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This 'fly-sail' itinerary is the quickest way to get as far south as possible and cross the Antarctic Circle.

Flying from Punta Arenas in southern Chile over Cape Horn and thus avoiding the notoriously rough waters of the Drake Passage, this is the easiest way to travel to Antarctica – the coldest, highest, windiest, driest and least inhabited continent on earth – reaching King George Island, the largest island in the South Shetlands in under two hours. By retracing this route on the return journey you avoid two days of sailing each way, ensuring you experience only the best of the White Continent.

Boarding your expedition cruise vessel, you then sail southward along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula (with plenty of stops and landings along the way) to cross the Antarctic Circle. This active adventure involves daily landings by Zodiac inflatable, and a full programme of lectures on board ship, assisted all the while by experienced crew and knowledgeable expedition staff.

A typical Polar Circle itinerary is shown below.

Note that some trips will fly over Drake Passage in one direction only (and sail the other).

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Arrive Punta Arenas, 1-night hotel

  2. Day 2: Fly to King George Island in the South Shetlands and board vessel

    Fly to King George Island (approx one and a half hours) in the South Shetlands, visit the Chilean Antarctic mission's Frei Base, then board your vessel.

  3. Days 3-8 : Sail from the South Shetland Islands down the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula

    Sail from the South Shetland Islands down the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through ice-filled fjords past spectacular icebergs in the company of sea birds, penguins, seals and whales. Visit some of the most magnificent spots in the white continent, such as: Cierva Cove, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Lemaire Channel, Prospect and Fish Islands amongst others. The highlight of your trip is attempting to cross the Polar Circle at latitude 66 33' South, with a champagne toast to celebrate the occasion. This is an active adventure with several daily landings and cruises in Zodiac boats, lectures and a fun time on board.

  4. Day 9: Disembark at King George Island and fly to Punta Arenas

You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.

Key info

  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 9-11 days from £8,760 pp
  • Group size: Varies according to vessel
  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Accommodation in twin-share cabin
    • All meals on board ship
    • Guided shore excursions
Featured locations:

Antarctic Peninsula

The Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the great white continent with some of its best wildlife and scenery. Ice-choked waterways, sculpted icebergs, imposing glaciers and rugged mountains provide the back drop to an area with more whales and dolphins than anywhere else on earth.

  • Ideal for viewing: elephant seal, hourglass dolphin, humpback whale, minke whale, orca
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Whale watching, Penguin watching

Lemaire Channel

The Lemaire Channel is an 11 kilometre strait off Antarctica leading to a jigsaw of jewel like islands. Filled with icebergs and hemmed in by steep glacial cliffs, the waters are calm and passing through it makes for an unforgettably scenic journey, upon which orca or humpback whales may be seen.

  • Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, hourglass dolphin, humpback whale, macaroni penguin, orca
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Whale watching, Penguin watching

South Shetland Islands

The South Shetland Islands are situated north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of the land is permanently glaciated, yet, despite the harsh conditions, the islands do support a large variety of seals, penguins – including Adelie and chinstrap - and seabirds – including Antarctic terns and giant petrels.

  • Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, elephant seal, chinstrap penguin, gentoo penguin, southern right whale
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Penguin watching, Birdwatching

Paradise Harbour

Paradise Harbour is surrounded by heavily glaciated mountains and ice cliffs, which protect and shield this part of the bay and reflect in the ice-cold waters. Its mind-boggling array of icebergs are a highlight, enhancing the wildlife viewing experience which includes whales and abundant birdlife.

  • Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, gentoo penguin, hourglass dolphin, humpback whale, orca
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Whale watching
This itinerary is available on the following cruise vessel:

Polar Pioneer

Small and manoeuvrable, the Polar Pioneer is an ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and crew.