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Before your Antarctica exploration, why not cross a few incredible natural wonders off your bucket list and add another country to your passport? Travel to spectacular Iguassu Falls National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of 275 thundering falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Second in size only to Victoria Falls, this series of cataracts once prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to take pity on her country’s most famous falls, saying “Poor Niagara!” as she gazed upon mighty Iguassu. All the falls are impressive, but the most spectacular is the Devil’s Throat, the 2,300-foot-long spectacle that separates Argentina and Brazil.
Depart home and fly overnight to Buenos Aires
Your expedition begins! Today you’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Arrive in Buenos Aires
Welcome to Argentina! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and enjoy a brief orientation walk in the historic center near your hotel. This evening, please join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner.
No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a little taste of the tango, so we have arranged for a pair of professional tango dancers to give a demonstration of Argentina’s most passionate dance. The tango is considered so intrinsic to the national character of Argentina and Uruguay, that UNESCO has designated it as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World.
Discover the best of Buenos Aires
On today’s city tour you’ll discover why Buenos Aires is considered one of the most sophisticated cities in the world. Wide boulevards reminiscent of Paris . . . opulent neobaroque, neoclassical and art nouveau architecture . . . and elegant shops and sidewalk cafés filled with fashionable patrons. You’ll see the Plaza de Mayo, the central square that is flanked by the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis; the Cabildo, which housed the town council during the colonial era; and the Casa Rosada or “Pink” House, the presidential mansion. If it seems familiar, that’s because in the 1950s, Eva Perón (“Evita”) would address the adoring crowds from its oft-photographed balcony. You’ll also see the colorful La Boca, the old Genoese neighborhood with its vividly painted houses. Passing Caminito, the famous tango street, you’ll see some of the famous milongas or tango salons, and perhaps some dancers on the street going through their paces.
The balance of your day is free. Your Vantage City Host will be happy to assist with tips, directions, and making reservations.
Fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and embark the Ocean Explorer
After breakfast, you’ll board a charter flight to Ushuaia where you’ll embark the Ocean Explorer. You’ll attend an informative port talk late this afternoon; then, gather with your fellow travelers for your first dinner onboard as the Ocean Explorer sets off tonight.
Cruising the Drake Passage
This legendary body of water connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, stretching for about 600 miles from the tip of South America to Antarctica. Though it is the most direct route between the continents, it can also have some of the planet’s most turbulent seas. You never know whether your crossing will be a “Drake Shake” (rough journey), or a “Drake Lake” (calm sailing). Either way, it is quite literally a “rite of passage” for all Antarctic explorers and your onboard expedition team will keep your spirits up with some fun and fascinating activities, plus whale watching and birdwatching from the deck.
Spend five unforgettable days in Antarctica, the “White Continent”
Prepare to witness the most unspoiled, sublime terrain on Earth — and to cross another continent off your bucket list. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent, containing 90 percent of all of the ice on Earth. Nonetheless, it is classified as a desert because so little moisture falls from the sky. Believe it or not, the Sahara desert gets twice as much rain each year!
You will be exploring here during the austral summer, the most temperate time of year. But because conditions vary from place to place, our captain will adjust our landings as the adventure progresses. You’ll set foot on the South Shetlands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula, venturing ashore every day for naturalist-led expeditions via our versatile Zodiac boats. Wherever our explorations lead us, you can look forward to encountering penguin refuges, floating icebergs, paradisiacal bays and quiet, wildlife-rich sounds, international research bases, and even an active caldera!
Please note: Remember, daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses.
Cruising the South Atlantic
Enjoy two relaxing days on board your 5-star expedition ship as you head to South Georgia. Each day, your expedition team will be conducting different presentations on topics relevant to your destinations — history, geology, astronomy, ornithology, marine biology, and more.
You’ll also want to join the expedition team on deck for birdwatching, perhaps spotting fulmar, petrel, or even a wandering albatross, with its eleven-foot wingspan. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life — these waters frequently host southern right whales.
Exploring South Georgia Island
You’ll have three days to explore the unique history and natural splendor of South Georgia, whose biodiversity is so rich it is known as the “Serengeti of the Southern Ocean.” Although South Georgia is within the Antarctic ecosystem, it is outside the limit of sea ice. As a result, tens of thousands of breeding penguins, seals, and seabirds may be seen here.
During your stay, your expedition team will lead various excursions by Zodiac landing craft and on foot, taking you to observe fascinating wildlife and to admire the unspoiled scenery of hanging glaciers, cliffs, and scenic lagoons. South Georgia is home to over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant seal pups alongside their mothers, plus a huge colony of king penguins and wandering albatrosses in their nesting grounds.
You will also visit the South Georgia Museum, a whaling museum that also details the island’s maritime and natural history, as well as the 1982 Falklands War. Also featured are the Norwegian seaman’s church, former whaling stations, and the grave of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in Grytviken. Weather permitting, you might hike over part of the trail that Shackleton followed on his brave journey across rugged mountains to find help for his men.
Two days at sea to enjoy the Ocean Explorer
On the way to the Falkland Islands, you’ll spend two more days at sea cruising through the South Atlantic to your destination. Take advantage of your ship’s amenities to refresh and restore yourself, perhaps visiting the sauna or enjoying a soothing massage in the spa. Looking for photo tips? Check the schedule (posted on your onboard interactive system) for the next photography workshop.
East Falkland Island, a bit of Britain in the Southern Hemisphere
Today you’ll arrive on East Falkland and visit the capital, Port Stanley. With a population of about 2,100, Port Stanley is home to nearly two thirds of the Falklands’ residents. It will be the focus of today’s discovery.
Given the quaint pubs, red phone booths, and fish and chips shops, you’d think you are in rural England, except for the occasional Argentinean shop or Spanish word. One Spanish word you’ll hear often is “camp,” derived from the Spanish campo meaning countryside. Here, the Falklanders say "camp" to refer to all the land outside Stanley. Your city tour showcases some of this tiny city’s main attractions, including the Victory Green, where a mizzen mast from the SS Great Britain is displayed; the Government House; the Town Hall, which also serves as a post office, court of law, and dance hall; and the Christ Church Cathedral, the southernmost Anglican church in the world. Nearby, there is a decorative arch made of whale bones.
Unspoiled beauty on West Falkland Island
Where we make landfall today is entirely based on local conditions. As your ship approaches West Falkland Island, you may pass the pristine sandy beaches or sheer cliffs that are home to some of the island’s 63 avian species, such as Cobb’s wren, Falkland skua, king cormorants, ground tyrant, pipit, thrush, and more. More than a million penguins call the Falklands home, often nesting in the green tussock grass burrows.
During your visit, you might join an excursion to see penguins. Your expedition leader will help you try to spot the five main types: waddling gentoo penguins, with their orange beaks; king penguins, the largest breed which can stand 39 inches tall; black-and-white banded Magellanic; macaronis, with their orange head feathers; and rockhoppers, with their bushy heads.
Recross the Drake Passage
As we trek north toward Buenos Aires, spend three days recrossing through the Drake Passage. Take this time to enjoy your ship, perhaps taking in a movie, joining a fitness class, dancing in the lounge, or simply curling up with a book from the library. On the way, your expedition team will offer more fascinating workshops and presentations about the region’s geology, glaciology, biodiversity, and history.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer in Buenos Aires and learn about polo
This morning, the Ocean Explorer arrives in Buenos Aires. After breakfast, you’ll ride into the countryside to visit an estancia (ranch) where riders are trained to compete in professional polo matches. The elite sport of polo was introduced to Argentina in 1875, and today, the country is the world’s polo capital. After touring the estancia, you’ll learn all about the sport’s history and the breeding of polo ponies, and enjoy a demonstration by some dashing professional players. After savoring an authentic Argentinean lunch, you’ll head back to Buenos Aires. Tonight, reminisce with your fellow travelers at a Farewell Dinner.
Flights from Buenos Aires typically depart late in the evening, so you’ve got another day to take in the wonders of the city on your own.
Later, you’ll transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home.
Enhance your understanding of Polynesian culture — and treat yourself to an exotic island experience in the “navel of the world” — on a post-trip extension to Easter Island, a Chilean territory and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rapa Nui, as it’s locally known, is distinguished worldwide as the one and only home of the mystifying moai statues. This extension is your opportunity to encounter these mystical talismans up close and disentangle history from legend. Who created these statues? How? Why? And what happened to them?
When Eleanor Roosevelt first laid eyes on Iguassu Falls, she is famously said to have uttered, “Poor Niagara”! It’s easy to understand what overwhelmed the First Lady. This torrent of water separating Brazil and Argentina plunges over 200-foot-high cliffs in a roaring fury of water. (In fact, Iguaçu translates roughly from the local Tupi-Guarani into “great water.”) Judging from Ms. Roosevelt’s reaction, you’ll want to extend your expedition to view Brazil’s other breathtaking natural wonder. Explore the cataracts from both countries, getting as close to the falls as the spraying mist allows. Join us on this thrilling adventure!
Please note: Ocean-cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.
Important: Daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.