This voyage follows the path of Shackleton's odyssey from the northern Weddell Sea, past Elephant Island and across the Scotia Sea to the southwestern side of South Georgia. Shackleton's epic story of survival, which started with the sinking of his ship, Endurance, in the Weddell Sea six months previously, symbolizes heroic Antarctic exploration. This is a magical region, where only a privileged few have walked among the tussock grass, sat quietly near an albatross nest, or gazed at the enormity of an ice cliff reflected in still, midnight-blue water.
Day 1: Ushuaia / Embarkation
You board your ship Polar Pioneer mid-afternoon, then slip away from the dock in the early evening. The cruise down the Beagle Channel provides a fine view of the mountains and beech forests of Tierra del Fuego.
Day 2: Crossing the Drake Passage
While crossing the Drake Passage, accompanied by albatross and petrels, enjoy various lectures and briefings onboard the vessel.
Day 3: Antarctic Convergence
By mid-afternoon, you will have crossed the Antarctic Convergence cold water boundary to Antarctica, and may see your first icebergs near the South Shetland Islands.
Days 4-5: Gerlache Strait
You make contact with penguins, seals and whales in the beautiful Gerlache Strait, using the Zodiacs to cruise among the ice or make landings.
Day 6: Antarctic Sound
At the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Sound is often choked with icebergs, but this waterway provides a wildlife-rich corridor into the Weddell Sea. You begin to retrace Shackelton's path near Paulet Island.
Day 7: Elephant Island
If the weather is kind you will land on the steep slopes of Elephant Island, the unexpected home for Shackelton's men for many months.
Day 8: South Orkney Islands
You cruise among the mountainous South Orkney Islands.
Day 9: Sailing toward South Georiga
Today, you cruise the Scotia Sea towards South Georgia.
Day 10: South Georgia Island
You enter King Haakon Bay on South Georgia, hopefully stopping for a ceremonial landing at Cave Cove where Shackelton made his first landfall after the epic open boat voyage.
Days 11-15: Exploring South Georgia
Exploring the whaling stations, bays and promontories of South Georgia. These will be busy days as you immerse yourself in South Georgia's extraordinary wildlife diversity - at places like Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour, where hundreds of thousands of king penguins line the beach, or Albatross Island, where the lords of the Southern Ocean, the wandering albatross, nest among tussock grasses.
Days 16-17: At Sea
While at sea you have time to reflect on your days on South Georgia and enjoy the delights of birdwatching from the outer decks.
Day 18: Falkland Islands
You visit the southern islands of the Falklands, bristling with nesting birds.
Day 19: Sailing back to the Mainland
You complete your lecture program during the short hop to the South American coast.
Day 20: Ushuaia / Disembarkation
You dock in Ushuaia after cruising back along the Beagle Channel in the early morning. Transfer to a city hotel or commence your homeward journey.