Antarctica's Far East - The Farewell Voyage

This voyage salutes Mawson and marks the 100th anniversary of that extraordinary expedition. Douglas Mawson is Australia's revered Antarctic explorer. He made the first ascent of Mount Erebus in March 1908, as a member of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition. With two companions, he was the first to reach the South Magnetic Pole, January 16, 1909. The journey (2028 km/1250 miles) was the longest unsupported sled expedition undertaken in the Antarctic at that time. Mawson led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914. The tragic events that occurred during the expedition made Mawson a household name in Australia, and earned him an international reputation that rivaled that of his former boss.

Special Guest: Captain Petr Golikov, First Master of Kapitan Khlebnikov

Itinerary

Day 1: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

The final voyage of the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov as an Antarctic expedition vessel begins in Hobart, Australia's gateway to the Arctic for nearly 200 years. Should you arrive early, visit Mawson Place, a park dedicated to the explorer, who, a century before, sailed from Hobart into history. You will spend the night in a centrally located hotel.

Day 2: Embarkation Day

Kapitan Khlebnikov has moored in Hobart many times. This will be a poignant embarkation, as the Captain, officers, crew and Expedition Team members recall past embarkations, while they welcome you aboard the icebreaker's farewell voyage.

Days 3-5: At Sea

You can rest assured that these days at sea will be filled with Quark's hallmark expedition activities - birding, educational presentations, and recap sessions. Everything will be underscored by two themes - the icebreaker's farewell voyage and the centennial of Mawson's 1911-1914 expedition. Special guest Captain Petr Golikov, the first Master of Kapitan Khlebnikov as an expedition vessel will recall the first - and second - circumnavigation of the Antarctic by the vessel. Captain Golikov is the only Master of a passenger vessel to have done so.

Days 6-7: Pack Ice

Once the ship reaches the pack ice, the Expedition Team will be consulting with the helicopter pilot and Captain to identify the best conditions for aerial sightseeing. The helicopters create an extraordinary vantage point for witnessing the icebreaker crush southward. This is a not-to-be-missed activity included in the price of the expedition.

Day 8: Casey Station, Antarctica

Since 1959, Australia has operated a research station on Vincennes Bay. You'll tour Casey Station, which is home to 20 people year-round. The population increases to about 70 in the Antarctic summer. The scientists study the atmosphere, biology, geosciences, and the impact of humans on the environment.

Day 9: Remembering Mawson, Ninnis and Mertz

Over the years, many glasses of champagne have been lifted aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov to mark special occasions. After shore landings to see Adelie Penguins and elephant and Weddell seals in their natural habitat, you'll return to the ship to mark the 99th anniversary of an Eastern Antarctic tragedy. On December 14, 1912, while exploring George V Land, Lt. Belgrave Ninnis fell down a crevasse to his death. His sled, which carried most of the supplies on which his traveling companions Douglas Mawson and Dr. Xavier Mertz would rely, was lost as well. Mawson and Mertz were 506 km (315 miles) from their base at Cape Denison. With no food, but their dogs, the pair began the journey back to safety. Mertz died en route. Mawson, alone, traveled the final 160 km (100 miles) with little food. He survived a fall down a crevasse and a blizzard, during what has become known as the greatest story of survival in Anarctica by a lone man.

Day 10: Vincennes Bay, Antarctica

The bay is named for a the first US warship to circumnavigate the globe. The sloop was the flagship of the Unites States Exploring Expedition (1832-1842) under the leadership of Charles Wilkes. In 1939, he sighted the portion of the continent that bears his name. You will participate in shore landings and presentations about the history and wildlife in the region.

Days 11-12: Shackleton Ice Shelfv

Mawson named the Shackleton Ice Shelf in honor of his former Expedition Leader. The onboard helicopters will be used to afford aerial views of the massive glacier (386 km/239 miles) and of the icebreaker navigating the pack ice.

Day 13: Mirnyy Base

The Russian research station Mirnyy Base is named after a 19th century exploration ship that sailed with Thaddeus Bellingshausen, the first man to sight the continent of Antarctica. Kapitan Khlebnikov is a contemporary exploration vessel with a reputation equal to that of Mirnyy. In addition to visiting an Adelie Penguin rookery and touring the base, you will watch as a plaque commemorating the legendary icebreaker's final visit to the station is presented to the base commander.

Day 14: Gaussberg

You'll be 89° east of the Greenwich Meridian when the extinct volcano called Gaussberg hoves into view. This portion of the Davis Sea is known for massive ice cliffs and tabular icebergs. The Expedition Team will mount an iceberg watch.

Day 15: West Ice Shelf

The Ice Shelf with the prosaic name is spectacular. You'll participate in helicopter flights to view tabular icebergs from the air as well as seeing the 290 km (180 mile) long ice shelf.

Day 16: Wyatt Earp Islands

From the name of the islands that you will visit today, you would think that Antarctica's Far East commemorates American's Wild West. They are named in honor of HMAS Wyatt Earp, the vessel used by Lincoln Ellsworth during many of his expeditions to Antarctica. You will visit a rock cairn erected by explorer Hubert Wilkins where he placed a canister containing a record of his visit in 1939. You will commune with Adelie Penguins at a rookery and admire Weddell seals as they bask in the midnight sun on ice floes.

Day 17: Davis Research Station

There is a story behind every name on the maps and charts of Antarctica. The Australian research facility you will visit today was named for Captain John King Davis, an Irish Australian navigator, who was Mawson's second-in-command 100 years ago. The scientists of Davis Station study glaciology, the atmosphere and medicine.

Day 18: Larsemann Hills

The Antarctic expedition history of Kapitan Khlebnikov is synonymous with Emperor Penguins. So it is fitting that on this voyage you will attempt to visit a rookery of the largest species of penguin on the planet. The Amanda Bay rookery is located on the sea ice of the bay therefore a visit will be subject to local conditions. The Larsemann Hills are a series of rolling hills that were completely unknown 100 years ago.

Day 19: Amery Ice Shelf

The third largest ice shelf system in Antarctica was named by Douglas Mawson for a politician, William B. Amery. The ice shelf covers 1.5 million sq. km. (579,150 square miles). That's 11% of Antarctica's ice. We plan to fly you to the top of the shelf for a photo opportunity befitting a farewell voyage!

Days 20-22: At Sea

How will you know when Kapitan Khlebnikov leaves Antarctica for the final time: When the icebreaker crosses the Antarctic Convergence aka the Antarctic Polar Front. This biological boundary is unique to Antarctica. Encircling the continent, it is an irregular, invisible curve where the cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet and mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. The zone is about 32 to 48 km (20 to 30 miles) wide, somewhere between 48° and 26° S. While at sea, you will learn about the distinctive marine life and climates that are associated with the Polar Front and the area just to the north of it. The Expedition Team will encourage you to go on deck to watch for seabirds and other wildlife that can be seen near the Convergence.

Days 23-24: Heard Island, Australia

When you reach Heard Island, you will still be in Antarctica. The island lies south of the Antarctic Convergence. Since the first recorded visit in 1855, only about 240 shore landings have been made on the island that is permanently covered with ice. The island is notorious for bad weather. Douglas Mawson went ashore in the early 1930s and could not return to his ship for three days due to a gale that arose. Heard Island is an active volcano, known as Big Ben. The cone has been named Mawson Peak (2745 m/9005 feet). The Expedition Leader will consult with the Captain and helicopter pilots as the icebreaker nears the island. If conditions are optimal, a landing will be attempted. Will you be able to claim that you have been ashore on Heard Island? Only time will tell!

Day 25: Kerguelen Islands, France

When the vessel reaches the Kerguelen Islands you may have crossed the Antarctic Convergence - or - you may have not! The islands lie on the Convergence. However as the Polar Front is not fixed, when you visit the archipelago, the Convergence could easily be south of the islands. The islands were first charted in 1772, by Frenchman Yfes Joseph de Kerguelen-Tremarc, In 1929, Australia's Douglas Mawson visited the archipelago. During your visit in 2011, you will visit a Macaroni Penguin rookery at Cap de Chartres. Watch for Northern Giant Petrels, these islands are the farthest south the big bird is known to nest. We'll transfer you by helicopter to Cape Digby for a hike to a long strip of beach where elephant seals and King Penguins are often found.

Day 26: At Sea - New Year's Eve

You will celebrate the End of an Era and the end of 2011 in the Southern Ocean. Antarctica will be behind you. As you count down the minutes to the New Year, raise a glass to the venerable Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the icebreaker's farewell voyage.

Day 27: St. Paul Island

The Expedition Team will be relating four and a half centuries of shipwrecks, scientific research and human folly, as they prepare you for a shore landing. A visit to a Rockhopper Penguin rookery could mean that you will have added a sixth species of penguin to your birding list - just on this voyage alone! Yellow-nosed albatross also nest on the tiny island that is governed by the French.

Days 28-30: At Sea

The sense that the End of an Era is fast approaching will be apparent as guests trade stories, photographs and contact information. You will be part of an exclusive, international club to which no more members can ever be admitted. Don't miss your chance to belong.

Day 31: Fremantle, Australia

After breakfast aboard, you will bid adieu to Kapitan Khlebnikov. The Expedition Team will arrange a group transfer to the airport for homeward flights.

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