Antarctica remains the ultimate, most glorious frontier for exploration and discovery on our planet. Almost alien in immensity, it is a continent of volcanoes, glaciers, islands, and oceans. It is the most elemental wilderness, where the naked might of Nature assaults the senses as in no other place on Earth.
We embark from Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego on a 19-day navigation aboard the elegant 116-passenger Ortelius (see a gallery of images of the ship). Our itinerary is ideal for birding, with planned landings at the endemic-rich Falklands, the South Orkneys, the Antarctic Peninsula, and spectacular South Georgia.
Employing the ship's Zodiacs to reach little-known shores, we'll find ourselves face-to-face with such wonderful creatures as King, Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Magellanic, Macaroni, and Rockhopper penguins, Wandering, Black-browed, and Light-mantled albatrosses, the elegant Snow Petrel, Antarctic and Slender-billed prions, and many more. At sea we will encounter a rich variety of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic oceanic birds, such as Gray-headed and Royal albatrosses, Northern Giant-Petrel, Southern Fulmar, White-chinned, Antarctic (rare), Soft-plumaged, Kerguelen (rare), and Blue petrels, Fairy Prion, Black-bellied and Gray-backed storm-petrels, South Georgia Diving-Petrel, South Polar and Brown skuas, and Antarctic Tern, to name a few. We'll also concentrate on observing the wealth of marine mammals inhabiting these frigid seas, with four to five species of seals including the reptilian Leopard Seal, and whales that ought to include Humpback, Fin, and Minke (and possibly other large whales like Sperm and Right), Orca (Killer Whale), and the exquisite Hourglass, Peale's, and Commerson's dolphins. These cruises often encounter poorly known and rarely seen beaked whales like Arnoux's and Southern Bottlenose.
Beholding the pristine beauty of the Antarctic wilderness, the indefatigable polar explorer Roald Amundsen entered in his diary of November 13, 1911: "Glittering white, shining blue, raven black...the land looks like a fairytale. Pinnacle after pinnacle, peak after peak--crevassed, wild as any land on our globe, it lies, unseen and untrodden. It is a wonderful feeling to travel along it." Join us as we come to know that feeling for ourselves.
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