East Antarctica: In the Wake of Mawson - 30 day

Shokalskiy
Shokalskiy
48 Passengers
Ross Sea

Sir Douglas Mawson is arguably the grandfather of Antarctic Science. The Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911 - 1914 is notable for its achievements and sadly its tragedies including the deaths of Ninnis and Mertz and Mawson's almost superhuman trek to safety.

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, we have been monitoring conditions in this region since and now see opportunities to return and explore this majestic, remote coastline.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Invercargill
Day 2 Port of Bluff
Day 3 The Snares – North East Island
Days 4 & 5 Auckland Islands
Day 6 At Sea
Days 7 & 8 Macquarie Island
Days 9 to 11 At Sea
Days 12 to 21 Commonwealth Bay and beyond
Days 22 to 25 At Sea
Days 26 & 27 Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbor
Days 28 & 29 At Sea
Day 30 Christchurch

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 begins.

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 & 5 — Auckland Islands

Characterized 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 Harbor and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross colony, otherwise we explore sites within the harbor.

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 & 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 21 — Commonwealth Bay and beyond

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 wildlife.

East from Cape Denison we can follow the ice edge towards the Balleny Islands. It is a very productive area for cetaceans; large numbers of Humpbacks have been recorded here. The Balleny Islands were discovered in 1839, by a sealing captain in the employment of the Enderby Brothers. Because of their location, remote and isolated, they are rarely visited. The islands are rugged and landing sites are rare, but if conditions are right we will be able to Zodiac cruise Sabrina Island where there is a small colony of Chinstrap Penguins. This is also one of the few places where Greater Snow Petrels breed. Further south is Cape Adare, arguably one of the most historic sites in all of Antarctica. It was here in 1895 that one of the first landings on the Antarctic continent was made and in 1899 the first party to winter over in Antarctica built their hut here.

Other potential sites in the Northern Ross Sea that we could land if ice and weather conditions permit include the Possession Islands. These were named by Sir James Clark Ross in 1842 after he had landed on them and claimed the region in the name of Queen Victoria. A little further south is Cape Hallett, it was the site of a joint American New Zealand base from 1958-1973 when it was abandoned. It was demolished in the 1990s and now the Adelie Penguins are reclaiming the site which was rightfully theirs anyway. From Cape Hallett we can get amazing views of the northern transantarctic mountains.

Days 22 to 25 — 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 spotting.

Days 26 & 27 — Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbor

We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbor, 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 colorings and weirdly-shaped leaves. We also seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.

Days 28 & 29 — At Sea

At sea en route to the Port of Lyttelton, 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 30 — Christchurch

We arrive at the Port of Lyttelton 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 Christchurch Airport.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Prices do not include Airfare or Government Landing Fees. Single Supplement rates are available at 1.8x the shared rate except for Suites which are 2x the shared rate. Please note that $75,000 Emergency Evacuation Insurance is required on all trips.

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   Heritage Suite
Large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
    Mini Suite
Separate bedroom with a double bed and a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The Mini Suites have windows.
  Superior Plus
Two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
    Superior
Bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
    Main Deck Twin
Two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin and porthole. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
    Main Deck Triple
One bunk (one upper and one lower berth) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.