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Day 6-12 – Antarctica – Impossible to Describe | Antarctica Antarctica is isolated from the rest of the world by ocean currents. 90% of the world’s ice is here, 13,000 feet thick, covering the landmass. In winter Antarctica is further cut off by sea ice forming off the coast – virtually doubling the size of the continent. In summer, it is a breeding ground for millions of penguins, whales, and seals that, for the rest of the year, simply spend their time at sea. Most of the wildlife found here thrives on a cornerstone species: krill. The krill population in the Southern Ocean represents the largest biomass of a single species on Earth – including human beings! As outlined in the Antarctic Treaty, this is a continent dedicated to peace, science, and tourism. No human activity is allowed to alter the perfect natural balance. We are visiting a place that has evolved through millennia without human interference. Therefore, we adhere to very strict environmental guidelines and rules: We want to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures! Antarctica’s location makes every cruise to the continent an expedition. Even the most sophisticated technology cannot override some of the climatic challenges that are a part of this environment. Weather, wind, and ice conditions have a great influence on our program and schedule. Therefore, we need to be pragmatic: we change landings, re-route, and shift plans as we go along. This also means that we will take advantage of the often ideal conditions – we might spend hours ashore hiking or on the water with kayaks, or simply cruising among huge pods of whales. We will attempt to land several places, including Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Brown Bluff, Cuverville Island, and Neko Harbor. All of these places are serene and offer untouched nature, oportunities to observe penguin colonies, seals, glaciers, icebergs in every shape and colour, and old whaling stations. It’s hard to sum up all the impressions you will gain. As a well-known quote from veteran Antarctic travellers puts it: “If you can describe Antarctica with words, you have probably never been there.” Day 13 - Lectures and Wildlife-Watching from the Deck | At Sea After exploring this superlative and unique continent, we set course to the Falkland Islands. The Falklands consist of two large islands and around 700 smaller ones. Captain John Strong of the HMS Welfare made the first recorded landing here in 1690. We will continue our lecture series, which focuses on the dramatic history and diverse wildlife of the islands as we keep a watch out for wandering albatross. Day 14-16 – At the Edge of Antarctica | The Falkland Islands Having just been in Antarctica, it might seem a bit surreal to arrive in a town that looks like a miniature England, with red phone boxes, red buses, and English pubs. Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands. Roam the city streets – the town is easy enough to discover in a day on foot – or join one of the excursions to explore the wilderness and wildlife in the surrounding areas. The Falklands are teeming with wonders of wildlife and nature. This is an unpolluted environment with fantastically clear blue skies, seamless horizons, vast open spaces, and stunning white-sand beaches. As we reach the westernmost-settled outposts in the Falklands you will see remote farms that have been family-owned for six or seven generations. The sheep graze alongside immense colonies of albatross and rockhopper penguins, while predatory striated caracaras patrol overhead and upland geese forage at the water’s edge. Bird lovers will rejoice if we are able to go ashore on Carcass Island. This is a bird paradise with several ducks, geese, penguins, albatrosses, caracaras, and wrens. It is also one of few islands down here with trees. We use our small boats to go ashore for exploring, hiking, and taking a closer look at all the birds. Day 17 – The Magellan Strait | At Sea As we complete the loop of the Magellan Strait, we will have a recap of everything we have experienced on this expedition. Make sure you spend some time on deck looking for wildlife. Day 18 – The End of the Expedition Punta Arenas/Santiago de Chile We arrive back in Punta Arenas in the morning. After the flight back to Santiago de Chile, you can extend your vacation with a post-cruise extension (Land Adventure) to experience the impressive region.