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An Epic Expedition to Antarctica
If any place can accurately be described as the last frontier, it is the intriguingly untamed, frozen land of the southernmost continent, Antarctica. Experience it for yourself on Silversea’s 18-day Ushuaia to Ushuaia Antarctica Expedition, which takes you from the tip of South America across the Drake Passage, named after the famous explorer who circumnavigated the world from 1577 to 1580. You’ll pass orcas swimming through the dark, dramatic sea before arriving at the Antarctica Peninsula, where seals float by on ice floes and penguins dot the coastline. 

Along the way you’ll enjoy the comforts of life aboard Silver Explorer. Fewer than 150 passengers share the two dining venues and 12 Zodiac crafts. At the end of each day’s adventures, you’ll return to your spacious suite; 80 percent of them offer verandahs with views of the ocean and sometimes breaching whales too.

We sent AFAR Ambassador Rachel Rudwall on a recent Antarctica expedition with Silversea. To get her firsthand perspective, check out highlights of her voyage in 10 inspiring photos and her reflections on what it means to travel responsibly in Antarctica
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    Day 1
    Ushuaia
    After a night in Buenos Aires, included in your fare, you’ll depart for Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego—a region named for the fires of the Yaghan people that Ferdinand Magellan saw burning when he sailed the coast. Ushuaia is now a jumble of colorful buildings between the sea and the Martial Mountains, which form a striking snowcapped backdrop.

    Here you’ll board Silver Explorer, your home at sea for the next 10 days. After a safety drill, it’s time to set sail south. Behind you Tierra de Fuego, with its coastal villages and peaks soaring to heights of over 8,000 feet, will gradually recede into the distance and you’ll admire the same view of the tip of South America as did explorers and naturalists including Sir Francis Drake and Charles Darwin.
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    Day 2
    At Sea
    Your first stop on your journey will be the Falkland Islands, and en route you’ll be able to take in the spectacular beauty and power of the ocean and watch for the avian species found here, far from land. You’ll also have time to explore Silver Explorer, meet your fellow guests, and attend lectures by ornithologists, marine biologists, and other experts.
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    Day 3
    West Point Island
    Located slightly northwest of West Falkland, West Point Island is used for sheep farming and nature observations. Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins, with their distinctive black and white markings, can usually be seen in the waters near the island. Rolling moorland and steep cliffs make for great photographic opportunities, but the main attraction is the Devil’s Nose, a cliffside colony of black-browed albatrosses nesting side-by-side with feisty rockhopper penguins. Magellanic penguins and Magellanic cormorants can also be found on the island.
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    Day 4
    Saunders Island
    Saunders Island, the fourth-largest of the Falkland Islands, sits in the western portion of the archipelago. The island’s topography is unusual, being made up of three peninsulas linked by narrow necks, and three big upland areas. Today the island is run as a sheep farm, but it has historical importance as the location of the first British settlement in the Falklands. The wildlife on Saunders Island is also impressively varied.
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    Photo By Liam Quinn
    Day 5
    Stanley
    Tiny Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, seems in many ways like a British village fallen out of the sky. Many homes are painted in bright colors, adding visual appeal to this distant outpost. Not far offshore, the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, is one of the many vessels remaining as silent testimonials to the region's frequent harsh weather conditions. The islands, also known by their Spanish name of Islas Malvinas, are home to more tuxedo-clad inhabitants of the penguin variety than human residents.
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    Days 6 and 7
    Sail to South Georgia
    The next two days give you time to bask in life aboard Silver Explorer. You likely will want to take advantage of the lecture series covering the natural and human histories of Antarctica. The expedition team is comprised of experts from a variety of backgrounds and their entertaining presentations, rich with images and videos gathered over the length of their long careers, typically spark thoughtful discussions. There are also less cerebral activities to choose from: wine tastings, spa treatments, or borrowing a DVD from the library to watch in your suite.
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    Days 8 to 10
    South Georgia
    South Georgia is a breathtaking destination of towering snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers, and low-lying grasslands that attract an astounding concentration of wildlife. It is possible to find southern fur seals, southern elephant seals, and a variety of albatross species including black-browed, light-mantled sooty, gray-headed and the spectacular wandering albatross, plus thousands of King and Macaroni Penguins. South Georgia is also linked to many of the early Antarctic explorers, and it’s possible to visit sites associated with those expeditions.
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    Days 11 and 12
    Antarctic Sound
    Enjoy these days at sea as a perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. Whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones, or simply enjoying a good book—perhaps a tale of one of the expeditions to reach the South Pole—sea days are the perfect balance to others spent exploring the sites of the frozen continent.
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    Day 13
    Elephant Island
    Awesome glaciers flecked with pink algae can be seen approaching Elephant Island—so named either for its elephant-like appearance or for sightings of elephant seals here. Elephant Island is home to several chinstrap penguin rookeries, as well as 2,000-year-old moss colonies. Weddell seals and Macaroni penguins can also be spotted. In 1916, when Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the crew was stranded here for more than four months finding shelter under two upturned lifeboats on the spit of land Shackleton’s men named "Point Wild."
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    Days 14 and 15
    Antarctic Peninsula
    Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals and the iconic penguins. The Antarctic Peninsula—the portion of the continent closest to South America—has a human history of almost 200 years, with explorers, sealers, whalers, and scientists arriving first to then eventually be followed by intrepid visitors like you coming to experience this pristine and remote wilderness.
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    Days 16 and 17
    Cross the Drake Passage
    The Drake Passage has been described as a conveyor belt of storms traveling west from the Atlantic into the Pacific. With no major landmasses to slow their progress, the result can be a wild journey with waves exceeding 40 feet.

    Somewhere along the passage, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence, also known as the South Polar Frontal Zone, the boundary that marks the end of the relatively closed eco-system of Antarctica. Here, where the cooler waters of the polar ocean meet the warmer ones flowing down from more temperate latitudes, the small shrimp known as krill rise to the surface. And, as you will discover on your journey, where there are krill, there are birds too. Albatross, sooty shearwaters, and petrels fill the air in the wake of the ship. Make sure to bring your binoculars and camera to the deck.
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    Photo By CucombreLibre
    Day 18
    Arrive in Ushuaia
    After breakfast this morning, you’ll bid final goodbyes to your fellow guests and crew before you disembark for Ushuaia and then a transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires.