Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake from Punta Arenas
Take the fast track to that vast, frost-bitten wilderness at the South Pole. From Punta Arenas, fly over the infamously choppy waters of the Drake Passage to King George Island, and hop aboard a ship bound for the frozen wonderland. Cruise between towering icebergs floating in iridescent blue seas, and feel the thrill of catching the first glimpses of Antarctica's icy shoreline. Over the next four days, explore this continent blanketed with snow and ice – perhaps learning about the fascinating geology and history of the region from expert guides, spot whales and seals cavorting in the Southern Ocean or make friends with penguins on windswept beaches. No two expeditions are the same, but the magic of Antarctica will infect all those adventurous enough to travel to the end of the earth.
Start: Punta Arenas
Finish: Punta Arenas
Ages: 8 - 99
Theme: Polar, Wildlife
Destination: Punta Arenas
Welcome to Chile. Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, which is the most populated city in Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and shops to keep you busy. In the early afternoon your leaders will meet you at the official starting point hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed about embarkation day.
In the morning take a charter-flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, crossing the great Drake Passage in only a few hours. Your first glimpse of Antarctic landscapes will be from above, as the plane descends for landing on King George Island. On landing, stretch your legs and spend a bit of time exploring the island before being transferred by Zodiac to your ship. Meet the rest of your shipmates and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.
As the ship approaches the White Continent, your captain and expedition team keep their eyes open for possible whale and seabird sightings. Over the next four days, the team of specialist lecturers aboard the ship will provide in-depth explanations of the geology, history and wildlife of the region. Your first Zodiac landing may see you walk on a beach teeming with thousands of penguins and seals, which is one of the most intimate ways to experience the unique wildlife of Antarctica. Landings are dependent on weather, but every day presents new sightings, activities and photo opportunities. It won’t be long before you can tell the difference between an Adelie, gentoo or chinstrap penguin. You may take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales around Pleneau Island one day, followed by a hike to a penguin rookery the next. The expedition team will provide insight into all of the places you visit. POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS: CUVERVILLE ISLAND A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you visit, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls also breed on the island. DAMOY POINT If you're lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point. This is the northern entrance to the harbour on which Port Lockroy is located. DANCO ISLAND This small island, 1.6 km (one mile) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. Visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch out for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags. ENTERPRISE ISLAND Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes by a wrecked whaling ship. LEMAIRE CHANNEL This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, and is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 11 km (6.8 mile) channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters. MELCHIOR ISLANDS This is a group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy. NEKO HARBOUR This bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You may see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There's an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour. PETERMANN ISLAND Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Adelie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island. The dome of the island rises 200 meters (650 feet) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. PORT LOCKROY Journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built here during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It's now designated as a historic site, featuring a museum and the world's southernmost post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration. WATERBOAT POINT At low tide this historic point is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs can be used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behaviour lived in a water boat on the point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated as an Antarctic historic site. AITCHO ISLANDS This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, including at the established rookeries of gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too. BAILY HEAD Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge, which dominates a natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography. HALF MOON ISLAND This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike the sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua. HANNAH POINT Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from 10 January onwards. PENDULUM COVE Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, which was named after observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water. PENGUIN ISLAND Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes. ROBERT POINT A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters. TELEFON BAY Your expedition team will point out where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen. TURRET POINT Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries are found on this point, which is situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks. WHALER'S BAY To reach Whaler’s Bay, sail through the narrow passage of Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the rusty remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam rising from geothermally-heated springs along the shoreline. YANKEE HARBOUR Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, which is situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. You can also see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a huge glacier stretching along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned try-pot is all that remains of the sealing activity that brought men thousands of miles to seek their fortune. The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited. KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
After your week of exploration, say goodbye to the expedition team and disembark at King George Island. From here, it’s a three-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas. After transferring from the airport to the hotel, you’re free to explore the town and perhaps enjoy one final dinner with the group.
After breakfast, you’re free to continue on your own travels or make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your flight home. There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Your Punta Arenas Hotel
Although you don't need to be particularly fit to take part in an Antarctic expedition, you do need to have a good level of mobility. You must be able to complete the on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet while negotiating the ship over potentially slippery decks and gangways. The zodiacs are accessed via a gangway or stairs which may be steep on some ships. Most of our ships have lifts, but these may not access all decks so some stair climbing on board will be necessary.
For Fly/Cruise itineraries landing or departing from King George Island, a walk of approximately 1.5km's is required between the runway and the zodiac landing point. Your luggage will be transferred for you.
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Antarctic voyages. Some voyages also offer other activities such as camping, stand up paddle boarding, cross country skiing and mountaineering. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required for cross country skiing and mountaineering. See the itinerary for Adventure options available on this voyage.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Strict luggage limits apply. Please see Trip Notes (What to Take) for more information.
Your voyage will be led by an experienced Expedition Leader. In addition, a number of experts will be on board to add knowledge of their field to your experience. This will include a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Glaciologist or Geologist, Polar Historian, Kayaking guide and Naturalist guides. Voyages offering other adventure activities will have additional specialist guides on board.
On your way to join your voyage, you may take advantage of the opportunity to visit a larger South American city such as Buenos Aires or Santiago. It is worth researching matters of personal safety and security in these places before your departure. Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Safety is paramount on an Intrepid voyage. Due to new International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by an Intrepid representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations. All ships operating in Polar waters must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. All our ships adhere to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention). In addition, Quark Expeditions is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators). Quark Expeditions have also been externally audited for its' health and safety programme and have been awarded the British Standard BS8848
All of our ships have facilities to communicate with the outside world.
Satellite phone communications are available on all ships but be aware that on some ships, this connection is only available in certain locations and may not be possible from your cabin. Satellite communications can be intermittent and may not be available at all times or in all locations. Phone calls are charged per minute of usage.
Internet access is possible via wifi on your personal laptop or device in certain areas of each ship and is charged via a pre-paid card which can be purchased through the hotel manager. Each ship also has a computer for passengers to use for internet access and emails and the hotel manager can set you up with a temporary webmail address. Please be aware, accessing some websites from the ship will be very expensive as downloading picture heavy content will use up a large amount of data. Text only emails use up much less data and is a very affordable way to communicate with friends and family at home.
All communications from the ship are a bit intermittent as when travelling through mountainous areas or through narrow channels, signals can be disrupted and may not be transmitted until clearing this terrain or until satellites next pass overhead. Please make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations of your ability to communicate with them so they don’t worry about you.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
No visas are required to visit the Antarctic continent or its offshore islands. However, you will need to have your passport with you on the ship, as port authorities will wish to inspect passports on departure from Ushuaia or Punta Arenas and also again at the end of your voyage. To facilitate matters, our ground operators in Ushuaia or Punta Arenas will usually collect your passport prior to departure in order that all passengers’ passports may be kept together for the duration of the voyage. After completion of port formalities on the return to Ushuaia or Punta Arenas, they will be handed back to you prior to your disembarkation from the ship.
For most departures, your ship departs for the Antarctic continent from the port of Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, at the southern tip of Argentina. At the time of printing, no visas for Argentina are required by holders of Australian, New Zealand, British, Canadian, U.S.A. or European passports. Passengers holding passports issued by other countries should carefully check the situation with their travel agent or Argentinean consular authorities.
For Fly/Cruise itineraries departing from Punta Arenas (Chile) or if your flight to Ushuaia travels via Santiago, tourist visas are required for Chile for some nationalities. Please check with your travel agent.
For the voyages scheduled to visit the Falkland Islands, visitors from Britain, the Commonwealth, North America, Chile and the European Community do not need visas as at the time of printing. Visitors should check their particular situation with us, their travel agent, the nearest British Consulate, or contact the Travel Co-ordinator at the Falkland Island Government Office in London (tel: 020 7222 2375).
Australians, Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders or British do not currently require a visa for Chile. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. If you are entering Chile at Santiago International Airport as a tourist, some nationalities are required to pay a reciprocity fee (Australians US$117). The fee does not apply to travellers arriving at other airports or entering the country via land borders.
Why we love it
Your adventure begins in the most populated city in Patagonia, Punta Arenas. There are plenty of museums, restaurants and shops to keep you entertained before embarkation
Flying from Punta Arenas to the South Shetland Islands is the fastest, most direct way of travelling to Antarctica and the view over the Drake Passage is unforgettable
Witness penguins playing in their natural habitat at inland rookeries during daily Zodiac landings along the Antarctic Peninsula
On-board lectures by polar specialists provide great insight in to the history and geology of Antarctica
Whale spotting among icebergs is easy when you have your expedition team searching for wildlife. Daily Zodiac landings afford the group great flexibility and opportunity during your time in the Antarctic
This all-encompassing trip includes everything you need for peace of mind on your journey, such as your return flights from Puntas Arenas to the South Shetland Islands, pre-expedition hotel accommodation, transfers to and from your ship, full meals and drinks on-board (including complimentary house wine, beer and spirits), waterproof expedition boots for shore landings (on loan) and emergency evacuation insurance.
Is this trip right for you
Although our ice strengthened ships are big and sturdy, Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings. Please be prepared with medications to combat this. There is also a doctor on-board should you need further assistance.
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Antarctic are freezing. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognised sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are equally as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The on-board library and educational lectures are ideal ways for keeping entertained.
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations for this voyage but some may be required or recommended for countries you are visiting enroute to Antarctica.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
The waters of the Drake Passage can be some of the roughest seas in the world, although at other times they are so smooth that it is referred to as the 'Drake Lake'! Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board. It is wise to carry an extra week’s supply of prescription medications just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
Food and dietary requirements
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage via your online Polar forms. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need.
Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. this shoud make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
We recommend you allow US$150 for meals not included in the itinerary
SPENDING IN ANTARCTICA
The US Dollar is the standard currency on board. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover Card and American Express are accepted on board for settling your shipboard account.
At the time designated in the shipboard program, please give the Hotel Manager the credit card you would like to use for all your incidental expenses. An account will be opened for your cabin for purchases aboard ship. This will include bar services, laundry, postage, and communication charges. A ‘chit’ system will operate for on board payments. You will sign for any bar, wine, communication charges, laundry, etc. An account for payment will be presented to you on the final day of the voyage. Final payment can be made using cash, travellers’ checks or major credit cards. Personal cheques are not accepted on board. If you are sharing a cabin and would like separate accounts, you must advise the Hotel Manager.
It is wise to travel with sufficient cash to pay for incidentals such as shipboard items on the last day of the voyage, airport taxes and taxi transfers.
In Antarctica, there are limited opportunities to spend money other than on the ship. If you are visiting the Falklands, it is advisable to have Pounds Sterling or US dollars to spend while in Stanley. Argentinean Pesos are not accepted. Please note there are no ATM’s on the Falkland Islands. For trips to the Peninsula, you may visit Port Lockroy which is a small museum and has a souvenir shop.
The voyage fare does not include the customary, optional gratuity which is divided between the ships' crew, and hospitality staff. We suggest US$13 - US$15 per day as a guide. Any tip for the Expedition Team is extra to this and is at your discretion. Gratuities can be added to your onboard account at the end of the voyage or paid in cash on board. Full details will be provided before you settle your onboard account.
Chile currency information:
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso (CLP).
Chile currency information:
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso (CLP).
Most countries have airport departure and security taxes. These are generally now added to the cost of your flight ticket and will be quoted to you when you are arranging your flights. However, there is a departure tax of 28 pesos (or US$8) payable when leaving Ushuaia and this must be paid in cash at the airport. From Buenos Aires International airport, in addition to a number of taxes built into your airline ticket, there is also an additional tax now payable in cash at the airport.
If you are on a Fly/Cruise voyage, there is a US$15 departure tax when leaving Punta Arenas for King George Island and for any flights out of the Falkland Islands, there is a US$32 departure tax. These amounts will be added onto your ship board account for settlement before the end of your voyage.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
What to take
The Antarctic Peninsula has relatively mild weather conditions when compared to the rest of the continent. As a result, you should not need to make many expensive specialist gear purchases, although you do need good wet weather pants and warm clothing. Wet weather jacket and boots are supplied on board the ship. The dress code on board is relaxed and casual and you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly – a whale sighting or seals on a nearby ice-floe nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing - a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items - and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs. Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday. Laundry facilities are available on board the ship. A more detailed packing list is provided in the pre departure information from the ship operator, Quark which will be provided to you after booking. Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets Spare passport photos Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card Money belt (for travelling en route) Small first-aid kit Seasickness medication Ecologically friendly laundry soap Daypack (lightweight and waterproof) Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) Electrical adapter plug Toiletries/travel wipes Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection) Swimsuit Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers) Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required) 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) Refillable water bottle Phrase book (if travelling en route to ship) Gloves (2 pairs minimum) Hat that covers ears Scarf or other face protection Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger) Warm pants Comfortable shoes Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions) Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship) Thermal underwear (silk or polypropylene) Jumpers/sweaters/fleeces Cotton turtlenecks and t-shirts Camera and spare film and batteries (or recharge for digital cameras) Plastic bags with zippers for carrying film, etc Binoculars
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Please note luggage allowances on the flights in conjunction with this voyage are restricted to 15 kilos checked baggage and 5 kilos hand luggage. This will be strictly enforced.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we and our partners are doing well and what could be done better. It allows us to suggest improvements for future travellers.
BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
CRISES AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):
While in Chile and Argentina contact: +56 9 7964 8594
While in Uruguay or Brazil contact: +55 2 199618 2018
Alternatively, the operations office located in Peru +51 99605 5559 (PEAK DMC South America)
Quark: +1 647 449 5303
Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in . How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:
* Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.
* Consider offsetting your flights too.
* Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.
* Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.
* Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.
* Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.
* Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.
* Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.
* Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.
Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.
As a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Quark Expeditions are supporters of responsible tourism that mitigates the impact of our shore landings on the landscape or wildlife. Quark was the first operator to offer inclusive Carbon Neutral voyages on the Ocean Diamond. By doing so we have enhanced our commitment to ecological sensitivity and to minimising our impact on the areas we visit including:
• Having our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor.
• Conforming to all international regulations/policies governing disposal of waste at sea.
• Serving only sustainable seafood.
• Using only eco-friendly laundry chemicals and room amenities.
• Removing disposable water bottles from the ships.
• Making all our voyages virtually paperless by 2014 and having any paper used be 100% recyclable.
IAATO members also operate according to established rules of conduct, which, while you travel with us, we ask you to respect. A copy of the IAATO guidelines will be provided prior to travel and staff will brief all passengers prior to the first landing.
Your voyage fare includes Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person. However, it is essential that you have comprehensive personal travel insurance in addition to this to cover all other eventualities.
For fly/cruise itineraries, it is essential that you have insurance that covers for delays caused by weather.
Quark Expeditions will make every effort to ensure the Antarctic Express programs take place, but due to weather conditions, flying in this region can be difficult and is beyond the control of Quark Expeditions and Peregrine Adventures. We strongly recommend that all expedition guests purchase a travel insurance policy including trip delay, cancellation and interruption insurance.
See Itinerary disclaimer for details of the contingency plan should weather delay flight operations.
Your fellow travellers
On your voyage, you will be travelling with up to 198 other people (depending on which ship you are on). The ships are spacious with ample deck space and public areas so it is always possible to find a spot to yourself to enjoy the scenery and some solitude. On excursions, you will travel in a zodiac with up to 10 guests on each boat. Polar travel attracts travellers of all nationalities and meeting people from other countries is one of the pleasures of life on board. The voyages will be conducted in English and clients who do not speak English will need to travel with someone able to translate for safety reasons. Some voyages may have large non English speaking groups travelling with translators so you may find that announcements are translated for their benefit and presentations may be given separately in their own language.
Single occupancy is available in most cabin categories for 1.7 or 2 times the twin berth price (dependent on which cabin category). Some ships have designated single occupancy cabins. Single travellers wishing to share will be matched with another solo traveller of the same sex. Please note that it is not possible to share with a stranger in all cabin types. Please speak to a consultant for full details.
No two Polar voyages are the same and this is part of the excitement of travelling in these remote regions. Weather, ice conditions and wildlife will all affect where your ship is able to access, and most importantly, where your Expedition Team think you will get the best possible experience from your trip. On board, daily updates are given to advise what the specific itinerary will be for the next day based on local conditions. Published itineraries cannot be guaranteed but an amazing voyage full of adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences is guaranteed.
For fly/cruise itineraries, it is essential that you have insurance that covers for delays caused by weather. Quark Expeditions will make every effort to ensure the program takes place, but, due to weather conditions, flying in this region can be difficult and is beyond the control of Quark Expeditions. We strongly recommend that all expedition guests purchase a travel insurance policy including trip delay, cancellation and interruption insurance. In the unlikely event that the charter flight is unable to fly on day 2 or day 3 due to weather delays, Quark Expeditions will provide an additional night(s) hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas. On day 4, should the charter flight not be able to take off by 1400hrs, Quark Expeditions will officially cancel the voyage and provide letters for all clients to submit to their travel insurance providers under the trip delay/interruption and cancellation clause. QUARK EXPEDITIONS AND PEREGRINE ADVENTURES WILL NOT OFFER PASSENGERS A REFUND IN THE EVENT OF TRIP CANCELLATION. QUARK EXPEDITIONS AND PEREGRINE ADVENTURES WILL NOT OFFER PASSENGERS COMPENSATION IN THE EVENT OF A DELAY.
IF THE CHARTER FLIGHT IS NOT ABLE TO TAKE OFF BY 1400 HRS ON DAY 4. Quark Expeditions will make every effort to assist passengers with rebooking hotels or flights, but this will be at the cost of the passengers, and Quark Expeditions strongly recommends that all clients contact their insurance provider prior to changing any reservations. Passengers on board the ship during these delays will remain on board with no additional cost until the time in which the charter flight is able to arrange transport. Quark Expeditions advises all clients to book changeable airlines tickets along with cancellation and interruption insurance to assist with additional airline change fees. We advise all passengers to have flexible travel arrangements upon disembarkation of the voyage if delays arise. Quark Expeditions and Peregrine Adventures will not be held responsible for any change/cancellation fees due to weather related delays or any other delays arising from force majeure. FOR CANCELLATION DUE TO ALL OTHER EVENTS OF FORCE MAJEURE, THE STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS SHALL APPLY.