Board the Ushuaia in the afternoon and meet your new shipmates. A welcome drink and then an introduction to the crew and expedition staff follow. Afterward, the ship sails towards the Western Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
The open bridge policy on the Ushuaia welcomes the opportunity to meet the ship's officers and learn about navigation, watch for marine life, and enjoy the views of the open ocean. These waters are also home to an interesting group of seabirds, which often ride the currents created in the wake of the ship, such as albatrosses and petrels. Join the expedition staff and naturalists on deck whilst you are at sea and search for seabirds and other local wildlife, such as orcas and dolphins. An interesting set of lectures is provided to prepare passengers for the first excursion to the Western Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
Depending on weather conditions, explore West Point Island and Carcass Island, both located in the Western Falkland Islands and rich in wildlife. West Point Island presents Devil's Nose, which offers beautiful views of Cliff Mountain and opportunities to visit with rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses. Carcass Island is home to a vast and large population of small birds, as well as gentoo and magellanic penguins. Peale and Commerson dolphins also visit guests on the shoreline of the island. After viewing the wildlife, enjoy a cup of tea with the locals in the beautiful gardens on Carcass. In the evening, board the Ushuaia and sail around the northern archipelago towards the capital, Stanley.
Spend the morning exploring the museum, park, shops, and pubs in the quaint capital of Stanley. The town was established in the early 1840's. Isolation and the weather conditions made life hard, but progress was gradual and punctuated by the extremely eventful times of involvement in two world wars. Also, enjoy opportunities to see southern giant petrels, Falkland steamer ducks, kelp gulls, upland geese and dolphin gulls. black-crowned night herons, red-backed hawks and peregrine falcon may also be spotted around the island. In the afternoon, board the Ushuaia and head towards South Georgia.
These two days at sea involve an extensive lecture series with expert naturalists who share their knowledge of the wildlife and unique ecosystems encountered throughout the entire voyage.
South Georgia comes into sight today! Enjoy breathtaking views of one of the most beautiful and inspiring places on earth with more wildlife than virtually anywhere else on the planet. The scenery is incredible, ranging from high mountains and mighty glaciers to deep fjords and low-lying grasslands.
The exact itinerary for South Georgia depends on local land and sea conditions, but the following destinations are among the possible options to explore:
Salisbury Plain is sometimes called the “Serengeti of the South” and is a wildlife site without parallel. Several large glaciers provide a dramatic backdrop for the tens of thousands of king penguins that nest in the tussock grass of this remarkable ecosystem. The wide beach makes for excellent walking as you visit the colony, where you are literally surrounded and delightfully outnumbered by throngs of curious, gentle penguins. Elephant and fur seals also abound, as well as southern giant petrels and the occasional wandering gentoo penguin. Prepare for an awe-inspiring experience, as the elephant seals are giving birth on the beaches.
On the tussock-grass covered islet, visit a breeding colony of wandering albatross. Ascend to the summit on a wooden boardwalk, offering comfortable viewing platforms.
The rusting ruins of the Grytviken whaling station are situated on a level plain at the head of King Edward Cove, backed by steep hills and mountains. Now the site of the South Georgia Museum, the station remains a focal point of interest for many visitors, as does Sir Ernest Shackleton´s grave in the nearby whaler´s cemetery and his memorial cross on Hope Point. The scenery in this area is exceptionally beautiful even by South Georgia standards: the glaciers and snow covered peaks of the Allardyce Range form a magnificent backdrop to the cove, and the views from King Edward Point, in particular, must be among the finest on earth.
Visit gentoo penguins on the tussac plateau, then light-mantled sooty albatross while exploring the natural cliff amphitheater that encircles the harbor. Discover fascinating relics from the whaling era, as well as the impressive collection of whale and elephant seal bones scattered along the beach.
St. Andrew's Bay
Take a stroll down the fine dark sand beaches of St. Andrew's Bay, which are bounded in the interior by the Cook, Buxton and Heaney Glaciers and covered with penguins and seals. St.Andrew's Bay is home to the largest colony of king penguins on South Georgia, as well as elephant seals, leopard seals and a wide variety of voracious scavengers such as sheathbills and cape petrels. There are also opportunities to see white-chinned petrels, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, brown skuas and Antarctic terns, all who nest on the Bay.
Another highlight could be a visit in Cooper Bay at the southeast extremity of South Georgia. There is a wealth of wildlife at this site, in a spectacular setting. Chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguins dot the tussock slopes and there are plenty of fur seals on the beaches. Fascinating volcanic rocks tower over small fjords, providing a stunning backdrop for a thrilling wildlife watching zodiac cruise on the waterfront.
Although Drygalski Fjord´s glaciers have retreated significantly in recent decades, they remain one of the most striking features of this coastline, particularly the Risting and Jenkins Glaciers. With a little luck, you might see the glaciers calve and witness the birth of a new iceberg.
Begin crossing the waters to the South Shetland Islands while enjoying time on deck, catching up on your reading, and reflecting on the amazing experience in South Georgia of the past few days. Lectures and activities are offered throughout these two days.
Sir Ernest Shackleton admirers need no introduction to this historic isle. In 1916 Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Attempt your own zodiac cruise off this historic site and return with a greater knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a truly remarkable part of the world.
Spend the day preparing for the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands with the expedition team.
In the area of the Antarctic Sound, the MV Ushuaia may visit the following sites:
Argentine Antarctic Station Esperanza
Sail the passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which traverses the Antarctic Sound and runs northwest-to-southeast. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza are located on the western side of the Sound.
Brown Bluff, a promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula, is located south of Hope Bay. Both of them might be possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the center of the Peninsula´s Adélie penguin population.
The numbers of penguins are breathtaking, and the region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Nordenskjöld´s expedition was the first to overwinter in the Peninsula. His ship, the Antarctic, under the command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen, was trapped in the ice and sank, but the men survived on different locations and even managed to carry out significant scientific research in the area.
This region of broad straits, mountainous islands, protected bays, and narrow channels offers moments of solitude. A profusion of tall peaks humans have never climbed and vast glaciers flowing inexorably seaward are the physical features here.
Hydrurga Rocks is a small group of islets which lie east of Two Hummock Island in the Palmer Archipelago, at the northern entrance of the Gerlache Strait. Chinstrap penguins, blue-eyed shags and kelp gulls are confirmed breeders here.
Cuverville Island lies in the scenic Errera Channel, in the center of the Gerlache Strait. A well-defined raised beach forms a nesting site for many gentoo penguins here. On the way north the ship may explore the South Shetland Islands.
Deception is the largest of three recent volcanic centers in the South Shetlands. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing. Once inside, the rising slope of the black, cinder-covered volcanic rim can be walked uphill to a rather spectacular vantage point.
Half Moon Island
This crescent-shaped island, in the entrance of Moon Bay between Greenwich and Livingston Islands, is home to chinstrap penguins in breathtaking surroundings.
While heading north across the Drake Passage, join the ship's lecturers and naturalists to watch for seabirds and whales.
In the morning, enjoy breakfast on board before disembarking.
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