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The most extraordinary way to experience Antarctica.
Join us on one of the best ships that ply the Antarctic waters, the 88-passenger ice-strengthened Ushuaia. We've assembled an amazing team of pro photographers, expedition leaders and naturalists to provide photography instruction, information, and guidance throughout the expedition.
We own the boat, so this expedition will be set up to maximize photographic opportunities with as many shore landings as possible.
On this 11-day all-inclusive photographic expedition you'll have opportunities to photograph the beautiful and diverse wildlife and incredible polar landscapes of the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Peninsula. We've timed our expedition at the end of Antarctic spring and the very beginning of summer, when there's still a chance for fresh snows and the wildlife is beginning to be most active.
Because of the smaller size of our ship and our group, we have access to all approved landing spots in the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica—we can go places where the large cruise ships can't go. Not only that, our smaller group size allows us more time at each landing for photography—something that is severely compromised when you are on a ship that has more than 100 passengers.
You can expect to see and photograph: whales (orca, minke, and humpback), crabeater, elephant, leopard and Weddell seals, countless numbers of penguins, and many, many albatrosses, petrels, and other sea birds.
Everything is all-inclusive from the time we meet you in Ushuaia, Argentina on December 2, 2018 until the time we say goodbye on December 13, 2018. There will be plenty of on-board instruction on wildlife photography, beginning and advanced Lightroom, photographic composition, technical refreshers, naturalist lectures and more. There will always be something going on when we're not photographing, dining, or sleeping!
On board the Ushuaia, there's plenty of space in the common areas to relax, read a book, or talk photography. We have two big rooms available for our classroom instruction, lectures, presentations, image reviews, and critiques. Meals on board are quite good: continental and full breakfast buffet, buffet or seated and served lunch, afternoon tea and three-course dinner. Mealtimes are set by us, and are based on our shore excursions—photography first!
Unlike most Antarctica trips, which are on tourist cruise ships with 150, 200, or 250+ passengers and are not dedicated fully to photography, we can get closer to land, and our Zodiacs will zip you to shore safely and fast, so you can have the most time available for photography. With Muench Workshops, you will be with like-minded photographers and travelers who are interested in maximizing every opportunity to capture amazing wildlife and landscape images, and to learn as much as possible from the pros and naturalists on the team. Don't worry, your non-photographer spouse/partner/traveling companion will enjoy this expedition just as much as everyone else, and they too will enjoy the landscape and wildlife and the guiding from not only us but the expedition staff and naturalists.
General Information and Itinerary
December 2, 2018: Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina on or before this day. We have a hotel room arranged for you, and this evening we'll have a group welcome dinner where you'll meet your leaders and we'll talk about our Antarctic Expedition.
December 3, 2018: At 4:00 pm, embark the Ushuaia. After you have settled into your cabin, we sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass.
December 4–5, 2018: We cross the Drake Passage. Named after the renowned explorer Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, "the Drake" also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds.
As we sail across the passage, our naturalists and the rest of our team will be out on deck to help you with photography and identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in our wake. The Ushuaia's open bridge policy allows you to join our officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. We also have a full program of photography classes planned, including:
- The Art of Seeing
- Basic Refresh on Exposure and Settings
- Composition and Light
- Landscape Photography Techniques
- Wildlife Photography Techniques
- Beginner's and Advanced Lightroom (Library Module)
- Beginner's and Advanced Lightroom (Develop Module)
Our first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Captain William Smith of the brig Williams. With favorable conditions in the Drake our expedition team will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals.
December 6–10, 2018: We are exploring and photographing the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. The South Shetland Islands are a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries, beaches ruled by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals make every day spent in this amazing island group unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing. King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, features colonies of nesting Adélie and chinstrap Penguins, kelp gulls, blue-eyed cormorants, Antarctic terns and Southern giant petrels and is home to scientific bases of many different countries. Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as well as elephant seals await you at Livingston Island.
The Antarctic Peninsula’s remarkable history will provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore and photograph its amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways, and an incredible wide variety of wildlife. Apart from penguins and seabirds you are very likely to see Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as minke, killer (orca) and humpback whales at close range.
We hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways (depending on the ice conditions): the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel, and the Lemaire Channel. The latter are narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers.
We plan to have as many landings/zodiac excursions per day as possible, given our progress and weather conditions. Some of the possible landings include:
- Paradise Bay, perhaps the most aptly named place in the world and we attempt a landing on the continent proper.
- After negotiating the iceberg-strewn waters of the Antarctic Sound, we hope to visit the bustling Adélie penguin (over 100,000 pairs breed here) and blue-eyed cormorant colonies on Paulet Island. The Nordenskjöld expedition built a stone survival hut here in 1903. Today its ruins have been taken over by nesting penguins.
- Further exploration may take us to Melchior Island, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour, Pléneau Island and if ice conditions permit, to Petermann Island for a visit to the southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins.
On all of our landings and excursions, there will be at least one dedicated Muench Workshops team member for every ten guests. In addition, we will have our team of five naturalists and expedition leaders from the Ushuaia accompanying us on every landing and excusrsion.
Each day will feature time for image reviews and critiques, as well as post-processing instruction from the Muench Workshops team. There will be plenty of time for downloading and processing of your images, as well as to catch up on much-needed rest. Remember, the ship is “ours” so we will set the expedition clock and timetable.
December 11–12, 2018: We leave Antarctica and head north back across the Drake. Join our team and naturalists on deck as we search for and photograph even more seabirds and whales. We will use the time on our journey back for final image reviews and critiques, of course with post-processing instruction as well. And we will all take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.
December 13, 2018: We arrive back in port at Ushuaia by 8:00 am. We disembark the Ushuaia after breakfast. Workshop concludes. Flights home or elsewhere can be anytime after 12:00 noon on December 13, 2018.
Note: This itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the Captain, Muench Workshops and Expedition Leaders to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily program sheet will be issued on board. Flexibility is the key to success!
Our home as we sail, photograph, and explore Antarctica is the polar vessel Ushuaia. Originally built for the United States National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the ice-strengthened polar vessel Ushuaia is very well appointed and provides ample deck space and an open bridge policy. The full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures superb landings and wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible coastline.
All cabins include ample storage space. Public areas feature a large dining room (everyone is able to eat in one sitting), an open-plan observation lounge / lecture room with modern multimedia equipment, bar and a well-stocked library. There is also a changing room and a small infirmary. Ushuaia's expert captain, officers and crew are highly experienced in Antarctic navigation and have a great love of nature. We provide a specialist team of photographic professionals, international expedition leaders and lecturers, all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment and your experience and photography on the expedition. Onboard chefs prepare excellent cuisine including many local specialties and the bar is well-stocked with carefully selected wines and spirits. Special dietary needs can be accommodated, of course!
- Lodging and dinner in Ushuaia December 2, 2018
- Meals and lodging onboard December 3–13, 2018
- Waterproof boots for shore excursions
- Photographic guiding and instruction from nine MW Team
- Lectures and guiding from MW and Expedition Leaders
- Five full-time naturalists and guides
- Photography instruction in the field and in the classroom
- Many hours of basic and advanced Lightroom Instruction
- Multiple image reviews and post-processing sessions