snow hill island antarctica emperor penguins

Legendary Snow Hill: March to the Emperor Penguins

  • Overview

    During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the journey to the bottom of the world—cruising past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs—aboard the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. True to the explorer spirit, this exclusive Antarctic adventure, last offered in 2010, is your chance to be a part of polar history. You’ll have the rare opportunity to observe one of the most spectacular sights in the wild: the elusive emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island, whose existence was first confirmed in 1997, and to which the first ground visit was conducted in 2004. Imagine flying in a helicopter to the vicinity of this astounding rookery, then walking across the sea ice to come within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. Watch in awe as these extraordinary creatures toboggan across the ice on their way to the ocean to dive for food. If you’re lucky, some may even approach you! An experience like no other, it’s like a wildlife documentary come to life. EXPEDITION IN BRIEF - Travel aboard the legendary Kapitan Khlebnikov, the storied icebreaker and the only vessel to circumnavigate Antarctica twice - Cross the famous Drake Passage on your way to explore the Snow Hill Emperor penguin colony - Enjoy helicopter sightseeing and Zodiac cruising - Experience thousands of pairs of Emperor penguins, including chicks, in their natural habitat - View other iconic Antarctic wildlife, such as whales, seals and seabirds

    Duration: 14 days
    Passengers: 110 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Disembarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Physical rating: Expedition
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Ushuaia, Argentina

      You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentine hot spot is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead.Get active in the mountains or savor some handcrafted chocolate at a café in town.

    • Day 2 - Ushuaia: Embarkation Day

      In the late afternoon, you and your fellow travellers from your group hotel will be transferred to the pier, where you’ll board Kapitan Khlebnikov. This iconic icebreaker should be instantly recognizable at the port, as the shape and bulk are distinctive, especially from a distance.

      As Khlebnikov sets sail, you’ll first pass through the historic Beagle Channel, which opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Named after the famed ship on which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents many great photo opportunities to capture seabirds hovering overhead and possibly seals and sea lions cavorting in the water.

    • Day 3/4 - At Sea

      Crossing the legendary Drake Passage is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and seals are. With ideal weather conditions, your passage could be relatively easy, but be prepared for some rough seas in case the Drake lives up to its reputation.

      These two days will have an air of anticipation, as you prepare for your first landing at the elusive Snow Hill Emperor penguin rookery. Plenty of activities will keep you engaged at sea, including educational and informative presentations by your Expedition Team. You’ll learn about such things as the history of whaling in Antarctica and the Emperor penguins’ biology, unique habitat and adaptive behaviour.

      You may also want to spend some time on deck, with your binoculars and camera at the ready, looking out for wandering albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins. Crossing the polar front, keep a close watch, as you should see your first iceberg, too.

    • Day 5/11 - Weddell Sea & Snow Hill Is: Emperor Penguins

      While approaching the island, remember that no two polar expeditions are alike, particularly this voyage through the icy Weddell Sea, since landings and wildlife sightings are determined by weather and ice conditions, as well as the natural cycles of the wildlife. But it’s exactly this element of the unknown that makes expedition-style travel so exhilarating and adventurous.

      That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, such as landings, wildlife sightings, helicopter sightseeing and ice—truly massive amounts of ice! Having broken away from the ice shelf, large tabular icebergs, so named for their plateau-like flat top and steep sides, will signal your arrival to Antarctica.

      Located on sea ice, the Emperor rookery is situated some distance from Snow Hill Island, so your captain will navigate your ship to a position in the ice that’s within helicopter range of the rookery. As we draw near, keep your eyes peeled for curious penguins that may be attracted to the open water by the ship. Deployed in a rotation of flights, our onboard helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, yet still at a safe distance (at least 0.75 nautical miles/1.4km), to protect the birds. Since you must carry your own gear to the rookery and back across sea ice several feet thick, you’ll want to keep items in your backpack to a minimum. A must-bring, however, should be your camera.

      We encourage everyone—photographers and nature lovers alike—to carry a camera during our rookery visits, because any visit could reward with that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Your Expedition Team will include a professional photographer, who will conduct on-board workshops and assist you on-site to help you get the most out of your camera, whether you’re a newbie or a pro!

      Though we can’t predict how many excursions will occur during your stay in the vicinity of the rookery, rest assured that your Expedition Leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, and our intention is to spend as much time as possible in the area, to give you plenty of chances to observe the Emperors in their natural environment.

      Since we are visiting earlier in the rearing season than any other expedition, the Emperor chicks are still young, so you may see a few brooding on their parents’ feet or even several huddling together in large communal groups. It’s possible you may catch the impressive sight of a constant trail of adults walking or tobogganing in single file from the sea to the rookery to feed the chicks, and then heading back out again to hunt for more food. Listen closely for a parent trumpeting upon its return to the rookery—the call is instantly recognized by the chick, who whistles in response.

      To protect the penguins, we’ll remain at least 15 feet (five meters) away, but you may have the opportunity to encounter them up close. Curious creatures, Emperors are unafraid of humans, and if you stand still and remain quiet, the birds may actually approach you. If you are crouching on the ice, eyes focused down through your camera lens, pause for a moment and slowly look around you—you may find yourself surrounded by the very birds you’ve been trying to photograph!

    • Day 12/13 - At Sea

      A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. Share stories and photos with your shipmates in the lounge, relax in the Polar Library or attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, who may even screen documentaries. Lecture topics can range from the Historic Age of Exploration to whales of the Southern Ocean.

      If you choose to spend time outside on deck, keep an eye out for the large seabirds that have accompanied mariners through the Southern Ocean since Magellan made his first navigation of the globe. By now, you should be able to recognize albatross and petrels on the wing.

      As you enter the mouth of the Beagle Channel on your way back to Ushuaia, a small vessel will come alongside and a local pilot will board your ship to help navigate this last stretch of water. If the weather is fine, you may want to watch from the deck, enjoying the soft light of the austral summer.

    • Day 14 - Ushuaia: Disembarkation Day

      This morning, you’ll say farewell to your Expedition Team and fellow travellers before disembarking to catch your homeward flights.

    Please consider that our voyages are expeditionary in nature. This means, that there are no concrete itineraries, your Captain and Expedition Leader will utilise their vast experience to chart the best course for your expedition depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. Mentioned highlights and wildlife cannot be guaranteed.

  • Adventure Activities

    The elusive Emperor penguin

    March to the Emperor Penguins
    Imagine coming within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. Watch in awe as these extraordinary creatures toboggan across the ice on their way to the ocean to dive for food. If you’re lucky, some may even approach you!

    Helicopter Overflight

    If the opportunities allows, you will be privileged to fly in one of our two helicopters in search of Snow Hill Island and the elusive Emperor penguins in this region. It is a remarkable and unforgettable experience seeing Antarctic from the air.

  • Inclusions
    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - On board Gratuities
    - A limited amount of beer and wine
    - Accommodation while on board
    - All meals including tea & coffee
    - All shore excursions and lectures in the itinerary
    - Zodiac and land excursions with our expert expedition team
    - Photographic journal of your expedition
    - Complimentary on board polar boots
    - Expedition jacket
    - Service taxes and port charges
    - Emergency evacuation insurance up to USD$100 000 per person

    Not included in your Expedition

  • Map
    Snow hill
  • Gallery
  • Vessel


    The Kapitan Khlebnikov is a polar-class icebreaker combing power and technology with comfort. No passenger ship has transited the Northwest Passage more often than the renowned Kapitan Khlebnikov. Originally designed to take on the rigors of northern Siberia, the 24,000 horsepower engine and advanced ice-breaking technology take you places no other ship can. The ship offers 51 outside cabins and suites, all featuring private facilities, large windows, desk, hair dryer, robes and large closets.

    Features & Facilities
    • Comfortable accommodation
    • Lounge and Bar
    • Heated indoor plunge pool
    • Sauna
    • Passenger elevator
    • Theatre style auditorium
    • Dining room
    • Library
    • Boutique
    • Clinic
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 3
    Guests #: 110
    Crew #: 70
    Ice Class: LL3
    Speed: 14
    Refurbished: 1981
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 1981
    Length: 123m
    Width: 27
    Draft: 8
    Tonnage: 12288
    Registry: Russia
    Elec Outlets: 220V / 2 Round Pin
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Ready to book your expedition?

We understand that the trip of a lifetime takes planning, so we make the financial commitments easy to manage.

  • Confirm your booking today with just USD$ 1,000 per passenger.
  • Pay your 25% deposit 5 day later.
  • Final payment due 120 days prior to departure.

Triple Porthole

18 Oct 2018 - 31 Oct 2018
Triple cabin equipped with one lower berth, one sofa bed and one pull-down upper berth.
USD$ 19,995pp
USD$ 19,995pp

Twin Cabin

18 Oct 2018 - 31 Oct 2018
The twin cabins come with one lower berth and one sofa bed.
USD$ 29,995pp
USD$ 29,995pp


18 Oct 2018 - 31 Oct 2018
Suite comes with one small double bed and separate sitting room.
USD$ 32,995pp
USD$ 32,995pp

Corner Suite

18 Oct 2018 - 31 Oct 2018
Corner suite comes with one small double bed, one sofa bed, separate suite sitting room.
USD$ 34,995pp
USD$ 34,995pp