National Geographic Expeditions’ 14-day journey to Antarctica begins in Buenos Aires and heads due south to the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia. There you’ll board the National Geographic Explorer, a luxury, ice-class expedition vessel, and head off to the Antarctic Peninsula. Watch for killer whales as you cross the unruly Drake Passage. At your first stop in Paradise Bay, kayak along cliff-side rookeries in search of two-foot-tall blue-eyed shag seabirds. The eerily calm journey through Lemaire Channel, a narrow strait sandwiched between rocky cliffs, offers views of icebergs. On New Year’s, raise your champagne as the oldest guest sounds the ship’s bell eight times to bid farewell to yesteryear and the youngest guest rings it eight times to usher in the next year. Don’t worry about being worn out from hiking, kayaking, and climbing—the nearly 24-hour light will make it easy to stay up. Last up is Port Lockroy, a once top-secret British base that now serves as the continent’s sole public post office and museum, where you can hike to Jougla Point and watch gentoo penguins’ waddle around. $10,580; Dec. 26 - Jan. 8, 2012; wait list only.
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