Some people become interested in the North and South Pole after reading about the voyages of Willem Barentz and Shackleton. Others are more fascinated by the rich wildlife or the beauty of the unspoilt natural environment. Antarctica is one of the oldest continents on our planet, but man has always been unable to live here because of its extremely cold climate. It is the last great wilderness on Earth. A couple of thousand researchers spend the southern summer living in several research stations. During the southern winter, that number dwindles to less than 1,000. When winter grips this great, white desert, tourist activity is no longer possible.
Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego and the most southern city in the world. The city is located along the Beagle Channel and is surrounded by the Martial Glacier.
Around 8000 BC the area was first inhabited by indigenous people, who were still living in the bay when British missionares founded what is now known as Ushuaia in the 19th century. In 1833 the British ship HMS Beagle reached the channel which is now named after her on explorations to Tierra del Fuego. After this visit the area became a bit more known and half a century later the missionaries arrived. At the end of the 19th century there came an end to the fighting and unrest in the region, after which the city began to develop and grow.
Due to the ruggedness of the terrain the Argentinian government decided to create a prison near Ushuaia, assuming that the wilderniss of Tierra del Fuego would prevent any prison escapes. Only in 1947 the prison was closed down, after rumours about prisoner abuse and the terrible state in which the prison was at that moment. The building still exists today, and currently houses the Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia.
Being the most southern city in the world, Ushuaia is the perfect starting point for our Antarctic adventure, for which we first have to cross the famous Drake Passage.
The expeditions start in Argentina in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in South America, located alongside the Beagle Channel. From here, the ship must cross ‘the Drake Passage’, renowned by sailors the world over. Albatrosses and petrels will accompany the EUROPA on her way to the Antarctic paradise. After passing the Antarctic Convergence Zone, the ship sails between the icebergs to the South Shetland Islands. The wildlife is overwhelming: seals, sea-gulls, cormorants and petrels use the Antarctic summer to raise their young. In the Antarctic waters, the EUROPA will anchor in sheltered bays practically every day. The crew will take groups ashore in the dinghies to see glaciers, mosses and lichens, seals, birds and penguin rookeries. Ashore, visitors will often be welcomed by different kinds of penguins, such as the Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie penguins. Our experienced guide will give you information about the flora and fauna and will also tell you where to find bird and sea elephant colonies. The ship will sail further south. We expect the most loyal visitors of the Southern Ocean: enormous Humpback whales; Minke whales and even Orcas or Killer whales may well come close to us, curious to see who ventures into their waters. Ice masses will get bigger closer to the mainland. Steep glaciers, walls of ice with magical shapes and surreal colours will surround the EUROPA.
During the Antarctica expeditions there will be a guide on board the Bark EUROPA. He/she knows the area we will be visiting well. The guide gives lectures on board the ship about the flora and fauna we will encounter, prepares you for the landings on shore and will guide you on the shore walks.
Photographs + Drones – You will have the possibility to see animals close by – while keeping your distance. To reach the best photo/video result we recommend you to bring a zoom lens next to your regular lens(es). Please keep in mind drones are prohibited entirely on South Georgia and Antarctica.
Antarctica is a huge, cold, white plain, which appeals to the imagination of everybody. Many are fascinated by the rich wildlife or the beauty of the unspoilt Antarctic natural environment. All penguin species are restricted to the Southern Hemisphere, but the greatest concentrations are on Antarctic coasts and sub-Antarctic islands;. On the peninsula Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins are the most common. Near the colder Weddell Sea we also find Adelie and Emperor Penguins, although the Emperor penguin is seen more rarely. The Antarctic waters support a vast variety of seabirds. Only a few species are adapted to breed regularly on the continent. Skuas are widespread and prominent in the Antarctic. They prey heavily on the eggs and chicks of penguins and small petrels. Also prions, fulmars, and shearwaters are often seen, as well as terns, sheathbills, and two species of cormorants. Fish and krill in the Antarctic are important components of the marine ecosystems. They are major prey for higher predators, including the baleen whales, as the Humpback, Minke and Fin Whale. The Orca or Killer Whale is also seen in this area. There are many seals. Depending on the species, seals feed on fish and squid or krill. The Leopard Seal is a predator of penguins and other seals. Seals can leave the water and move on dry land to breed, rest and moult.
These voyage details are based on experiences from previous expeditions of the EUROPA to Antarctica. In putting together this year’s itinerary we have included the most impressive places we have visited in the past. However this description is an example of what the voyage may look like. It is important to realize that our day-to-day activities will depend on several circumstances. A change in the rules and regulations for visiting Antarctica might limit the visit to a specific site. Bark EUROPA is a member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctice Touroperators), which promotes and practices safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. Of course our route will depend on wind, weather and ice. This is the true Antarctic experience!
- Worlds best bar! The pinguins float by while you enjoy your drinks!
- Long voyages give you all the time to soak in all that Antarctica has to offer! Many other ships offer voyages of max 10 days while our shortest voyage is 22 days.
- Bark EUROPA is an active member of IAATO, International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.
- Small voyage groups, to give everyone the opportunity to use the entire landing time for your Antarctic discoveries. On many landing spots there is a restriction of max 100 visitors in total for a landing. Our groups are always much smaller!
- Bark EUROPA is a beautiful model for all your holiday pictures!