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Antarctica – Snow Hill Emperor Penguin Expedition 2025

US$28,495 - US$56,895 per individual

Spaces Available

15 Nov 2025 –  28 Nov 2025

In 2004, Quark Expeditions made polar history when they conducted the first-ever ground visit to the remote emperor penguin colony near Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Driven by a true expeditionary spirit—and guided by years of polar expertise—our team sailed past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea to experience the legendary rookery, which now numbers 8,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins.

 

Today, it is one of the most exclusive wildlife viewing experiences on the planet. We invite you—almost two decades after our milestone visit of 2004— to embrace the thrill of the search as we once again set out to visit to the emperor penguins at Snow Hill Island.

 

Experience a true polar quest as we journey on our new ship, Ultramarine, which is equipped with two twin-engine helicopters that will fly guests to the vicinity of this rarely-visited rookery, whereupon they will walk across the thick sea ice to stand within meters of the most coveted penguin species on the planet. Anticipate scenes reminiscent of “March of the Penguins” and BBC’s “Frozen Planet.” Just imagine the penguins tobogganing across the ice towards the sea. Such wildlife moments are too precious for words!

 

This will be Marius Coetzee’s and Dale Morris’s combined 8th expedition to Antarctica and they simply cannot wait to guide you on this once-in-a-lifetime photo expedition. Join ORYX on a voyage where the extraordinary becomes the every day, and let the awe-inspiring beauty of Antarctica overwhelm your senses and provide your cameras with full memory cards!

Destination Allure

The route will focus entirely on the one of the rarest wildlife opportunities on the planet: the colony of thousands and thousands of rarely- seen emperor penguins. The emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill is the goal of this expedition.

Month of Travel

This Snow Hill expedition is arranged early in the season to focus on the rarely seen emperor penguin interactions at their rookery.

Wildlife

Embrace the expeditionary spirit on a quest to reach the colony of thousands of pairs of emperor penguins and their chicks.

Ship

We will be cruising on the new, very comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened intimate 150-passenger expedition ship; the Ultramarine. Enjoy helicopter sightseeing and access to the emperor penguin colony as well as Zodiac cruising for unique perspectives of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Guided Experience

Local knowledge of the region and its wildlife is key to crafting the ultimate photography tour experience. Combined with the photographic expertise of your ORYX Photo Tour Leader, and you are in for an adventure that will further fuel your excitement for photography and the destination.

oryx marius coetzee

ORYX LEADERS
1 ORYX Photo Tour Leader, Marius Coetzee

14 Days
10 Guests + 1 ORYX Leader
Classic
Landscape
Wildlife
  • Destination
  • Departure
    Buenos Aires
  • per individual
    Starting from US$28,495 - USD$56,895
  • Single Supplement
    Please contact us
  • Photographic Highlights
    Emperor penguin colony, various wildlife species and ice formations
  • Guide
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Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Upon arriving in this fascinating city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).

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Day 2: Fly to Ushuaia, Argentina and embark

After an early breakfast at the hotel, your group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to enjoy time on your own to explore quaint Ushuaia—the world’s southernmost city—before making your way to the pier. After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of SouthAmerica. Enjoy the air of anticipation as you depart—the next land you see will be the Antarctic!

3

Days 3-4: Crossing the Drake Passage

The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage, which lies at the confluence of the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, is an adventureunto itself. While being well taken care of by our expert onboard staff and expedition team, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the expansive ocean waters, photograph seabirds as they swoop around the ship, and get to know your Expedition Team and fellow travelers.

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Day 5: Navigating into the Weddell Sea

Onboard presentations by world- respected experts will enrich your polar quest, conveying what it was like a century ago for the brave polar heroes who embraced the unknown. You’ll also learn more about the ice- dwelling emperor penguins.

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Days 6-10: Weddell Sea and the quest to land at Snow Hill

The journey toward Snow Hill Island will put you in explorer mode as the captain and Expedition Leader keep you updated through weatherbriefings, meteorological and sea ice condition reports. The thickness of ice will determine how close Ultramarine can get to Snow HillIsland, then our twin- engine helicopters will take over.

Like summitting a mountain from base camp, parties will set out from Ultramarine towards the emperor penguin colony. Their adventure begins with an extended helicopter transfer that will reveal a landscape of snow-capped peaks and apartment- building-sized tabular icebergs. The rookery itself is located on the sea ice off the south coast of Snow Hill Island and the landing will be as close to the penguins as possible, yet at a safe distance to avoid disturbing the birds. Upon landing, your party will walk across the ice to the fabled emperor penguin colony. The wind. The ice beneath your feet. Walking next to paths in the snow carved by penguins that came before. And then there are the incredible sounds of the penguins in the distance as you march toward one of the rarest wildlife opportunities on the planet: the colony of thousands and thousands of rarely- seen emperor penguins.

The goal of the expedition is to get every guest to the remote rookery once. The Expedition Team and special experts will be close by to answer yourquestions and ensure you take in everything there is to see. You’ll observe close up how the emperor penguins behave as a tight-knit community, how they care for their young, and how they body surf across the ice in a way that can only be described as quirky yet efficient. The helicopter expedition in search of the emperor colony might just be the adventure of a lifetime!

And while at base on Ultramarine with your attentive Expedition Team, you’ll be immersed each day in the polar experience of the Weddell Sea. Daily activities will include Zodiac cruising among the icebergs, adventuring and learning while atop the ice, paddle-on- top kayaking, orworking with our team to observe the weather forecasting and ship operations up close.

A particularly enriching component of your voyage will be the bespoke educational programs tailored specifically for this expedition that offer both traditional (lecture format) and hands-on opportunities for learning about this fascinating region. Each day our polar experts, who include penguin scientists, biologists and polar historians, will present on various aspects of emperor penguins and their behaviors, ice formations such as the tabular icebergs which you’ll see from the deck of your ship, and the experiences of polar explorers who braved the Weddell Sea over a century ago. Or you might, on one of these days, decide to take the polar plunge, or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Then again, maybe you’ll enjoy a little pampering.

If so, you can choose from Ultramarine’s excellent onboard amenities, including the spa, sauna and fitness room.

The emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill is the goal of this expedition.

However, if weather or ice conditions prevent us from visiting the colony or shorten the duration of our visit, we may explore some other sites. Your possible landings in Antarctica will take place on the eastern side of the Peninsula, which is an extension of the Transantarctic Mountains and is the most northern stretch of Antarctic land.

6

Days 11-13: Cruising

The journey back across the Drake Passage provides a final opportunity to enjoy the invigorating Southern Ocean air. Spend time on the deck watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, and celebrate the experiences you've shared getting off the beaten track in the remarkable world of Antarctica.
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Day 14: Disembark in Ushuaia and fly to Buenos Aires

You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park for a taste of Patagonia, after which you’ll transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
AntarcticaBasil Stathoulis, South Africa

This was my second photo tour with ORYX. As I write this I am reminded of the full title of this young and dynamic company: ORYX Photo Tours.

The Antarctic is certainly at the end of our wide world and no doubt on many bucket lists. If you have thought of wanting to go to the Great White continent then plan and book now. If you are a photographer, then do it with ORYX.

We travelled in a group of nine with Marius Coetzee, founder of ORYX Photo Tours and expedition leader from 28 December 2013 until 15 January 2014. We were aboard the sturdy purpose-built Russian ice-capable research vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov with a total of 90 passengers. The expedition was managed and run by super staff from One Ocean Expeditions based in Canada. They were professional in every regard, from on ship duties to Zodiac outings and landings, and there was a great emphasis on education with numerous interesting and informative lectures, including from their resident photographers Ira Meyer and Tony Beck.

Even with an expedition crew that has two professional photographic guides, you need to have someone like Marius Coetzee to really help you get the shots you want.

Marius has an easy way of discussing the days planned activities and sharing gems about the shots to get. His advice on equipment is first rate and in the field he will seek out the best vantage points and preferentially let his clients shoot. Even with more creative photographers he continuously looks for compositions and movement and shares his ideas freely. This is a rare capability in a first class photographic guide.

ORYX Photo Tours has an extensive network of ground contacts, and landings and transfers are facilitated professionally at ports and airports with no stress for the traveller. As an aside, Marius and I went up to Iguaçu Falls with a private guide, Miguel, and all of ORYX’s abilities including their choice of venue, accommodation and guide scored top marks.

Booking and communication details and other requirements are effortless with Kirsty at the home office.

Get out there and live your life: go on an expedition with ORYX Photo Tours.

AntarcticaJohann Slazus, South Africa

Thanks Marius for a great photo tour! We had a wonderful time and you managed it all fabulously: Asanti Sana! Your tips and suggestions to make the photography more interesting were enlightening. Even the other passengers were impressed.

AntarcticaDebbie Smail, United Kingdom

I’ve been back two weeks now, following a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica with ORYX Photo Tours. It was a phenomenal adventure and exceeded all expectations. Marius is a pleasure to travel with; he has a great sense of humor and is very attentive to all.

I was the least experienced photographer in our small group, but was given all the help and guidance I needed not just from Marius but from all in our group. Marius is very good at reading people and understanding what they will like and when they need help, he ensures that his clients get the shots they want and always puts them first.

I would highly recommend this photo tour to anyone who wants an epic adventure and go with ORYX Photo Tours as you won’t regret it! Wish I was still there, but alas not, so instead I’m in the process of booking my next trip with ORYX and Marius for later in 2014!

AntarcticaMaurice Taylor, Switzerland

I arrived home safely at midnight on the 16th and was so busy at work that I’m just finding the time now to write to you. I only have positive things to say about the photo tour as Antarctica was a fantastic experience, Dale was perfect (as always) and the rest of group very easy to get along with.

It’s late in Geneva and I’ll be brief: there is no doubt that I will join another ORYX photo tour, I don’t know when, but soon I hope (and with Dale again for sure).

AntarcticaElise Hardy, USA

I recently got back from my Antarctica photo safari and it was absolutely spectacular. Out of about 10 photographer-guides I’ve traveled with in the past, Dale is the best overall. He’s a wonderful teacher, has almost no ego, and is always concerned about his clients getting great shots. I never fail to be impressed by his talent in photographing animals and landscapes, his technical ability, attention to detail, and aesthetic sensibility. He’s highly attuned to the animals and their behavior, which is one reason why his photos are so successful. My photos are much better when I travel with him.

I loved the Akademik Ioffe ship and staff. The mostly Canadian staff and Russian crew were excellent and exceeded expectations in professionalism and competence. The food was very good, with many courses and options, and different every single day. The cabins were comfortable with stunning antarctic views. The staff planned activities all day long to fill up the downtime days so we were constantly entertained and the 3 weeks flew by. There were other options for Antarctica, but I’m so glad I chose this one and it’s a memory of a lifetime!

AntarcticaMaurice Taylor, Switzerland

In every respect, we truly did have a wonderful time in Antarctica. I do not know where to start… comprehensive and regular communication from the time of our initial enquiry, the friendly tone of all your emails, your promptness in responding to our enquiries, your care and concern.

The experience on Akademik Ioffe: this was our first cruise and it exceeded all expectations. The professionalism and friendliness of all staff, service, amenities, activities, conservation principles, amazing variety and healthy choices at every meal, a surprise birthday cake from Bob for me on 5 January (every birthday was celebrated with a personalised cake with a candle! – so thoughtful), fellow passengers from all ages and stages!

Graham learnt so much from Dale, not only about his camera, but also about new and varied angles for photographing wildlife! This was also our first photographic tour and we look forward to many more. Graham’s passion for birdwatching and photography was more than fulfilled– he has so many amazing shots and our bird count tally was increased by 50 new species!

It is difficult to relate to others what you experience in Antarctica – the stillness, purity, abundance of wildlife, pristineness, the ocean in every shade of blue, the privilege of being there…

I will recommend our photo tour experience with you all in a heartbeat!

Thank you again for helping us to achieve this bucket list item in such a memorable way.

AntarcticaLorne Martin, Canada

Hi Nicolette, Thanks to you and the entire ORYX Photo Tours team. This was truly the experience of a lifetime. My only wish was that my wife was there to share it with me. Having said that Penny did everything possible to make this photo tour the absolute best it could be. She was so attentive – to both shooting and post production, that I know my photography skills took a big jump forward. I have been on many photography tours over the last 6 or 7 years and Penny’s instruction and attention were well beyond what I have experienced previously.

AntarcticaSimon Belsham, United Kingdom

ORYX Photo Tours have been fantastic! From my initial enquiries, through supporting me with payments, to the information you provided beforehand. But most importantly Penny was an absolute super star and it was an incredible trip. Exhilarating, intense, thought provoking and really fun. Penny was patient, really easy to get along with (for 3 weeks on a boat is not easy to achieve!), supportive and taught us both so much. Having Penny with us the whole time opened my eyes to a different way of seeing things. She has an incredible creative eye, and the way we looked at animal behaviour, and thought about the context that surrounded Antarctica, moved my photography beyond basic documentary to something that had more purpose. Instead of solely trying to capture beautiful images we were trying to tell stories in a place where there are so many important stories to tell. This has not only made my photography better and more interesting (I hope!) but it also given it more meaning. And having more meaning for me has given me a whole new excitement and sense of purpose for my photography in general.

AntarcticaPeter & Anita Gordon, South Africa

Many thanks for the warm welcome back, all your organisation went off seamlessly. We had an amazing experience and after South Georgia and the Peninsula, our souls were enriched and hard drives full of amazing photos. The rest of our photo tour was also amazing, with a lot of great memories. We are eventually getting over the jet lag and would really like to thank you and your team for all the hard work that you put into making this once in a lifetime expedition such a success!

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