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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Cruise: Antarctic Peninsula and Around Cape Horn

Tour Information

**Information on booking this cruise both with WINGS and Princess Cruises can be found in the Notes section at the bottom of the WINGS Cruise: Around Cape Horn webpage or by clicking here.

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING ARGENTINA: A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. U.S. citizens who arrive in Argentina with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. Citizens of other countries should consult their nearest Argentine consulate for entry requirements. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.       

No vaccination certificates are necessary in order to enter Argentina.    
Argentina reciprocity fees: Citizens of the United States, Canada, U.K, and Australia do not have to pay the entry reciprocity fee. However, it’s a good idea to check the current status as the requirements around this fee are subject to change. Citizens of other countries should check their embassy website.

ENTERING URUGUAY: A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. Citizens of other countries may need a visa, and should check with the Uruguayan embassy or consulate.

ENTERING FALKLAND ISLANDS (UNITED KINGDOM): A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. Citizens of other countries may need a visa, and should check with the Falkland embassy or consulate.

ENTERING CHILE: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens. Citizens of other countries may need a visa, and should check with the Chilean embassy or consulate. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.

CHILE RECIPROCITY FEES: Currently citizens of the United States, U.K., and Canada do not have to pay the entry (“reciprocity”) fee. As of 2018, Australians (USD $120) are still required to pay. Payment is due upon arrival in Santiago; a receipt will be stapled into the passport.  These fees may change annually and can be paid in cash (but be warned you need pristine bills) or credit card.

TRANSFER BETWEEN AIRPORT AND HARBOR: If you do the cruise only (no extensions) the transfers to the San Antonio harbor and back from to the Buenos Aires airport are not included in the WINGS quote. We highly recommend you to organize your transfer to/from the airport through Princess Cruises. It is easier to do it this way.

Important: Princess will not allow you to take one of their shuttles between the airport and harbor if your flight time for your arrival/departure is under the 6hr minimum before/after your embarkation/ disembarkation. In this case you will be obliged to organize your transfer by yourself (by taxi for example), but we highly recommend considering at least 6 hours between your flight and embarkation/disembarkation.

Extensions: If you participate in the pre-tour extension around Santiago, you will travel with the group and your leader to the ship and board together. If you participate in the Ceibas and Iguazú Falls post-tour extension, a transfer to the Buenos Aires airport at the end of the extension is included in the package price.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes here.

HEALTH: The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website here. Specific vaccinations and proof thereof may be required to enter the country. For entry and exit information please visit the U.S. State Department’s website here. We strongly recommend contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

Princess Cruises places a strong emphasis on keeping healthy and many Purell hand disinfectant are provided throughout the ship. Unfortunately with 2000+ customers on the ship (plus a crew of over 1000), it is always possible to catch a bug, and we recommend bringing cough and cold medications.

There are no major health risks during our cruise, and no cholera, malaria, typhoid or yellow fever where we will be. A tetanus booster is always a good idea before traveling. You should also be sure that your routine vaccinations are up to date for measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, etc. As some of these inoculations cannot be given concurrently please contact your doctor well in advance of the tour to start your course of treatment.

Water supplies are good, but bottled water is also widely available. Immodium or Pepto Bismol in tablet form can be recommended as the best treatment for occasional traveler’s diarrhea. For mosquitoes, which we may occasionally encounter, we recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. However, care must be taken to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment, as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective alternatives that contain natural products and aren’t corrosive.

Since it may be impossible to obtain personal medications while on tour, please bring what you will need.

SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. The ship is generally non-smoking, with areas provided for smokers. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

ALTITUDE: On the land excursions organized during the cruise we won’t be at elevations higher than about 1,500 feet, so altitude sickness will not be a concern during the main tour. If you opt for a post-tour extension around Santiago we may reach briefly the altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) but most of the birding will be below 7,000 feet.

PACE OF THE TOUR: The tour starts after meeting on the Coral Princess cruise ship in the Buenos Aires harbor. The tour is divided in two different types of birding: the sailing days and the land excursions days. The location of the group for birding while on board the ship will depend on the weather conditions and time of the day. This will be explained by your leader during the first meeting. When sailing, the leader will indicate exactly where and when he will be birding, and you can join for him as long as you want: for just a couple of hours if you also want to enjoy some of the activities offered by the cruise line, or full day if you don’t want to miss any seabirding action.
Because of the high latitude there is plenty of daylight, and because of the nature of the birding being out at the crack of dawn is not as much a prerequisite as on “hot tropical” tours (e.g., Belize, Ecuador). During the sailing days, one or both leaders are usually on deck birding from around 6:00 or 7:00 am to 6:00 p.m. and you can join them when and as long as you want. There may of course be special areas during which we’ll want to be on deck regardless of the time. The leaders will brief you on these well in advance.
For the land excursions, the whole group will meet half an hour before the official landing time to be able to leave the ship quickly as a group and have as much as possible on our land excursions. We usually leave just after breakfast and depart for a day of birding and/or travel with box lunches and a supply of snacks (fruit, cookies, etc.) and drinks to keep us going. Most of the walking is on level to gently sloping terrain, and there are no long hikes; we do a lot of birding from in or near the vehicle.
Note: on occasion, bad weather (or other uncontrollable circumstances) may force the last-minute cancellation of a land excursion. In most of these cases a refund won’t be available. This happens rarely but is worth mentioning.
CURRENCY: During the land excursions, there are usually stands with people selling handicrafts or wine before re-boarding the ship, and payment can be done in US dollars. It’s a good idea to bring smaller US$ bills (10s, 5s, and 1s, rather than 20s and 50s). 

CLIMATE: The climate will vary greatly from one day to the next as we are traveling through a wide latitudinal range. Around Santiago, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, it will probably be quite warm (expect temperatures at mid-day around 85°F/29°C). Weather near Puerto Montt can vary from bright and sunny (though not warm) to cold (50°F/10°C) and rainy. In Patagonia and Falkland Islands it tends to be windy and cold; sometimes very cold with temperature around 32°F/0°C.Since we don’t move much when we are seabirding on exterior decks, you should be very warmly dressed when it is cold and windy outside.
For the post-trip in Central Chile expect sunny and hot in the lowlands to cool (and in the afternoons windy) at high elevations. The coast can be sunny and breezy or cool and foggy, just like California.

ACCOMMODATIONS: During the cruise, you can choose between several levels of accommodations, see here to learn more.

INTERNET: Internet is available on the cruise ship but is quite expensive and often very slow. Internet will possibly be available on some land excursions if time permits, but birding is obviously the priority. If you use internet off ship, be sure to re-board with plenty of time to spare. We will likely have time to for an internet stop during the land excursions in Montevideo, Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, and possibly during one of the other land excursions.

FOOD: An impressive variety of food is served on board ship. Food is served 24 hours a day, and there is no obligation to eat all meals with the group. For lunch, the easiest option is usually to eat at one of the buffets or have a pizza or sandwich. The buffet option is available for dinner as well, though some participants may opt to have a more formal dining experience at one of the ship’s restaurants. Each day the leader will let you know where and when the group will meet for the daily list round-up, and at which restaurant the group will take dinner.

On most on-shore days during the cruise picnic lunches will consist of make-your-own sandwich fare.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, we cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot, regretfully, be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times generally cannot be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

DRINKS ON BOARD: Princess offers at no charge water, ice tea, or lemonade. When on board, WINGS doesn’t cover other drinks. Therefore, any other drinks such soft drinks, mineral water, or any kind of alcoholic beverage will be charged to you. Luggage is scanned every time we go on board, and only one bottle of wine, for the entire cruise, is accepted per passenger. If you bring more than one bottle (or another bottle at another landing) Princess will charge you a corkage fee (approximately 15 US$ per bottle).

TRANSPORTATION: Most of our land transportation will be in 20-seater coaches. We will often be on dusty gravel roads in the South. The road used on Falkland Islands is in bad shape and anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy.

Updated: 12 April 2019