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Weddell Sea - In Search of the Emperor Penguin, incl. helicopters

An incredible sea-and-air safari in search of the Weddell Sea's Snow Hill Island colony of Emperor penguins.
Starting at:
Per Person
$ 12,100
11 Days
Starting at:
Per Person
$ 12,100


  • Become one of the few to savor the once-in-a-lifetime experience of witnessing the most iconic Antarctic animal of all.
  • Marvel at the huge tabular icebergs heralding your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Experience the bird’s-eye-view of Antarctica and access its remote interior via a thrilling helicopter ride.

A true expedition, this Weddell sea cruise sets out to explore the range of the emperor penguins near Snow Hill Island. We will visit the area via helicopter and see a variety of other birds and penguins including adelies and gentoos

The helicopter capability on m/v Ortelius gives you the rare chance to see the famed emperor penguin rookery south of Snow Hill Island—numbering around 4,000 breeding pairs—as heavy ice may prevent entrance to this area from the Weddell Sea by ship, and ice at the rookery itself might break up and start to melt earlier than expected.

With this in mind, the aim is to stop the vessel between the Antarctic Sound and James Clark Ross Island, close to the ice edge, and find emperor penguins on their way to open water. The thrilling helicopter flights make this search possible, enabling you to land in locations otherwise inaccessible this early in the season.

If ice conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice, you have the chance for ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (roughly 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin rookery). If successful, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Please remember that nature writes the final itinerary out here: Attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during the voyages of 2012 – 19 did not always succeed. However, in 2013, 2017 until 2019 and 2022 conditions were favorable to land by helicopter on Snow Hill Island and to visit the emperor penguin rookery.

Standard Activities

Bird Watching
Bird Watching
Helicopter Flight
Navigation Workshops
Penguin Watching
Penguin Watching

Itinerary Day to Day

Day 1

End of the world, start of a journey

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on tierra del fuego, nicknamed the end of the world, and sail the mountain-fringed beagle channel for the remainder of the evening.

Embarkation Point
Days 2-3

Path of the polar explorers

Days 4-7

Entering Antarctica

Day 8

Drake via Deception Island

Days 9-10

Familiar seas, familiar friends

Day 11

There and back again

Route Map

There are 10 main destinations visited

Departure Dates

Showing 2 scheduled departures
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November 10 - Nov 20, 2024
Ushuaia, Argentina
$ 12,100 - $ 26,860
November 20 - Nov 30, 2024
Ushuaia, Argentina
$ 12,100 - $ 15,800

Extra Activities

Explore these 2 add on activities
Tent set up on ice
From $ 215 Per Person


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From $ 550 Per Person


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What's Included

  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed)
  • Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia.
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programe.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.

What's Excluded

  • Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
  • Pre- and post- land arrangements.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).

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