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Legendary Snow Hill - March to the Emperor Penguins 2018

600 miles south of Cape Horn you find the world’s most isolated and remote wilderness. This dramatic continent has attracted explorers, adventurers and researchers for centuries. Here we experience a world of tranquillity and grandeur, where the superlatives are both many and remarkable. We are happy proud to offer an expedition to the Weddell Sea, where we hope to visit the remote and magnificent Emperor penguin colony on Snow Hill Island.

Accommodation: Hotel, cabin on board Kapitan Khlebnikov. Transport: Expedition ship, Zodiac, helicopter. Ship: Kapitan Khlebnikov. Passengers: 110 passengers. Languages: English. Length: 14 days, 12 nights on ship. Price: From USD 19 995. Departures: 11 November 2018


Day 1 – Ushuaia

We begin our journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. Ushuaia is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for our adventure ahead. It is possible to get active in the mountains or savour some handcrafted chocolate at a café in town.

Day 2 – Embarkation Day

In late afternoon, we are transferred from our group hotel to the pier, where we board the impressive ice breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov – our home for the next 12 days. When we have settled in our cabins we leave Ushuaia and head for the world’s most remote wilderness – and so our great adventure has begun! On our way south we pass through the historic Beagle Channel, which opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Named after the famed ship on which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents many great photo opportunities to capture seabirds hovering overhead and possibly seals and sea lions cavorting in the water.

Days 3 and 4 – At Sea

These two days will have an air of anticipation, as we prepare for our first landing at the elusive Snow Hill rookery where we hopefully will experience many unforgettable encounters with the magnificent emperor penguins. Plenty of activities will keep us engaged at sea, including educational and informative presentation by our Expedition Team. We will learn about things as the history of whaling in Antarctica and the emperor penguin’s biology, unique habitat and adaptive behaviour. Out on deck we have our binoculars and cameras ready, looking out for wandering albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins. As we cross the polar front, we keep our eyes open for the trips first iceberg which can appear at any time.

Days 5 to 11 – Weddell Sea and Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin Colony

No two polar expeditions are alike; particularly this voyage through the icy Weddell Sea, our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife. We always strive to maximize your experience, and please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition! But our expeditions have some elements in common, such as landings, wildlife sightings and a lot of ice! Having broken away from the ice shelf, large tabular icebergs will announce our arrival to Antarctica.

Emperor penguins are unique as they breed on ice far into the Antarctic continent. This means they are difficult to encounter but as we travel with a very powerful ice breaker and use helicopters we have great chances to reach all the way trough, and on the sea ice outside Snow Hill Island we find Antarctica’s northernmost emperor rookery. It was discovered as late as 1997 and was visited by humans for the first time in 2004. The Captain of the ship will navigate and position it within helicopter range of the rookery, and when we have landed we walk approximately 2 km over the sea ice before we get to see the penguins!

As we draw near, keep your eyes peeled for curious penguins that may be attracted to the open water by the ship. Deployed in a rotation of flights, our on-board helicopters will land at distance large enough not to disturb the birds. Since you must carry your own gear to the rookery and back across the sea ice, you’ll want to keep items in your backpack to a minimum. 

A must-bring however, should be your camera. Any visit to the rookery can reward you with that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Your expedition team will include a professional photographer who will conduct on board workshops and assistance on site for everyone who has an interest in photography, whether you are a beginner or more experienced.

Even though it isn’t possible to predict how many excursions will occur during our expedition, can we rest assured that our Expedition Leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, and we will be able to spend as much time in the area as possible and to see the emperor penguins in their natural habitat. Since we are visiting early in the rearing season the emperor chicks are still young and we might see them brooding on their parents’ feet or even huddling together in large communal groups. It’s also possible to catch the impressive sight of a constant trail of adult birds walking or tobogganing in single file from the sea to the rookery to feed the chicks. Listen closely for a parent trumpeting upon its return to the rookery - the call is instantly recognized by the chick, who whistles in response.

To protect the penguins, we’ll remain at least five meters away, but emperor penguins are curious and unafraid of humans so if we stand still and remain quiet the birds may come closer. If you are crouching on the ice, eyes focused through your camera lens, pause for a moment and look around – you may find yourself surrounded by the very birds you’ve been trying to photograph!

Day 12 to 13 – At Sea

A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. We share stories and photos with each other in the ships lounge, relax with a great book in the library or listen to the guides inspiring and interesting lectures about topics such as exploration history or the Southern Ocean’s wildlife. Out on deck we keep our eyes open for the large seabirds that have accompanied mariners through the Southern Ocean since Fernando Magellan made his first navigation of the globe.

Day 14 – Ushuaia

This morning, we say farewell to our expedition team and fellow travellers before disembarking and begin our journey home.

The trip is operated by Quark Expeditions. All information before and during this trip will therefore be in English, guiding and lectures included.      

Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When travelling in extremely remote regions, your Expedition Team must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a polar expedition.  

Special lecturers - Vanessa Berlowits & Larent Chalet 

Exclusive for the trip 11-24 November 2018 is that Vanessa Berlowitz, producer of Frozen Planet and with 23 years of experience from working at BBC, as well as Laurent Chalet, famous for his awarded documentary March of the Penguins, are following as inspirers and special lecturers.

The ship Kapitan Khlebnikov

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Kapitan Khlebnikov was built in 1981 by the Finnish industrial group Wärtsilä, one of the world's leading builders of icebreakers. The ship is not only ice-reinforced but can break ice as thick as two meters and is therefore well adapted to navigate in the frozen waters of our polar regions - no other passenger ship has crossed the Northwest Passage more times and it was not only the first ship to circumnavigate Antarctica, it has done it twice!

The ship has been renovated to accommodate passengers in 54 spacious and comfortable cabins and suites, all with private facilities. On board there are two dining rooms, a lecture hall, a small heated pool, gym, sauna, library and lounge. From deck and the bridge you are able to enjoy the magic surroundings. In addition to Zodiacs Kapitan Khlebnikov uses helicopters for ice reconnaissance as well as passenger excursions.

Cabins & prices

Cabin category Price per person
Triple USD 19 995
Twin USD 29 995
Suite USD 32 995
Corner Suite USD 34 995

As a member in PolarQuest Club you get five percent discount on the price of the trip. Read more and become a member on!

Price includes: 12 nights on board Kapitan Khelbnikov . 1 night at hotel in Ushuaia before the expedition . Transfer to/from the ship and between the airport and hotel in Ushuaia* . All meals on board Kapitan Khlebnikov . Coffee, tea, soft drinks and cookies . An experienced Expedition Leader and knowledgeable guides . All lectures/talks . All landings according to program . All excursions with Zodiacs according to program . All flights with helicopter according to program . Waterproof expeditions boots on loan and a parka to keep . Port charge . Emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of USD 500,000 per person . Comprehensive pre-departure material . Gratuity for shipboard staff and crew . Beverages at dinner .* Group transfers in Ushuaia are included from the airport to your included pre-expedition hotel on Day 1 of your itinerary. You will need to arrange your own transfer to/from the airport if you do not take advantage of the included transfer or if you arrive/leave before/after embarkation/disembarkation day

Not included: International flights to/from Ushuaia . Travel and cancellation insurance . Visa expenses . All flights with helicopter in excess of program . Beverages from bar

Departures & booking

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Departure Return
11 November 2018 24 November 2018