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King penguins, Antarctica

Antarctic Express – Fly the Drake Passage

14-day exploration cruise

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Short description

Explore the icy wilderness of the White Continent with Quark Expeditions


  • Discover Antarctica's frozen wilds in style
  • Arrive by plane, cutting out the often-rough seas of the Drake Passage
  • Enjoy guided walks and Zodiac landings, bringing you up close to the region's incredible wildlife
  • Learn about Antarctica's natural wonders through a series of expert lectures
  • Explore the historic port of Valparaiso and central Chile's vineyards on an included private tour

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Santiago
  • 1 Night Punta Arenas
  • 1 Night King George Island
  • 4 Nights Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
  • 1 Night Punta Arenas
  • 2 Nights Valparaíso


Recommended for:
Expedition cruise | Natural world | Off the beaten track

Flying out from Punta Arenas, avoiding the famously choppy waters of the Drake Passage, you'll arrive into the South Shetland Islands to embark on an unforgettable Quark Expeditions voyage into the frozen reaches of Antarctica. Along the way, expert lecturers will introduce you to the region's unique geography and wildlife, before you take it all in for yourself on a series of weather-dependant excursions. Head out on Zodiac boats to seek out whales in remote harbours, marvel at towering icebergs and vast mountain ranges, and step ashore to walk among colonies of seals and penguins. It's a truly spectacular adventure, made all the more special by your ship's superb facilities – including a spa, pool and sauna – and the attentive service of its expert crew. We've even included 2-night stays in each of Chile's capital, Santiago, and its historic port of Valparaiso, along with a full-day taking in the Casablanca wine valley.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
UK to Santiago, Chile

Start your holiday in style with included VIP airport lounge access before your overnight flight to Santiago, Chile.

Days 2-3
Santiago, Chile

Arriving into Chile's mountain-framed capital, you'll be met for a private transfer to the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria. The following day you'll enjoy a half-day introduction to Santiago with a private guide. You'll take in the historical Santa Lucia Hill where the city was founded in 1541, the bustling Central Market and the quaint Paris-Londres neighbourhood that features beautiful European style buildings - and a dark secret. Your tour ends back in the cultural and bohemian Lastarria quarter, which is home to  boutique coffee shops, bars and restaurants - and, rather conveniently, your hotel. 

Stay: Hotel Cumbres Lastarria, Santiago (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 4
Santiago to Punta Arenas, Chile

After breakfast and check out, a private transfer will take you to the airport for your morning flight to Punta Arenas in the remote reaches of windswept Chilean Patagonia. On arrival, a further transfer will see you to your hotel, where you'll join your fellow Antarctic adventurers. In the early afternoon, a Quark Expeditions representative will meet you at the hotel before joining you for a welcome dinner and a briefing to prepare you for your departure the following day.

Stay: Punta Arenas Hotel

Meals: B

Day 5
Fly Drake Passage to Antarctica

Unlike many other cruises to the region, this one begins with a flight, bypassing the choppy waters of the Drake Passage to bring you right into the wilds of Antarctica. As such, your first glimpse of its spectacular frozen landscapes will be from a unique perspective, as your plane descends for its landing in the South Shetland Islands. After landing, stretch your legs with an island stroll before transferring to your expedition ship by Zodiac to begin your voyage south to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Stay: Ocean Adventurer or World Explorer

Meals: B L D

Days 6-9
Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

Put simply, there's nowhere else on earth like Antarctica – a glacial mass of towering icebergs and vast mountain ranges. As your ship approaches the White Continent, your captain and Expedition Team will keep a lookout for whales and seabirds, and you’ll be alerted to any new sightings. Also on board, a team of expert lecturers will provide in-depth explanations of the continent's unique geology, history and wildlife. But all that's nothing compared to the sheer thrill of seeing it all first hand, which you'll do through programme of daily land excursions. Each day is different, an adventure in its own right. You might take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs around Pleneau Island one day, followed by a hike to a penguin rookery the next. Or listen to the sounds of calving glaciers at Neko Harbour before watching a leopard seal hunt its prey.

Stay: Ocean Adventurer or World Explorer

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Disembark and Fly to Punta Arenas

After your week of exploration, you’ll say goodbye to your Expedition Team as you disembark at King George Island. Then, it's just a three-hour flight across the Drake Passage to the relative civilisation of Punta Arenas. After your transfer from the airport to the hotel, you'll have some free time to explore the town before one final dinner and a last chance to reminisce about your adventures in Antarctica.

Stay: Punta Arenas Hotel

Meals: B L D

Days 11-12
Valaparaiso & the Casablanca Valley winelands

After a leisurely breakfast, fly back to Santiago airport, from where a private transfer will take you to the colourful port city of Valparaiso for a 2-night stay. Your historic hotel is  located in the centre of the old town within walking distance of many of the most interesting streets, viewpoints and 'ascensores' (funiculars and elevators) of this famously multi-level city, which was built over 42 hills. On the second day you will enjoy a visit to the famous Matetic Vineyards in the Casablanca valley.  Here you'll enjoy an introduction to the biodynamic processes employed, a wine-tasting and an included gourmet lunch - with an included choice of wines, of course. Your final evening in Valparaiso is free for you to relax at your hotel or enjoy a final taste of this quirky and fascinating city. 

Stay: Palacio Astoreca, Valparaíso (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 13-14
Santiago to the UK

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and take your included private transfer to the airport for your flight back to UK, arriving the following day.

Included on your cruise

Zodiac Cruising

Zodiacs safely transporting guests to remote shorelines and shallow inlets – the places large ships can’t reach. Hopping in and out of them is easy, and they'll bring you up close to the region's stunning landscapes and wildlife, offering some of the most memorable moments of your voyage.

On-shore hiking

Led by experienced staff, exploring on foot is the best way to appreciate the landscapes of Antarctica. Step on shore for the chance to come face to face with penguins and seals.

Onboard lectures

Daily lectures and informal chats with on-board experts allow you to rub shoulders with historians, botanists, ornithologists, biologists, geologists and get a real understanding of the regions through which you're sailing.

The polar plunge

This rite of passage, experienced just once per expedition, sees you safely jumping into icy ocean waters under the watchful eye of the ship's staff – and just about every single camera lens on board. Not for the faint of heart.


Walking poles are provided at each landing for your convenience. Snowshoes may also be provided when conditions are favourable. This equipment is available at no cost.

Paid Activities

Sea kayaking

Imagine gliding across the surface of a bay in the presence of icebergs and glaciers. Our Sea Kayaking adventures are a great way to feel at one with the sea. A small group of kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only take place in calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required for you to feel comfortable on the water, and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider the paddling excursion, described below.

Paddling excursion

If you’re interested in kayaking, would prefer to try something less challenging than sea kayaking, you can still enjoy the benefits of adding an on-water experience to your expedition with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time paddle on sit-on-top kayaks, which are stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience. Rotating groups of passengers head out on calm days, with expert guides to connect with the sea.

Stand-up paddleboarding

Taken in small groups, in calm bays and harbours, and always in good weather conditions, these Zodiac-accompanied paddleboarding adventures can be pre-booked in two priority groups. After the first two successful outings, further trips will be offered on board on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that there is a strict luggage limit of 33 lbs (15 kg) checked luggage and 11 lbs (5 kg) cabin baggage on the flights between Punta Arenas and King George Island. Should you have additional luggage, it can be stored at the hotel in Punta Arenas. There is no option to pay for additional luggage on the flight.

Meals: B


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