Diving, Snorkeling, Photography
This is an exclusive trip with a focus on Diving, Snorkeling and Photography
In Feb 2024, we have a very special tour for divers, snorkelers and photographers who want to visit Antarctica and join our photographic workshop to help improve their skills and experience one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Join us on the Sylvia Earle in Antarctica for this adventure of a lifetime. We will be snorkeling in the ice, observing the wildlife up close and personal and learning how to take that perfect photo. Your hosts, international award winning nature photographer Scott Portelli and Carmen Ellis owner and director of eco Global Whale Swimming company Majestic Whale Encounters in one of the most remote places on our planet.
This is an exclusive small group trip onboard one of the best expedition ships in Antarctica. The comprehensive program will be full of polar activities and excursions to view the unique wildlife found in this part of the world. Enjoy lectures on photography and wildlife, while getting involved in some citizen science initiatives.
- Diving/Snorkeling in Antarctica with seals, whales and penguins
- Exploring the landscape surrounded by icebergs and an abundance of wildlife
- Photography workshops with award winning wildlife photographer Scott Portelli and Conservationist Carmen Ellis
Dates: 25 February – 9 March 2024
Duration: 14 Days (ANC009S)
Start: Punta Arenas, Chile
Finish: Ushuaia, Argentina
Ship: Sylvia Earle
Deposit (non-refundable): $2500.00 USD
- A toast at the Antarctic Circle, 66°34’ south (approx)
- Enjoy a splendour of wildlife activity as birds, seals and whales race to fatten up for winter
- Visit fascinating historic sites
- Zodiac cruises with the hope of spotting leopard and crabeater seals
Day 1: Punta Arenas
Having made your way to Punta Arenas, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Voyage Briefing. Afterwards, dine at your leisure (dinner not included).
Accommodation: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (or similar)
Day 2: Fly Punta Arenas to King George Island
This morning we will be transferred to Punta Arenas airport for our charter flight to King George Island, Antarctica (weather permitting). The flight will take approximately one hour and forty-five minutes.
On arrival into King George Island our expedition team is on hand to greet you and to prepare you for your Zodiac transfer to the vessel. You will have time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings.
Note: King George Island is located at the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required for safe take-off and landing. We apologise in advance for any delays.
Day 3-11: Antarctic Peninsula & Antarctic Circle
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You will want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
On this voyage, conditions permitting, we plan to cross the Antarctic Circle, an imaginary line located at the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66°33′ South (approximately). Crossing below The Circle is certainly a special highlight for many people, and the moment will be celebrated with a toast out on the deck (weather permitting). You have earned some boasting privileges, joining a small group of lucky adventurers who have ventured to this part of the world. As we approach and cross the Antarctic Circle, you will notice subtle changes in the landscape, and also in the distribution of wildlife. The waters at this time of year are rich with krill and we hope to see plenty of whales – particularly humpbacks and minkes and enjoy the spectacle of penguins feeding their ravenous chicks.
Days 12-13: Drake Passage crossing
Enjoy a final morning landing in the South Shetland Islands before we re-enter the Drake Passage for our return journey to South America.
With lectures and film presentations to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
Day 14: Disembark Ushuaia
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we disembark from approximately 8.00 am. Farewell your attentive crew, expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to Ushuaia airport or to your hotel is included in the voyage fare.
Note: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.
Important note: All of our itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. Our itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.
|CABIN||PRICE PER PERSON|
|Triple Share Stateroom||From US $14,500|
|Balcony Stateroom C||From US $16,950|
|Aurora Stateroom Superior||From US $17,750|
Add-on activities: Sea-kayaking, snorkeling and diving.
Snorkeling Supplement (From US$695 pp)
Diving Supplement (From US$995 pp)
Note: For scuba divers, we recommend you have cold water diving experience before entering the water in the polar regions.
- All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary
- One night’s hotel accommodation with breakfast in Punta Arenas on day 1
- Charter flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island on day 2
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- International or domestic flights to or within South America, unless specified
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Scott Portelli is an international award winning wildlife, nature and underwater photographer. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) and is regarded as a leading professional in his field. Scott has spent thousands of hours in remote locations across the globe filming and photographing nature, wildlife, the underwater environment and wild places.
He was recently announced the winner in the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2021, and has previously been awarded winner in the animal behaviour category in 2017 and 2019. He was awarded 1st Place Winner as part of a team representing Australia at the World Photographic Cup 2021. Also included in his accolades he was announced winner at the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2021 in the Other Animals category. He was also awarded Winner in the Human & Oceans category at the Ocean Geographic Pictures of the Year awards 2021 and winner at Travel Photographer of the Year 2015 & 2018 and runner up in the landscape category in 2020. Some of his more noteworthy awards included being awarded at the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the year in London in 2016 and announced National winner of the Sony World Photography awards 2016.
Scott has spent over a decade working in the polar regions with a focus on Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic areas producing a unique portfolio of fine art photography that showcases the intricate environment and its intriguing inhabitants. Working in extreme conditions, Scott’s photography provides a rarely seen glimpse above and below the surface in some of the harshest places on the planet.
Carmen has spent most of her life working with animals. Much of those years have been spent on or near the sea, centering around whales, dolphins and marine conservation.
For the past decade Carmen has been taking guests swimming with many different species of whales and wildlife with a particular focus on sustainable travel, local culture, conservation and adventure. From her many years working with animals and her marine studies, she likes to use her extensive knowledge to educate guests on wildlife and the environment.
Carmen was listed as top 50 small business leaders for her efforts in eco travel and runner up finalist for Australian family business of the year. As a best selling author of children’s ocean themed books, Carmen also uses this platform to educate children and upcoming marine enthusiasts on how they can help protect the oceans and its inhabitants.
One of her biggest professional accomplishments is the work she has done to raise awareness and funds for many different charities including Take 3 for the sea; Foundation of Goodness, Sri Lanka; Coral Gardeners, Tahiti; ORRCA Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia. The tours Carmen runs have a give back scheme where an opportunity is created for the guests to give back to the countries they visit and the animals they encounter.
Carmen has travelled to many amazing places and has had countless incredible in-water and land encounters throughout her career spanning over the last 25 years, she can’t wait to share her many stories and love of the ocean with you!
Top 5 tips for underwater polar photography
Photographing in 1-degree water can be challenging for any underwater photographer, but there are a few things that you can do to ensure the best results in the harsh conditions.
Bubbles on your dome port – In cold water bubbles will continually form on the dome port as the cold water aerates the glass or acrylic port. This can ruin some amazing photos as they are very difficult to remove in post-production. So a few simple tips.
- Have a tube of mask anti-fog gel or liquid and coat the surface of your dome port before you get into the water. This will help reduce the aeration on the dome port. If you are doing split shots, you might also want to ensure there is a layer on your done so the water beads off the glass better and you reduce water blotches in your photos.
- Be conscious that the aeration bubbles will form on the lens and carry a small chamois cloth or use your gloves to brush the surface of your dome regularly while in the water. If you get into the practice of checking your dome regularly, you will reduce the chance of a photograph covered in air bubbles.
Lens fog/condensation – the warm and the cool air will create condensation inside the housing and your camera which may fog your lens or dome port, try and set up the camera in a consistent temperature and avoid opening the camera housing until the equipment has returned to room temperature. You can avoid damaging your equipment by simply making sure the environment you are working maintains a consistent temperature when assembling your gear.
Keep your batteries warm – before you set up your camera and get underwater, make sure your batteries are fully charged and keep them warm as long as you can before you assemble your camera and underwater housing. Battery life is dramatically reduced in low temperatures, so make sure you have plenty of spare batteries readily available. When you are out on the water diving, keep a dry bag with you with any spare equipment you might need, as you never know when you might need to change a battery or card. However in most cases you want to avoid opening the housing and camera on the water, as it only takes a few drops of salt water to damage your equipment.
Checklist – set yourself a simple to follow checklist to avoid issues and mistakes before getting in the water, because once you are underwater there is not much you can do if you have mistakenly put the camera together incorrectly or forgotten a crucial part. And always test your camera equipment and lighting/strobes on the surface before you hit the water. Some things to avoid and what I put on my checklist:
- Manual focus is off on your lens and auto focus is working for the chosen lens. I have been shooting star shot the previous night and had my camera set to manual and my ISO very high and my lens on manual focus, then put it into the housing and been underwater only to realise when I returned to the surface that nothing was in focus. Some housings may have the ability to change the focus manually but in an environment such as Antarctica you need to be reactive and have your equipment optimized for the shooting opportunities.
- This is one mistake I have made on a few occasions, leaving the lens cap on the camera inside the underwater housing. You find it strange that everything is black. Once you are underwater there is nothing you can do about this without resurfacing and taking a risk in opening your underwater housing on a moving boat. Definitely add this to your checklist.
- Dust on inside of the dome – It sounds simple, but check the inside of your dome to make sure there are no lose dust particles moving around. Yes, these can be removed in post-production if you are shooting stills, but it is almost impossible to remove marks when you are shooting video. This is the difference between a nice crisp visual that people enjoy watching or a mark on the video that you can’t help but notice that ruins your beautiful video.
- Memory card is empty and ready to shoot – it is easy to forget to delete or format a memory card before each shoot and then realise after you have shot a few hundred frames that you are running out of space. Always back up your cards after each dive and ensure a clean memory card is ready for each time you get in the water. Also some cameras will let you shoot without the memory card, I always turn this feature off, as this is a mistake you can’t afford to make
- Check your o-rings on your camera housing as the cold and warm air can expand and contract these, they should be clean and free of any particles, it only takes one strain of hair to flood a very expensive housing. Always carry spare o-rings as well, as you never know when you might need to change this due to the weather affecting the elasticity of the rubber seals.
Cold Hands – One thing I find when shooting in Antarctica is your hands get really cold (obvious, I know!) But because your hands are often holding your housing and your fingers are wrapped around the handles, they don’t move as much and will get a little stiff. What happens then is you find it hard to press the buttons on your camera housing. You also want to wear warm gloves under your wetsuit but not so thick that you can’t easily change the settings on your camera. Look for thin gloves and check you can easily change the settings on your camera.