Tailor-Made Holiday

Antarctica - Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island

March to the Emperor Penguins

18 days

from £16,450pp (excluding flights)

The Kapitan Khlebnikov is once again back in Antarctic waters for a rare voyage to visit the Snow Hill Island emperor penguin colony, one of the most inaccessible regions of Antarctica.

  • Observe nesting emperor penguins with their chicks
  • Experience sightseeing by helicopter and zodiac cruising
  • View other wildlife synonymous with Antarctica such as whales, seals and birdlife
  • Cross the famous Drake Passage
  • Only four departures available October – November 2018

Why travel to Antarctica on the Kapitan Khlebnikov?

The legendary Kapitan Khlebnikov is the only vessel to have circumnavigated Antarctica twice. Due to its tremendous icebreaking capacity, it can travel deeper into the pack ice of the Weddell Sea bringing passengers closer to Snow Hill Island. It also carries a helicopter onboard the ship allowing greater opportunity for exploration.

How is the emperor penguin colony reached?

The onboard helicopter will drop passengers on Snow Hill Island, followed by a one mile hike to the rookery.


Besides the emperor penguins, whales, seals, dolphins and sea birds such as petrels and albatross can be seen.


On board, presentations, lectures and mini documentaries on the days’ events will be given. Off ship, aerial sightseeing, hiking, zodiac cruising, and for the very brave, polar plunges are all available, weather depending.

Special Guests

Besides the exceptional staff and expedition leaders, the crew on this voyage to Snow Hill Island will be joined by Dr Tom Hart, penguinologist at Oxford University and renowned wildlife photographer Sue Flood (certain dates apply).

Extending your holiday

Continue this journey of a lifetime by extending your time in South America.  Whether visiting the plains of Patagonia in Argentina, Chile’s Easter Island, the jungles and beaches of Brazil or the cosmopolitan cities of Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, Steppes Travel can arrange it all.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 16450 £ 1100
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Internal flights as detailed
  • International Flights
  • Soft drinks during the voyage
  • Wine and beer at dinner during the voyage


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Buenos Aires overnight

Day 2

Day at leisure in Buenos Aires

Known as 'The Paris of Latin America', Buenos Aires is quite simply one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities. World class museums and leading restaurants jostle for space with boutique shops and antique markets, and the colonial architecture and cobbled streets of San Telmo contrast with the modern lines and waterfront designs of up and coming Puerto Madero. It is a city with a colourful and fascinating history, which has given rise to a variety of neighbourhoods from the uber trendy Palermo Soho to the bohemian charm of La Boca, the birth place of tango.

You will be staying at Pulitzer, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Fly Buenos Aires to Ushuaia

Situated on the southern shore of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is the most southerly town in the world. Founded in 1884, the town was a penal colony until 1947. The location is fantastic, with views over the Beagle Channel and across to the Chilean Island of Navarino. Ushuaia can be either the jump off point for Antarctic cruises or the base from which to explore Tierra Del Fuego National Park and The Beagle Channel.

On arrival, there will be a transfer to the group hotel for the first night in Ushuaia. There will be a representative in the lobby from 18:00 to answer any last-minute questions.

You will be staying at Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Embarkation in Ushuaia
In the late afternoon transfer to the pier for embarkation of the Kapitan Khlebnikov, this iconic icebreaker should be instantly recognisable at the port. Set sail 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 in the water.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 5

At sea crossing the Drake Passage
Crossing the legendary Drake Passage is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and seals are. With ideal weather conditions, the 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, preparing for the first landing at the elusive Snow Hill emperor penguin rookery. There will be plenty of activities onboard including presentations by the expedition team on everything from the history of whaling in Antarctica to the emperor penguins' biology, unique habitat and adaptive behaviour. Spend time on deck, looking out for wandering albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins and the first iceberg.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 6

Further day at sea

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 7

Seven days exploring the Weddell Sea & Snow Hill Island
While approaching the island of Snow Hill, remember that no two polar expeditions are alike, particularly a 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. It is exactly this element of the unknown that makes expedition voyaging so exhilarating and adventurous.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 8

Snow Hill Island
Located on sea ice, the emperor rookery is situated some distance from Snow Hill Island. The captain will navigate the ship to a position in the ice that is within helicopter range of the rookery. Drawing 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, the on-board helicopters will land as close to the penguins as possible, yet still at a safe distance at least 0.75 nautical miles, 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.

Everyone, photographers and nature lovers alike are encouraged to carry a camera during rookery visits, because any visit could reward with that once-in-a-lifetime shot. The expedition team will include a professional photographer, who will conduct on-board workshops and assist on-site to help you get the most out of your camera.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 9

Snow Hill Island
It is impossible to predict how many excursions will occur during the time in the vicinity of the rookery, but the expedition leader will take every possible advantage of good weather and flying conditions, the intention is to spend as much time as possible in the area, to give plenty of chances to observe the Emperors in their natural environment.

Visiting earlier in the rearing season, the emperor chicks are still young, so it is hoped to find a few brooding on their parents' feet or even several huddling together in large communal groups. It may be possible to see 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.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 10

Penguin encounters
To protect the penguins, visitors remain at least five metres away, however penguins are curious creatures, 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.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 11

Aerial Sightseeing
The Kapitan Khlebnikov is one the few vessels offering aerial sightseeing flights and landings by expertly-piloted helicopters, an essential feature of icebreaker operations offering a unique perspective of the Antarctic.

With two helicopters aboard, there may be the opportunity to witness the astounding aerial views of pristine polar landscapes and the Kapitan Khlebnikov as it crushes through pack ice.

All helicopter flights are weather dependent and are included in the cost of your voyage. If time and conditions permit, consider booking additional private sightseeing flights for exclusive views (extra charge applies).

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 12

Days to continue exploring Snow Hill Island and the Weddell Sea

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 13

Further days to explore the area

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 14

At sea crossing the Drake Passage
A day at sea can be as busy as any day ashore. Share stories and photos with shipmates in the lounge, relax in the polar library or attend presentations by the expedition team, who may also screen documentaries.

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.

Entering the mouth of the Beagle Channel on the way back to Ushuaia, a small vessel will come alongside and a local pilot will board your ship to help navigate this final stretch of water.

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 15

Crossing the Drake Passage

You will be staying at Kapitan Khlebnikov, Full board

Day 16

Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Disembark in the morning after breakfast. There will be a transfer directly to the airport for flights departing after midday.

You will be staying at Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 17

Fly Ushuaia to Buenos Aires

Fly Buenos Aires to London overnight

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Antarctica

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

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John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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