Antarctica - What to say when words can only tell a fraction of the story? There are an endless amount of reasons to become transfixed by this part of the world. You may have heard about the voyages of pioneers like Willem Barentz and Ernest Shackleton. Maybe your attention is drawn by the diverse and remarkably resilient wildlife. The bottom line: For many keen photographers, capturing the remote beauty of our last unspoiled continent is a life’s ambition.
And while it’s certainly true that Antarctica’s fierce climate turns away all but the bravest of tourists, there’s no doubt that Earth’s last great wilderness rewards those who are bold enough to make the trip.
Our expeditions begin in Ushuaia, southern Argentina, which also happens to be the southernmost city in South America. Departing from the port, our ship will cross the ‘Drake Passage’, renowned for its changeable weather by sailors around the world. We will be flanked by several species of seabird as we head south, including albatross and petrel.
Once we reach the Antarctic Convergence Zone, our ship will navigate between the stunning icebergs and on toward the South Shetland Islands. Here is where the wildlife of the south Atlantic really comes into its own. Armed at all times with your camera, you can expect to capture seals, sea-gulls, cormorants and petrels, all of which rely on the Antarctic summer to nurture their young.
Once in Antarctic waters, our ship will stop off in a number of serene, sheltered bays throughout the course of the trip. Weather permitting, the group will head ashore with expert photography guides to witness glaciers close-up and become more acquainted with the local wildlife. We will spend time photographing the many mosses and lichens that call Antarctica home, and hopefully take a close look at seals and penguins in their natural habitats.
As well as an expert photo guide, there will be a local guide to introduce us to the area’s many native varieties of penguin; from the Gentoo to the Chinstrap and the Adelie; as well providing information on all of the flora and fauna we encounter.
As we head even further south, we can expect a visit from the Southern Ocean’s most loyal, and arguably most graceful, travellers. Hopefully we will photograph the sight of enormous Humpback whales, Minke whales, and even Orcas. There is a great chance that they will actually come to us, curious to see who is passing through their domain. While the waters of the Southern Ocean promise excellent photography opportunities, the whales will soon give way to the eerie serenity of Antarctic glaciers, as we grow closer to the mainland. Guided by our photography expert, these walls of ice will provide both canvas and backdrop as we capture images that will last a lifetime.
During our Antarctica expeditions, as well as being accompanied by local guides who have an incredible depth of knowledge and expertise on the area, there will be a seasoned, professional photographer to help you make the most of every shot. Expect to receive expert guidance on the incomparible flora and fauna in this part of the world, on top of all the help you need to capture it in all its glory. .
If the mesmerising sights and frozen expanse of Antarctica isn’t enough for you and your camera, the rich wildlife is sure to top it all off. In this unspoilt natural environment, among the landscapes we will see a number of penguin species exclusive to the Southern Hemisphere, including Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adelie and Emperor. Antarctic waters also support a huge number of seabirds, of which only a few are hardy enough to breed on the continent.
We will aim to capture Skuas in flight as they prey on the young of penguins and small petrels. There will also be chances to photograph Prions, Fulmars, Shearwaters, Terns, Sheathbills, and Cormorants. In the water, huge masses of krill provide nourishment for the real predators, from Humpbacks, Minkes and Fin Whales, to the majestic Orcas that often roam these waters. On land we will see several species of seal, including the ferocious Leopard Seal, which preys on penguins and other seals.
There are a few things to bear in mind regarding this incredible trip. First is that the itinerary and expectations are based upon our previous adventures. Although this is a rough idea of how the voyage will unfold, you can rest assured that we have included all of the finest places we have visited on previous trips.
Our plans are subject to change depending on a number of factors, including weather conditions. Antarctica is as unpredictable as it is beautiful, so much of the detail will become clearer once we set sail. Uncertainty and adventure are both an accepted part of the spirit in this part of the world. Whatever happens, you can expect an authentic Antarctic experience, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Aside from weather conditions, changes in the rules and regulations for visiting Antarctica could come into place and affect our journey. We operate under the
International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), and are firmly committed to tourism practices that are safe and environmentally responsible.
This is a photography tour like no other. In fact, ‘tour’ is probably an understatement. This is an immersive Antarctic photography expedition, where, as well as capturing incredible shots of the Earth’s last great wilderness, you’ll get the chance to help the crew with the day to day tasks essential to keeping the ship on a steady course.
There are a plethora of reasons for wanting to visit this part of the world. You might be a scenery fanatic, a wildlife enthusiast, or just a lover of the open water. Whatever your photography passion, everything you could wish for and more will suddenly be at your fingertips as we glide through the serene waters of the south Atlantic and on to the white wilderness of Antarctica.
The legendary voyages of Barentz and Shackleton are enough to inspire many travellers to this part of the world. But aside from its history of bold expeditions, otherworldly landscape and unparalleled wildlife, Antarctica is above all one of the oldest continents on our planet, and a place that remains untainted by man. For 22 days, embracing this place through a lens will be your main priority and, assisted by professional photography experts and local guides, you’ll leave with a lifetime’s worth of dreams fulfilled and caught on camera.
Our ship, the Bark EUROPA, is a fully-registered sail training ship, meaning that all passengers can, if they wish, play a role in supporting the expedition. Unlike a normal passenger ship, the group will receive safety training and be asked to join in with the watch system. Participating in this manner is all part of the expedition experience, although of course the level of involvement will depend on your enthusiasm and physical ability.
Camera in hand, being part of the watch system can be incredibly rewarding, while everyone on board is welcome to take the helm, set sails, assist with manoeuvres, navigation, weather observations, furling the sails on the yards, and much more! The permanent crew will always be on hand to offer guidance and support.
Our ship, the EUROPA, was built in 1911 but has since been completely rebuilt by master craftsmen in the Netherlands. The rebuilding and conversion was carried out under the supervision of the Dutch Shipping Inspection, Bureau Veritas and
Register Holland, and it sails with worldwide certificates from each of these authorities. Much of the crew is Dutch, although a part of the team rotates and comes from all over the world. As such, the main language used on board will be English.
While the ship may appear vintage on the outside, we will be equipped with the latest in weather monitoring equipment, satellite navigation, a separate, smaller sail boat, and two Zodiac crafts.
Alongside our expert crew, when it comes to safety we have left no stone unturned. Our equipment includes life jackets, life rafts, fire extinguishing equipment, fire-fighting outfits with breathing apparatus, diving equipment, a comprehensive stock of medicine, an emergency sick bay, EPIRB, an echo sounder, a sextant, one SSB transmitter, two Inmarsat-C terminals, an Iridium Satellite telephone, two VHF transmitters, a number of portable VHF’s and an emergency radio transmitter. The ship has a power supply of 220V AC (50 Hz). The plugs on board are as used on the European continent. In short: We’ve got everything covered.
All of your meals will be provided during the expedition, prepared by an experienced kitchen team who will serve three meals a day. On top of a drinking water capacity of 12.250 litres, the ship also carries a machine with the ability to convert seawater if the situation arises. Food stores will be taken on board at the last possible minute, to ensure maximum freshness before we leave port.
A ship on the open ocean might not be the first thing you associate with a comfortable trip, but the Europa is actually ideal for ocean crossings and longer voyages. There are plenty of places for relaxing, including a library, a lounge, a poker corner, and the deckhouse. These different environments offer something for everyone, whether you want to do your own thing or enjoy the company of others in the deckhouse.
In terms of entertainment, the ship is equipped with a DVD player, a CD player with iPod compatibility and radio. Room-wise there are four 2-person cabins, four 4-person cabins, and four 6-person cabins. Each of these cabins has its own en-suite bathroom.
The group will meet in Ushuaia, Argentina, and everyone is welcome to board the ship at 5pm. The Europa will be moored at the pier ‘Puerto Comercial’. To avoid any problems, we recommend that you reach Ushuaia with plenty of time to spare. Ideally this would be the day before we depart. If your flight is delayed or your bags are lost in transit, we want to give you every possible chance of joining the photo expedition. The town is known as El Fin del Mundo, because it is the southernmost city in the world. From its centre, a short taxi ride will take you to the harbour. We will sign you in, deal with your luggage, show you to your cabin, and you can then enjoy your first meal on board.
Depending on the weather and the captain’s plans, we will either stay in port overnight or depart after dark.
On the second day our voyage will properly get going. If it hasn’t already, the ship will set sail from Ushuaia in the morning. As we leave the port, the crew will take the passengers through some important safety briefings and introduce you to how the ship operates. The scenery for the photographers onboard will start in spectacular fashion. Sailing through the Beagle Channel, wondrous ice-tipped mountains will rise up either side as we head towards the open ocean.
With evening arriving, we will head southwards along the coastline of Tierra del Fuego - The Land of Fire - which is actually a lot more tranquil than its name suggests.
Drake Passage retains a place in sailing folklore as one of the world’s most infamous stretches of water. Whether or not that reputation is justified is up to debate, but one thing for sure is that the weather can be unpredictable. The crossing from Cape Horn is around 450 nautical miles, but escorted by dolphins and with the wind on our side, it should pass without incident.
It’s also during the crossing that passengers will have an opportunity to get involved with the running of the ship. We will be sailing for 24 hours every day, so everyone is expected to assist in the watch system or help the crew steer or handle the sails. We will be joined for much of the stretch by several sea birds, including Cape petrels, White-chinned petrels and Albatrosses. There will be plenty of chances to capture these majestic birds in their natural habitat, against the powerful backdrop of the open ocean.
The further south we go, the more chance we have of coming across icebergs. While these offer fantastic objects for any photography session, they also present a risk to the ship. As such, we’ll keep a careful watch for bergs that the radar doesn’t pick up. The nights are short this far south, so we will spend plenty of time capturing the serene silhouettes of ice the ice carvings against the horizon.
The further south we go, the bigger they will get - a sure sign that we’re heading in the right direction! If conditions are good, we will aim to drop anchor as evening falls in the sheltered bay of Barrientos Island.
We will set sail from the Aitcho Islands at dawn, heading south towards the calm waters around Livingston Island. White ice cliffs will begin to emerge on all sides as we grow closer to the mainland of the continent.
But the towering ice of Antarctica can wait. For now, there will be incredible photo opportunities where ice meets water. Our chances of sighting Humpback whales are high, and there will be plenty of penguins enjoying the floating platforms for swimming and diving.
If time allows, we will sail past Edinburgh Hill, a huge stone that rises impossibly from the water. The rock is made of basalt, solidified magma from the centre of a volcano that is yet to erupt, but is active enough to push Edinburgh Hill to the surface.
Other sights on our journey south will include Hannah Point, on the peninsula on the southeast coast of Livingston Island. There we will find an entire zoo’s worth of wildlife to capture with our cameras. Keen Bird watchers can spot the nests of American sheathbills, Giant petrels, and Skuas. With any luck there will also be crowds of penguins lining the beaches as we go by.
One of nature’s lesser known wonders, Deception Island seems like any other from a distance. But it begins to live up to its name as we grow closer. The island is in the shape of a ring, but a narrow gap of the ring reveals an extensive inner crater, which forms a lake that flows in and out with the ocean. Like the adventurers we are, our ship will sail straight through ‘Neptunes Bellows’ and drop anchor in the centre of the crater.
Nearby is an old whaling station, and there are several buildings that used to be a base for research work. We will take the opportunity to explore the area and enjoy the supreme panoramic views from Neptune’s Window.
Deep into the crater is Pendulum Cove, where thermal currents will make it possible to bathe comfortably in the water - if you’re brave enough to get in!
On day nine the ship will reluctantly leave the majesty of Deception Island’s crater behind and set a course for even further. Our next stop will be between Spert and Trinity Islands, where we will take rides out in the dinghies to get up close and personal with a selection of magnificent icebergs. The landscape, both backdrop and foreground, will provide a masterclass of photographic opportunities, and many of the shot you take today will go among those that you look back upon with pride in the years to come.
The vivid colours and abstract shapes of every berg make this a scene that looks like it’s been choreographed to perfection, and with a little luck a few sightings of the local leopard seals will top things off.
A long day of incredible photography is in store. Day twelve also tends to be one of the most popular on this Antarctic photo tour. First we will set sail for the Lemaire Channel, known affectionately as “Kodak Crack”. And for good reason: The narrow path we will take is lined by towering, snow-tipped mountains and the view as we pass through is one that inspires reflection and awe in equal measure. We should also get up close with the many crabeater seals that live here, and capture their natural behaviour against what is an incomparable backdrop.
The deck of the ship will be the best place to be to photograph the sights ahead, to the side, and behind us for the duration of the journey. As we attempt to navigate through the Penola Strait, we will have to zigzag around the many icebergs. While it might sound treacherous, this adventurous route will give the photographers on board more angles to work with than ever before. In short, it’ll be worth it. If, however, icy conditions hold up our progress towards the Argentine Islands completely, we will wait for the pack ice to move and enter the archipelago towards the end of the day.
At the end of the day our aim is to anchor at a latitude of 65° south, at Galindez Island. It’s as far south as we will go on this expedition. In the evening, the plan is to drop by at a Ukrainian research station on the island called ‘Vernadsky’. There we can stretch our legs, and one of the research assistants will give us a tour and give us more information about the work they are doing there. While anchored in the bay, the crew will remain vigilant, as a sudden change in the weather could cause sheets of ice to block our exit.
Day thirteen will begin in the opposite direction, as we travel north towards Petermann Island. The day will start with a tranquil journey through the floating ice, and a few hours later we should reach our destination. At Petermann we will lay drop the anchor near a colony of Adelie penguins. At this time of year they are breeding, so we can watch as all of the penguin-related drama unfolds.
A nice touch for any photo tour: We will witness the famously sneaky behaviour of the Adelies, who like to steal from each other when no-one is watching, and look on as Skuas fly high above and swoop down to raid from unprotected nests.
Two weeks into this incredible photography tour we will reach the Bay of Port Lockroy. There we can watch a bird native to this part of the world: the blue-eyed shag. These colourful birds nest on the shore between the rocks, and we can get plenty of photos as they feed their young throughout the day.
At Port Lockroy lies a british research base that has been in use since 1944. Over the summer it is staffed by three British researchers, and we will take an opportunity to have a walk on dry land and a quick tour around the station. They could certainly do with the company! The group can also buy and send postcards from here, as it’s officially the most southern post office in the world. Outside of the research station the area is teeming with wildlife to photography, including Gentoo penguins and hungry leopard seals.
Most passengers will acclimatise to being on board the sailing ship within the first few days, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. The crossing of Drake Passage, in particular, is known for being something of a bumpy ride. Aside from that, Antarctic waters are calm and tranquil.
The best ways to prepare for this? Bring some seasickness pills with you just incase, get enough sleep, eat healthily, and relax onboard the ship.
If you cancel and the Workshop is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $300 service charge. If you cancel and the Workshop does not fill, then you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the Workshop:
Greater than 60 days from the start date of the Workshop: full refund minus $150 fee.
45 days: 75% refund
30 days: 50% refund
Less than 30 days: no refund
Refunds will be paid by the same method that the original payment was made.
Refunds will be initiated within 72 hours of the time that the request is approved.
The tour is always dependent on weather, as the Icelandic weather can indeed be highly unpredictable. Likewise, visits to ice caves are dependent on favorable conditions, and indeed the ice caves themselves are not permanent. When it comes to the Northern Lights, while they are most likely to be seen between September and April, there is no guarantee that they will appear on a given day. There is however always plenty to see and do if conditions do not favor any part of our original plan.