There’s little about penguins that can’t move you. Their struggle for food, their adorable gait, the way they feed their offspring and flap their flightless flippers. And the sight of them in their vast, frigid and breathtaking habitat can move even mountains, its surreality easily overwhelming the land’s unforgiving brutality.
- 13 nights and 14 days on an exclusive chartered cruise
- Comfortable accommodation on twin-cabin occupancy
- A wealth of Antarctic landscape and wildlife watching and photography opportunities
- Extensive photography learning with highly accomplished Skippers
Surrounded by the Southern Ocean and located asymmetrically around the South Pole, 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet. And it gets much colder here than in the Arctic.
During winter, the temperature reaches a minimum of between -80 °C (-112 °F) and -89.2 °C (-128.6 °F) and a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer.
But the coldest, windiest and driest continent on this planet offers unparalleled beauty, especially when the climate turns kind a few times a year, when a plunge into this wonderland becomes possible. And that’s when we make the most of it, to see life that prevails even here: how the ever-endearing penguins, the seemingly calm seals, and seabirds exist like a miracle.
In this icy white scape, the time we will visit Antarctica will have the best light conditions for photography. For natural history as well as landscape photographers, this Tour will prove to be an experience of a lifetime.
Adding some fireworks over and above all this in the winter are the southern lights (aurora australis), a glow that decorates the night sky near the South Pole. A unique spectacle called ‘diamond dust’ can also be seen here: a ground-level blurry cloud made of minute ice crystals.
In all it wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that the general constitution of a traveller on this expedition will be warm with imagination and creative ideas and immense love for nature and its wonder, in stark contrast to the wintriness that persists.
The main attraction of Antarctica, apart from Antarctica itself, will be penguins — chiefly the Adélie, the chinstrap, the emperor and the gentoo.
Apart from penguins and seals, Antarctic sea life includes blue whales, orcas and colossal squids.
In Antarctica, where the sunrise and sunset hues break the monotony of white-grey landscape, you could watch seabirds flitting about, dotting the immobile frozen background. You could make images of them in flight: freeze a moment as they fly before your hungry vision seeking action.
There is something enviably calm about these seals that lie around on these sheets of ice like it’s nobody’s business, without a care for the rest of the world. You’ll also be charmed by the indolence of the Weddell seal, the agility of the leopard seal, the size of the elephant seal and the paleness of the crabeater seal.
In the flighty bird department, the black-browed albatross is a thing of beauty to be seen and photographed. This gorgeous avian, wearing hues in harmony with its landscape and endearing in all its mythical beauty, has always been the heart-throb that everyone visiting Antarctica wants to see, the petrel being the other skysurfer to watch out for.
Ferrying you ably in this Expedition is the striking and spacious MV Ushuaia. For photographers and exploration enthusiasts, it is the perfect vehicle in which to navigate the waters of Antarctica. Carrying her passengers in supreme comfort, she takes you where others cannot. MV Ushuaia will ensure that you seldom have to keep away from the wildlife you wish to take a closer photograph of.
Please note: Except on the start and end days, there is no set itinerary for the Tour, and the progress of the Expedition will be largely dictated by the prevailing weather conditions and the sea ice distribution. Every day, your Tour Skipper, along with other Expedition leaders and the support crew, will monitor the conditions closely using ice maps and other tools, and determine the best strategy and routes to press forward in a safe and enjoyable way. On Day 0, we recommend everyone to have at least one night in Buenos Aires or Ushuaia, before departure aboard our Expedition ship.
1 November 2019, Friday
We assemble at a designated point, and after everyone has arrived and completed the initial formalities and introduction, we discuss the strategy for the rest of the days. We will then be sailing out on the Beagle Channel.
2 November, Saturday
We excitedly look forward to knowing Antarctica even more intimately than just being acquainted with the place. We will be at sea, sailing on towards this gorgeous, quiet place at one edge of the planet. The Skipper will use this time to orient you to the natural history basics and refresh some photography fundamentals to hold you in a state of eager readiness.
3 November, Sunday
While our hearts are racing for the Tour to kick off, we take it one day at a time. We will first be landing at the South Shetland Islands. Even as the weather is cloudy and humid, you will have an opportunity to make warm memories for a lifetime when the strong westerly winds blow and embrace you.
4 to 12 November, Monday to (next) Tuesday
This phase of the Tour will be even more exciting as we will be visiting some of the best areas in Antarctica for both wildlife and landscape photography, including Antarctic Sound and Deception Island.
Antarctic Sound is a water body that separates the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Trinity Peninsula, from the cluster of islands — Joinville Island group. Here, Hope Bay is known as an important bird area. The gentoo penguin, the brown skua, the Antarctic tern, the Wilson’s storm petrel, the kelp gull and the snowy sheathbill are known to breed here.
The area is also home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Adélie penguin in Antarctica. Gentoo and Adélie penguins breed also at the Trepassey Bay, so do Cape petrels, snow petrels, skuas and kelp gulls. Weddell seals are very often found idling out on the beach and leopard seals are known to hunt offshore.
Deception Island is one of the safest harbours in Antarctica, which is now a tourist destination and scientific station, with Argentine and Spanish research bases. Here, a prominent headland called Baily Head is recognised as an important bird area as it supports a massive breeding colony of chinstrap penguins (about one lakh pairs). It also houses brown skuas, Cape petrels and snowy sheathbills.
We will then move south, towards the Lemaire Channel, which is a strait off Antarctica, located between Kiev Peninsula in Graham Land and Booth Island. The Channel is a significant part of cruising itinerary in Antarctica. It consists of steep cliffs that border the 11-km-long iceberg-filled passage.
At this time of the year, we expect areas like the Weddell sea, Lemaire Channel, Neko etc to be covered in ice, but there will be several other areas for us to explore and photograph.
The chef will serve you an exciting and varied menu every day, but flexibility with timing will be exercised if existing photo opportunities dictate that the food can wait.
Amid all this, the Skipper will strive to identify and help you capitalise on the best photo opportunities.
13 November, Wednesday
After a long adventure in the islands and exploring the glaciers and the straits in Antarctica, we will be heading back towards South America for the unwelcome but inevitable conclusion of the Tour.
14 November, Thursday
After hopefully having enjoyed a highly productive time on the enchanting cruise, we return to Ushuaia. Bidding farewell to the fantastic travel and photography experience, we will be transferred to the airport, whence we fly home with experiences to cherish.
Prices starting from
- Please check the Types of Cabins on MV Ushuaia below
Prices starting from
- Please check the Types of Cabins on MV Ushuaia below
- All accommodation on MV Ushuaia
- Guides leading the expedition
- Zodiac excursions
- Visitor fees in Antarctica
What’s Not Included?
- Flights between your home and Buenos Aires
- Overnight accommodation prior to and following the trip
- Alcohol and souvenirs purchased
- Travel insurance and cancellation insurance
- USD 2500 as booking amount (non-refundable)
- USD 5000 before 1 March 2019
- Remainder before 1 June 2019
All figures per person.
- USD 1000 before 30 December 2018
- USD 6000 between 1 December 2018 and 28 February 2019
- No refunds for cancellation after 1 March 2019
All figures per person.
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
Who should participate in this Expedition? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody interested in Antarctica or general wildlife and/or wildlife, landscape or bird photography and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Expedition. There are no eligibility criteria.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Expedition is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Expedition photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you’re not, we suggest you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Expedition.
I am not into photography. Would you still recommend this Expedition?
Most certainly! While photographers will probably derive maximum value from this Expedition, non-photographers will enjoy the Expedition equally.
How cold will it be?
The weather is variable, but the average hovers between minus five and minus fifteen during the Expedition. There will be considerable wind chill. You are advised to carry requisite medication.
What fitness level is required?
Although this is not a very physically intensive Expedition, some basic amount of physical fitness is required, chiefly to withstand the cold, and to undertake short walks exploring the islets on foot. If you suffer from known illnesses, please consult your physician before signing up for the Expedition.
By what mode will photography be done on this Expedition?
Photography will be done from the cruise ship and on foot when we occasionally alight on land.
How safe is this cruise?
Your safety is of paramount importance to us and every aspect of this expedition has been designed to the highest safety standards. Our cruise ship exceeds all the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements and features state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. There are comfortably excess life vests, high-grade immersion suits, lifejackets and lifeboats on board the cruise. You are in very capable hands as the Expedition Skipper will ensure that the group is well assisted by an expert crew who are consummate with local conditions. They will help you with the necessary instructions while you are on the Expedition. Together they will constantly monitor weather conditions and take suitable decisions to ensure a safe and enjoyable Expedition for everyone.
Will you provide visa assistance?
Yes. While the Expedition cost does not include visa expenses, all the assistance you require in procuring a visa will be duly provided.
How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Expedition?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Expedition and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings of specific species are guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Expedition?
Antarctica is a land of beautiful landscapes, so a wide-angle lens is a must, with a fisheye lens being most welcome. For wildlife, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is considered necessary, with longer focal lengths being welcome. Telephoto zooms such as 70-200mm lenses can allow you to include your subject’s habitat in your frame. Please talk to us for more specific advice on equipment.
I do not own appropriate equipment. What do I do?
If you do not own adequate photography gear, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
We had a lovely time during the trip. Thank you for all the efforts in making it memorable and fruitful! We look forward to being on another photo tour with you soon!
Thank you so so much for everything; you guys are the best skippers ever! I had an absolutely amazing time on the trip; everything was so well organised and taken care of. Can’t wait to go for the next one!
Being my first tour, I was not only enjoying the game but also the immense confidence build that Toehold influenced when it comes to photography.