Africa Big 7 Safari

LEOPARD SEALS & ORCAS

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ANTARCTICA

February 12 – March 8, 2019

LEOPARD SEAL AND ORCA DIVING

  • Where: Antarctica
  • Experience: 18 years
  • Duration: 26 days
  • Max No. of Guests: 6
  • Pricing: Please Inquire Below
  • Vessel: 74′ Pelagic Australis
  • Activities: Live-aboard expedition dive boat, leopard seal and orca diving, ice berg cruising, hiking among penguin colonies and historic explorer sites
  • Temperature:
    • In-Water: 28 – 34°  F ( -2 – 1° C)
    • On-Water: 10 – 40° ( -12 – 4° C)
ITINERARY

Day 1: ARRIVE in Buenos Aires, Argentina and connect with the flight to Ushuaia. Take a taxi from the airport to your designated hotel. Based on abundant experience, we begin this important expedition a day early for an equipment assessment. Before boarding the ship, we review all your personal diving and photography gear to ensure that you have everything you need to get the most out of your Antarctic expedition. We meet in the evening for a briefing and dinner with the crew, expedition staff, and your new diving friends.

Days 2-6: We board the ship on the afternoon of Day 2 in Ushuaia, we will cruise through the Beagle channel to the Drake Passage. Despite its reputation for rough seas, our records show over 60% of crossings take place in relatively calm seas. In any case, our ship is well-suited for all weather conditions. As we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the upwelling zone, where we are likely to see the Wandering Albatross, Grey Headed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Cape Pigeon, Southern Fulmar, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Blue Petrel, and Antarctic Petrel.

Day 7-21: These are fourteen amazing days of cruising and leopard seal and orca diving as   we explore the vast islands of the southwest Antarctic Peninsula. From Deception Island in the north (weather permitting, we will land at Bailey Head with its colony of tens of thousands of Chinstrap Penguins) we   sail through the breathtaking Gerlache Strait and Lemaire Channel. We have a good chance of encountering humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales and orca predation. At Pleneau Island, we sail among the stunning vestiges of once-massive icebergs, an ‘iceberg graveyard.’

At Pleneau we frequently bring back the best images of leopard seal predation, as well as from Coverville, Port Lockroy, Astrolabe and Gourdin Island. During this time, activities include zodiac cruises, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, photography workshops, and lectures. With only 6 guests on board, we can be flexible in our itinerary to take advantage of the best that Antarctica has to offer, and better respond to weather and ice conditions to pursue wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities: visiting secluded bays, seeking out remote sites for penguin colonies and leopard seals, staying out long hours for shooting in rare bright light conditions. All in all, we’ve created a perfect platform for both amazing photography and unforgettable life experiences.

Day 22-26: We leave the Antarctic Peninsula and start our cruise back to Ushuaia, crossing the Drake Passage again, at which you’re now an old hand. Leave the vessel to catch the connecting flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and onward.

 

Apply Now

 

*Trip details, e.g., dates, prices, vessel, accommodations, are subject to change without prior notice

The Vessel

Our sailboat for this expedition is the 74’ Pelagic Australis. It is specially designed to cruise safely through the Antarctic waters. Equipped with a double hull, a shallow draft, and removable keel, this vessel is both comfortable and able to sail in remote areas where no other vessel could. Unlike with large cruise ships, which can only stay in most bays for a few hours or less, the small size of the Pleagic Australis gives us great flexibility to explore — and linger. We will be allowed to explore any remote bay we choose, and more importantly, we will be allowed to stay there as long as we like to get the most out of our leopard seal and orca diving.

 

Freedom to Explore

Aided by technical support onboard the Pelagic Australis, Amos conducts dramatic open water dives along the walls of grounded icebergs. We explore for the Leopard seals hunting ground in uncharted inlets and bays. Our chances increase dramatically since we are allowed and able to stay for many days at any promising location. As the small vessel has very minimal impact on the environment, we are free to move everywhere.

We will also invest a few days in search of Orcas, following them to see if we are lucky to witness this highly-capable species execute their signature hunting maneuvers. When the orcas spot an iceberg with seals on it, the pod will split into two teams, with one team moving forward in front of the iceberg, and the second team staying behind. On some internal signal between the two orca teams, the second one will charge forward on the surface of the water creating a wave. The wave will tilt the iceberg causing the seals to slide into the water, where the first orca team is waiting for their easy prey… you will be one of the few people ever to witness — and photograph — this spectacular event.

The seasoned sailors and professional team of the Pelagic Australis will sail through the Drake Passage, followed by the wonder Albatros, to the South West Antarctic Peninsula. We visit Cuverville and Pleneau Islands, sail the magnificent Lemaire and Neumayer Channels, peruse through the scenic Gerlache Strait and Petermann Island — all while spotting Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins ‘flying’ through the water.

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

  • Voyage aboard the Pelagic Australis for 24 days and 23 nights
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
  • All diving services, tanks and weights
  • Photography presentation and instruction
  • Leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program

TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • All airfare
  • Overnight in Ushuaia, Argentina
  • Land travel arrangements
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Excess baggage charges on all flights
  • All items of a personal nature such as beverages and telecommunication
  • Customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided)
  • Unused portion of the itinerary above is not refundable
  • Additional costs incurred due to independent travel arrangements

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT POLICY

When we receive your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive and detailed Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.

  • A deposit of 33% of the total trip price is required to secure space on the trip.
  • Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
  • We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.
  • Cancellation Policy
    • Must be made in writing.
    • More than 90 days before trip: Deposit will be refunded in full.
    • 90 days or less before trip: Deposit will be refunded if space is sold, less unrecoverable costs of sales, and administration costs.
    • No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.
  • The following are subject to change:
    • Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price
    • Flight time and schedule
    • Weather, water temperature, and animal behavior

LEOPARD SEALS & ORCAS

 

The Vessel

Our sailboat for this expedition is the 74’ Pelagic Australis. It is specially designed to cruise safely through the Antarctic waters. Equipped with a double hull, a shallow draft, and removable keel, this vessel is both comfortable and able to sail in remote areas where no other vessel could. Unlike with large cruise ships, which can only stay in most bays for a few hours or less, the small size of the Pleagic Australis gives us great flexibility to explore — and linger. We will be allowed to explore any remote bay we choose, and more importantly, we will be allowed to stay there as long as we like to get the most out of our encounters with the wildlife we find.

Freedom to Explore

Aided by technical support onboard the Pelagic Australis, Amos conducts dramatic open water dives along the walls of grounded icebergs. We explore for the Leopard seals hunting ground in uncharted inlets and bays. Our chances increase dramatically since we are allowed and able to stay for many days at any promising location. As the small vessel has very minimal impact on the environment, we are free to move everywhere.

We will also invest a few days in search of Orcas, following them to see if we are lucky to witness this highly-capable species execute their signature hunting maneuvers. When the orcas spot an iceberg with seals on it, the pod will split into two teams, with one team moving forward in front of the iceberg, and the second team staying behind. On some internal signal between the two orca teams, the second one will charge forward on the surface of the water creating a wave. The wave will tilt the iceberg causing the seals to slide into the water, where the first orca team is waiting for their easy prey… you will be one of the few people ever to witness — and photograph — this spectacular event.

The seasoned sailors and professional team of the Pelagic Australis will sail through the Drake Passage, followed by the wonder Albatros, to the South West Antarctic Peninsula. We visit Cuverville and Pleneau Islands, sail the magnificent Lemaire and Neumayer Channels, peruse through the scenic Gerlache Strait and Petermann Island — all while spotting Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins ‘flying’ through the water.

 2016 ITINERARY

Day 1: ARRIVE in Buenos Aires, Argentina and connect with the flight to Ushuaia. Take a taxi from the airport to your designated hotel. Based on abundant experience, we begin this important expedition a day early for an equipment assessment. Before boarding the ship, we review all your personal diving and photography gear to ensure that you have everything you need to get the most out of your Antarctic expedition. We meet in the evening for a briefing and dinner with the crew, expedition staff, and your new diving friends.

Days 2-6: We board the ship on the afternoon of Day 2 in Ushuaia, we will cruise through the Beagle channel to the Drake Passage. Despite its reputation for rough seas, our records show over 60% of crossings take place in relatively calm seas. In any case, our ship is well-suited for all weather conditions. As we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the upwelling zone, where we are likely to see the Wandering Albatross, Grey Headed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Cape Pigeon, Southern Fulmar, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Blue Petrel, and Antarctic Petrel.

Day 7-21: These are fourteen amazing days of cruising and diving as   we explore the vast islands of the southwest Antarctic Peninsula. From Deception Island in the north (weather permitting, we will land at Bailey Head with its colony of tens of thousands of Chinstrap Penguins) we   sail through the breathtaking Gerlache Strait and Lemaire Channel. We have a good chance of encountering humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales and orca predation. At Pleneau Island, we sail among the stunning vestiges of once-massive icebergs, an ‘iceberg graveyard.’ At Pleneau we frequently bring back the best images of leopard seal predation, as well as from Coverville, Port Lockroy, Astrolabe and Gourdin Island. During this time, activities include zodiac cruises, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, photography workshops, and lectures. With only 6 guests on board, we can be flexible in our itinerary to take advantage of the best that Antarctica has to offer, and better respond to weather and ice conditions to pursue wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities: visiting secluded bays, seeking out remote sites for penguin colonies and leopard seals, staying out long hours for shooting in rare bright light conditions. All in all, we’ve created a perfect platform for both amazing photography and unforgettable life experiences.

Day 22-26: We leave the Antarctic Peninsula and start our cruise back to Ushuaia, crossing the Drake Passage again, at which you’re now an old hand. Leave the vessel to catch the connecting flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and onward.

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

  • Voyage aboard the Pelagic Australis for 24 days and 23 nights
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
  • All diving services, tanks and weights
  • Photography presentation and instruction
  • Leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program

TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • All airfare
  • Overnight in Ushuaia, Argentina
  • Land travel arrangements
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Excess baggage charges on all flights
  • All items of a personal nature such as beverages and telecommunication
  • Customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided)
  • Unused portion of the itinerary above is not refundable
  • Additional costs incurred due to independent travel arrangements

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT POLICY

When we receive your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive and detailed Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.

  • A non-refundable deposit of 33% of the total trip price is required to secure space on the trip.
  • Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
  • We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.
  • Refund is made if replacement was found less unrecoverable costs of sales, administration special promotion.
  • Cancellation must be made in writing, 90 days before departure.
  • No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.
  • The following are subject to change:
  • Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price
  • Flight time and schedule
  • Weather, water temperature, and animal behavior

 

Apply Now

 

Question — how can we help?

 

 Amos Nachoum Expedition Leader

Amos Nachoum

Expedition Leader

Amos has over 30 years experience as a wildlife adventure guide, and 18 years experience diving in Antarctica.

Professional photography will be done with Amos Nachoum, who was the BBC wildlife photographer of the year in 2007 and 2008. He will be coaching individuals on wide-angle and ambient-light photography of big animals.

Amos’s explorations have been featured on National Geo, BBC and the Discovery Channel.Big Animals Expeditions re- creates the same adventures and photo opportunities for you.

PHOTO: LEOPARD SEAL AND ORCA DIVING

leopard seal and orca diving

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