We invite you to join our unique expedition on Greg Mortimer small cruide ship to Antarctica. The schedule of the trip constructed for purposes of photography and filming. The flight to Antarctica is included, and way back is via Drake passage 2 days.
Our timetable is more or less free, but we have ambitions to go through South Shetland islands, Deception island towards 65 degrees South, to reach Lemaire Channel and its beautiful steep 1000-m walls. It will be the southernmost point of our journey. Next we will move back north stopping at beautiful locations.
The main goal is to shoot beautiful huge icebergs, fjords, mountains, ice caps and of course untouched wild nature world of Antarctic. We’ll work out our everyday timetable taking into account ice situation and weather.
We are fascinated by the rich wildlife or the beauty of the unspoilt Antarctic natural environment. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, Humpback, Minke and Fin Whale, colossal squids and fur seals. The emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adélie penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin. The rock-hopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, chinstrap penguins, and Gentoo penguins also breed in the Antarctic. Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins are the most common at the peninsula. The Orca or Killer Whale is also seen in this area. There are many seals. The Leopard Seal is a predator of penguins and other seals. Seals can leave the water and move on dry land to breed, rest and molt.
Day 1, 1 March
Day 1: Arrival in Punta Arenas
Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, a representative from Aurora Expeditions will be there to greet you and assist with your transfer to our designated hotel. We kindly request that you arrive no later than 4.00 pm to ensure your participation in the important briefing scheduled for this evening.
Between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm, we invite you to visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk located in the hotel lobby. There, you can collect your luggage cabin tags and our friendly team will provide you with information about your embarkation day, address any inquiries you may have, and offer recommendations for dining options or any last-minute purchases you might need.
Punta Arenas, situated overlooking the Straits of Magellan, holds great historical significance as it lies along one of the world’s renowned trade routes. Today, the city embodies a fascinating fusion of cultural influences, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, showcasing Chile’s rich heritage. Modern-day Punta Arenas boasts a variety of popular restaurants and bars, serving a diverse range of local and international cuisine (meals today will be at your own expense).
At 7.00 pm this evening, you will have the opportunity to meet your fellow expeditioners during a voyage briefing. During this gathering, we will confirm your transfer times for tomorrow, provide details about the procedures for your flight to King George Island, and outline the important regulations set by IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) for visitors to Antarctica.
Accommodation: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (or similar)
Day 2: Embarkation Day
Today, we will begin our journey by transferring to Punta Arenas airport for our charter flight to King George Island in Antarctica, subject to favorable weather conditions. The flight duration will be approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. Upon arrival on King George Island, our dedicated expedition team will be there to warmly welcome you and guide you through the process of boarding the vessel via Zodiac transfer. You will have ample time to settle into your cabin before we commence our essential safety briefings.
Please note that King George Island is situated in the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula within the South Shetland Islands and stands as one of the most remote places on Earth. In order to ensure safe take-off and landing, we require a clear sky and optimal visibility. However, if weather conditions do not permit the scheduled flights today, a contingency plan will be implemented for your itinerary. We prioritize your safety above all else and apologize in advance for any potential delays caused by this unpredictable situation. For a more comprehensive explanation, please refer to our terms and conditions.
Days 3-11: Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula
Arriving in Antarctica is an indescribable experience. The sight of your first iceberg and the intake of the purest, freshest air on Earth will forever be etched in your memory.
Once we reach our destination, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands become our playground, offering an array of possibilities. Due to our extreme southern location, we will be blessed with approximately 18-24 hours of daylight, allowing for action-packed days tailored to your preferences.
Guided by our seasoned expedition team, who possess extensive experience in this region, we will craft each day’s itinerary based on the prevailing weather conditions, ice formations, and wildlife encounters available. Our typical schedule includes two landings or Zodiac excursions daily. Before embarking on Zodiac cruises amidst stunning ice cliffs or amongst grounded icebergs, make sure to bundle up and keep a keen eye out for whales, seals, and playful penguins darting through the water. Zodiacs will also ferry you from the ship to land, where you can visit bustling penguin rookeries, explore historic huts, and venture to our favorite spots along the peninsula.
During shore excursions, we encourage stretching your legs and strolling along pebbly beaches or ascending snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points offering breathtaking views of towering mountains and glistening icy seas. Optional activities will be available whenever conditions permit, providing an opportunity to participate in activities of your choice. And, for those daring enough, there may even be a chance to take a polar plunge and immerse yourself fully in the frigid polar waters, if conditions allow!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may navigate through narrow, dramatic straits that separate offshore islands from the mainland or spend time in scenic bays observing whales on their migratory journeys or during feeding sessions. This is the perfect time to relax in the observation lounge or head to the bridge for uninterrupted panoramic vistas of Antarctica’s awe-inspiring beauty. Listen closely to the symphony of creaking ice and deep rumblings as glaciers carve their path from summit to sea. Take a serene moment to immerse yourself in the wonder of this extraordinary white continent.
An integral part of the journey lies in exploring the Weddell Sea, a region that holds great significance in the tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship, the Endurance. Located east of the Antarctic Peninsula, a cluster of islands collectively forms the Antarctic Sound, serving as the gateway to the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea is renowned for its abundance of icebergs, which often create challenging navigation conditions as they attempt to escape through the Antarctic Sound. However, the rewards of venturing into this region are extraordinary. Fossils dot the landscape, remnants of a bygone temperate era, including gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites preserved in stone.
We anticipate remarkable wildlife encounters in the Weddell Sea, with a notable highlight being a substantial Adélie penguin colony just beyond the Antarctic Sound. These penguins breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, sharing their habitat with a thriving community of Antarctic blue-eyed shags and industrious nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels. During thrilling Zodiac excursions or kayaking expeditions through the intricate maze of sea ice, keep a watchful eye for chinstrap and gentoo penguins both in and out of the water, as well as the majestic presence of humpback, minke, and orca whales. Be prepared for your camera to be put to excellent use throughout your time in the Weddell Sea.
We spend full 10 days at Antarctica on this extended trip: exploring, filming, taking pictures. We intend to visit magnificent places like:
- Half Moon Island,
- Yankee Harbour,
- Deception Island,
- Gerlache Strait,
- Waterboat Point,
- Paradise Harbour,
- Verdansky Station,
- Petermann Island,
- Lemaire Channel,
- Port Lockroy and Jougla Point
- Weddel sea
All these areas are bays or straits, thus they are calm and protected from winds and waves.
We eventually reach the 65 degrees north mark and turn back towards South Shetland islands. On the way back we can drop at the airport base those who intend to fly the Drake back to Punta Arenas.
Days 12-13: Drake Passage Crossing
Before embarking on our return journey to South America, we will enjoy a final morning landing in the captivating South Shetland Islands. After this memorable experience, we will venture back into the vast expanse of the Drake Passage.
During our crossing, take advantage of the lectures and film presentations that will enrich your understanding and complete your Antarctic expedition. This is a time to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Southern Ocean and appreciate the diverse marine life that inhabits this remarkable ecosystem. It’s an opportunity for reflection and engaging discussions about the awe-inspiring sights and experiences we’ve encountered throughout our journey. We hope that you become ambassadors for Antarctica, sharing your story with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues, advocating for the conservation and preservation of this magical place. By doing so, you play a vital role in inspiring others to visit this extraordinary region and witness its wonders firsthand.
As we near the tip of South America, our skilled Captain may steer us close to the legendary Cape Horn, if weather conditions and timing permit. This iconic landmark holds a special place in maritime history, and catching a glimpse of it would be a memorable finale to our expedition.
Day 14, Disembark Ushuaia
In the early morning, we cruise along the picturesque Beagle Channel, gracefully gliding towards the dock in Ushuaia. Around 8.00 am, we bid farewell to our expedition team and fellow passengers, each of us continuing our own unique journeys, carrying with us a profound appreciation for the immense power of nature.
Upon disembarkation, passengers with flights departing before 14:00 will be directly transferred to Ushuaia Airport. Those fortunate enough to have further exploration plans in this spectacular region will be escorted to their post-voyage accommodations in Ushuaia. Passengers with flights scheduled after 14:00 will have the opportunity to explore Ushuaia at their leisure before an afternoon transfer to the airport. Detailed information regarding the transfer will be provided onboard prior to disembarkation.
Please note that at the conclusion of the voyage, we highly recommend not booking flights departing Ushuaia before 12:00 pm to account for any potential delays that may occur.
Features of the Greg Mortimer Ship
The Greg Mortimer offers a range of stateroom categories, with four out of five categories featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, providing breathtaking views of the marine wildlife. Your stateroom also come with a private balcony, allowing you to enjoy the fresh ocean air in privacy and comfort.
Swimming Pool & Wellness Centre
Take advantage of the onboard wellness centre during your voyage, where you can utilize the gym, relax in the sauna (highly recommended after the polar plunge!), or indulge in a rejuvenating massage (additional cost applies). Additionally, two jacuzzis on the top outside deck offer a perfect vantage point to admire the surrounding views.
From the moment you step onboard, you’ll be treated to complimentary coffee, tea, and snack facilities. Meals on the Greg Mortimer are a delight, with a variety of menu options and courses served in a spacious dining room. House wines, beers, and soft drinks are included with the dinner service, enhancing your dining experience.
As the first passenger ship to feature the innovative Ulstein X-BOW®, the Greg Mortimer ensures a more comfortable and efficient crossing of oceans. With expansive observation decks, inviting communal areas, and exceptional environmental credentials, the ship serves as the perfect base camp for your adventures in the outer limits of human exploration.
The Greg Mortimer is equipped with industry-leading safety technology that surpasses requirements for a ship of its size. It features a world-class return-to-port equipment, duplicating the propulsion system to ensure operational stability and comfort in case of engine failure. The ship is Ice Class 1A and Polar Code 6 compliant, holds BV* class, and meets the latest SOLAS requirements. A fully-stocked medical clinic designed for remote areas is also available onboard. (*Bureau Veritas)
Custom-built Activity Platform
For those seeking adventure, the Greg Mortimer offers a range of add-on activities such as kayaking, diving, climbing, and ski touring. The ship is designed to support these activities, providing spacious preparation areas, loading platforms, lockers, and rapid drying areas for gear, ensuring a seamless transition from ship to sea or shore.
Zodiac Launching Platform
With four dedicated, sea-level launching platforms, the Greg Mortimer carries 15 Zodiacs, allowing for quick, efficient, and safe boarding. These sturdy crafts play an integral role in your expedition experience, whether you’re cruising through stunning fjords or making a shore landing, maximizing your time in the field.
Preserving and protecting the environment is a top priority, reflected in the features of the Greg Mortimer. The ship is equipped with one of the world’s lowest polluting marine engines, delivering high fuel efficiency and an 80% reduction in emissions.* Virtual anchoring technology is employed to protect the sea floor, minimizing damage caused by conventional anchors. (*Compared to Tier 1 engines)
Life Onboard – Bars & Lounges
Communal meeting areas are the heart of the expedition, fostering camaraderie among passengers. The refined yet inviting bars and lounges onboard the Greg Mortimer offer floor-to-ceiling windows, providing stunning views for relaxation, socializing, and observing wildlife while enjoying the company of friendly bartenders.
Hydraulic Viewing Platforms
Unique hydraulic viewing platforms on the Greg Mortimer fold out for unobstructed views of passing marine life and seabirds. Designed in collaboration with Greg Mortimer himself, these platforms can be used during gentle ship cruises or when the ship is stationary, weather permitting, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty around you.
A deposit of 5000 USD is due upon registration and will secure your spot on this photography expedition. The second payment of 5000 USD is due by Jul 1, 2023. The final balance will be due by Oct 1, 2023
Cancellation and Refund Policy
We strongly recommend you to get Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance after booking your trip.
If you cancel and your place is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $500 service charge.
If you cancel and your place on the Workshop does not fill, then you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the Workshop:
Greater than 180 days from the start date of the Expedition: Full refund minus $2500.
120 days or more: 50% refund
Less than 120 days: no refund
Refunds will be paid by the same method that the original payment was made.
We highly recommend that you get a travel and medical insurance. Your own domestic medical insurance and private health scheme will not cover you whilst you are overseas.
The tour will always dependent on weather, as the weather can be highly unpredictable. Likewise, sightings of wildlife will be dependent on the movements of the animals themselves and cannot be guaranteed.
Good to know
All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, additional medical expenses such as medication, gratuities, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members. This gratuity amount is included for suites as part of their ‘Suite Benefits’.
Included in the price:
- All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Punta Arenas on Day 1.
- Charter flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island.
- Onboard accommodation during voyage, including daily cabin service. Cabins with balcony!
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell receptions including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
- Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team.
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
- One 3-in-1 waterproof, polar expedition jacket.
- Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage.
- Comprehensive pre-departure information.
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
- Gratuities for ship’s crew.
Not included in the price:
– Airfare to Punta Arenas and from Ushuaia
– Visas (if applicable)
– Accommodation & meals on land (Ushuaia) after the expedition
What to bring
– DSLR camera with tripod and remote shutter release
– A wide angle lens. For example, Nikkor 14-24 or Canon 17-40. Best lens for use in wide-angle scenes or architecture photography
– A middle-zoom lens such as a 24-70 mm
– A telephoto zoom lens, such as a 70-200 mm. 300 mm with 1.5 TC or 500 mm, 600 mm are recommended for wildlife and bird photography. Be sure to have additional tripod mount to this lens.
– Waterproof and windproof jacket
– Waterproof pants
– Warm jacket and thermal pants
– Wellingtons or fishing boots
The full list will be sent by mail to participants.
Mark Denney is a North Carolina based outdoor & landscape photographer. His affection for travel, photography, and the great outdoors is something that’s matured over the past 12 years into what is today, a full time photographic career. Outside of the technical and creative aspect of photography, he enjoys teaching the storytelling ability of photographs and encouraging others to not focus solely on the the end result, but to appreciate the overall photographic experience.
Renowned landscape photographer, Daniel Kordan, is an explorer at heart. Having realized his passion for photography and traveling at a young age, he now spends his time sharing his vision and the many wonders of the world with people all around him.