Discover the wild, wintry drama of Antarctica
Scenic fjords, glassy waterways and elusive wildlife sightings await those fortunate enough to travel to Antarctica. Board a luxury, expedition yacht to experience the spellbinding scenery of this frozen frontier.
Fragile but formidable, Antarctica’s mighty landscapes and teeming wildlife colonies seize the imagination. It’s only by exploring in person that you can really appreciate this region’s otherworldly details and textures, from the play of the light on the Southern Ocean to the raucous braying of penguins and the unmistakable sound of seals.
With demand for trips to blockbuster locations such as Lemaire Channel, Paradise Bay and Port Lockroy growing in recent years, stringent conservation codes have been created to help protect Antarctica’s precious, pristine environment. Landings on the islands and mainland shores are restricted, for example, to those visiting on relatively small expedition ships.
Equipped to travel just about anywhere, luxury expedition yacht Octopus is perfectly suited to such an adventure. With helipads and a streamlined, ice-class hull, Octopus can navigate narrow, iceberg-dotted fjords with ease, exploring remote spots that larger ships can’t reach. As a result, past voyages have seen on-board teams study coelacanths (rare primitive fish, thought to have evolved into their current form 400 million years ago) and locate precious maritime artefacts, including the Japanese wreck of the Musashi — one of the world’s largest battleships. The yacht’s tenders are agile enough to cruise thrillingly close to migrating whales or to land on island-based penguin and seal colonies, while its submersibles and scuba diving centre, complete with hyperbaric chamber, allow researchers and curious travellers to unlock a hidden realm: venturing beneath the surface for glimpses of ecosystems that could provide vital clues to the impact of climate change.
With a variety of seven- and 10-day itineraries on offer, travellers can choose from a variety of sites and experiences best suited to the weather and ice conditions, including ski touring, ice exploring, polar plunges and even wildlife conservation with locally-based scientists. Deception Island, hidden among the South Shetland Islands, is a particular highlight. This flooded caldera of a volcano is home to one of the region’s largest chinstrap penguin colonies, a fascinating history of shore-based whaling and thermal hot springs that seep from the ground. Travellers should keep their eyes peeled for Antarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals and giant petrels scattered along its beaches. Meanwhile, Antarctic Sound, located on the very northeastern point of the Antarctic Peninsula, promises large, tabular icebergs and immense glaciers drifting north from the Weddell Sea.
In numbers: Octopus motoryacht
24 x 62
Metres long and high. Octopus is a formidable megayacht that accommodates up to 12 guests in style. Despite its generous size, it’s designed to feel intimate and cosy – hence its appeal to tight-knit groups of scientists, artists, explorers and other travellers.
Helipads, a boon for exploring remote destinations such as Antarctica. Octopus also carries seven tenders and a submersible ROV (remotely-operated vehicle).
Crew to guest ratio, ensuring unparalleled service and an impressive breadth of knowledge, skills and experience on board. Many of the 42-strong permanent crew, including both captains, have worked on Octopus for over 10 years.
The year the Japanese battleship Musashi was uncovered in the Sibuyan Sea, west of Leyte in the Philippines. Octopus motoryacht was at the heart of searching for this vessel — a project which took over eight years to complete. At 73,000-tonnes, Musashi was considered one of the largest battleships the world has ever known, sunk in the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was considered the largest naval battle in World War II.
For more information on Camper & Nicholsons exclusive fleet of yachts available for charter, visit camperandnicholsons.com
Published in the May 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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