South Atlantic & Antarctic Peninsula
We have a number of voyages sailing mainly from Ushuaia on the southern tip of South America across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. If you have time, it is well worth taking a longer voyage to explore more of the South Atlantic and visit The Falklands, South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands on the way. Intrepid explorers with a taste for the wild will be tempted by our voyages to the Weddell Sea.
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of Antarctica’s mainland. Its mountainous peaks rise to around 2,800 metres and are thought to be a continuation of the South American Andes. The first landing was probably made by the seal hunter John Davis at the end of the 19th century, whilst the first major exploration was made between 1901 and 1904 by Otto Nordenskiöld who led the Swedish Antarctic Expedition. In the continent’s more recent history, the 1950s saw a significant increase in the number of research bases as Britain, Chile and Argentina competed to make claims over the territory.
The peninsula enjoys the mildest climate in Antarctica, and whilst it is covered in tundra, it is the sea that provides the larder for the continent’s wildlife. Seals that can be found include leopard, Weddell, southern elephant and crabeater seals. Penguin species include the chinstrap, emperor, gentoo and adelie, Petermann Island being home to the world's southernmost colony of gentoo penguins. They return each year and their rookeries can be more than 10,000 strong. Seabirds include several species of petrel, southern fulmar, imperial shag, snowy sheathbill, south polar and brown skuas, kelp gull and Antarctic tern.
For those who want to boldly go as far south as possible, we offer extended voyages that continue on from the peninsula southwards to the Argentine Islands, visiting Crystal Sound and the Fish Islands, one of the most southerly places to find colonies of adelie penguins. The aim is to reach as far as Detaille Island, south of the Polar Circle.
Fiona’s travel tips
DON’T MISS: Camping overnight on the peninsula to experience Antarctic weather close up. It might seem tough at the time but you won’t regret it! Don’t forget to pre-book as it’s popular.
LET US KNOW: If you have a former connection with any of the polar regions we visit by ship. Perhaps you or a relative lived on one of the bases, or were a member of a past expedition? We can offer you the chance to share your experiences, diaries or photographs with others on your voyage. In the past we’ve even got the ship to make unscheduled visits to tie in with such an event.
“I've seen the most wonderful aspects of mother nature in the most inhospitable area of the world, also the most heartrending part in the fight for survival in the animal kingdom. The service by Fiona was second to none and I would not have accomplished half of it by doing it myself. Everything I needed was at my fingertips before I left the UK without having to worry that I had forgotten anything.”
Rhona Cox, Crossing the Polar Circle, Antarctic, February 2016
“I have never travelled abroad on my own, but the years are ticking by, so it was Go, Now. I was surprised to be alone, but the arrangements were so clearly laid out that I decided that this was all part of my ‘pioneering spirit’. The escorts could not have been better, especially at Buenos Aires where I was initially nervous of city life. They took me under their wing, looked out for me, and were always at my side when I needed them. They were just great. And on board the expedition ship, the camaraderie was so terrific that all my earlier worries just evaporated. Thank you Arcturus for my wonderful experience.”
Clare Keast, Antarctica and the Patagonian Coast, March 2016
“Your arrangements for our recent trip worked well and we had outstanding help from our guide in Buenos Aires.”
James and Shelagh Westwood, Argentina
Excerpt from an email sent to their guide by our clients:
“We should like to thank you for all the hard work and research which you did, particularly on my behalf, to find out all that you discovered about my grandfather, my uncle and my aunt. Your guided tours each day in Buenos Aires were excellent (it must be so difficult to know what to show clients of your fascinating city) and your choices of where to take us and what to show us were perfect. I now have a much clearer picture of my family background and, thanks to you, have learnt so much more about the Cromwell roots. Once again, enormous thanks for all that you did to help to make our visit to Buenos Aires so unforgettable.”
James and Shelagh Westwood, Argentina
“Having arrived back overnight, I was going to email you, but you got there first! It was a wonderful trip. Awasi, in particular, was amazingly good in every respect. I’ll get to the questionnaire in due course, but I did want to say thank you and how much we enjoyed ourselves. I do hope we will get to travel with Arcturus again”.
Andrew and Hilary Reicher, Argentina and Chile
“The whole trip was successful and memorable. I was very pleased with the private guides you arranged who were charming and helpful. The drivers were excellent and all very polite and pleasant. I had the services of the same guide three times in Buenos Aries and she was she was very keen to make sure that I was safe before she left.”
Eileen Turner, Argentina
“We had a fabulous holiday, the scenery and wildlife were fantastic. I think I can now recognise all the different penguin and seal species! The ship and the crew were very good, no problems. Thank you for organising the holiday for us, and I'd have no hesitation in recommending you for any future trips.”
Mr and Mrs Glen Anderson, Antarctic voyage
“The holiday was great and met all my expectations – all the connections worked like clockwork. The cruise was fantastic and we landed on all except the South Orkneys which were ice bound. Food was very good and plenty of it – Iguazu was really good and connections etc worked well – the room was fantastic with Falls view as specified – at the end of the day it was good to relax by the pool and enjoy the Bacardi and coke as you do. Thanks for organising the trip it was one in a lifetime.”
Allen Cooper, The Falklands, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Antarctic Peninsula discovery cruise
“As you know, I have waited 60 years for this and the whole Plancius experience on the exact centenary of Scott’s last expedition was just magical. Absolutely brilliant.”
John Sharples, Antarctic Peninsula
“In December 2012 I was able to fulfil my dream of setting foot on Antarctica despite my age (83 and eight months) and disability. Thanks to Fiona’s meticulous planning and the resulting support of guides and the Plancius crew at every step en-route and on the boat, I was able to travel there and back alone, and to enjoy shore landings and zodiac rides. A truly stunning experience. I realise how blessed I was to have so much encouragement and help both from Fiona and the expedition team.”
Dr Grete Gross, Antarctic Peninsula voyage
“It was a fascinating voyage with lasting impressions. The wildlife both on the Falklands and on Antarctica is incredibly rich. The organisation on board the ship was very good. Among the talks given by the scientific crew I enjoyed the witty talks by Robert Headland the most. The familiar atmosphere in the lodges on Sea Lion Island and on Carcass Island was very nice indeed. Last but not least I should like to thank you for the impeccable organisation on your part.”
Mr Hubert Kalf, Epic Antarctica icebreaker voyage
“Most helpful, informative, and friendly service at all stages. Absolutely spectacular trip which exceeded my already high expectations. Brilliant value for money, notwithstanding the high cost. It says it all that I was looking at your brochure for a future trip, as soon as I got back!”
Judith Philip, Antarctic Peninsula