Arrive Santiago, Chile
Arrive this morning in Chile’s capital and transfer to your hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, located in Santiago’s Las Condas district. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Tonight, gather with your fellow adventurers and the A&K team for a welcome event at the Observatorio Astronómico Andino, located in the outskirts of Santiago. Chile boasts some of the clearest skies in the world, making the country a natural habitat for astronomical observations. Join one of A&K’s solar and space experts, Dr. David Crain, who discusses the exciting itinerary of this once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse voyage.
Santiago | Mountainside Metropolis
Ringed by the Andes Mountains and shaped by the contributions of a dozen different European cultures, Santiago is one of South America’s most interesting cities. The city was founded in 1541 by Spanish captain Pedro de Valdivia and is nestled some 2,000 feet above sea level in Chile’s great central valley. Today, choose from a number of included excursion options, such as an active walking or bicycle tour of the city, an insider art walk with a visit to an artist’s studio, a visit to Santa Rita Winery located in the Maipo Valley, or a stroll through the city’s famed graffiti street art district. This evening, relax and enjoy the amenities of your hotel and prepare for tomorrow’s charter flight to Ushuaia.
Ushuaia | Gateway to Antarctica
Fly to the charming port town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. On arrival, enjoy lunch at the Arakur resort and, time and weather permitting, take a guided trek in the Cerro Alarken Nature Reserve. This afternoon, arrive at your ship and settle in for your first night on board. Stylish and comfortable, ‘Le Lyrial’ features all-balcony staterooms and suites only on A&K journeys to Antarctica. Wander the decks to become acquainted with the ship or relax in the lounge and mingle with fellow guests in anticipation of your voyage. Upon departure, enjoy cruising through the beautiful Beagle Channel before heading out to sea.
At Sea | Scenic Views & Onboard Enrichment
Relax and enjoy the special touches and amenities available on board stunning ‘Le Lyrial’ while getting to know your fellow explorers and benefiting from the many enrichment programs offered. Weather permitting, A&K’s seasoned expedition staff lead the Zodiacs towards Signy Island and the rarely visited South Orkney Islands. Typically only traversed by British and Argentine scientists, the archipelago comprises four main islands and supports a wide variety of tundra vegetation, while offering breathtaking polar scenery. Attend a special presentation from guest lecturer Dr. Kathy Sullivan, who shares what it was like to be the first American woman to walk in space and how the world looked from the space shuttle ‘Challenger’ — 140 miles above the earth. Later, your Expedition Leader confirms the plan for the total eclipse viewing.
Southern Ocean | The Solar Eclipse
Weather, sea and ice conditions permitting, your Captain navigates ‘Le Lyrial’ to the center of the eclipse’s path of totality, the very narrow track on the surface of the earth where the radiating “circle of light” is best seen. This is caused by turbulence and refraction in the atmosphere, which results in shimmering bands of light and shadow. The proposed positioning of ‘Le Lyrial’ allows for a remarkable viewing time of approximately one minute and 40 seconds. The next total eclipse in this part of the world isn’t until 2061, which makes this a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many travellers.
Antarctica | The White Continent
As the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands appear on the horizon, a sense of excitement begins to build. Dependent on weather, sea, ice and wildlife conditions, Antarctic expeditions demand spontaneity and no two are ever the same. With that in mind, your Captain and Expedition Team carefully plan your active, curated itinerary and daily excursions that may include the following areas:
Danco Coast: Bordering the South Shetland Islands along the Antarctic continent, the Danco Coast is famed for its scenic, jaw-dropping waterways. From the comfort of ‘Le Lyrial,’ you may sail through some of its most stunning and photogenic channels, straits and bays.
Elephant Island: Located in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands, Elephant Island is a mountainous and ice-covered islet. The island gained fame after British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton rescued himself and 22 of his crew from the remote island after his ship, ‘Endurance,’ was stranded by ice. Now, only the luckiest get to land on Elephant Island due to challenging currents and weather.
Antarctic Sound: At the northernmost tip of the Antarctic mainland, this body of water features some of the best sightseeing on the peninsula and a proliferation of giant icebergs. Noted for its vast numbers of bird species, the sound is home to the largest breeding colonies of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Look forward to opportunities to land on remote, wildlife-laden islands as well as possible opportunities to experience a continental landing on the northwest tip of the Antarctic peninsula.
South Shetland Islands: Antarctic research stations, remarkable history, amazing geological features and abundant wildlife define these islands off the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our expedition team looks for opportunities to visit a wide range of sites: working research stations, volcanic islands, and historic sites as well as gentoo, Adélie and chinstrap penguin rookeries.
Each cruise day begins with an early breakfast followed by a morning excursion on swift Zodiacs. Piloted by expert A&K drivers, each excursion is accompanied by lecturers and joined by groups of no more than 10 guests. After mornings discovering native species and striking terrain, return to ‘Le Lyrial’ for lunch and time to relax and observe the wildlife. The rich waters surrounding you allow for excellent viewing of everything from fin whales, humpback whales and orcas to Antarctic and imperial shags. By afternoon, set out for the day’s second excursion, which may include visiting a scientific research station, hiking on a sheltered beach packed with basking southern elephant seals, or circumnavigating colossal icebergs that serve as floating homes to seals and penguins. After full days of adventure, evenings aboard your luxury cruiser invite you to unwind over cocktails in the cozy lounge before dinner in the elegant dining room. At night, choose to recap the day’s discoveries with your naturalist guides, chat on deck with fellow guests, or seize the opportunity to capture photos in the stunning low light characteristic of Antarctica’s long, ethereal twilight.
Drake Passage | A Memorable Return
The ship’s return through the Drake Passage is an interlude for recap and reflection, offering time to compare notes with your expert lecturers on the wildlife, history and geology of the White Continent. Spend time on board with newfound friends in the comfortable common spaces of ‘Le Lyrial,’ enjoy quiet relaxation on your own private balcony or absorb more fascinating lectures by your captivating Expedition Team. While cruising through this historic passage, you may spot various species of whales and seabirds. The immense albatross is an especially stunning sight to behold: These wandering birds boast a wingspan approaching 12 feet and are capable of gliding through the air for hours at a time in search of food.
‘Le Lyrial’ docks at Ushuaia this morning. Enjoy breakfast and then say goodbye to your Expedition Team and ship’s crew before disembarking by 9:00 a.m. You are transferred to the airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires, where you connect to your international flight home.
Note: Itinerary is for guidance purposes only and may be adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildlife, ice, medical emergencies and other conditions beyond A&K’s control at the sole discretion of the Captain.