PONANT announces an unforgettable expedition to some of the least visited destinations on the planet
An exclusive 15 night expedition voyage, departing in January 2017 to explore the Sub Antarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia – a voyage where each destination is a recognised World Heritage site
Along with Macquarie Island and Fiordland National Park, these Sub Antarctic islands represent the best of the world’s natural heritage, rating alongside the Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, Galapagos and Mount Everest.
“What constitutes a truly unique cruise these days when much of the planet is traversed by flotillas of enormous ships that dwarf their surroundings and flood predictable destinations with tourists?” asks Monique Ponfoort, Vice President PONANT Australasia.
“Small ship expedition cruising is the alternative – the chance to go to places, to see and do things you will never forget, travelling far beyond the boundaries of traditional cruising. This voyage to the visitor-restricted Sub Antarctic Islands on PONANT’s luxury small expedition cruise ship L’Austral falls into this category. Perfect for a memorable family holiday, keen wildlife and landscape photographers, bird watchers or adventurous group of friends.”
Marine Biologist and wildlife photographer, Mick Fogg, who will head the specialist Expedition Team onboard, adds “Far flung they may be, yet far from barren, these islands, protected by their remoteness, throb with life. Crucial breeding grounds for vast colonies of penguins, the waters home to pods of orcas, seals and sea lions, while in the sky albatross, skuas and mollymawks dart and dive. Remarkably, such is the density, the snares island alone boasts more nesting sea birds than the entire British Isles. .”
“This is an opportunity to observe and photograph endangered wildlife, including arguably both the world’s rarest penguin, the Fiordland Crested, and the second rarest, the Yellow Eyed penguin. While some species are endangered others are prolific, exampled by the vast colonies of Royal Penguins (estimated at 850,000), endemic to Macquarie Island, standing shoulder to shoulder on the volcanic black sand, with another 100,000 breeding pairs of King Penguins and 500,000 pairs of Rock-hopper Penguins thrown in for good measure. An abundance of wildlife with no fear of man, where your wide-angle lens will be used more than a telephoto lens!”
Guests, limited to 200 for this voyage on PONANT’s L’Austral, will feel a sense of rare privilege, comprising some of just a small group of visitors permitted to visit these islands each year. Access is restricted, by permit only: in 2013/14 just 700 people visited the Snares, and 950 Macquarie Island. To put this in perspective, by comparison 180,000 people visited the Galapagos Islands while 35,000 managed to climb to Everest Base Camp. “The Sub Antarctic Islands remain pristine, a region where tourism, frankly, does not exist,” comments Mick Fogg.
It is not just about the wildlife and the remarkable photo opportunities. Making the most of L’Austral’s 12 Zodiacs, join with the Expedition Team to explore Dusky Sound with its pristine, untouched, Gondwanan rainforest. On Campbell Island, discover unusual mega-herbs – herbaceous, perennial wildflowers characterised by their great size, huge leaves and colourful flowers. Campbell Island was described by the English botanist Sir Joseph Hooker as having a “flora display second to none outside the tropics.”
Generous time ashore is scheduled to allow exploration of Australia’s UNESCO-listed Macquarie Island. Geologically unique, it is the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. On shore, signs remain of rampant commercial exploitation of penguins and seals during the 1800’s, but now the island is home to scientists, researchers and prolific wildlife.
This expedition voyage has been designed for those to whom the essence of travel means being rewarded with rare experiences far from mainstream tourism, sharing the day’s adventures with family, friends or like-minded travellers and the stimulation of mixing with informed, passionate speakers and knowledgeable Expedition Team members.
Enjoy French luxury and ambiance on the world’s youngest fleet afloat and experience the difference small ship cruising offers. Intimate cruises venturing where large ships simply cannot, with voyages across Asia and the South Pacific regions.
Also available for immediate download is an e-version of the Asia Pacific 2016-2017 Collection brochure at http://fr.calameo.com/read/