The Final Frontier!
The Adventure of a Lifetime!
V.I.P. Scouting Expedition
DateDec 27 th - Jan 11 th, 2020
Trip length16 Days
We’ve been waiting a long time to launch this tour, and the moment is finally here!
Join us on our inaugural V.I.P. small group scouting expedition to the ultimate bucket list destination… Antarctica.
Have you ever dreamed of following in the footsteps of Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott? Us too but without the early twentieth century hardships and canned food! So, instead of just sitting around and dreaming about Antarctica we decided that it was high time to make this dream come true. For our clients (and let’s be honest, for us too) we’ve put together an exciting itinerary that will have us all sailing across the legendary Drake passage, exploring South Georgia Island, before navigating our way to the icy continent itself.
You’ll sail the south seas in luxury on our state of the art ship, the Ocean Diamond, which was designed specifically for polar region sailing.
Our intrepid crew arrives in the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, Argentina, a small but bustling port at the tip of South America. This is the ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your awesome adventure ahead.
As we cross the Drake passage you’ll be in good hands with our intrepid photography leader and the stalwart crew aboard Ocean Diamond. On the crossing, you’ll have the opportunity to work on your photography and post-production skills with expert guidance in both group and one-to-one sessions. Your expert crew will also impart their knowledge about penguins, seabirds, elephant seals and all the other wildlife that you will encounter on this epic journey. You’ll also learn about the history and exploration of the region dating back hundreds of years.
South Georgia island, also known as the Galapagos of the poles is the home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds and penguins. In fact, South Georgia’s king penguin rookeries are the largest in the world. You’ll have no trouble capturing incredible photographs at this amazing destination and you’ll be the envy of your friends back home when you show them your best shots. Visit abandoned whaling stations and learn stories of inhabitants who called this island home.
Photograph stunning ice formations on a Zodiac ride, hike glistening glaciers, share fun-filled moments with inquisitive penguins, and witness the rugged coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula from a sea kayak. Antarctica will astonish and delight, and never disappoint. This will be a trip you’ll be dreaming about for years.
Our Pledge To You
The Discovery Gold Standard
01 Our Ship
The Ocean Diamond is a modern, stable super-yacht. Carrying a maximum of 189 passengers, and with two stabilizers and an ice-strengthened hull, this outstanding vessel is ideal for polar expeditions.
As one of the fastest, and most eco-friendly ships in Antarctica, it is also one of the most comfortable. There are 101 elegantly designed cabins and suites, all with exterior views, and expansive common spaces, a club lounge, and a spacious restaurant. The ship offers numerous adventure options, plus on-board features such as interactions with photography instructors. After a full day of exploration, passengers can relax, browse books or DVDs in the well-stocked polar library, or enjoy the stunning polar scenery from the sun-lit, panoramic observation lounge.
02 Photo Opportunities
This is an extraordinary voyage that you’re about to embark on and it is filled with awesome photo ops.
On this expedition, we’ll explore Ushuaia, South Georgia Island, the South Shetland Islands, and of course… the icy continent, Antarctica itself! Each of these places offers its own unique and spectacular possibilities for you to capture the quintessential images that you have been dreaming of.
What will you potentially witness and photograph? We’re glad you asked. Many different species of penguins that will number in the tens of thousands, Right, Blue, Sei, Humpback, Minke, Fin, Sperm and Killer whales, orcas, several dolphin species, Southern elephant seals, Antarctic fur seals, and seabirds galore.
You’ll also want to keep your camera ready to shoot floating ice formations and icebergs, abandoned whaling stations, mountainous landscapes, sea kayakers, and the most epic selfie of your life!
03 Our Photographer Leaders
Discovery co-founder Ken Kaminesky will be leading this scouting expedition and he’s looking forward to sharing this incredible voyage with the nine lucky guests that will be joining him. You’ll have ample time on board the ship to discuss photography, learn post-processing techniques, and get images critiqued all in a private setting.
Out in the field, Ken will be with you photographing side by side, capturing stills and video for Discovery. Photography aside, we expect you’ll have the time of your life on this scouting expedition. Traveling with us means there will be lots of laughs, interesting stories, delicious meals, and fun-filled adventures where you’ll be treated like family and will leave with new lifelong friends and cherished memories.
The Mystical Seventh Continent
Your ULTIMATE Bucket List Destination
The End of the World
Arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina
You may arrive in Ushuaia at any time during Day 1 of the itinerary. Upon your arrival in this splendid city, known for its rich architecture and European heritage, you will independently transfer to the group hotel (pre-night hotel included).
Our team is available to help you book extra days in Buenos Aires, Santiago, or Ushuaia should you wish to arrive early and explore any of these locations before heading out for your Antarctic adventure.
The Adventure Begins!
Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Think of the Beagle Channel as the tasty appetizer before your main course arrives. You will want to get out on deck and keep your eyes open as there are several bird species to capture your attention and test your photography skills.
The Expedition Team will keep you busy by testing your knowledge of seabirds, penguins and the history of South Georgia as they begin their educational lecture program. Your first days will include time to get acquainted with fellow travelers and learning about the shore landings, Zodiac excursions (included) and kayaking opportunities (extra cost) that await you.
This is also the perfect time for working with your photographer leader on your Photoshop and Lightroom skills and we'll have ample time for photo critiques and discussions on all things photo related.
Subantarctic Wildlife Galore!
The first indication that you are approaching South Georgia is the sighting of birds around a group of rocky spires called Shag Rocks. Rising out of the icy ocean waters, have your binoculars and cameras ready to photograph these rocks. Shags and prions often rest here.
After enjoying South Georgia from a distance, we’ll head towards its sandy beaches to find a protected bay for your first land excursion. Landing sites on South Georgia are varied, and are largely determined by the weather conditions of your voyage. Whichever landing sites we visit, they’ll provide you with wildlife encounters that cannot be enjoyed anywhere else on earth.
This is one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the world for sub-Antarctic wildlife, with beaches littered with penguins - in particular king and macaroni penguins. Many rookeries number into the 100s of thousands! It won’t take you long to realize that South Georgia is a paradise for bird lovers as burrowing seabirds, albatross and petrels can be seen in abundance.
You’ll find that South Georgia is also scattered with abandoned relics and evidence of human activity from centuries gone by. Once a popular base for whalers and sealers, Captain James Cook first reported on the abundance of wildlife here in 1775. His report resulted in an almost complete decimation of fur seals and a drastic decline in both whale and elephant seal populations. Your Expedition Team will help bring those days to life for you, as you’ll visit old whaling stations and enjoy lectures and presentations on the South Georgia of then and now. Thankfully, you’ll witness that many species have seen a remarkable population rebound on the island.
One of the most significant sites you will visit on the island is located on Grytviken. This is one of the first whaling stations established in sub-Antarctic waters. Many travelers find this place of special appeal as it is home to the remains of one of the best known Antarctic explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Antarctica, here we come!
Antarctica awaits, along with its own unique penguin and seal species. While you’re at sea, you can enjoy quiet time or take in presentations by the Expedition Team, which will cover everything from the history and geology of Antarctica to tips on identifying different species and what makes each of them unique.
Once again you'll have ample time to get post processing instruction, photo critiques and more from your photography leader(s).
This is what you've been dreaming of
The Antarctic Peninsula
The most common reaction to arriving at the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes: at one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and loneliness, and at the next moment you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into a brilliant blue sea or a penguin waddles by to inspect your footwear.
Your Expedition Team will take care of you at each landing, whether you are Zodiac cruising, visiting a historical site or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. Keep a lookout for curious whales, such as minkes, while on a Zodiac cruise. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to delight you and keep your camera busy.
If you find yourself wanting more, then perhaps you’ll treat yourself by booking our kayaking Adventure Option (reserve in advance when booking your trip), or if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, a little shock therapy courtesy of a Polar Plunge might be what you need!
The Journey Home Begins
Crossing the Drake Passage
After more than a dozen days of memorable wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake is your unofficial rite of passage, putting a final stamp of completion on your Antarctic adventure.
The End of the Adventure
Disembark in Ushuaia
We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning after breakfast. After disembarkation, you will head on the airport for your journey home or wherever the next adventure takes you.
Please let us know if you require extra nights lodging in Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, or Santiago before heading home.
Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
Get To Know
DateDec 27 th - Jan 11 th, 2020
Trip length16 Days
Max group size10
All our Ocean Diamond cabins are SUITES
Should you request an upgraded cabin or a twin window cabin (downgrade), please let us know. We cannot promise to get you any other type of cabin but will do our best to accommodate your wishes. Contact us for details and a quote.
You have the run of the place on the Ocean Diamond, one of the largest of our small ships. All rooms have an exterior view, ensuite facility, flat-screen TV and DVD player, with some suites sporting a private balcony. After a day of exploration, you can relax with a book in the polar library, head to the gym for a quick workout, have a drink at the bar, or just soak in the scenery from the panoramic observation lounge.
For the 2019.20 season, the Ocean Diamond will have completed renovations throughout the ship.
- Staff and Crew: 108
- Guests: 189
- Length: 124 meters
- Breadth: 16 meters
- Draft: 4.9 meters
- Propulsion: 2 Wichmann Engines, 7375 horsepower
- Ice Class: 1D
- Cruising Speed: 15.5 knots
- Registration: Nassau, Bahamas
- Lifeboats: 2 fully enclosed
Overview of shooting locations
Photography skill level
Recommended photography equipment
- DSLR or Mirrorless camera(s) – Full frame, Crop Sensor, or Medium Format
- Sturdy Carbon Fibre Tripod
- Super wide angle lens 15mm or less (full frame)
- Zoom lens 24-70mm
- Zoom Lens 70-200mm
- Super telephoto prime or zoom lens 400mm or higher
- 1.4x and/or 2.0x teleconverters
- Neutral Density Filters
- Laptop computer with Lightroom & Photoshop
- Dry Bags
Join us in Antarctica
Single Room Supplement
Contact us for details
Ken Kaminesky is a co-founder of Discovery Photo Tours as well as a veteran commercial travel photographer, Fujifilm Global Ambassador, Formatt-Hitech Signature Artist, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the photography industry. Ken's iconic photography has featured in major publications including the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and twice on the front cover of National Geographic magazine.