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Emperors & Mountains of Dronning Maud Land

Emperor Penguins and Mountains of Dronning Maud Land

In November Emperor Penguin chicks are still in their “biggles suits” but gaining size as they emerge from a long dark winter. By mid-November the days are long as summer approaches and the sea ice breeding ground retreats. We plan to visit the Astrid Emperor Penguin colony abutting the Nivl Ice Shelf when the sun is low in the sky to facilitate the capture of stunning images and to quietly observe these incredible creatures in the company of a maximum of 7 guests and two guides.

Emperor Penguin chicks
Emperor Penguin chicks

We also plan to visit the remarkable Lake Untersee. Lake Untersee sits at the base of the stunning Gruber Mountains and is home to thousands of pairs of nesting snow petrels. Lake Untersee is also a scientific site of great significance. A team of astrobiologists have been studying the origins of life on earth which may hold clues for how life might be found in similar environments on Mars and the outer moons of Jupiter and Saturn. We have been granted special permission by the science team for what will genuinely be a once in a lifetime visit.

Lake Untersee, Gruber Mountains
Lake Untersee, Gruber Mountains

Our third major objective on this trip is to visit the spectacular mountains fringing the Fenristunga (Wolf’s Tongue Glacier). Ulvetanna’s sheer north face rises some 4500 feet from the ice. Holtanna’s west face illuminated by late evening light is an incredible site.

Twin Otter, Holtanna, Drygalski Mountains
Twin Otter, Holtanna, Drygalski Mountains

This is an opportunity to experience nature and Antarctica in a way very few ever will. More people have summited Mt Everest than have visited any of these sites. This is truly an adventure of a lifetime and is limited to just 7 people. Your host will be Islands & Ice Founder David Sinclair who has visited Antarctica over 40 times in the past 16 years and personally scouted all three sites last November. David is an award-winning photographer and an enthusiastic advocate for Antarctica.

Closer to our well appointed and very comfortable base in the Schirmacher Oasis are some incredible ice features including an ice tunnel in the Lazarev Ice Shelf and an ice wall some 45 minute drive from base.

Read more about David Sinclair’s scouting trip to Dronning Maud Land in November 2023 here.

Ice Wall, Dronning Maud Land
Ice Wall, Dronning Maud Land
Ice Tunnel, Lazarev Ice Shelf, Schirmacher Oasis
Ice Tunnel, Lazarev Ice Shelf, Schirmacher Oasis

Inclusions

Flights between Cape Town and Dronning Maud Land in the Ilyushin 76-TD90, all internal twin otter flights to and from the Emperors, Lake Untersee and Drygalski Mountains, all internal transfers, meals, accomodation, guides, drinks, Starlink internet at Oasis Camp and special clothing and equipment.

Exclusions

Travel to and from Cape Town (flexible flights are recommended and arrival into Cape Town three days in advance of departure for Antarctica is required affording time to conduct mandatory briefings and issue specialist clothing and equipment for your adventure), any additional costs incurred due to changes to flights beyond our control (in particular weather delays), evacuation, medical treatment costs and insurance (insurance is mandatory), hotel transfers for non-Antarctic flights, meals and accommodation in Cape Town (we can provide recommendations), satellite phone use in Antarctica. Baggage weight restrictions apply.

Oasis Camp
Oasis Camp

Activity level: Moderate. Walking on uneven and icy ground. Must be healthy as evacuation by air may be delayed by days due to inclement weather. Cold temperatures in the mountains (slightly warmer at sea level).

Cape Town is a fabulous city to start and finish this incredible adventure. We recommend spending time in Cape Town pre and post trip. Things to do include exploring the bays, beaches and Fynbos (the fabulous flora) of Cape Good, visiting African Penguins at Boulders Beach, watching Southern Right Whales out of Hermanus, enjoying a walk in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, taking the Cable Car to the summit of Table Mountain for fabulous views and encounters with the friendly Dassies, a trip to Robbin Island, a sunset drink and meal at some of the excellent restaurants at Camps Bay, a visit to the magnificent wineries in Stellenbosch or a wander around the colourful streets of Bo-Kaap in downtown Cape Town. For more information check out this blog post for some suggestions and images from a recent visit by David.

Cape Town
Cape Town
12-20 November 2024

7 Guests

US$51,250pp

Day 1

We will fly from Cape Town, South Africa to Novo airstrip in Dronning Maud Land and transfer to our warm and comfortable quarters amid the Shirmacher Oasis on the edge of the Lazarev Ice Shelf. We will fly on the legendary Ilyushin 76-TD90 which is also used to carry cargo and scientists and expeditioners for national Antarctic programs in the Dronning Maud Land region.

Day 2-7

Our primary objectives are to visit the Astrid Emperor Penguin Colony, Lake Untersee, home to 20,000 pairs of Snow Petrels and visit magnificent Ulvetanna and Holtanna, two incredible peaks flanking Fenristunga (Wolf’s Tongue Glacier) in the Drygalski Mountains. Closer to Oasis Camp we will visit stunning ice features including an easily accessible ice tunnel in the Lazarev Ice Shelf.

Day 8

We will return to Novo airstrip for the flight back to Cape Town

Schirmacher Oasis
Schirmacher Oasis meets the Lazarev Ice Shelf
Twin Otter Crew Ulvetanna
Twin Otter Crew in front of Ulvetanna (over 4500 foot sheer rock face)
Lake Untersee, Gruber Mountains
Lake Untersee, Gruber Mountains
Ilyushin-76-TD90
Ilyushin-76-TD90

Gallery

What to expect on your adventure!

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