In the afternoon, embark from Puerto Madryn, Argentina and begin your journey to the Falkland Islands. There may be a chance to see southern right whales as the ship heads towards the open ocean.
Enjoy two days at sea as the ship is followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
Spend the day in the western part of the Falkland Islands. Weather permitting, the ship may land on Steeple Jason Island, a rarely visited area that holds the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world. If weather conditions are unfavorable, you may take a walk along the coast of Carcass Island, home to Magellanic and gentoo penguins as well as numerous waders and passerine birds. When visiting Saunders Island, you may see rockhopper penguins, imperial shags, black-browed albatrosses, king penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoo penguins.
Today, experience Falkland culture in the capital city of Stanley. Explore and find South American characteristics as well as Victorian charm, well-tended gardens, colorful houses and English style pubs. In Stanley and the surrounding area, see quite a number of stranded clippers from a century ago, which bear witness to the hardships of sailors in the 19th century. The small, but very interesting museum is well worth a visit and features an exhibition covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War of 1982. Approximately 1300 people live in the small capital in which all passengers are free to wander around on their own.
*Admission fees to local attractions in Stanley are not included.
Spend two days crossing the Antarctic Convergence as the ship heads for South Georgia. Entering Antarctic currents, the temperature may drop considerably in the time span of only a few hours. On this part of the journey, nutritious water is brought to the surface by the colliding water columns, bringing a multitude of seabirds near the ship including several species of albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, prions and skuas.
Choose from two exciting adventure options on this leg of the expedition: a sea voyage with zodiac excursions and hiking options or a land expedition for "ski explorers" that covers 40-50 kilometers of the historic Shackleton route. The sea explorers explore the coastlines of the Island while at the same time the ski explorers attempt to traverse the Island on a self-supplied ski trek from the South coast (King Haakon Bay) to the North coast (Fortuna Bay) in 4 days.
Ski trek across South Georgia: A group of up to 12 ski explorers and 2-3 mountain guides attempt to traverse on an unsupported and self-supplied trek across the island with skis hauling pulkas (sledges) weighing 20-30kg. The skiers cover a total distance of 40-50 km retracing sections of the historic Shackleton route, which he covered in an incredible 36 hours. On arrival day at King Haakon Bay, spend the first night further inland then embark on a trek across alpine passes and glaciers aiming for reunion with the ship at Fortuna or Stromness Bay. After both expeditions have re-joined, all passengers then continue to enjoy the latter part of the South Georgia cruise itinerary.
Sea voyage: The sea explorers who remain on board say their goodbyes to the skiers at Pegotty Bluff, the historic campsite of Shackleton’s three men that due to illness did not take part in the final crossing of South Georgia. It was from there on the 19th May 1916 that Shackleton, Crean and Worsley set off across the Island to Stromness in a 36 hours marathon trek.
With the ship positioned around the Northwest corner of South Georgia, visit Prion Island (the island is closed for visitors during breeding season from 20 Nov – 07 January), where the previous summer’s fully grown chicks of the huge wandering albatross are almost ready to fledge and adults are returning to seek their old partner after a year and a half at sea. Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbor do not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia but are also three of the largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals in the world. Only at this time of the year they peak in their breeding cycle and occasionally fight over territories of dozens of females who have just given birth or are just about to deliver.
The expeditions come together in Fortuna Bay to follow the final section of Shackleton's route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling station. Cross the mountain past the "Shackleton Waterfall" through partly swampy terrain with small streams (hiking boots or rubber boots recommended). Spend the next few days exploring the magnificent landscapes and wildlife on Grytviken, Ocean Harbour, Godthul, Cobblers Cove, Gold Harbour, Drygalski Fjord, Larsen Harbour, Cooper Bay, St. Andrews Bay, Possession Bay, Right Whale Bay and Elsehul. At Grytviken, see an abandoned whaling station, a Whaling History Museum, and Shackleton's grave. Encounter king and macaroni penguins, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals, and the introduced reindeer.
The ship is again followed by a multitude of seabirds as it travels back to Ushuaia.
After breakfast, disembark in Ushuaia.