Travel far south by ship to Antarctica to partake in one of the most exclusive wildlife experiences on the planet with the best expedition team in the polar regions, Quark Expeditions, on their “Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill.” You’ll be one of the few humans ever to mingle with emperor penguins—the world’s largest penguins, some topping four feet tall. Your viewing will be from a safe distance, after a helicopter landing near the remote Snow Hill Island rookery, home to some 8,000 breeding pairs of the penguins.
Quark Expeditions offers the experience only on their Ultramarine expedition ship, equipped with two twin-engine helicopters that take off from the ship’s top deck in intimate groups of 7-9 guests. It’s a thrilling aerial adventure that’s included in your fare. Quark’s expert team will also lead exciting expeditions on Zodiac landing craft and hikes that will enlighten you about the animals and the icy landscape you see. Back on the ship, hear fascinating lectures about Antarctica and the creatures that live on the “White Continent.”
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Day 1Embrace the Flavor of Buenos Aires
A great place to stretch your legs is the Recoleta Cemetery, one of the most impressive cemeteries in the world, where mini streets take you past dramatic, building-sized marble mausoleums in styles that include Art Deco, Baroque and Art Nouveau. Among those occupying the tombs is Eva “Evita” Peron. For dinner, you might want to visit one of the many restaurants featuring grilled meats and Argentinian wines.
Day 2Fly to The Southernmost City in The World
With a population of about 75,000 and located on a wide bay on the largest island in Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is a starting point for cruises to Antarctica as well as a popular destination for vacationing Argentinians, with its nearby beaches and glacial hiking trails. Downtown is plentiful with shops and boutiques, and bars and cafes.
To learn about the region’s history, The End of the World Museum, located in two historic buildings, has exhibits on the island’s Indigenous people and local fauna, as well as shipwrecks that occurred near the island in the early days of expeditions. Another fascinating place to visit is The Maritime Museum located in the old Ushuaia prison, for a history of the inmates—both serial offenders and political prisoners—who were sent to the remote destination, and how they helped build the city.
You’ll want to be on deck as your ship embarks, sailing along the historic Beagle Channel, with views of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago as you leave the tip of South America. The next time you’ll see land will be in Antarctica.
Days 3-4Seabirds and Whales in the Drake Passage
The passage attracts many seabirds. Flying overhead may be such bird species as Antarctic giant petrels and wandering albatross. Keep your eye on the water for possible sightings of hourglass dolphins and humpback, killer, minke, and fin whales. Your expedition team will keep you well informed on any wildlife appearances.
Day 5Polar History and Penguin Education
Tomorrow you’ll begin five days in the vicinity of Snow Hill Island, either on tour to the penguin colony or immersing yourself in custom-designed Weddell Sea experiences.
Days 6-10Real-Life Penguin Parade
The rookery is located on sea ice off the south coast of the island, and the helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, without disturbing the birds. You’ll walk across ice on paths carved by penguins for a closer look at the fabled colony. You are one of the few people in the world ever to experience close access to thousands of the birds—and you’ll hear them even before you see them. Experts on the expedition team will be on hand to provide details on how the penguins care for their young and to assure you see everything nature delivers on this adventure of a lifetime.
In addition to your rare penguin encounter, each day in the Weddell Sea you will be immersed in polar experiencesincluding Zodiac cruising among icebergs and landing on ice, as well as such adventures as paddle-on-top kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and, if you dare, partaking in a polar plunge.
The emperor penguins near Snow Hill are the goal of this expedition, though other sites may be alternatively explored should weather and ice conditions prevent or shorten access to the colony. Other possible landings would take place on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula—in which case you may visit rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins as well as historic reminders such as huts left by explorers on the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04.