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A humpback whale lifts its fluke

South Georgia Explorer

Ushuaia-Ushuaia - Example 15 Day Cruise aboard MV Plancius
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Few places compare to South Georgia in terms of exotic wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery. On this 15-day exploration cruise aboard the MV Plancius, you can observe wandering albatross colonies while also seeing some of the biggest breeding spots for king penguins and elephant seals on Earth—along with day after day of amazing polar scenery. Visit Prion Island, Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbor, Fortuna Bay, and Leith Harbor, among others. 
A group of penguins check out the cameraSalisbury Plain, South GeorgiaNorth Atlantic ShagA contemplative Chinstrap penguinLeopard SealA humpback whale lifts its fluke
Highlights
  • Discover exotic wildlife and see penguins, elephants, and seabirds.
  • Visit Prion Island, home of the great wandering albatrosses.
  • Tour South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave in Grytviken
  • Explore Tierra del Fuego, also known as "The End of the World".
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: End of the world (Ushuaia) | Embark

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Day 2-3: Sea life, sea birds (South Georgia)

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
En route to South Georgia, you cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.

Day 4: Shag Rocks (South Georgia Ridge)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This small group of 6 islands on the South Georgia Ridge in shallower waters. The nutrient-rich waters in this area offer a lot of food for birds and whales. The islands are named after the South Georgian Shags, known for their bright blue eyes and yellow patch on their beak. 

Day 5-10: South Georgia journey

  • Ship
  • 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
Sites you might visit include:


Prion Island – The home of the great wandering albatrosses. The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.

Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here. 

Fortuna Bay – A beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.

Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and molt here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.

Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.

Cobblers Cove, Godthul – At Cobblers Cove we aim for Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. Light-mantled sooty albatrosses nest along the coastline and giant petrels can be observed as well. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal-hunters and remains such as bones can still be found along the shoreline. Beaches are the home of gentoo penguins and seals.

Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) – Moltke harbor in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882 and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is beautiful, dark sandy beaches, followed by the green tussock colors, and finally dominated by the snow and ice-covered Ross Glacier. Royal Bay is one of the windiest bays on the island, zodiac cruising is spectacular. Approx. 30,000 pairs of king penguins live here.

Cooper Bay – Offers the largest chinstrap penguin population and Gentoo and also macaroni penguins are present. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, blue-eyed shags, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses can be spotted too.

Drygalski Fjord – offers spectacular landscapes as the ships sail the narrow fjord, with ca. 2-kilometer high mountain peaks at a very close distance.

King Haakon Bay – British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his journey of 800 sea miles by open boat “James Caird” from ElephantIsland. From here he crossed to Stromness to ask for help to rescue his party at Elephant Island after they had left the Weddell Sea where their ship got crushed by ice. Elephant seals dominate the beaches. Birdwatchers will look out for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions as well as common diving and blue petrels.

Day 11-14: Westward bound

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
There may be sea ice on this route, south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels trailing the vessel. Eventually we reach the Drake Passage and you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south.

Day 15: Earth’s southernmost city (Ushuaia) | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
You arrive and disembark in Ushuaia, commonly held to be the world’s most southern city. It is located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, nicknamed the “End of the World.” But despite this stopping point, the wealth of memories you’ve made on your Antarctic expedition will travel with you wherever your next adventure lies.

Ship/Hotel

MV Plancius

MV Plancius
MV Plancius

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$10,900
Quadruple Porthole
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Quadruple Porthole
4 cabins with private facilities, 2 bunk beds. (ca. 15 m2)
Quadruple Porthole
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Triple Porthole
4 cabins with private facilities, 2 bunk beds. (ca. 15 m2)
Twin porthole cabin
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Twin with Porthole
9 twin private cabins with porthole. Two Lower berths. (ca. 15 m2)
Twin with window
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Twin with Window
26 twin private cabins with window. Two Lower berths (ca. 15 m2)
Twin Deluxe
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Twin Deluxe
2 twin private deluxe cabins. Lower berths - two single beds.(ca. 15 m2)
Superior
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Superior
10 twin superior cabins. Lower berth - double bed. (ca. 21 m2)

Notes

- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double or triple occupancy. Request the Twin or Triple Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.
- Single occupancy: All cabins 1.7 times the share twin price
-Children between the ages of 3-15 will be discounted 40% in triple or quad cabins, one child per cabin.
- Due to the extreme nature of itinerary destinations, travel insurance is mandatory for all cruises aboard the Plancius - including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance.
Included
  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 14 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All Miscellaneous Service Taxes and Port Charges Throughout the Program
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation)
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Pre- and Post Land Arrangements
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • Meals ashore
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • Medical travel insurance, including emergency medical attention and evacuation coverage with a minimum of $100,000 of evacuation coverage is required.
  • Parkas are not provided on your cruise. Please bring your own windproof, waterproof, insulated parka with you. You will want to make sure it is roomy enough to fit warm layers underneath. Click here for information about parka rental.

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
Justin Chappelle

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