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Wilderness Travel Cultivates Spirit of Exploration on One-Time Cruise Commemorating 100th Anniversary of Shackleton’s Epic Antarctica to South Georgia Route

Story by Wilderness Travel

Posted: September 5, 2015

In celebration of the Sir Ernest Shackleton’s breakthrough journey from Antarctica to South Georgia in 1916, Wilderness Travel will offer a one-time, 20-day adventure tracking the same route. Traveling in the company of modern day explorers and experts, the company is chartering an expedition ship leaving Nov. 29, 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the legendary journey. Participants on the Legendary Explorers excursion, which is part of the company’s Special Events program of annual symposiums, will voyage from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia, and on to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Guest speakers on the trip include: Conrad Anker, who has summited Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson as well as Mt. Everest and is featured in the new documentary, "Meru," in theaters; Tim Jarvis, a polar adventurer and climate scientist who reenacted Shackleton’s incredible journey to South Georgia Island; Dr. Carl Safina, noted conservationist and author; and Frans Lanting, considered by many to be the greatest nature photographer of our time and who will present slide shows of his work and conduct a photography workshop. Also attending will be an ornithologist, marine biologist, historian and geologist.

Explorers on the centennial trip will spend an overnight in Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world; sail past Magellanic penguins, sea lion colonies, Albatrosses, prions and petrels; and cross the Antarctic Convergence, looking for whales, orcas and seabirds. The trip will stay three nights on South Georgia Island, home to magnificent glaciers and tens of millions of breeding penguins, seals and seabirds, and toast Shackleton at the simple grave where he is buried there. Afterward, the ship heads to the Scotia Sea, tracing in reverse the approximate route of the lifeboat that carried Shackleton and his men.

At the Antarctic Peninsula, leaders will attempt, based on weather, to visit Elephant Island where the men of the Endurance were stranded. There will also be stops at penguin rookeries, seal wallows, bird colonies and whale-feeding areas, as well as sites of historic and scientific interest. They may also be able to visit active scientific bases in the region. Adelie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins, as well as Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, predatory leopard seals and the Antarctic fur seal are abundant. Minke and humpback whales also are found in this area.

“In memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had suffered, starved, groveled yet grasped at glory…grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had heard the text that Nature renders, and reached the naked soul of man.” -- Sir Ernest Shackleton

Travelers will sail aboard the 114-passenger Hebridean Sky, which has an ice-strengthened hull, Zodiac-inflatable craft for treks ashore. Accommodations are outward-facing suites to afford passengers the best views. European chefs prepare meals on board, and the ship also features two lounges, a library, an exercise area, elevator and sun deck with Jacuzzi.

“This is a really special experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will literally be offered only once,” says Barbara Banks, director of marketing and new trip development for Wilderness Travel. “We have gathered such extraordinary experts to share the history of exploration, the natural history and their own expeditions all unfolding against the otherworldly landscape of Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Plus, guests will have the chance to truly become explorers themselves.”

Pricing for this experience starts at $14,995 per person and includes all meals. Airfare is not included. There is an option for sea kayaking, weather permitting, for an additional fee. To book a space on the Legendary Explorers special event cruise or to download a detailed itinerary, please visit or call 800-368-2794.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Story

Shackleton’s legendary 1914-1916 Endurance expedition is one of the greatest survival stories of all time. In August of 1914, Ernest Shackleton set out for what he called “the last possible journey on earth”—crossing Antarctica on foot. But within 80 miles of the Antarctic coast, the expedition vessel Endurance became trapped in the pack ice, and after drifting for 10 months, was crushed by the ice. The crew survived on an ice floe until the floe dissolved beneath them. They then embarked in the ship’s two small lifeboats for Elephant Island at the edge of some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth.

The men made shelter while Shackleton and five of his men set out for a last-hope rescue journey, heading by open lifeboat through ice-choked waters for South Georgia Island, some 800 miles away. Their tiny lifeboat was barely seaworthy and they faced waves up to 75 feet high and gale-force winds that encased the boat in ice a foot thick. Fifteen days later, they managed to find South Georgia Island, the last speck of land for thousands of miles, then climbed across its icy, crevassed mountains to reach a whaling station. Three months later, when ice conditions permitted, Shackleton himself returned to Elephant Island on the Chilean cutter Yelcho to rescue his stranded crew—and not a single life was lost.