Day 1 Punta Arenas | Port Stanley | Embark
Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. Meet at a central location and transfer to the airport for your scheduled service to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute flight be transferred to the pier.
Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is charming with brightly-colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, is a sobering reminder of recent history.
There is time to explore the town before you make your way to the ship for embarkation. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for South Georgia – and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-3 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its biodiversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. Your ship is joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way to South Georgia. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and a photography expert is on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of the modern research vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history and the locations you may visit in the coming days. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Shackleton is central to your journey.
Day 4-7 King Haakon Bay | Northwest Coast, South Georgia
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
These next days are unlike anything you have ever imagined. Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on arrival in South Georgia. Begin exploring on the southern coastline and hopefully into the very historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men made landfall in their small lifeboat – the James Caird, after completing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island, 100 years ago. From here, they set off to cross the mountainous spine of South Georgia – a feat never before attempted. This is a very dramatic place, visited by just a handful of ships each season.
From here, the ship makes its way around to the protected waters of the northeastern coast. Indulge in an in-depth exploration including the bays and harbors the entire length of the island. Elsehul Bay and Possession Bay are possible landing sites where you can catch a glimpse of the rusting buildings of Prins Olav Station, a former Norwegian whaling location abandoned in the 1930s.
One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black-sand beaches and tussock-covered dunes are home to a staggering abundance of king penguin adults and their young. The rookery is believed to have a population of up to 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins. This is just one of several such king penguin rookeries on South Georgia. At the height of breeding season the rookeries are believed to have more wildlife per square foot than any other place on the planet. You have to experience it to believe it. The majestic ‘kings’ are not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water; the elephant seals enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels fill the skies above.
As the journey continues further down the coastline of South Georgia, visit several beautiful locations including Prion Island, in the Bay of Isles. This island has been designated as a ‘Specially Protected Area’ by the South Georgia Government, due to the breeding wandering albatross colonies at this location. Boasting the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 m (8ft to 11ft), they spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed.
Distances traveled each year are hard to measure, but one bird was recorded traveling 6000 km in just twelve days. It is rare to experience them up close and personal and on land. The group is exceptionally lucky to be able to attempt a landing here. The site is closed to visiting ships between November and mid-January, due to the massive concentration of fur seals on the beaches.
Day 8-9 Fortuna Bay | Stromness | Grytviken and central North Coast
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The adventure takes you next to Fortuna Bay, a majestic three-mile-long and one-mile-wide fjord. It was named after the ship Fortuna, one of the original vessels of the Norwegian–Argentine whaling expedition which established the first permanent whaling station at Grytviken, further down the coast. In Fortuna Bay expect to see king penguins and elephant seals.
History comes into sharp focus as you continue west to Stromness and Grytviken. From 1912 until the 1930s, Stromness operated whaling stations and the rusted and ghostly remnants of these old stations seem out of place in such a pristine environment. This area is key to the Shackleton story and it was here, in 1916, that Shackleton and his companions, Worsley and Crean, arrived after their epic crossing from King Haakon Bay on the south coast. This is after having completed their 800-mile journey by small boat from Elephant Island. If the weather cooperates, hike the last few miles across the saddle separating Fortuna Bay from neighboring Stromness, in the footsteps of Shackleton and his men.
As you journey further to the southeast the ship enters the broad expanse of Cumberland Bay. At the head of the bay lies Grytviken – the largest of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. A highlight of the landing here is a visit to the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right hand man, Frank Wild.
Day 10-13 St Andrews Bay | Gold Harbour and Southeast Coast
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
The next few days visit St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbor - places that are teeming with wildlife including fur seals, elephant seals ,and massive colonies of the colorful king penguins. As with all landings, there is ample opportunity to explore on foot, as much or as little as you like. Gold Harbor is so called because the sun's rays make the cliffs yellow with their light in the morning and evening. It’s an exhilarating location.
Drygalski Fjord at the far eastern extremity of the island is called one of the most spectacular sites in South Georgia. If it is calm enough you can hear the glacier calving large chunks of ice, reminders of what early sealers, whalers and vessels needed to pay close attention to. A visit to this breathtaking place is a fitting way to complete your journey. Tonight, chart a course for South America.
Day 14-16 Return to South America (Ushuaia)
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
The final days on-board are spent at your leisure. The wonderful lounge and bar provide fantastic panoramas and are great places to sit with a book and a coffee. Enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. A particular highlight of the return journey is frequent sightings of the majestic albatross, petrels and other seabirds as they soar above the ship on the winds of the Southern Ocean. Take the time to enjoy a quiet moment on the outer deck - reflecting on a truly remarkable journey to the farthest reaches of the planet. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in the soft evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 17 Ushuaia, Argentina | Disembark
In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. Say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers as you transfer to the airport for return flights home.