Historic Snow Hill Emperor Penguin Expedition
Legendary Snow Hill Emperor Penguins Expedition 14 Days aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov
During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, journey to the bottom of the world - cruising past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs—aboard the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. True to the explorer spirit, this exclusive Antarctic adventure is your chance to be a part of polar history. You’ll have the rare opportunity to observe one of the most spectacular sights in the wild: the elusive emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island, whose existence was first confirmed in 1997.
Imagine flying in a helicopter to the vicinity of this astounding rookery, then walking across the sea ice to come within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. Watch in awe as these extraordinary creatures toboggan across the ice on their way to the ocean to dive for food. If you’re lucky, some may even approach you! An experience like no other, it’s like a wildlife documentary come to life.
- Travel aboard the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov
- Cross the famous Drake Passage on your way to explore the Snow Hill Emperor penguin colony
- Enjoy helicopter sightseeing and Zodiac cruising
- Experience thousands of pairs of Emperor penguins, including chicks, in their natural habitat
- View other iconic Antarctic wildlife, such as whales, seals and seabirds
- Full board accommodation including all meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board
- Beer and wine during dinner
- All zodiac excursions and landings
- Programme of expert lectures and presentations
- Experienced expedition leader
- Loan of waterproof boots
- Expedition parka
- Photo workshops
- Group transfer to and from ship
- Emergency evacuation insurance to max. US$500,000pp
- 1 night pre-cruise hotel stay in Ushuaia
ITINERARY13 Nights 14 Days
- Day 1 | Ushuaia
- Day 2 | Embarkation Day
- Days 3 - 4 | At Sea
- Days 5 - 11 | Weddell Sea and Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin Colony
- Days 12 - 13 | At Sea
- Day 14 | Disembark in Ushuaia
You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentine hot spot is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or savor some handcrafted chocolate at a café in town. Overnight hotel stay included in the price of your trip.
In late afternoon, we will transfer you and your fellow travelers from your group hotel to the pier, where you’ll board Kapitan Khlebnikov. This iconic icebreaker should be instantly recognizable at the port, as the shape and bulk are distinctive, especially from a distance.
As Khlebnikov sets sail, you’ll first 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.
Crossing the legendary Drake Passage is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and seals are. With ideal weather conditions, your passage could be relatively easy, but be prepared for some rough seas in case the Drake lives up to its reputation.
These two days will have an air of anticipation, as you prepare for your first landing at the elusive Snow Hill emperor penguin rookery. Plenty of activities will keep you engaged at sea, including educational and informative presentations by your Expedition Team. You’ll learn about such things as the history of whaling in Antarctica and the emperor penguins’ biology, unique habitat and adaptive behavior.
You may also want to spend some time on deck, with your binoculars and camera at the ready, looking out for wandering albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins. Crossing the polar front, keep a close watch, as you should see your first iceberg, too.
Weddell Sea and Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin Colony
As we approach the island, remember that no two polar expeditions are alike, particularly this voyage through the icy Weddell Sea, since landings and wildlife sightings are determined by weather and ice conditions, as well as the natural cycles of the wildlife. But it’s exactly this element of the unknown that makes expedition-style travel so exhilarating and adventurous.
That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, such as landings, wildlife sightings, helicopter sightseeing and ice—truly massive amounts of ice! Having broken away from the ice shelf, large tabular icebergs, so named for their plateau-like flat top and steep sides, will signal your arrival to Antarctica.
Located on sea ice, the emperor rookery is situated some distance from Snow Hill Island, so your captain will navigate your ship to a position in the ice that’s within helicopter range of the rookery. As we draw near, a few curious penguins may be attracted to the open water by the ship, so keep your eyes peeled for them. Deployed in a rotation of flights, our on-board helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, yet still at a safe distance (at least 0.75 nautical miles/1.4 km), to protect the birds. Since you must carry all your own gear for the entire distance to the rookery and back across sea ice several feet thick, you’ll want to keep items in your backpack to a minimum. A must-bring, however, should be your camera.
We encourage everyone—photographers and nature lovers alike—to carry a camera during our rookery visits, because any visit could reward with that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Your Expedition Team will include a professional photographer, who will conduct on-board workshops and assist you on-site to help you get the most out of your camera, whether you’re a newbie or a pro!
Though we can’t predict how many excursions will occur during your stay in the vicinity of the rookery, rest assured that your Expedition Leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, and our intention is to spend as much time as possible in the area, to give you plenty of chances to observe the emperors in their natural environment.
Since we are visiting earlier in the rearing season than any other expedition, the emperor chicks are still young, so you may see a few brooding on their parents’ feet or even several huddling together in large communal crèches. It’s possible you may catch the impressive sight of a constant trail of adults walking or tobogganing in single file from the sea to the rookery to feed the chicks, and then heading back out again to hunt for more food. Listen closely for a parent trumpeting upon its return to the rookery—the call is instantly recognized by the chick, who whistles in response.
A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. Share stories and photos with your shipmates in the lounge, relax in our Polar Library or attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, who may even screen documentaries. Lecture topics can range from the Historic Age of Exploration to whales of the Southern Ocean.
If you choose to spend time outside on deck, keep an eye out for the large seabirds that have accompanied mariners through the Southern Ocean since Magellan made his first navigation of the globe. By now, you should be able to recognize albatross and petrels on the wing.
As we enter the mouth of the Beagle Channel on our way back to Ushuaia, a small vessel will come alongside and a local pilot will board our vessel to help navigate this last stretch of water. If the weather is fine, you may want to watch from the deck, enjoying the soft light of the austral summer.
Disembark in Ushuaia
This morning, you’ll say farewell to your Expedition Team and fellow travelers before disembarking to catch your homeward flights.
What Our Customers
Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience...awesome. Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.
We had the time of our lives on board ship...if anybody wants to go to Antarctica, we will certainly advise to go with you.
Huge congratulations to you and all the team for the perfect organisation throughout the trip. From the early planning to the last transfer, everything went without a hitch.
Now that I am back from my odyssey voyage, I thought I would let you know that after all that planning it really did exceed my expectations – we managed landings everywhere even on Tristan da Cuhna and had great bird sightings. The guides all knew what they were talking about too and made sure I got some great photos – still sorting them all out! Thanks for everything and see you at Birdfair!
I came to Wildfoot because a friend had booked with you when you were Antarctica Bound and they were right. Everything went perfectly, even when our flight was cancelled, you made sure we still made it to the ship with time to spare. L’Austral is a beautiful ship with first class service and food and the guides looked after us well. Very happy to recommend Wildfoot and L’Austral...
The adventure really was a 'trip of a lifetime' and we are so glad we tagged an extra day in Buenos Aires at either end and that we went Premium Economy, it made all the difference. The ship Sea Explorer was exactly as Simon had described and was very comfortable. South Georgia was the highlight but we were surprised how much wildlife there was to see on the Falklands and we might well book one of your nature trips to the Falklands in the future.
I want to thank you for all you did to make my recent Falklands trip run so smoothly and comfortably. Thank you for all your help over the diet too.
• I wanted to send you a quick thank you email. We had a fantastic trip, the boat, staff, scenery, itinerary, and pretty much everything else was incredible! Thank you so much for arranging the cabin upgrade, we were delighted to have our own room! We had a really brilliant time, and wanted to say thanks so much for being so helpful throughout, we're lucky to have found you.
We had a very special experience organized by you in Feb, especially the wedding in Antarctica and our stay in Patagonia. Thank you.
Many thanks for all you help with our polar trip which exceeded all expectations. We will certainly recommend your company and seriously consider yourselves for future trips.
I just want to thank you for all your help with my Ross Sea trip. It was really the trip of a lifetime & the ship & crew were excellent.
Overall I think that it was an excellent trip that was well worth the price paid and I would have no hesitation recommending your company to others.
I'm sure you get plenty of compliments, but I just want to follow up telling you what a great time we had on the MS Expedition Antarctica Classic cruise. We were very pleased with all of the staff, on the ground and on the ship. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable. We greatly appreciated their experience and expertise. Their very careful attention to all of the environmental rules and precautions should also be lauded. Thank you for all of your service and attention. If we're planning on one of the other regions that you serve, we'll definitely be in touch!!
We would like to thank you with all our heart for our fabulous trip. It was amazing. Everything was perfect. I recommend Antarctica and South America to everybody. Doing business with you was also a great experience. You are the best travel agent I ever met. I hope to have the chance to do business with you again in the future.
We've just got back from out trip to Patagonia and the Antarctic and want to say a big thank you to all of you at Wildfoot but specifically you, Tina and Sara, for organising our trip and sorting out all my queries before we went. You've all been thoroughly professional - and friendly with it. I always get concerned that hotels won't have received the booking, the air e-tickets won't be recognised or luggage ends up somewhere other that where we are, but I didn't need to worry as everything was well planned in advance and the various elements, air travel, two cruises, hotels etc, fitted seamlessly. You can take this as a 10 out of 10 satisfaction rating and recommendation for your company. You will certainly be my 'go to' provider if we ever do anything similar in the future. Thanks once again for our trip of a lifetime.
I just wanted to say an enormous thank you for your help with my trip. It was the best two weeks of my life! MS Expedition was amazing – their itinerary, their crew, their spirit. It was truly exceptional.One of the best things was how they arranged the rooms, I just had the best roommates and that really made a big difference to the trip. We got to see some fast ice and got out to walk on it – literally walking on the frozen sea. Amazing! I am saving for my next trip and I would not dream of going with anyone but you guys again. Good work! A dream very much come true.
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