Day 1 Arrive in Ushuaia
Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to your downtown hotel (preferred flights only).
Day 2 Ushuaia | Embark
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before exploring Ushuaia on a half-day city tour.
Ushuaia, capital city of the province of Tierra del Fuego, is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel and it is surrounded by the Martial Range, which offers a unique landscape as a result of the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forest. The city tour will visit The Mission, Brown and Solier neighborhoods, where you can see old houses belonging to the first families in Tierra del Fuego, such as the Beban, the Pastoriza, and the Ramos. Head 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) out of town to Martial Glacier. The ride in the chair lift to the trails leading up to the glacier provides wonderful regional views and of Ushuaia town, the Beagle Channel and its islands. Afterward, continue to the End of the World Museum with exhibitions explaining the history of Tierra del Fuego.
Transfer to the pier where your expedition team will warmly welcome you on board the Greg Mortimer at approximately 4.00 pm. As the Greg Mortimer pulls away from port, You'll gather on the deck to commence your adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before your important briefings.
Day 3 At Sea
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
As you commence your trip across the South Atlantic Ocean, make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Your expedition team prepare you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start your lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Your wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in your wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Day 4-5 Falklands - Malvinas
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Located 477 kilometres (296 miles) east of southern Argentina, the Falklands~Malvinas is a unique mix of being a wildlife hotspot and inhabited outpost. An archipelago of over 700 islands, but consisting of two main islands, East and West, only seven of the islands are inhabited. The cold nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands makes them a prime location for marine life, including seabirds and seals. Your time in the Falklands~Malvinas includes a short walk in historic Stanley town. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage over the next two days. This allows you to make the best use of the prevailing weather and wildlife opportunities. In addition to Stanley, there are many exciting places you can choose to visit; a sample of some of the places where you may land, hike, and photograph or view spectacular wildlife include:
Jason Island - rarely visited jewel and the most remote of all West Falklands islands.
Saunders Island - rich in wildlife and history, the island boasts four species of penguins and a spectacular black-browed albatross colony on its northern cliffs.
Carcass Island - a haven for small birds including endemic Cobb’s Wren, dark ground tyrants, tussac birds, and striated caracaras abound.
West Point Island - home to numerous species of plants, birds and marine mammals, spectacular cliffs are a feature along the coastline,
Sealion Island - an important bird area with Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, Cobb’s wren, Magellanic snipe and tussac birds. 95 percent of the Falklands’ elephant seal population live here.
Day 6-8 At Sea
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Between the Falklands~Malvinas and South Georgia, you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow your wake, skillfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, the ship is usually traveling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate the precise arrival time in South Georgia. Your lecture program will continue highlighting all of the incredible sights you have witnessed over the past few days. You will have ample time to enjoy observing the sea birds, whale-watching from the observation areas, or simply relaxing with a book.
If time and weather conditions permit, we may pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia.
Day 9-12 South Georgia
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
South Georgia is one of the world’s most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds.
A mountain range forms the spine of this long, narrow island. Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline – a landscape that is synonymous with the epic expedition of survival by Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean. Abandoned rusting whaling stations and remnants of explorers reflect a time of long ago, while summer workers conduct scientific and regeneration projects.
A sample of some of the places where you may land in South Georgia include:
Grytviken - originally a Norwegian sealing and whaling station, it was finally closed in 1965. The former whaling station stands as a solemn testament of the whaling days, but the museum offers much more than a glimpse into Grytviken’s whaling past, including exhibitions on the island’s history of exploration. As you wander around the site, skirting the ruins of factory buildings, peering into the past, you must be careful to avoid sleeping elephant seals or disturbing small groups of king penguins as you imagine what it was like when whale processing was in full swing. Abandoned ships lie sunken alongside hundred-year old wharves, while pitted concrete walls remind us of the more recent Falkland’s War, which started here.
Sir Ernest Shackleton died from a heart attack during his final expedition on board the Quest on 5 January, 1922. His body was laid to rest at Grytviken. Pay your respects at his grave and possibly visit the cross his men erected in his memory looking out across beautiful Cumberland Bay.
St Andrews Bay - the long black sandy beach fronts a broad valley that stretches well back from the sea. This valley shelters the largest king penguin colony on South Georgia. Toward the landing beach on the north end of the bay, the beach is a resting place for hundreds of elephant seals that haul out on the shore to moult. Behind the beach and as you move along to the south, the sight and sound (and smell) of over 200,000 pairs of King Penguins at different stages of their breeding cycle will be overwhelming. The colony can be so dense that the penguins prevent even the seals from using the beach! The glacial river that runs into the sea here will be alive with penguin chicks and elephant seal pups testing their skills. If you lift your gaze from the wildlife for a moment, you will glimpse the snow-capped peaks of some of the world’s most spectacular mountains.
Godthul - imagine indented bays lined with bleached whalebones, teeming with fur seals and penguins just ‘hanging about’. In Godthul you have the opportunity to clamber through the tussock to a spectacular plateau offering magnificent views across the island and the waters beyond. A careful descent leads you to a magnificent Macaroni penguin rookery.
Salisbury Plains - has one of the largest King Penguin colonies on South Georgia. With about 100,000 pairs, the shore and beach can be completely crammed with penguins. Along the beach you will also find fur and elephant seals in the mix. You will have plenty of free time for walking and exploring independently during this landing, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy some personal time amongst the kings.
Fortuna Bay & Stromness - Fortuna Bay is surrounded by high mountains with glaciers pushing down from the high country to terminate in the open valley that is home to a small king penguin colony. This is where Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean descended from the treacherous glaciers of the interior on their way to Stromness whaling station. If conditions allow, you can retrace the footsteps of the explorers and follow their track over the last mountain pass. It’s a moderately difficult 6 km / 3.7 mi. walk over a 300-meter pass, and is well worth the experience for those that are fit and able. The Greg Mortimer will meet you as you arrive into Stromness Bay.
Bay of Isles - one of the wildlife highlights will be visiting the serene wandering albatrosses sitting proudly on their cute downy chicks. You can observe within a respectful distance of these magnificent gentle birds while they perform intimate courtship dances, feed their young or clumsily launch themselves into the air, bound for a fishing trip.
Other stunning wildlife destinations you may visit include: Elsehul Bay, Royal Harbour, Cooper Bay, Drygalski Fjord, Larsen Harbour, Gold Harbour, Right Whale Bay, Possession Bay, King Haakon Bay, Moltke Harbour, Larsen Harbour and Shag Rocks.
Day 13-14 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
En route to the Antarctic Peninsula, you’ll head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. On 24 April, 1916, they piled into the James Caird, the most seaworthy of their open boats, to attempt this perilous journey to South Georgia - some 1,290 km / 801 mi. distance. Shackleton hoped to reach South Georgia in two weeks. There he would enlist the help of the whalers to return to Elephant Island and rescue the men who had been left behind. As excitement builds for your arrival to Antarctica, be out on deck or from the open bridge to spot large iceberg.
Day 15-19 Antarctic Peninsula
- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Over the next few days, a host of choices are open and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is yours to explore. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day. This allows the crew to make the best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Because you are so far south, you will experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. The expedition team will generally try for two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of your other favorite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
There are many exciting places you can choose to visit; a sample of some of the places where you may land, hike, and photograph or view spectacular wildlife follows:
A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, the rocky cliffs of this spectacular harbor provide perfect nesting sites for blue-eyed shags, terns and gulls. The serenity of Paradise Harbour envelops you once the ship’s engine is turned off. This is a haven for whales and keep your eyes open for humpbacks, orcas, minkes, and crabeater seals, as you explore the bay in Zodiacs.
This group of low-lying unprotected granitic rocks protrude from the sea, swept by ocean swells. At first these rocks appear uninteresting, but on closer investigation, calm channels lead to a hidden interior where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms. Hydrurga is the Latin family name for leopard seal (Hydrurga Leonina), and on occasions you will see some skulking in the shallows. There are many places to simply sit and watch the rise and fall of clear green water and listen to the magic sounds and calls of the wildlife.
Half Moon Island
This wildlife-rich island is tucked into a neat bay at the eastern end of Livingston Island. On a clear day, the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the vista. There is a large chinstrap penguin colony tucked in between basaltic turrets colored by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and there are often fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. There is a large rookery of nesting blue-eyed shags at one end of the island, while at the other end of the island lies a small Argentinian station that is sometimes occupied by scientists conducting research on the penguin colony and surrounding waterways.
If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of your voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for your Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct your passage.
Located on Goudier Island, British Port Lockroy is an important site for both scientific research and visitors to the Antarctic continent. Designated a historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996, it was discovered in 1904 and used by the whaling industry in the first half of the 1900s. It was part of the British Operation Tabarin during World War II, and was later used as a British Research Station. Today, Pork Lockroy is manned by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and operates as a museum, gift shop and post office for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. You can even send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world’s most southern Post Office!
Located in Andvord Bay, Neko Harbour is an inlet home to gentoo penguins and regularly welcomes Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic - towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbor. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve is sure to stop you in your tracks.
A fine example of the South Shetland Islands – tiny toes of land that are literally alive with wildlife. Here, there are two species of penguins breeding - chinstrap and gentoo. It is not uncommon to find wallows of elephant seals that are 60 beasts strong. Giant petrels nest on the ridgeline.
Other places you may visit around the Antarctic Peninsula are: Pleneau Island, Vernadsky; a Ukrainian scientific base, Petermann Island, Penola Strait, Antarctic Sound, Cuverville Island, Danco Island, Enterprise Island and Melchior Islands
Day 20 At Sea
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On your return sailing to Ushuaia, you may choose to spend your time editing photos, enjoying the onboard facilities, or listening to an informative lecture.
Day 21 Ushuaia | Disembark
During the early morning, you sail along the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you begin disembarking at around 8.00 am. Wish farewell to your expedition team and fellow travelers as you all continue your onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to either downtown Ushuaia or to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.