MEDICAL & DENTAL CONFERENCE
26 February - 8 March 2020
THIS JOURNEY TAKES YOU FURTHER SOUTH – BELOW THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE
This remote stretch of the Antarctic Peninsula is visited for just a few short months each year. From January onwards, seasonal ice conditions give us our best chance of achieving our objective - crossing the Antarctic Circle. Here we witness expansive landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries and we hope to see the large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation on this expedition. Detaille Island, below the Circle is a spectacular location. The snowy peaks which surround us, soar more than 2,000 meters above the ice-strewn waters. We aim to cross 66 degrees, 33 minutes south of latitude, which officially marks the position of the Antarctic Circle on the global map. We then return north, along the heavily glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine, Fish and Yalour Island archipelagos along the way and into the Gerlache Strait and Danco coast region. Several locations in the South Shetland Islands provide yet more fascinating places to explore.
Over the course of the voyage, there is an exciting selection of activities to choose from each and every day – including short or long hikes ashore, visits to historic points of interest and wildlife colonies, Zodiac cruising looking for whales and seals or simply photographing the incredible icebergs. Such activities are enjoyed in the company of our onboard team of wilderness guides, naturalists and photographers.
TUESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2020 - AUSTRALIA TO SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Continue on from the Pre-Conference Tour of the Atacama Desert or depart Australia and fly to Santiago where we will spend the night at the airport hotel.
WEDNESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2020 - SANTIAGO (CHILE) TO STANLEY (FALKLAND ISLANDS)
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.
THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2020 - TOWARDS ANTARCTICA
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as make our way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques.
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2020 - CONTINUE TOWARDS ANTARCTICA
Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. As we approach the coastline of Antarctica, we start to encounter icebergs and anticipate our first whale sightings.
SATURDAY 29 FEBRUARY 2020 SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
We awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of Antarctica's fringing islands are laid out before us. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
The McFarlane Strait makes a natural entry point into the South Shetlands. There are several landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. In the afternoon, we cruise along the coast of Livingston Island which in a sunny day is a memorable experience. 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.
SUNDAY 1 MARCH - ANTARCTIC PENINSULA EXPLORATION
Overnight we have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and aim for the broad expanse of Willhelmina Bay. This is a known whale 'hot-spot'. It's a rich feeding ground for humpback and minke whales and we hope to encounter these gentle giants from the ship or when cruising in the Zodiacs.
This is a spectacular location, featuring sweeping views of the glaciers up to the mountainous ridge of the Antarctic peninsula. Nearby lies the Errera Channel - home to several exceptional sites, including Cuverville Island with its substantial gentoo penguin rookery, Ronge Island and the snow-capped dome of Danco Island. In the soft evening light, we commence our journey south, towards the Antarctic Circle.
MONDAY 2 MARCH 2020 ANTARCTIC CIRCLE CROSSING
We have covered substantial distance overnight as we head south. Our objective is to cross the Antarctic Circle this afternoon, hoping for a shore landing at Detaille Island. An abandoned British science station - ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors.
We toast our success on crossing the Antarctic Circle turning our gaze northwards, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration, which is exactly what we plan to do.
TUESDAY 3 MARCH 2020 - SOUTHERN GERLACHE COASTLINE
Heading north, the peaks of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott loom on the horizon. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings and observation of the gentoo penguins who nest here in large numbers. Just offshore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine.
For many, a Zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage. If ice conditions permit, we aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on our way north towards Paradise Harbour, which provides a continental landing opportunity. There is a wonderful hike here, up to a high point which provides jaw-dropping views. Zodiac cruising in the glacial amphitheatre of Skontorp Cove is also a possibility.
WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 2020 - SOUTHERN GERLACHE COASTLINE
We navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island - a little visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and we often encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbour also allows for another off-ship excursion. This is an important whale migration corridor and we expect sightings of humpbacks, or the resident pod of Orca that inhabit this stretch of water.
THURSDAY 5 MARCH 2020 - AITCHO ISLANDS
The adventure is not over, and we plan visits to several additional landing sites in the South Shetland group including the Aitcho Islands. There are some great hiking routes here showcasing the colourful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, we usually encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point situated on Greenwich Island is another favoured location for a visit. Eventually we leave the snow-covered peaks behind us, pushing northwards on our return trip to the Falkland Islands.
FRIDAY 6 MARCH 2020 - DRAKE PASSAGE
As we make our way back to Stanley and the Falkland Islands, the educational presentations continue, and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images.
SATURDAY 7 MARCH 2020 - RETURN TO STANLEY AND THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
Approaching the coast of the southern Falkland Islands in the early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
SUNDAY 8 MARCH 2020 - ARRIVE STANLEY (FALKLAND ISLANDS) – FLY BACK TO CHILE
This morning we find ourselves back in the port of Stanley. We say goodbye to our crew and after some free time in town, make our way to the airport for our return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago our journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. Discuss the options with your booking agent. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.
Overnight at the Santiago Airport Hotel.
MONDAY 9 MARCH 2020
Depart Santiago and fly back to Australia, crossing the international date line and arriving on 10 March 2020
OR Join us on the Post Conference tour of Patagonia