiles and migration patterns of several whale species. The science team will share their observations and findings once back on board the ship and are happy to discuss their important work. It provides a fascinating insight into the current scientific field research happening in Antarctica. As we push further south we have a few more glorious locations to explore. Paradise Harbour provides us with another opportunity for a continental landing. A climb to the top of the hill above the old Argentine refuge reveals another spectacular viewpoint. Zodiac cruising under the cliffs here allows us to observe nesting imperial cormorants, and after a short distance we come to Skontorp Cove. This narrow body of water is surrounded by immense glaciers on three sides – one guest likening it to a ‘heavenly ice cathedral’. It's easy to see why. We continue to push further south, hoping that ice conditions allow for a transit of the Lemaire Channel. Snow covered cliffs tower about the Lemaire on both sides and slowly navigating on the ship through here is a thrilling experience. At Pleneau Island, we visit and observe a substantial gentoo penguin rookery. In the shallow waters nearby, we witness a vast field of icebergs which have run aground after drifting on the current and the winds. For many, a Zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the trip. A working science station is located in the vicinity and a visit to the base provides an intriguing insight into the life of permanent residents in Antarctica. The station staff welcome us ashore and provide a tour of the facilities and explain the important climate change research work taking place. Nearby Winter Island allows for an excellent hike over a snowy saddle to an old historic hut. As we return to the ship, we cast our gaze back to the north towards the soaring peaks of Mount Shackleton and nearby Mount Scott. This is an impressive sight. The time has come for us to weigh anchor and commence ourreturn journey to South America. [B,L,D]
DAYS 12-13. Drake Passage - return to South America
As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts at the multimedia stations and download your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It is a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship. [B,L,D]
DAY 14. Arrive Ushuaia
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. [B]
Please Note: Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.
We include the use of an expedition gear package free of charge. Containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment, this kit includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once, and means more weight allowance for your main luggage.
- Charter flight from Santiago to Stanley
- All cruising on board the RCGS Resolute
Accommodation & Meals
- 1 night pre-cruise accommodation in Santiago
- 12 nights on board the RCGS Resolute
- 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners
- Antarctic gear hire package including waterproof/windproof jacket, bib-pants, insulated comfortable rubber boots, binoculars, trekking pole and waterproof backpack for use on shore
- Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip
- Transfer from the hotel to the airport on embarkation day and from ship to the airport (or downtown location) on disembarkation day
- Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
- 24 hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar lounge plus in cabin tea and coffee making facilities
- Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
- Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
- Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
- Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
- Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). On board or on shore
- Resident photography guide available to assist all guests
- Access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management
- An emergency trained Physician on board every voyage
- Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
- On board sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
- Access to well stocked library full of polar reference books
- End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
- Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
- Any international or local airfares unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary
- Visa and passport expenses
- Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
- Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
- Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
- Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
- Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
- Tipping payable locally, suggested amounts are approx. $15-$20pp US per day
Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices
|Valid From:||This tour does not include flights from Australia to Chile/Argentina. Please contact our office for the latest special fares to match your independent tour.|
|Other departure cities:|
|Tips:||Tipping payable locally, suggested amounts are approx. $15-$20pp US per day|
|Single supplement:||On application|
Single Travellers, please note:
- No single supplement is required if you are happy to share. You would be matched up with a fellow expeditioner of the same gender. If there is no-one suitable to share, you will have sole use of the cabin at no extra cost.
- If you prefer exclusive use of the cabin a single supplement would apply which is 1.5 x the cabin price or 2 x cabin price for suites.
- Triple share cabins are also available for single travellers on a limited basis.
Cabin upgrades and itinerary length variations may be available, please contact Bunnik Tours for more details.
Fitness to Travel
Let's Talk Fitness
At Bunnik Tours we don’t put specific age limits on our tours, but we also recognise some travellers may find our itineraries challenging.
We have a duty of care to all tour participants and the tour guides, so we do impose a firm policy on the level of fitness required by all our clients to attempt to ensure your safety and the safety of other travellers on our tours.
At Bunnik Tours our goal is for all our travellers to enjoy their tour, not struggle through it! Which is why we want to work with you to ensure you are on the best possible trip for your fitness level. We do reserve the right to refuse bookings if we feel that the requirements of the tour are too demanding.
Bunnik Tours are for independently minded travellers with good levels of mobility.
Our tours include:
1. Generous amounts of free time
2. Lots of walking
3. Local and authentic experiences including various modes of transport and accommodation
In some regions travellers can also expect:
1. Long days of travelling, at times on dirt and gravel roads in Africa
2. Extended periods at high altitude (3,000-4,000 metres) in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Ethiopia
3. Extended periods of walking/hiking through humid forest areas in Rwanda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica
4. Limited medical facilities in remote areas
Bunnik Tours travellers are required to at least:
1. Be able to walk 2-3 hours on uneven surfaces
2. Walk up multiple flights of stairs and short, steep hills
3. Stand for 20 minutes without needing to sit down, often in hot/humid climates
4. Carry their own luggage
5. Get on and off various modes of transport without assistance, including small boats
Accommodation is subject to change and every effort is made to avoid this. However if a change does become necessary, accommodation of a similar standard will be used.
One Ocean RCGS Resolute
NEW: 360 Degree Virtual Ship Tour. With the highest possible ice classification, a proven track record for stability and safety, large indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, and exceptional manoeuvrability, RCGS Resolute is ideally equipped to carry you through the world’s most pristine regions. RCGS Resolute carries a maximum of just 146 passengers in great comfort, with an array of amenities, educational opportunities and all of the well known One Ocean Expeditions activities tailored to guests’ particular interests, as well as personalised service. The ship features two expansive full-view dining areas, a forward observation lounge with 180 degree panoramic windows, bridge access, a fleet of 14 zodiacs, multimedia room, modern gym, and wellness centre with massage therapy, steam room, jacuzzi and Finnish sauna.
ON BOARD CRUISE SHIP
Sea kayaking - $795.00pp US
Sea kayaking allows you to experience another side of Antarctica and highly professional guides will introduce you to a slower paced, quieter polar experience. Kayak excursions are offered whenever weather conditions permit and you can expect to get out around six or seven times over the course of your voyage, for periods up to three or four hours. The programme is directed at any passenger with an adventurous spirit and a some previous paddling experience.
Please note: This option MUST be reserved at the time of booking and attracts an additional charge of $795 US per participant. You will need to complete a special questionnaire outlining your previous paddling experience. Ask us for a copy of this document if you are interested in the sea kayaking programme.
Please note, a Reciprocity Fee is payable upon arrival in Chile for Australian passport holders. Please check with your travel agent for further details.
- Australian passport holders
- A Chile Reciprocity Fee of $117pp US is payable upon arrival by cash or credit card.
- Non-Australian passport holders
- Please check with your travel agent on visa requirements.
The following government websites are also a handy source of general information.
Reviews for Marine Mammals of Antarctica
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Have you been on this tour? Have your say below:
- View stunning bird life while crossing the Drake passage
- Marvel at the abundant wildlife across the Antarctic Peninsula
- Cruise past towering Icebergs
- Enjoy time whale spotting
- Be amazed by sizable numbers of seals as they prepare for winter
- Spend time at the South Shetland Islands, one of the most unique wildlife sanctuary's in the world
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Polar Expedition ship
Tipping payable locally, suggested amounts are approx. $15-$20pp US per day
Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The ship's Captain and Expedition Leader will adjust the itinerary to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlifeView Tour Map