Whilst the Great White Continent may be vast and difficult to explore in its entirety, the Antarctic Peninsula is scenically the most dramatic region providing the greatest diversity of wildlife. A mountainous extension of the South American Andes, the Western Peninsula forms a coastal spine whose peaks rise 3,000 metres from the ocean. Breathtaking glaciers, deep fjords and ice bergs more than a mile long offer magical vistas - an environment that will humble the most seasoned explorer.
Antarctic Peninsula voyages are the most cost-effective means of exploring Antarctica and require between 9 -11 days to enjoy, perfect for those seeking a memorable experience within a relatively short time frame. The return Drakes crossing can easily demand 3-5 days of this schedule, so if time is tight or you prefer to avoid this notorious passage then Flying to Antarctica one way or both may be the answer.
The Peninsula is a rich breeding ground for macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin colonies, inviting great opportunities for their intimate observation. Aqua-Firma guides and guests have spent many years enjoying their inquisitive close encounters, sitting in Penguin heaven amidst a continuous hum of penguin chatter. The icy oceans meanwhile provide an important feeding ground for many species of whale including orcas, blue whales, sperm, minke and humpbacks. On some voyages guests have been spellbound by more than 200 whales around the ship at one time.
Seals can be found in large numbers on the Peninsula, of which Crab eaters are the most abundant and Weddell seals are visually the most attractive with their spotted coats. The largest seal is the Leopard Seal, which at up to 3.2 metres in length, demands respect as one of Antarctica's top predators.
Aqua-Firma Antarctic Expertise
The Aqua-Firma team have been exploring the Antarctic Peninsula for many years; guiding, driving zodiacs, delivering inspiring onboard lectures and inspiring guests of the magnificent but fragile beauty of this region. It is this in-depth, on location knowledge and expertise which can assist with your choice of voyage to best match your timing, interest and budget.
Our small ship Classic Peninsula voyages are available Oct-March. In early November, the ice and snow remains pristine and breeding is at a peak, by December and January noisy penguin chicks dominate the scenery and by March, as the season progresses, we continue to witness an increased abundance of whales.
Small Ship Voyages
Carrying between 12 and around 114 passengers, our Antarctic Peninsula voyages are onboard some of the smallest and friendliest ships exploring the Antarctic waters. This creates an intimate atmosphere of like minded people who all share a common aspiration for remote wild and wonderful corners of our planet. Each ice strengthened vessel offers the freedom to roam the decks at all levels as well as the panoramic ship's bridge with the invitation to stand beside the captain as he navigates through the polar ice. Ships vary appreciably in level of comfort from an expedition ship to a more luxurious cruise offering spacious en suite cabins and excellent cuisine, all however maintain the prime objective of maximising time spent off the ship with inspired daily landings, informed presentations and exploration in the company of experts.
A full complement of Zodiac craft (rigid inflatables boats) allows everyone to disembark at the same time, perfect for small group expert-led landings and close encounters with wildlife. There is a natural history library onboard and the programme lectures span subjects such as Antarctic explorers and history, wildlife, conservation, birdlife and whales. Where possible, each voyage includes a visit to a research station where you can learn about their work and understand how they survive in the harsh Winter environment.
Polar Expertise & Optional Adventures
Your guides are the key to inspire and enlighten your knowledge of the unique polar environment. Aqua-Firma marine scientists, guides, polar divers and kayakers have many years of in depth on location knowledge. Specialist knowledge on certain trips enable us to offer polar photography workshops onboard, and unique experiences such as polar diving, camping out on the ice, sea kayaking and snow shoe walking. If these activities are of interest to you, please contact us to speak to one of our polar experts.
Our Promise & Your Protection
Polar voyages are a major commitment for most travellers. We offer a personal and professional service with a promise that for any experience which is directly comparable, our prices are never beaten. Detailed information is provided throughout your booking and preparation process and with our first hand experience we are always available to answer any questions, no matter how small, giving 24 hour support for our clients before you depart and whilst away. Whilst our voyages can be enjoyed as stand alone experiences, we are a fully ATOL bonded travel company and able to provide flights and accommodation before and after your voyage.
Aqua-Firma have the expertise to extend your travel plans and are a specialist at tailor made travel within Argentina and other parts of Latin America.
Photographs kindly provided by: Franco Banfi, Rinnie Van Meurs, Chloe Burnett, Keith Hiscock, Charlotte Caffrey & Göran Ehlmé