Medical Conference in Antarctica
28 February - 16 March 2018
Be awed by massive sparkling blue icebergs floating in an endless sea; be dazzled by the sweeping ice sheet that spans the entire continent; be overwhelmed by towering mountains reflecting spectacular sunsets; be thrilled by the glorious abundance of wildlife – cute-looking penguins waddling and tobogganing across the snow, plump seals basking on ice floes, sleek dolphins frolicking at the bow of the ship, magnificent whales breaching and blowing and millions of birds breeding and raising their chicks. Be inspired by the pristine beauty of Antarctica.
Join us for this remarkable expedition to Antarctica – truly the last natural frontier!!
Wednesday 28th February 2018 - Buenos Aires
Arrive in Buenos Aires and check into hotel.
Thursday 1st March 2018 - Buenos Aires
Morning tour of the artistic town of Buenos Aires.
Friday 2nd March 2018 - Buenos Aires - Ushuaia
Fly to Ushaia, the southernmost city in the world. Check into your beautiful hotel overlooking the Beagle Channel with spectacular views of the imposing Andes Mountain Range.
Saturday 3rd March 2018 - Ushuaia – Expedition ship
Free morning to explore town.
Late this afternoon board our expedition ship. (see end of itinerary and costs for ship and cabin details)
Leave behind the towering shores and sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel for the two day crossing of Drake Passage. Surrounded by nothing but sea, shadowed by albatross and petrels, you realise that a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula is a journey to the most remote reaches of our planet. Along the way, as well as the conference, you will begin to learn about the wildlife, history and ecology of Antarctica. But nature is unpredictable and uncontrollable – so we might get “Drake’s Lake” or the “Drake Shake”.
Accommodation: on board
4th March 2018 - Beagle Channel and Drake Passage
Our expedition ship has a state of the art stabilising system and the ship’s doctor will drug us to the hilt if necessary! Cross the Antarctic Convergence where the relatively warmer waters of the subantarctic meet the cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters and soon you will be rewarded. The excitement builds as you spot the first icebergs in the distance and soon you are surrounded by magnificent sparkling white and blue-tinged ice sculptures of every shape and size that have calved from the Antarctic ice sheet. Sea-birds whirl above you and you will thrill to the site of whales swimming gracefully close by.
Accommodation: on board
5th - 10th March 2018 - Antarctic Peninsula
Over the next five there will be onshore and zodiac expeditions.
Be awestruck by the breathtaking scenery and abundance of wildlife. Twice a day board small Zodiacs so you can marvel up close at nature’s glory. Here is a sample of what you might experience ( subject to weather conditions):
Fur and elephant seals make a fabulous welcoming committee for your excursion to King George Island one of several of the South Shetlands you will visit.
Wildlife abounds, as you explore the island, with colonies of nesting Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Kelp Gulls, Blue-eyed Cormorants, Antarctic Terns and Southern Giant Petrels.
Find out about working life in Antarctica when you visit one of several international scientific research stations. Peak into the tiny Holy Trinity, a Russian orthodox church, complete with priest and assistant… perhaps life in such a remote place at the mercy of nature is the perfect place for a conversion!
Livingston Island, another in the icy South Shetland archipelago, will provide a wealth of wildlife viewing: rotund Weddell seals and fat elephant seals – the males masters of their harems; skuas aggressively protecting their territory; petrels – named after St Peter because they appear to walk on water; and rookeries of chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguins – you’ll soon tell them apart – macaronis have a tufty orange “monobrow”
Pass through Neptune’s Bellows into the sheltered waters of Deception Island.
A snow-covered circle of peaks melt into an abstract picture of ash-grey and brick- red slopes, reaching the black-sand beach from which waft clouds of sulphurous steam.
Yes, you are in the crater of a “restless” volcano. Pintadoo petrels, their nests on the rocky cliffs, wheel about above you.
On shore, you hear the clacking cacophony and pick up the tell-tale smell of a huge Chinstrap penguin rookery – we are talking 50,000 couples here!!
You can’t help but attribute human qualities to these gorgeous birds as you observe their busy parenting.
You can explore the ruins of an old whaling station. If you are brave, you can even take a dip in the (relatively) warm waters of Whaler’s Cove.
Our captain will navigate the spectacular Lemaire Channel, deftly nudging aside ice floes. Over the gentle thrum of the engine expect to hear appreciative sighs of fellow passengers and the click, click clicking of cameras as you glide between 1,000 metre sheer cliffs, their jagged clefts carved by glistening blue-hued glaciers. With luck you will be accompanied by Orca and humpback whales.
At the end of the Channel are a very photogenic pair of tall, rounded snow-capped peaks know as Una’s tits – apparently named after the last woman a couple of workers saw before heading to Antarctica for a 2 year (woman-free) stint!
Aboard your zodiac you weave between spectacular icebergs, colours ranging from sparkling white to aquamarine. Some are enormous flat-topped (“tabular”) affairs, others smaller – perhaps a comfortable spot for a couple of fur-seals to bask. Some have sharp, jagged faces, others are smooth and rounded from the action of water and wind. Imagine being so close to a Minke whale that as he surfaces you are showered with his spume.
Arrive at Paradise Harbour to the dazzling face of a glacier which has carved its way between rugged cliffs, their blue-green patina dotted by patches of orange and yellow lichen. This is when you feel utterly over-awed by nature. Blue-eyed shags nest on the cliffs above you and ashore you discover the stone ruins of a survival hut provide a perfect nesting place for a colony of busy little Adelie penguins.
The silence is suddenly punctuated by a gunshot crack as an iceberg calves from the face of a glacier at Neko Bay, on the Antarctic mainland. From the rocking zodiac in an aquamarine sea dotted with ice floes, you look up to the massive crevasses and fissures of the glacier and a jaw-dropping backdrop of craggy icy mountains. Birds of so many kinds glide above – you begin to take them for granted. You zip around on the look-out and are rewarded by sightings of Orca, Humpback and Minke whales. What a thrill.
On shore at nearby Port Lockroy, the welcoming committee of seals and penguins await. Pass by to visit Barnsfield House, a beautifully restored British research station a wonderful insight into the pioneering days of polar expeditions.
And, an opportunity to send off a few postcards … yes, there is a post office and gift shop because no Unconventional Conventions trip would be complete without a shopping opportunity!
And so much more:
- experts to educate you about all aspects of Antarctica
- history, geography, climate, fauna, flora
- photography instruction
- walking and hiking excursions on snow and ice
- an opportunity to camp on the ice
- sea kayaking (special conditions apply)
- massage/health spa on board
11th & 12th March 2018 - Drake Passage and Beagle Channel
As you leave this magical place and head across the Drake Passage, reflect on this extraordinary experience and share tales and photos with your fellow passengers.
Round Cape Horn and enter the quiet waters of the Beagle Channel and enjoy a final celebratory dinner and your last night on board.
Accommodation: on board
Tuesday 13th March 2018 - Ushuaia
Disembark in Ushuaia in the morning and transfer to hotel. Spend the day lazing about the hotel or book your own adventure tour for the day.
Wednesday 14th March 2018 - Ushuaia - Buenos Aires
This morning we fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires in the morning. You have the day free to explore town and get some shopping done.
This evening we will be having our last dinner together at the world famous Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango show.
Thursday 15th March 2018 - Buenos Aires
You have the whole day free to explore Buenos Aires.
Friday 16th March 2018 - Buenos Aires - Australia
Depending on the flights that you have arranged, you will begin your travel back to Australia. The scheduled group flights will stopover in Santiago for 3 hours, before continuing back to Australia, arriving 18 March 2018 (crossing the international date line)