Day 1 Ushuaia | Embark
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. Gather at the central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark your expedition ship. After settling into your cabins and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-4 At Sea toward South Georgia
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. You are 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 takes patience and skill and your photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history of the locations we hope to 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 5-6 King Haakon Bay | Northwest Coast, South Georgia
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 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 7-8 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 9-10 St Andrews Bay | Gold Harbour and Southeast Coast
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 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 11 Godthul and Prion Island
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your exploration of South Georgia is not over and you navigate your way back along the northern coastline. There are a few special locations we have in mind – including the old whaling depot at Godthul. There is a terrific hike here up to a beautiful lake. Nearing the end of your visit to South Georgia, you can hope to enjoy a shore landing at Prion Island – which many consider the jewel in the crown. This location has been designated as a ‘Special 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), albatross spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed. Distances travelled each year are hard to measure, but one bird was recorded travelling 6000 km in just twelve days. You are exceptionally lucky to be able to attempt a landing here as the site is closed to visiting ships between late November and early January, due to the concentration of fur seals on the beaches. The boardwalks provide access to several observation platforms where you can view nesting wandering albatross in close proximity. As you depart South Georgia, pause to reflect on your time in this spectacular location and chart your return course towards the Falkland Islands.
Day 12-15 At Sea
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Your final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media lab with your photography expert. For some, it’s a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy ten days of exploration. The wonderful lounge and bar on the ship provides fantastic panoramas and is a great place to sit with a book and a hot drink. The educational presentations continue and enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by the Expedition Leader. A particular highlight of our return journey will be 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 and reflect on a truly remarkable journey to the farthest reaches of the planet.
Day 16 Stanley, Falkland Islands | Disembark | Santiago, Chile
This morning you find yourselves back in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to your crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago your journey comes to an end.