Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Aboard the new National Geographic Endurance, venture where few others have gone before, including West Antarctica and subantarctic isles belonging to New Zealand and Australia.
  • Get up close to icebergs, and explore hard-to-reach places using our fleets of kayaks and Zodiacs.
  • Gain insights from naturalists while observing abundant wildlife: royal penguins, a variety of seals and whales, and some 150,000 pairs of king penguins on a single beach.
  • Marvel at the massive white wall that marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Board the Polar Class 5 National Geographic Endurance and venture to the bottom of the planet, where endless white mountains roll to the horizon and massive glaciers churn icebergs into the sea. Following the rhythms of nature, explore dramatic places rarely visited as we glide past the iridescent tabular icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula, set foot on the frozen icecap of West Antarctica, and discover pristine bays by kayak and Zodiac. Cruise past the formidable Ross Ice Shelf and encounter a flurry of rare wildlife—including huge colonies of king penguins and seals—in the rugged subantarctic islands.

This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.

 

Days 1-2: U.S./Buenos Aires, Argentina

Depart on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires. Settle into our hotel before heading out to explore the city’s beaux arts palaces, and see the balcony made famous by Eva Perón.

Meals Included:Day 2 (Lunch)
Accommodations:Alvear Art Hotel or similar
Day 3: Ushuaia, Argentina

Fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Enjoy lunch and wildlife viewing during a catamaran cruise along the scenic Beagle Channel, then embark our ship.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

National Geographic Endurance for the entire voyage

Day 4: At Sea/Drake Passage

Voyage across the legendary Drake Passage, and enjoy talks from our naturalists about the wildlife and geology that await us on the Antarctic Peninsula. Watch for albatross and other seabirds gliding alongside the ship.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 5-9: Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula

With long daylight hours at this time of year, we make the most of our days, keeping a flexible schedule to take advantage of the unexpected—veering off course to watch orcas perform off the bow or enjoying an after-dinner Zodiac cruise. We anticipate opportunities to take walks, explore by Zodiac or kayak, and experience close encounters with wildlife most days. Our stops will be adapted to the conditions and the ever-changing ice.

One day, we may take Zodiacs out to see towering icebergs at close range, walk a beach covered with bickering seals and penguins, or hike to a summit for a breathtaking view. The next, we may be kayaking amid glittering brash ice or along a cliff-side rookery in search of blue-eyed shags.

As we encounter the volcanic isles and pristine bays of the peninsula, our team of experts will bring depth and insight to the experience, explaining the behaviors and interactions of different species, the geological and climatic forces that still shape Antarctica, the anatomy of a glacier, and how to capture beautiful photographs of the places we visit.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Days 10-17: Western Antarctica

Our ice-class vessel charts a course through the remote icy waters off western Antarctica, navigating toward spectacular sightings of the region’s abundant wildlife, from seabirds to whales. Our Captain and Expedition Leader are always on the lookout for the best way to experience everything Antarctica has to offer, including spots to “park” the ship in the fast ice. Experience the thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and snowshoe hikes. Along the way, delve deeper into the Antarctica's natural history with our experts, browse the ship’s library, and perhaps attend a yoga class. Our undersea specialists capture images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Days 18-25: Ross Sea

Following in the wake of 19th-century Antarctic explorers, marvel at the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest. Ross covers 182,000 square miles—roughly the size of Canada’s Yukon territory—and its edge towers as high as 200 feet above the water’s surface. Our journey to these waters may also include stops at several small islands to walk ashore and explore by Zodiac and kayak (weather permitting). Spot colonies of Adélie penguins, lolling seals, and majestic whales. Conditions permitting, we plan to visit Coulman Island, where we hope to see emperor penguins, the largest of all penguin species.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Days 26-27: At Sea

Enjoy the ship’s amenities as the Antarctic coast disappears from view. As we voyage toward the subantarctic islands, watch for whales from the ship's bridge, hear talks by our experts, enjoy a book or a board game in the observation lounge, or opt for a spa treatment.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Days 28-30: Macquarie Island, Australia/At Sea

South of the New Zealand mainland lie the wild subantarctic islands—rarely visited and home to an abundance of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. Visit Macquarie Island, the exposed crest of an undersea ridge thrust up from the sea where the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates converge. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to thousands of seals and millions of penguins, including more than 500,000 pairs of royal penguins, which are endemic to the island. Land on a beach thronged with some 150,000 pairs of king penguins—one of the world’s largest colonies.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Days 31-33: New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands

Spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s subantarctic islands and their surrounding waters—the entire marine landscape has been designated a World Heritage site. Enjoy special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and are considered “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world.

Depending on the weather, we plan to discover several intriguing islands. See the rocky Snares Islands, home to albatross, Antarctic terns, and endemic Snares crested penguins. Spend time exploring the larger Auckland Islands, with rich flora as well as prolific bird life and a fascinating human history. Conditions permitting, cruise by Zodiac to Enderby Island to watch playful New Zealand sea lions jostle for position on the shore and keep an eye out for rare yellow-eyed penguins moving between their forest nests to the beach. On our final days aboard, soak up views of these southern waters, and gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Day 34: Dunedin/Auckland

Disembark on New Zealand’s South Island in the town of Dunedin, then catch a flight to Auckland and check in to our hotel.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:SKYCITY Grand Hotel or similar
Day 35: Auckland/U.S.

Head to the airport and board your overnight flight, arriving home the same day.

Meals Included:Breakfast

Optional Extensions

Optional Extensions

  • Iguazú Falls Extension
    4 days from $3,050
  • Easter Island Extension
    5 days from $4,680
  • Buenos Aires Extension
    3 days from $2,390
  • New Zealand’s South Island Extension
    4 days from $4,350
  • New Zealand’s North Island Extension
    3 days from $2,690
Iguazú Falls Extension

Spend several days exploring the largest waterfall system in the world on this post-trip extension to Iguaçu Falls. Get up close to roaring cascades on a boat ride to the base of the falls, and photograph a panoramic view of rainbow-tinted spray from the river’s edge. Delve into the lush jungles of Iguazú National Park on naturalist-led walks, and enjoy Argentine culture and cuisine in Buenos Aires.

Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina/Buenos Aires

Disembark the National Geographic Explorer in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, then transfer to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires. Check in to our hotel, situated among the fashionable boutiques and galleries of the Recoleta district.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Alvear Art Hotel or similar
Day 2: Iguaçu Falls

Fly to Iguaçu and check in to our hotel, the only hotel within the borders of Iguazú National Park. Enjoy stunning views of Iguaçu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. Water crashes over a nearly two-mile span of cliffs, formed by a basaltic rift on the border between Argentina and Brazil. Clouds of mist from the falls soak the surrounding landscape, creating a lush tropical environment harboring several rare species, such as tapirs and jaguars. After lunch, head out on a naturalist-led walk for our first close-up view of the falls. Weather permitting, stroll down the catwalk at river level and board a boat for a ride over the rapids. Forge through the spray as you approach the base of the falls for spectacular views.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Meliã Iguazú
Day 3: Iguaçu Falls

This morning, explore the rich ecosystem of the national park with our local guides, who will give us access to certain areas before they are open to the public. Look out for curious coatis and listen for the distinctive calls of howler monkeys. Keep your camera at the ready to capture brightly colored bird life, including toucans and parrots. Return to the falls this afternoon to explore this natural wonder at your leisure. Savor local cuisine during a dinner in Puerto Iguazú.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Meliã Iguazú
Days 4-5: Buenos Aires/U.S.

Fly back to Buenos Aires and gather over a traditional lunch in Recoleta, sampling chorizo or empanadas and a cup of yerba maté. Transfer to the airport to connect with your overnight flight home.

Meals Included:Day 4 (Breakfast, Lunch)