A rare 26-day expedition in the footsteps of the legendary Australian explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson, to Commonwealth Bay and the sub-Antarctic islands
Built in 1911, Mawson's Hut at Cape Denison still stands; protected against the extreme weather the region is renowned for. Cape Denison is one of the very few ice free and readily accessible areas along the East Antarctic coastline. However when the Mertz Glacier tongue broke off in 2010 it blocked the annual movement of sea ice preventing any shipping and effectively isolating the area. Conditions in this region have been carefully monitored since and there are now opportunities to return and explore this majestic, remote coastline. Adelie penguin colonies abound.
Additional Charges - Landing Fees of $880 per person for visits to sub-Antarctic Islands. These will be added during the booking process. Deposits - Reservations require a deposit of 25% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 120 days of departure require full payment.
Final Payments - Balances are due 120 days prior to departure.
Cancellations - All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a $US750.00 per person administration fee. For cancellations received within 179 and 121 days of the embarkation date the full deposit will be forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 120 days prior to the departure date the total price is forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 90 days and full payment has not yet been received, the total price will still apply and any unpaid monies are due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance.
Booking Terms - Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Heritage Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
Day 1: Invercargill
Meet your fellow voyagers and expedition staff for an informal
get-together over dinner at the hotel, where you will stay overnight.
Day 2: Port of Bluff
We transfer you to the port where staff will welcome you on board the
Akademik Shokalskiy and as you settle into your cabin, our adventure
Day 3: The Snares – North East Island
North East Island is the largest of The Snares and staggeringly, this
one island is claimed by some to be home to more nesting seabirds than
all of the British Isles together. Zodiac cruising the rugged
coastline we learn how the islands got their name and encounter Snares
Crested Penguins, Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross on the imposing
cliffs. We are also likely to encounter Antarctic Terns, White-fronted
Terns, Red-billed Gulls, Tomtits and Fernbirds.
Days 4 to 5: Auckland Islands
Characterised by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, these islands
have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by. We spend the
day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of
all the Subantarctic Islands. Here we find parakeets flitting above
carpets of red, white and yellow wild flowers and on the beaches
beyond, the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. We land in Carnley
Harbour and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross
colony, otherwise we explore sites within the harbour.
Day 6: At Sea
Take the chance to learn more about the biology and history of these
islands and the tempestuous Southern Ocean through informal lectures
with our experts. This particular stretch of ocean is very productive
and we can expect many seabirds, including five or six kinds of
albatross and numerous species of petrel.
Days 7 to 8: Macquarie Island
This remote, rocky outpost which endures roaring westerly winds,
supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern
Hemisphere. Four species of penguin, King, Royal, Rockhopper and
Gentoo breed here. You will never forget your first experience in a
ceaselessly active ‘penguin city’, where the dapper inhabitants show
no fear of their strange visitors. We will also meet with the Park
Rangers, visit the Australian Antarctic Base and observe the hundreds
of Southern Elephant Seals along the beaches.
Days 9 to 11: At Sea
Soaring albatross and petrels circle the vessel as we steam ever
southward through the Southern Ocean. Lectures now concentrate on the
Antarctic region and beyond the bow of the ship; drifting icebergs of
extraordinary shapes begin to appear. Maneuvering in close for your
first ice photographs we pass the Antarctic Circle and into the
continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight. Relax in the ship’s bar and
catch up with some reading in the library. If you have brought your
laptop with you there will be time to download and edit photos while
they are fresh in your mind.
Days 12 to 18: Commonwealth Bay
Our first landing on the remote East Antarctic coastline will be Cape
Denison, Commonwealth Bay. Notoriously known as the ‘home of the
blizzard.’ Here we will see (and experience) Mawson’s Hut and its
environs which include other relics from the 1911-14 expedition and
Adelie Penguins. West from Cape Denison is the French Research Base,
Dumont D’Urville which, if permission is granted and ice conditions
permit, we will visit. There is also an Emperor Penguin colony nearby.
Breeding season will be over but there could be birds around. Other
landings could include Port Martin (abandoned French Base) and the
McKellar Islands. We will also cruise in the Zodiacs looking for
Days 19 to 22: At Sea
Taking time to rest and enjoy shipboard life in the bar or library
after the excitement and long daylight hours of the Antarctic, we have
time for lectures on our final destination and for some pelagic bird
Days 23 to 24: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour
We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour, an occasional refuge for
Southern Right Whales who come here to calve. Walk to the nesting site
of the Southern Royal Albatross and see the strange and beautiful
megaherbs growing on the hills. These huge wild flowers that have
adapted to the harsh conditions have unusual colourings and
weirdly-shaped leaves. We also seek out other wildlife such as
Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.
Day 25: At Sea
At sea en route to the Port of Bluff, take the opportunity to relax
and enjoy our last few days of shipboard life and to reflect on an
amazing experience. On your last evening we will review and celebrate
our discoveries over a farewell dinner.
Day 26: Invercargill
We arrive at the Port of Bluff early in the morning. After breakfast,
customs formalities and a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to
your expedition team, you disembark and board our complimentary coach
transfer to a central city drop off or Airport.