Home » Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage: Ortelius
This is your unique chance to be part of a true expedition voyage! The Emperor Penguin rookery (ca. 4,000 breeding pairs) is situated south of Snow Hill Island. The idea is mainly to situate ourselves in or between the Antarctic Sound and James Clark Ross Island, close to the ice-edge and observe the emperor penguins on their way to the open water. A helicopter will be used in attempts to search for individual emperor penguins, to make scenic flights and to make helicopter landings in places otherwise inaccessible so early in the season
Visit Paradise Bay, Port Lockroy and sail through the stunning Lemaire Channel
See Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins living their day to day life
Enjoy the peacefulness of the Antarctic Peninsula
Come across Humpback, Minke and Fin Whales
Get a close look at Weddell and Crabeater Seals
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Embark in Ushuaia
Day 2-3: At Sea
Day 4-7: The Weddell Sea and Emperor Pengiun Colony
Day 8: Deception Island
Day 9 and 10: At Sea
Day 11: Departure
Day 1: Departure from Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
Day 2 and 3: At Sea
During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels.
Day 4- 7: The Weddell Sea and Emperor Pengiun Colony
A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.
We will sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. We plan to offer an Antarctic Continent landing at Brown Bluff
During these days we use the ship and the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we have had a high success rate in locating emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us – possible helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.
Possible landing sites is for example Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbled boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is complete with thousands of Adélie penguins nesting on the slopes. A few Gentoo’s is mixed in for fun.
Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area usually only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual Emperor Penguins and Adélie Penguins on the ice floes; Cape-, Snow, and Giant Petrels fly high in the sky while Kelp Gulls, skuas and Wilson’s Storm Petrels scavenge down below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.
A beautiful helicopter flight over huge icebergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors.
If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adélie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.
On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for Emperor Penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie.
Day 8: Deception Island
In the morning we will sail to Deception Island where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. From there we depart into the Drake Passage around noon.
Day 9 and 10: At Sea
In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
Day 11: Arrival in Ushuaia
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark after breakfast.
**Alternative program if the route to Snow hill Island is free of multi-year back-ice (less than 50% chance)
Day 5 - 6: The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor Penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor Penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors Penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor Penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.
Lectures and presentations by expedition leaders and naturalist staff
Transfers and luggage handling
Waterproof boots on loan
All meals during the voyage
What’s not included?
International and internal airfares
Arrival/departure taxes or reciprocity fees, visa fees where applicable
Any items not mentioned as included
A helicopter will be on board during the voyage. Providing the conditions, such as but not limited to ice and weather conditions, ship-to-shore helicopter transfers will be offered but no guarantees can be given, including a specific amount of helicopter time.