Due to the size of the continent, Antarctica’s diversity is best appreciated on longer voyages, where greater distances can be covered. This extended expedition encompasses the wildlife paradise of South Georgia, the remote Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), as well as the extraordinary beauty of the Peninsula. Overnight in Ushuaia.
Prior to the afternoon embarkation in Ushuaia, visitors can explore the southernmost city in the world. The former prison for hardened criminals and political dissidents has been converted to a museum. The shops and cafés will be open for last-minute purchases or for a moment of relaxation.
There are many activities to keep you engaged while you are at sea. You could learn to identify the seabirds that glide alongside the ship, or attend the illustrated presentations by the Expedition Team. They prepare you for the shore landings and Zodiac cruising that is to come.
Upon arrival in this archipelago your cameras will get their first real workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged feel of these remote islands. The Falkland archipelago contains two main islands - East and West, which you will explore by Zodiac excursions and daily landings.
One landing that will surely stick out in your memory is at Port Stanley. This unique British outpost has a ramshackle charm to it. The largest settlement in the Falklands, you’ll spend your day here visiting churches, museums, wandering around town and perhaps mingling with locals at a typical British pub.
In terms of wildlife, the archipelago is home to a variety of penguin species, including Magellanic, Gentoo and Rockhopper. If lucky, you may spot King Penguins here as well! You can also expect to see Black-browed Albatross and many other bird species around the islands, including an opportunity to see the two endemic species; Cobb’s Wren and the Falklands flightless steamer duck. Your team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna so that you get the most of a memorable time in the Falklands.
Sailing south, you’ll enter Antarctic waters by crossing the invisible biological boundary unique to Antarctica – the Antarctic Convergence. Encircling the continent, cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet and mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, creating the abundance of krill and microscopic marine life that attracts whales and other species to this part of the world. Ship staff will be sure to keep you posted when you cross this invisible, yet important line.
This remote outpost has long been a centre for exploratory expeditions and commercial exploitation. Many of these original inhabitants arrived to the island to hunt whales and elephant seals. Populations were once decimated, but thankfully populations have rebounded and whaling and sealing ceases to exist today. You will see many remnants of these past activities; including several whaling stations and other abandoned outposts.
One significant and historic site that will be of interest is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, the museum and a small gift shop and church and a research station of approximately 20 scientists and support personnel.
While South Georgia’s history is an important attraction to the islands, it is the wildlife on South Georgia that you and your shipmates will likely find the most captivating. Often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, South Georgia contains an exceptional quantity of wildlife. Each landing you make on South Georgia will open your eyes to a new wonder of wildlife. One day you may see rookeries with thousands of King Penguins waddling on the beach. Another day could take us to a beach with jousting elephant or fur seal beachmasters fighting to retain their harems.The grasses, mountains and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different species, something that your Expedition Team will be pleased to tell you about during your excursions on this impressive and unique island.
Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with seminars from your Expedition Team, who will prepare you for the wildlife that will be greeting you upon your arrival in Antarctica. In between presentations, spend time chatting with your shipmates over a drink at the bar.
The most common reaction to arriving at the white continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words, as few places are as untouched, unique and enduring as Antarctica. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete desolation and silence, at the next moment you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into the brilliant blue sea or a penguin comes waddling by to inspect your footwear.
Guided hikes with the Expedition Team will have you trekking up a glacier, visiting a research station, or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie penguins are found here, along with Fur, Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard Seals. Curious whales, such as Minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs as well, giving you a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera shutter busy.
As exciting as the Zodiac excursions and landings are, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an extra special Antarctic experience by partaking in a kayaking excursion.
After more than two weeks of endless wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake Passage is your unofficial rite of passage, which will complete your Antarctic adventure.
Enjoy some final moments mingling with your fellow travelers. The noisy, busy, populated world awaits your return, so savor the silence of the sea as long as you can.
After breakfast aboard the ship, it is time to part ways and say goodbye to your Expedition Team. You will be transferred to the airport for your homeward flight.